Episode 74: "What does a healthy relationship look like?" (Updated!)Support the show
On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about the characteristics of partners in healthy relationships.
This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic violence response organization, providing services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.
Today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, What does a healthy relationship look like?”
There are some clear signs that you can judge a healthy relationship by. This is with any partner, casual or serious, online and/or in person – however you define dating.
Healthy relationships are all about equal power and control between both partners. This means that both partners have the ability to make decisions in the relationship and in their own lives, separate from their partner, without threat or in fear of the other person’s reactions or actions. The opposite of this would be abuse – which is when one person purposefully gains power and control over the other partner.
In a healthy relationship, partners validate self-worth and they lift each other up, rather than putting each other down with insults, by laughing at someone, or calling names. This includes passive aggressive or indirect insults that embarrass someone. Healthy partners SUPPORT the other person in public and in private, and it shows! This also includes supporting someone’s interests, goals, and individual growth outside the relationship.
Partners in a healthy relationship encourage the other to have independence and spend time with friends and family. Each partner is free from pressure and can enjoy activities outside of the relationship. For example, one partner might say, “You should spend time with your friends. We can hang out another day.”
Healthy partners understand that having private technology or a private phone doesn’t mean you have something to hide or that you’re cheating. Some teens and adults find safety in a relationship by having private technology.
They work through issues of jealousy without controlling the other person. Jealousy is natural, but there are healthy ways of dealing with it. You can admit that you are jealous and have a conversation about it, instead of, for example, telling your partner they can’t talk to their ex ever again or can’t hang out with their friends.
In a healthy relationship, partners listen without judgment and try to understand each other’s side. Disagreements happen, but again, there are healthy ways to work through. Some ideas are: finding a way to compromise where both people are happy with the outcome, trying to understand both sides even if you don’t agree, making decisions together, and balancing both people’s needs at all times.
Both partners also commit consistently to making the relationship safe for both people, and to using non-threatening language and actions. Partners respect the physical and emotional boundaries of the other person and continuously talk about boundaries openly. They always make sure the other person feels safe and comfortable, and they give the other person space to make decisions without fear of payback. Also, when someone changes their mind or is uncomfortable, whether it’s a sexual action or otherwise, the other person respects that completely and does not pressure them.
Healthy romantic partners also respect each other’s Rights and Responsibilities, which you can see linked at www.safe-sound.org, click the “Services” tab, and then click “SPEAK Outreach and Education.” Rights can’t be taken away, and are given to both partners. Responsibilities are like jobs that we have towards our partners, to make the relationship healthy and safe for both people.
Rights and Responsibilities include: each partner respects the right to say no and change their minds, to be responsible for their own actions and behavior, and not using drugs or alcohol as an excuse for abuse. Again, you can see more of these Rights and Responsibilities on our website.
Does this mean that disagreements and arguments don’t happen? No! People in healthy relationship still argue but they do it in a respectful way. We explored that in Episode 22, “How do you argue respectfully in a healthy relationship?” All in all: you deserve a healthy relationship! If you are not getting the good things you are looking for, you have every right to leave, and that’s actually one of the rights that you have!
Check out our Teen Power and Control and Equality Wheels for more information on how Healthy and Abusive relationships can look. Go to www.safe-sound.org and under the “Services” tab, go to “SPEAK Outreach and Education.”
To speak with an expert about dating violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential hotline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.