With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, it seems that everyone has romance on their minds. Reminders of relationship happiness are everywhere—flowers, chocolates, stuffed animals, and candies fill store shelves, and romance movies depicting the “perfect” relationship are part of couples’ Valentine’s Day plans. But what does a healthy relationship really look like? This Valentine’s season, we wanted to share some tips for how to spot a healthy relationship, and how you can identify an unhealthy or abusive relationship.
A healthy relationship
According to the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline, healthy relationships are all about communication and respecting each other’s boundaries. In a healthy relationship, both partners are heard, and have their needs met. A healthy relationship also has these qualities:
- You share decision making tasks and both partners compromise sometimes.
- You can be yourself and discuss conflicts openly and honestly.
- You participate in activities you enjoy apart from the relationship.
- Your friends and family are a regular part of your life.
- You feel supported by your partner, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
- You’re independent and able to take care of yourself.
- You treat each other with respect.
- You have some shared interests.
- You trust each other, and don’t accuse each other of being unfaithful.
- You don’t force each other to do something you don’t want to do.
But as we know all too well at Interval House, relationships can appear to start off great, and over become abusive. When that happens, it can be difficult to realize that you’ve become part of an abusive relationship.
How do I know if I’m in an abusive relationship?
If your relationship has any of the following characteristics, it’s a sign that you’re in an abusive relationship:
- Any type of physical abuse. This means hitting, slapping, shoving, punching, choking, or hitting with any sort of weapon or object.
- Emotional, verbal or mental abuse, including using threatening language.
- Degrading or humiliating behaviour.
- Sexual assault or rape.
- Physically harming, threatening, or showing disregard for the welfare of children.
- Physically harming family pets.
- Keeping one partner isolated and confined.
- Exhibiting controlling behaviour—which includes cutting off friendships or family ties.
- Demonstrating hostility towards your friends or family.
- Escalating arguments.
- Taking away emotional or financial support.
If you see any of these signs of abuse in your relationship, get help immediately. You can also learn more by reading our section on “what can I do?”
At Interval House, our Valentine’s wish is that all relationships will be healthy, happy, and free of abuse.