Can you spot an unhealthy relationship? (3 min read)

There is a line in the Netflix show, BoJack Horseman, that I find useful when thinking about relationships, “When you look at someone through rose-coloured glasses, all the red flags just look like flags”. I like this quote because it sums up why it’s so important to be able to identify and name behaviours in relationships that may be unhealthy – or healthy.

Unhealthy Behaviours

In unhealthy relationships, one person has power and control. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know if your relationship is healthy. Here are a few signs that will hopefully help you take off your rose-coloured glasses and spot those red flags.

  • Possessiveness and jealousy.
  • Reading your messages and wanting the passwords to your social media.
  • Isolating you from your friends and family.
  • Threatening harm to you or themselves.
  • Threatening your whānau, friends, pets, or property.
  • Yelling or breaking things when they’re angry.
  • Telling you how to behave.
  • Putting you down and belittling you.
  • Making you feel responsible for their actions or that it’s your job to keep them happy.
  • You think that being with them is better than being on your own. Or you think you can change them.
  • You feel embarrassed when you hang out in public.
  • Your gut is telling you that the relationship is unhealthy.

Healthy Behaviours

A healthy relationship doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and no one is healthy all the time. And they don’t look the same for everyone because people have different needs. Those needs may change over time or depend on the people in the relationship.

However, there are behaviours you should work towards to help your relationship flourish.

  • Open communication. You can be honest without fearing how the other person will respond.
  • The relationship feels balanced, and everyone puts in effort to make it successful.
  • Fun!
  • You have space to be independent outside of the relationship.
  • You take responsibility for your actions.
  • Healthy ways to resolve conflict. Occasional disagreements and arguments are OK. What matters is how you approach that conflict. Honesty and respect are key.
  • The relationship moves at a comfortable pace.
  • You respect each other’s boundaries.
  • You are a team. You work together and support each other.

Storm Gardner
Student Advisor
Atawhai Akonga | Student Care Team

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