About Relationships

What does a sound / functioning / healthy / good relationship look like?

In a healthy relationship, both sides are trusting and respectful of each other. Each partner should be willing to communicate openly, listen to the other person and be capable of compromise in order to support each other’s needs.

In a good relationship, each person respects their partner’s right to think and act independently of them, and to make their own decisions without fearing how the other person may react or respond.

When making joint decisions, these are shared equally too. Should a relationship come to an end, no stalking or control should be involved in letting the other person go.

A way to remember this is CITRUS:

> Communication

both partners can express their thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open, honest and respectful way. They listen to each other and find solutions together.

> Independence

both partners maintain their own identities and interests outside of the relationship.  They support each other’s goals and aspirations, and do not try to control or limit each other’s choices.

> Trust

both partners trust each other and feel secure in the relationship.  They are able to rely on each other and be vulnerable without fear of judgement or betrayal.

> Respect

both partners treat each other with respect, even in times of disagreement.  They acknowledge each other’s feelings and opinions and do not belittle or dismiss them.

> Understanding

both partners are able to see things from the others’ perspective, can empathise and communicate effectively to resolve differences and conflicts.  Understanding builds trust, reduces conflicts, increases intimacy and promotes personal growth.

> Shared Values

both partners have similar values and goals for the relationship, and work together to achieve them. They respect each other’s differences and are willing to compromise when necessary

What does an abusive relationship look like?

An abusive relationship is one in which one partner seeks to exert power and control over the other. There are various different kinds of abuse that can emerge within a relationship, but in most cases, this abuse is underpinned by a key set of behaviours and issues on the perpetrator’s part. A person who is abusive is often prone to feeling jealous and can be highly critical, manipulative, dismissive of other people’s feelings, ‘up and down’ emotionally, and unpredictably aggressive or insulting to the other person.

These feelings and emotions can turn into a pattern of behaviour which works in controlling the way the other person thinks, feels and acts. It can happen at any point in a relationship, and also continue once a relationship is over.


Setting boundaries means drawing a line between what you are comfortable with, and what you are not in order to maintain a sense of safety, comfort, and respect in your relationship. Everyone’s boundaries are different, but it’s important that each partner in a relationship sets out their own to help the other person understand what they need, and to help both people understand when a line may have been crossed.

Everyone needs to know what their own set of boundaries are when they enter a relationship, and new boundaries will also come to light as you grow together. Setting them is a reminder that it’s ok to know what our own needs are – and it’s ok to tell someone else if their needs and boundaries make us feel uncomfortable in the process. If you find that someone is consistently crossing the line in terms of the boundaries you set out, then it’s possible your relationship could be becoming abusive.

In a lot of relationships, partners will set out boundaries:


Signs a relationship is healthy include:

Your partner encouraging you to take part in activities they know you enjoy and to spend time with friends and other family members without them present
Respecting your right to privacy and to act independently – they do not want or need you to have to spend all day every day together
Both partners feel empowered to, and are comfortable in expressing their opinion and any concerns they might have to the other
Neither partner attempts to exert any kind of control when it comes to having sex or doing other things which might make the other person feel uncomfortable
Both partners are willing to compromise and negotiate in order to resolve conflict

It’s important to be able to recognise when your relationship with another person might have become, or could be turning into, an abusive situation.

Some of the ‘red flags’ you might want to look out for include:

Your partner becoming possessive or jealous of you    
Constant put downs and insults from the other person
Pressuring you to, or making you feel bad for not wanting to, have sex
Monitoring your movements, the use of tracking devices, checking your messages without your consent
Being nice to you one minute and then ‘blowing up’ the next
Taking control, or trying to, of money you have earned or belongs to you
Making you doubt your own recollection of events, and general judgement in life
You feel like you are ‘walking on eggshells’ almost all of the time
Telling you where you can go, who you can spend time with, what you can and can’t wear
Taking control of any medication you take or other devices you require medically
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