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Relationships

How to know if you’re in a healthy or unhealthy relationship

As a teenager, you probably have many relationships in your life. Some may feel fun and easy, while others may be more complicated. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of relationships, plus how to know if they’re healthy or unhealthy.

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Types of relationships

There are many different kinds of relationships. These include:

  • Family relationships: Family relationships can look different for everyone. Examples of these relationships can be parents/guardians, siblings, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
  • Friendships: Friends are people we like and choose to be around. They may be people who have similar interests, people you met at school or work, or those who live near you. Who you’re friends with can change over time as you grow and change.
  • Romantic relationships: Romantic relationships develop between people who are attracted to each other emotionally and/or sexually. These relationships also look different for everyone.
  • School relationships: You may have relationships with people at school, such as your teachers, classmates, principals, guidance counselors, administrators or nurses.
  • Other relationships: You may have different relationships that don’t fit into these categories. These may be with people you know, but with whom you don’t have an emotional connection.

Signs of healthy vs. unhealthy relationships

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In each relationship, there can be red flags or green flags. Red flags are signs that the relationship may not be healthy or that something is wrong. Green flags are things that happen in your relationships that make you feel good about that person and yourself.

Examples of green flags:

  • Fair decision-making
  • Good communication
  • Good listener
  • Honesty
  • Nonjudgmental
  • Respects your boundaries
  • Supportive of your other healthy relationships

Examples of red flags:

  • Controlling behavior
  • Dishonesty/lying
  • Disrespectful to you or others
  • Domestic abuse (abuse that occurs in your home)
  • Emotional or verbal abuse (like verbal aggression, humiliation or intimidation)
  • Manipulation
  • Physical abuse (such as kicking, hitting or slapping)
  • Poor communication
  • Sexual abuse (any sexual conduct without your consent)

How to get out of an unhealthy relationship

You have a right to healthy relationships. If someone treats you poorly or exhibits these red flags, you can take steps to get out of that relationship. Here are strategies that can help:

  • Talk to someone, such as a trusted adult or close friend, about what’s happening.
  • If you choose to end the relationship, do so in a place that makes you feel safe. You can break up over the phone or in a public place. You can also bring friends or family with you if you’re concerned about your safety.
  • You don’t have to repeat your reasons for breaking up over and over. Calmly explain why you’re ending the relationship and then end the conversation.
  • Know that it’s normal to miss that person, even if the relationship was unhealthy or abusive. If you’re struggling, make a list of reasons to remind you of why you broke up with them. You can also talk to a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher, coach or guidance counselor, for support.
  • Seek support from family and friends to help you feel safer and more confident.
  • If someone sends you harassing messages, save them in case you need to report them to local authorities.
  • Make your social media profiles private and ask your friends to do the same. Block anyone who harasses or threatens you.
  • Trust your gut instincts. If you feel unsafe, there’s probably a reason why. Don’t answer the door if the person shows up at your home, school or workplace. If you feel like you’re in immediate danger, call 911.

Remember, your relationships should make you feel good about yourself. If they don’t, it’s time for a change.

Need more info? Ask an Expert.

Resources

For more information about staying in charge of your health and future, visit:

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