Healthy, Unhealthy or Abusive Relationship

Learn to identify the difference between healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships. Unhealthy relationships can potentially be abusive. But once you learn the signs you can work towards making it healthy and stop it from moving towards being abusive.


Healthy Relationship

Unhealthy Relationship

Abusive Relationship

Mutual respect

The essential element in a healthy relationship is mutual respect. Each partner is treated equally, no one has authority over the other.

Lack of respect

One partner is considered superior and has authority over the other’s opinions and decisions.


One partner does not respect the other’s emotions, opinions or physical safety. The partner can be emotionally and physically abusive.

Mutual trust

The relationship is based on trust and honesty.


There’s a lack of trust in the relationship which results in a lack of privacy.


One partner accuses the other constantly of being dishonest. The partner monitors and controls every aspect of the other’s life.

Healthy communication

The partners talk to each other about their feelings and problems. They respect each other’s opinions and seek out a solution.

Unhealthy or no communication 

The communication is usually one-sided. One partner does not respect the other partner’s opinion. Sometimes there is a complete lack of communication.

Negative communication

Communication is often dismissive, hurtful or demeaning. This can lead to one partner being verbally and emotionally abusive.

Separate individual identities

Each partner lives separate healthy lives while having a life together. They stay in touch with their own friends and families.

Dependent relationship

The relationship is dependent on one partner’s social community or the other partner is socially isolated.

Loss of identity 

One partner is made to feel insecure and develops a sense of low self-esteem. The partner is made to depend on the other for all social, emotional and financial needs.

Financial Partners

Both partners are equally invested in making financial decisions.

Financially unequal 

One partner takes the authority to make financial decisions without consulting the other.

Economic or Financial Abuse

There is complete financial control by a partner to the extent that the other partner is not allowed any financial access. The partner might even control the other partner’s income.

Healthy Sex

Both partners are open about sexual and reproductive choices. Sexual activity is usually consensual, safe and comfortable.

Controlling sexual choices

One partner controls sexual activity and reproductive choices.

Sexual aggressiveness

Sexual activity is forced upon without it being consensual. One partner might even force reproductive choices.

This information has been gathered from The Relationship Spectrum on The National Domestic Violence Hotline website, and Signs of Domestic Violence or Abuse on

Here are a few quizzes that you might take to further determine where your relationship lies:

Healthy Relationship Quiz

Relationship Spectrum

Is my relationship healthy?

If you ever find yourself in an unhealthy or abusive relationship and you feel like talking to someone, Saheli Domestic Violence Advocates are always there to listen and help you. Contact us at or (866) 472-4354. Or you can join us for our Spring Support Group which begins on February 13.

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