How to Tell if You’re in an Unhealthy or Abusive Relationship


We start new relationships with a romantic partner or with a friend for various reasons. We want to enjoy each other’s company, feel happy, learn new things, feel close to someone, and share exciting parts of our lives.

However, sometimes these relationships feel like a lot of work; they may end up taking more from our lives then they are giving. If you feel the strain of your relationship, it’s important to step back and understand if the relationship is unhealthy or potentially abusive.

We’ve organized a list of top-valued elements to any relationship. Below each value are examples of how someone may act in three different kinds of relationships. You can use this resource to spot the differences between a healthy, an unhealthy, and an abusive relationship…

Healthy – Your partner talks openly and calmly about issues, listens, and compromises.
Unhealthy – Your partner avoids issues, becomes upset quickly, doesn’t really listen, and is not willing to compromise.
Abusive – Your partner yells, curses, threatens you, or speaks to you in a belittling way.

Healthy – Your partner values what is important to you and respects your boundaries.
Unhealthy – Your partner is not considerate and does not seem to value you.   
Abusive – Your feelings and safety do not appear to be important to your partner. 

Trust and Honesty
Healthy – You’ve earned each other’s trust, and trust remains stable in the relationship. Your partner is honest with you.
Unhealthy – Your partner is often suspicious of you and lies to you.  
Abusive - Your partner is not faithful and often suspects you of lying or cheating.  He or she does not take responsibility for verbal or physical abuse that he or she caused. 

Healthy – You make decisions together; you work as a team of two equals.
Unhealthy –Your partner tries to control you.
Abusive – Your partner has most of the control. You do not feel comfortable questioning his or her decisions and if you do, abuse may occur.

Personal Space
Healthy – Your partner gives you your space when you need it.   
Unhealthy – You and your partner spend most of your time together. You may want more personal space, but you feel uncomfortable asking for it.
Abusive – Your partner controls your contact with friends and family. You may feel that you are isolated or that you have no independence. 

Not all relationships are perfect. If you notice that your relationship falls into the “unhealthy” or “abusive” category often based on the points above, consider taking action. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, please seek help by reaching out to a mental health professional. If you believe you are in an abusive relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. Everyone deserves to enjoy a healthy and meaningful relationship. Recognizing problems in your relationship and better understanding it are great first steps towards making a change.

(Source: The Relationship Spectrum on