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What is Healthy and What is 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 strong enough to tell each other how they really feel.
UnhealthyPartners feel awkward and don’t tell each other how they really feel.
AbusiveOne partner is afraid to tell the other how he or she really feels. He or she is scared of getting “put down” or threatened.


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. He or she ignores the other person’s ideas and feelings or makes fun of him or her.


HealthyA couple has disagreements and 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 he or she doesn’t want the other person to get angry and violent. The disagreement is used as 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 he or she doesn’t want to do.
UnhealthyOne partner is embarrassed to say how he or she feels or what he or she needs. This makes the person go along with things that he or she may not be comfortable with.
AbusiveOne partner ignores the other person’s needs and wants. The other partner is pushed into doing things that make him or her feel uncomfortable, afraid, or ashamed.

Time Alone

HealthyBoth partners can spend time alone and think of this as a healthy part of the relationship.
UnhealthyOne partner thinks there may be something wrong if the other person wants to do things without him or her. One partner tries to keep the other to him or herself.
AbusiveOne partner doesn’t let the other spend time doing things on his or her own because it is a threat to the relationship.

Verbal Abuse

HealthyA couple tries hard not to talk harshly to or about each other.
UnhealthyThere have been a few times harsh language was used in the relationship, but no clear pattern of abuse or violence.
AbusiveThere is a pattern of increasing or ongoing verbal or psychological abuse (e.g., not getting money, damaging belongings, threats to hurt or kill the person).


HealthyThere is no physical violence or threat of violence in the relationship.
UnhealthyThere is no clear pattern of abuse or violence.
AbusiveThere is increasing or ongoing pattern of pushing, slapping, shaking, choking, punching, or forced sexual contact.

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

Knowing that you are in an unhealthy relationship or are having unwanted sex isn’t always easy. If you have questions, or even if you aren’t sure, talk to your healthcare provider or call one of the services below.​

No one ever deserves to be the victim of abuse.

For 24/7 support, you can contact:

Current as of: February 8, 2018

Author: Domestic Violence Program, Alberta Health Services