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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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: