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Introduction to Relationships

Basically, a relationship is a connection between two or more people. In our lives, we have many different kinds of relationships with our family, our friends, our teachers and our neighbours.

A romantic or sexual relationship is a bit different from other relationships and it can be wonderful, fulfilling and fun, but it can also be stressful or complicated.

A romantic relationship usually involves an emotional, intellectual and/or sexual connection with another individual or individuals.  Everyone has their own unique expectation of romantic or sexual relationships.  It’s okay if your expectations for romantic or sexual relationships differ from your parents and even from your friends.

How can I have a healthy relationship?

Your relationships will be influenced by many different things, but there are a few things that are common to all good relationships.

  • Respect: Your partner treats you the way you like to be treated and listens to you. They take you seriously and don’t put you down or tell you how to live your life.
  • Communication: If your partner has something to say, they tell you kindly and with respect. If they have an issue with you or the relationship, they bring it up early instead of letting it boil inside them. They don’t judge you and they are open to working through disagreements.  (Remember, people in relationships may disagree and it’s fine to have arguments, even heated ones, but you need to make sure you take the time to communicate and resolve things.)
  • Trust: Your partner understands that you have separate relationships with yours friends and family. They don’t try to make you feel guilty for hanging out with other people or accuse you of cheating if you talk to another person.
  • Equity: You and your partner treat each other with the same level of respect. You are both are happy to do your part in maintaining the relationship, whether it’s supporting each other when one of you is having a bad day or sharing the cost of birth control.

How do I know if I’m in an unhealthy relationship?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your relationship is unhealthy. Any relationship can be unhealthy for you if you are not happy in it, even if your partner treats you well.

Here are some signs that your relationship may not be healthy:

  • Your partner tries to keep you from spending time with other friends or family members.
  • Your partner tries to force you to do things you don’t want to do, or tries to make you feel guilty about not wanting to try something.
  • Your partner calls you names, puts you down, or tries to make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Your partner is physically intimidating. They may throw things, shove you, or hit you. Abuse can start small, but it can escalate.