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Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships
Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships
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Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships
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Youth

Having romantic and sexual feelings for another person your age is totally normal during puberty. It’s also totally normal if you do not experience romantic or sexual feelings. You may decide that you want to be in a relationship with someone or you may not. Either is normal. If and when you decide you want to be in a relationship with someone, it is important to understand the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy relationship. A few important qualities of a healthy relationship are communication, trust, physical and emotional safety and respect.

FAQs

What does “good/healthy communication” mean in a relationship?

Communication is an important part of a healthy relationship. It means being able to tell your partner how you feel, what you need, what you believe and what you want in an open and honest way, without fearing that they may have an unreasonable negative reaction. It also means listening to and understanding your partner’s feelings, needs, beliefs and desires with the same respect you would want from them.

It takes time and practice for two people to learn to communicate. It’s often the most difficult part of a relationship, but it can be the glue that keeps people together because it allows the relationship to keep growing through mutual respect.

I’m not involved in a relationship right now and like it that way. Is that okay?

It is totally okay to not be in a relationship. There is a lot of pressure on teens to pair up romantically early on. Every person is different in terms of their comfort level. What’s right for one person isn’t necessarily a good fit for someone else.

Lots of people aren’t interested in relationships until their late teens or even their twenties. They have other interests that rank higher on their list of priorities. Maybe they’re working hard at getting into a good college or really involved in a sport. Maybe they like being independent. Believe it or not, some people never experience romantic or sexual feelings at all, and that’s okay, too.

While it may seem like everyone else is in a relationship, the truth of the matter is they’re not. Do what’s right for you and don’t worry so much about what other people are doing or thinking.

Am I too young to fall in love?

There’s no doubt that young teens and even preteens can feel that they’re in love. It’s definitely possible to feel attracted to and affectionate toward another person, even at a young age. No one but you can define the feelings that you have, be it love or something else. The capacity to love is something that all human beings, regardless of age, can experience.

There are a lot of different kinds of love—romantic, platonic or love for your family. Mostly, love is feeling emotionally attached to another person. You want to be close to and share things with that person. You want to understand them and have that person understand you. You want to care for them and have that person care for you. Romantic love usually comes with a strong physical or sexual attraction. You want to hold, touch and sometimes become sexual with that person.

Parents

People have many kinds of relationships throughout their lives. When young people enter puberty, it is normal for them to begin experiencing romantic and sexual feelings for other people their age. They may feel like they want to be in a relationship or date someone during this time. There are also some people who do not ever feel romantic or sexual attraction, so we shouldn’t assume that eventually everyone will. Either is normal.

As adults, we can prepare young people for these feelings and experiences by talking with them about healthy relationship qualities as well as signs of unhealthy relationships. This will help them to be prepared if and when they do feel that they are ready to get into a relationship. Some of the most important qualities of a healthy relationship include communication, trust, physical and emotional safety and respect.

Communication is an important part of a healthy relationship. It means being able to tell your partner how you feel, what you need, what you believe and what you want in an open and honest way, without fearing that they may have an unreasonable negative reaction. It also means listening to and understanding your partner’s feelings, needs, beliefs and desires with the same respect you would want from them.

Being able to trust your partner means that you believe what they say and feel that you can rely on them and they will support you. When one partner does not trust the other, it can lead to things like jealousy, lying and lack of emotional safety in a relationship.

By showing respect for your partner, you can build trust and increase communication, which can provide a healthy foundation for a relationship. Everyone deserves respect, and a relationship without respect can become very unhealthy. A healthy relationship includes respecting boundaries.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

While your child may not be dating or looking to get into a relationship right now, there may come a time when they feel that they are ready and want to take this step in their lives. As a parent, being familiar with the qualities of healthy relationships and talking to your child about them can help your child feel more comfortable approaching you with questions about these topics.

The easiest way to start these conversations is to talk about issues as they come up in everyday life, like while watching a show or movie together.

Here are some ways to start these conversations:

While watching a show or movie featuring either healthy or unhealthy relationship behaviors

If you are watching a show or movie and there is a scene with either healthy or unhealthy relationship behaviors, you can use this opportunity to start a discussion. Point out what you see, and ask what your child thinks about that.

When your child mentions friends or classmates that have romantic partners

Have dinner together and talk about what is going on in your tween’s life. When they mention friends or classmates that have romantic partners, you can then use this time to talk about healthy relationship qualities and behaviors.

Educators

People have many kinds of relationships throughout their lives. When young people enter puberty, it is normal for them to begin experiencing romantic and sexual feelings for other people their age. They may feel like they want to be in a relationship or date someone during this time. There are also some people who do not ever feel romantic or sexual attraction, so we shouldn’t assume that eventually everyone will. Either is normal.

As adults, we can prepare young people for these feelings and experiences by talking with them about healthy relationship qualities as well as signs of unhealthy relationships. This will help them to be prepared if and when they do feel that they are ready to get into a relationship. Some of the most important qualities of a healthy relationship include communication, trust, physical and emotional safety and respect.

Communication is an important part of a healthy relationship. It means being able to tell your partner how you feel, what you need, what you believe and what you want in an open and honest way, without fearing that they may have an unreasonable negative reaction. It also means listening to and understanding your partner’s feelings, needs, beliefs and desires with the same respect you would want from them.

Being able to trust your partner means that you believe what they say and feel that you can rely on them and they will support you. When one partner does not trust the other, it can lead to things like jealousy, lying and lack of emotional safety in a relationship.

By showing respect for your partner, you can build trust and increase communication, which can provide a healthy foundation for a relationship. Everyone deserves respect, and a relationship without respect can become very unhealthy. A healthy foundation includes respecting boundaries.

Discussion Questions

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:
  • What are some examples of healthy relationships that you saw in the video?
  • Were there any examples of behaviors that might signal a relationship is unhealthy? If so, what were they?
  • What are some things you can do if you feel like a relationship is not healthy?