Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Relationships: What's healthy and what's not

Main Content


What's healthy and what's not

​​​​​​​​​​​This information will help you think about the kind of relationship you have with your partner.

Sharing feeling​s

HealthyBoth partners feel safe and secure enough to tell each other how they feel.
UnhealthyThe partners feel awkward and don't tell each other how they feel.
AbusiveOne partner is afraid to tell the other how they feel. They’re scared their partner will make them feel bad or threaten them.


HealthyBoth partners listen to and respect each other's points of view. They make decisions together.
UnhealthyOne partner ignores the other and doesn't respect different opinions.
AbusiveOne partner treats the other with disrespect. ​​They ignore the other person's ideas and feelings or make fun of them.​


HealthyThe partners disagree but still talk respectfully to each other. They work things out together, so they both get what they need.
UnhealthyDisagreements often turn into fights.
AbusiveOne partner is afraid to disagree because they don't want the other person to get angry and violent. The disagreement is an excuse for abuse.

Intimacy and sex

HealthyBoth partners can be honest about how they feel about being physical and having sex. Neither partner feels pressured to do anything they don't want to do.
UnhealthyOne partner is embarrassed to say how they feel or what they need. Feeling embarrassed makes the person go along with things that make them uncomfortable.
AbusiveOne partner ignores the other person's needs and wants. The other partner feels forced to do things that make them uncomfortable, afraid, or ashamed.

Time apart

HealthyBoth partners feel good about spending time apart. They know it’s part of a healthy relationship.
UnhealthyOne partner thinks there may be something wrong if the other person wants to do things without them. One partner tries to limit the other’s activities.​
AbusiveOne partner doesn't let the other do things on their own because they feel it threatens the relationship.

Verbal (using words) abuse

HealthyBoth partners try hard not to talk harshly to or about each other.
UnhealthyHarsh language is sometimes used in the relationship, but there is no pattern (where it happens regularly) of abuse or violence.
AbusiveThere is a pattern of verbal or psychological (mental) abuse or control. Examples are controlling money, damaging belongings, or threatening to hurt or kill. The abuse may be getting worse.


HealthyThere is no physical violence (such as pushing, slapping, shaking, choking, punching, or forcing sex) or threat of violence in the relationship.
UnhealthyThere is physical violence in the relationship with no regular pattern.
AbusiveThere is a pattern of physical violence that may be getting worse.

Domestic violence is a health issue. Your healthcare provider may talk about healthy relationships with you and ask if domestic violence or abuse is a part of your life.

It’s not always easy to know that you’re in an unhealthy relationship or that you’re having sex you don’t want. If you have questions or aren't sure, talk to your healthcare provider or call one of the services below.​

No one ​deserves to be the victim.

For 24/7 support, you can contact:

Current as of: March 2, 2021

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services