Healthy Relationships

healthy-relationships-freddie-and-effySpotting the signs of an unhealthy relationship can be difficult, especially when you are in one. There is a broad spectrum that runs from a healthy and loving relationship to a seriously unhealthy and potentially detrimental relationship.

But how can you tell where your relationship sits on that spectrum?

Spotting the signs

Some behaviours and characteristics can be associated with unhealthy relationships. These behaviours on occasion could be normal but they immediately become a cause for concern when they are regular and constant. It is also worth noting that some of these things are dependent on context but often our gut feeling is right and should not be ignored.

Here are just a few issues that might be the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship:


Attempting to control your partner, what they do, how they dress and who they see is a form of abuse. In a healthy relationship, you should feel able to be yourself, do what you want, see who you want and go where you want without worrying about how your girlfriend or boyfriend will react to this.


People may feel the need to control and manipulate others for many different reasons but one of these may be because that person has low self-esteem or a fear of abandonment. However, if your boyfriend or girlfriend likes and respects you for who you are, they should let you be you!

In controlling relationships, there is a power imbalance with one person having the upper-hand, able to influence the other person into doing things that they might not want to do or wouldn’t do independently. The person with the power in the relationship will often get their own way, with their partner constantly doing things to please them. Remember, healthy relationships are equal with both people making compromises.


Everyone is entitled to feel jealous at one time or another but it is how you choose to deal with these feelings and how often you experience them that matter. Very jealous partners can become so terrified of their girlfriend or boyfriend cheating on them or leaving them, that they are over-protective, suspicious, anxious and over-bearing. This makes the other person feel suffocated, trapped, frustrated and anxious, ultimately pushing them away.

harry potter jealousy

If you don’t trust your partner or they don’t trust you, your relationship is already setting off to a bad start. More importantly, if your partner doesn’t trust you and is unwilling to change, you should consider carefully if you are right for each other.

Playing detective

A jealous partner might take it upon themselves to play detective, checking their girlfriend or boyfriend’s phone, social media accounts or even following them when they’re out and about. Everyone is entitled to their own privacy. If you do not want your partner to see conversations you have had with friends or family, that is OK. This does not mean you have anything to hide, it just means you have your own life outside of your relationship!


Emotional Abuse

As another form of control, someone may attempt to weaken their boyfriend and girlfriend through emotional bullying. By lowering the other person’s self-esteem, you make them easier to manipulate. The victim of this abuse then becomes dependent on their partner making them less likely to end the relationship.

emotional abuse eastenders

Those undertaking this sort of abuse will often dress it up as them “just trying to help”, “just being honest” or “being supportive” but if it upsets you or makes you feel bad about yourself, it is abuse.


You often hear of people in relationships never being around anymore or wanting to hang out with their friends less. This might just be out of choice or because they are in a new and exciting relationship but sometimes it can be a result of their partner intentionally turning them against their friends and even family.

The person distancing themselves from everyone outside of their relationship becomes dependent on their partner.


Physical abuse

It goes without saying that your girlfriend or boyfriend should never hurt you or do things that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. They should also never threaten violence. This is wrong and however much you love that person, it is unacceptable.

domestic abuse physical

Girls aren't always the victims

Remember, an unhealthy relationship does not always mean a boy emotionally or physically abusing a girl. It can be the other way around. Boys can be in controlling relationships with their girlfriend. In either circumstance, there is nothing to be ashamed of. No one should ever tell you to “man up” or make fun of you. More than 40% of domestic violence victims are men and that figure does not account for those who feel as though they cannot speak up or report their abuse (The Guardian, 2010).

If you or someone you know is being physically abused, you can contact Safeline.

Talk to Us

Sex and Relationships

Sex should be something that both you and your partner enjoy. Both of you need to be consenting (wanting to have sex with the other person) before during and after.

Your boyfriend or girlfriend should never:

  • Pressure you into having sex – just because you said yes once, it doesn’t mean you must always want sex every time they do
  • Keep asking you to do something repeatedly even after you have said you don’t want to
  • Make you feel bad or guilty for not having sex with them
  • Give you things in exchange for sex
  • Hurt you

Seeing things from a different perspective

When you are in a relationship with someone you love or have strong feelings for, it can be hard to see that the way the other person is acting is wrong.

It can be easier to spot an unhealthy relationship from the outside which means your friends and family are in a strong position to be able to read when things aren’t quite right. They will also be able to see changes in you. You might become more withdrawn, change the way you dress, start losing or gaining weight and even doing or saying things that are out of character.

If your family or friends are expressing concern about your relationship, although it may be difficult, try not to dismiss them completely or cut them off as they are only doing this out of love.

For help and advice:

Women’s Aid

Victim Support


Are you in an unhealthy relationship but aren’t sure what to do or how to get out of it? Contact Safeline for support.

Contact Safeline

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