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In order to have happy and meaningful relationships we need to be able to recognise healthy and unhealthy behaviours.

Watch the video below and read on to find top teen relationship advice!

Healthy & unhealthy behaviours in teenage relationshipsHealthy & unhealthy behaviours in teenage relationships

Teen boy and girl sitting on a bench outsideTeen boy and girl sitting on a bench outside

Healthy behaviours in teenage relationships

Think of a relationship like a pie: for it to work, you need a few key ingredients! These include:

Honest communication

Open, honest and safe communication is a fundamental part of a healthy teenage relationship. That means you need to:

  • Talk to each other
  • Be honest with yourself about how you feel
  • Try to speak up if something is bothering you
  • Respect what each of you have to say – that might mean sometimes agreeing to disagree

Healthy boundaries

Learning to have healthy limits or boundaries is fundamental when it comes to enjoying positive relationships. A game without rules would be very confusing – relationships work in the same way and need rules, too. Not strict rules like at school, but reasonable and safe agreements on how to behave towards each other.

Having healthy boundaries means that your relationship shouldn’t prevent you from:

  • Spending time with your friends
  • Enjoying hobbies you like
  • Having privacy when you want it

Trust

A positive relationship is one where you both feel equal and respect one another. That means:

  • Trusting each other
  • Giving each other the benefit of the doubt

For example, being in a romantic relationship shouldn’t mean that you can’t spend time with, or speak to, friends of the opposite sex.

Respect

The wishes and feelings of everyone in a relationship have value. Some healthy behaviours that contribute to a respectful teenage relationship are:

  • Making an effort to understand each other’s point of view
  • Avoiding insults
  • Not putting each other down

Compassion

By giving each other reassurance and encouragement, you can feel safe and secure in your relationships. You can show kindness and compassion by:

  • Being supportive of one another’s goals and dreams
  • Listening to the other person's views, especially when things are difficult
Teen girl lying on a couch while staring at the distanceTeen girl lying on a couch while staring at the distance

Unhealthy behaviours in teenage relationships

So, what sort of unhealthy behaviours should you try and avoid in teenage relationships?

Power and control

A negative relationship is one that is based on power and control, rather than equality and respect. In an unhealthy relationship you might feel:

  • Pressured to do things that you don’t want to do
  • That you can’t do the things that you used to enjoy
  • That you can’t be with some of your friends or family because your partner is being unreasonably jealous

Disrespect

Disrespect is not OK and it’s an unhealthy behaviour that should be avoided in a relationship. It can be shown by:

  • Making fun of the other’s opinions and interests
  • Destroying something that belongs to the other
  • Making the other feel bad about themselves
  • Yelling at the other

Using physical force

Using physical force is never acceptable in any relationship.

Remember: it’s never OK for anyone to hurt you, with or without intent. If you feel unsafe you can take steps to protect yourself.

Dependence

It’s great to enjoy being with each other but if one of you feels that you “cannot live without” the other or threatens to do something drastic if the relationship ends, that’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

You should try to keep some time for yourself to cultivate your own interests and friendships, even if you are in a romantic relationship.

What to do if there are unhealthy behaviours in my relationship?

Consider talking to the other person in the relationship

  • If you think your relationship is unhealthy, you should consider talking about it with that person. Sometimes by talking out your feelings and making changes to how you treat each other things can be fixed.
  • If you’ve tried talking and things aren’t getting better or you feel unsafe or scared to talk, it might be time to end the relationship. It can be hard, but you deserve healthy relationships, with people who treat you with respect.

Get someone else’s point of view

  • If you aren’t sure who to talk to, think about a person you trust and feel comfortable being around - who is a good listener, and always has your best interests at heart?
  • Feeling like you’ve identified the right person to talk to can give you the confidence you need to open up.
  • If you need additional emotional support and advice, and are under 19 years of age, you can contact Childline online at childline.org.uk or via phone on 0800 1111.

How to end a relationship?

1 Plan

  • What you want to say. Try to explain what you are feeling but remember to clearly say that you want to end the relationship.
  • Where you’ll meet. Pick a neutral place to meet where there are other people around.
  • How you’ll get home safely after meeting. Let a friend or family member know where you’re going & when they can expect you back.

2 Look after yourself

  • After a breakup, make sure you spend time doing things that make you feel good like your favourite hobbies, or seeing your best friends!

3 Remember it’s not your fault

  • The other person should respect your decision.
  • If you feel pressured or threatened talk to a trusted adult.
Post It

Always remember that a relationship should make you happy and everyone deserves to have positive relationships.

Remember! A positive relationship is based on open and honest communication, trust, respect and compassion. It has healthy boundaries that allow you to be who you are, do what you like and spend time with your friends and family.

Pay attention to unhealthy behaviours in your relationship such as power and control, disrespect and the use of physical force and ask for help if needed.

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