What Is an Unhealthy Relationship?

Jessica and her boyfriend have been together for three months. They spend every moment together, tell each other “I love you” every five seconds, and always talk about how they’re going to get married someday. Jessica’s friends are annoyed because they never see her anymore, and her family is frustrated that Jessica seems to be putting her relationship before school and her favorite activities, like drama and dance. Is Jessica’s relationship healthy?

What makes a healthy relationship?
Relationships are always complicated, especially if you don’t have a ton of experience with them. But most healthy relationships are built on several factors, including:

Communication
-You should feel comfortable talking to your partner about how you feel and what you really want.

Mutual respect
-Your partner should like you for who you are and not try to change you or pressure you to act differently.

Trust
-A little bit of jealousy is natural. But you shouldn’t feel like you constantly need to check your partner’s phone—or get nervous every time he or she talks to someone else.

Honesty
-Dishonesty doesn’t always mean major lies—it can be as small as saying “I’m five minutes away” when you haven’t even left the house yet.
-Being truthful about the little things will help you and your partner feel more comfortable being honest about the big things (like that big “we’re graduating… now what?” conversation).

Support
-Your relationships should be one of the best parts of your life and make you feel great. Support and encourage your partner and make sure they do they same for you.
-You should also feel comfortable asking your partner for help when you need it (anything from taking notes for you when you’re home sick to letting you vent about your parents’ divorce).

Compromise
-You should try to spend equal time doing the things you each want to do, and you should also equally distribute your time between friends.

Independence
-You may want to spend every second with your partner, but you shouldn’t completely lose yourself in a healthy relationship.
-It’s okay to spend some time apart! If you try to get your boyfriend to love swimming as much as you do, he should give it a try. But if he’s just not that into it, you should feel OK about hitting the pool by yourself.

What are some warning signs of an unhealthy relationship?
Healthy relationships are built on boundaries. If someone in the relationship doesn’t respect the other person’s boundaries, a relationship can become more trouble than it’s worth.

A relationship doesn’t need to be physically abusive to be unhealthy.
-But of course, physical violence or abuse is not normal or healthy. If you’re afraid of your partner or what they might do if you upset them, visit our How to Help page or call Loveisrespect to talk with a trained professional.

Your boyfriend or girlfriend shouldn’t constantly put you down or insult you.
-Again, your relationships should be one of the best parts of your life. If your partner doesn’t support you or make you feel good about yourself, being with him or her isn’t worth it.

Your partner should never pressure you to do things you don’t want to do.
-Maybe your partner wants to do go further than you sexually — you shouldn’t compromise how you feel just to appease him or her.
-If someone really loves you, that means they respect your boundaries, even if their boundaries are different.

Your partner should honor your time and allow you to have a separate identity.
-You don’t need permission from your partner to hang out with your friends or to do activities you love that he or she may not be super into.
-Your partner shouldn’t freak out if you don’t text him back right away or drop everything whenever she calls.

You shouldn’t be afraid to be honest with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
-Whether you want to go to prom but know your partner thinks it’s “lame”—or you just don’t want to order pizza for the third Friday in a row—you should be able to voice your opinion without being afraid.
-That doesn’t mean you can’t have awkward talks — feelings are always complicated and can be tough to talk about! But you shouldn’t feel guilty or nervous about every conversation.

Sometimes a relationship just feels wrong, even if you aren’t sure why.
-A relationship doesn’t need to be unhealthy for you to want to end it.
-If you’re afraid to break up or aren’t sure if your relationship is healthy, see our How to Help page or contact Loveisrespect to talk it through with someone.

Remember, just because your partner is Jewish, doesn’t mean he or she can’t be abusive.
-Abuse knows no religious, socioeconomic or ethnic boundaries and is believed to be just as prevalent among Jews as among any other demographic.
-In Israel—where the majority of the population is Jewish—thousands of women seek refuge in  battered women’s shelters each year, and in the past 15 years, according to one group that tracks this, 300 Israeli women have been killed by their domestic partners.
-For a riveting account of one woman’s abusive relationship with a Jewish boyfriend, check out When Nice Jewish Boys Aren’t So Nice.

Special thanks to our experts:
-Dr. Gary Lewandowski, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Monmouth University and editor of ScienceofRelationships.com

-Dr. Jill Murray, psychotherapist and teen relationship expert

-Brian Pinero, Chief Programs Officer for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Loveisrespect

Discover More

Depression & Suicide: What You Need to Know

Rachel hasn’t been herself lately. She used to be active on the debate team, run track, and always be up ...

Meet the Jewish Teen Who’s Capturing What Mental Illness Looks Like

Haley M. is a college freshman at the College of New Jersey majoring in art education. Her recent series of paintings, seen throughout this piece, were inspired by her experience with mental illness.

Understanding Eating Disorders

What starts as a negative attitude about body size and distorted relationship with food can quickly spiral into a major health issue. Here’s what you need to know about the warning signs and ways to treat this serious condition.