Center for Young Women's Health

Healthy Relationships

 

Healthy relationships are fun and make you feel good about yourself. You can have a healthy relationship with anyone in your life, including your family, friends and dating partners.

 

What makes a relationship healthy?

Communication & Sharing: The most important part of any healthy relationship between two people is being able to talk and listen to one another. In healthy relationships, people don't lie. Communication is based on honesty and trust.

 

Respect and Trust: In healthy relationships, you learn to respect and trust important people in your life. Disagreements may still happen, but you learn to stay calm and talk about how you feel. Talking calmly helps you to understand the real reason for not getting along, and it's much easier to figure out how to fix it. In healthy relationships, working through disagreements often makes the relationship stronger.

 

How do I know that I have a healthy relationship with someone?

If you don't feel that there is communication, sharing and trust, you are probably in an unhealthy relationship. You may want to try talking to the other person about how you are feeling. You may even need to end the relationship. If it's hard for you to stop spending time with the other person because you care about them, talk about how to make your relationship healthier or ask a trusted adult for advice. By learning how to build healthy relationships now, you will be able to have healthy relationships with the people you meet throughout your life!

 

Real Life: Family

"My sister is so annoying! She's driving me crazy!"

 

Jenny and her sister Sarah fight all the time. Jenny is angry with Sarah because she barges into her room and takes her things without asking. Sarah complains that Jenny yells too much and spends all of her time on the family computer.

 

Your brothers and sisters can upset you sometimes. You may get angry if they take something that is yours, go into your room, hit you, or bother you when you have friends over. Your older brothers or sisters may try to boss you around and tell you what to do. Your younger brothers or sisters may borrow your things or want to be around you all the time.

 

When you argue with your friends, you can go home and get away from them. But, when you argue with a brother or sister, they are in your house and you may feel like you can't get away from them. It’s normal to get angry and upset with your brothers and sisters. However, it's not OK to hurt them. Talking things out and coming up with rules that you and your brothers and sisters agree on will make living together a lot easier.

 

Here are some ways to handle an argument and help you to avoid fighting with your brother(s) or sister(s):

Now that you have some ideas on how to avoid fighting, you may want to think about how to work on building a healthy relationship with your brother or sister. Talking about the things that are bothering you in a calm way really helps. Doing things together, like going on a bike-ride or watching a movie will give you a chance to talk to each other and enjoy the time that you spend together too.

 

Real Life: Friends

"Why should I do what YOU say?"

 

Abby and Maria have been friends for a long time. Abby has been upset because Maria always decides where they are going and what they are going to do. Maria also tells Abby who she can be friends with. Abby feels pressured to do what Maria tells her to do.

 

Friendships can be complicated at this time in your life. You may be making new friends while you are trying to keep old friends. One thing that can make any relationship complicated is peer pressure. Peer pressure is when you chose to do something you usually wouldn't do, or you stop doing something that you normally would do because you are worried about what your friends will think. Some friends may pressure you to do something because "everyone else does it," such as making fun of someone. One of the biggest challenges that you may have to face is standing up to a friend.

 

Here are tips to help you handle a disagreement with a friend:

Real Life: Dating

"A boy that I like kissed me at the dance... Are we dating now?"

 

Anna and Jamal like each other. They met a few weeks ago at a dance. They want to get to know each other but don't know what to do next.

 

There is no best age for teens to begin dating. Every person will be ready for a dating relationship at a different time. Different families may have certain rules about dating too. When you decide to start a new dating relationship, it should be because you care about someone and not because you feel like you have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. A dating relationship is a special chance to get to know someone, share your thoughts and feelings with each other, and do activities together.

 

Healthy dating relationships should start with the same ingredients that healthy friendships have, such as good communication, honesty, and respect. Dating relationships are a little different because they may include physical affection, like hugging, kissing, or holding hands. As with all relationships, it may be tempting at first for you to spend all of your time with your new partner. But, making special time to spend together and apart means that you will be able to work on having a healthy relationship with the person you are dating and with other people in your life, like your friends and family.

 

You should NEVER feel pressured to do something that you don't want to do. He/she should always respect your right to say no to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. It is important that you are both clear with each other about your values and your limits from the start. By talking about how each of you feel about a lot of things, you may avoid getting into situations where you are pressured into making a decision on the spot about something very important.

 

Here are some tips for starting a healthy dating relationship and ways to stay safe:

Dating relationships can be a fun and exciting part of your life now. They may be a little confusing, especially if dating is new to you. Once you know that the person that you like, likes you too, you may be unsure of what to do next. You can start by learning about what makes a dating relationship healthy. The most important thing to remember is staying safe, especially when you begin to date.

 

Real Life: Parents

"I hate these stupid rules!"

 

Kim has been arguing with her parents a lot lately. She feels that all the rules that her parents set are unfair. They tell her that she needs to listen and obey them.

 

Your relationship with your parents may be confusing right now. While you may feel ready to make your own decisions about where and when you go places, your parents will set limits. The reason that your parents do this is because they care about you and want to protect you from danger. You may find that you are fighting with your parents more than you used to.

 

Here are some tips for how to avoid and handle arguments with your parents:

Remember that healthy relationships are about feeling good about who YOU are and feeling SAFE with another person. You have the power to create healthy relationships all around you just by paying attention to who you are inside and what makes you happy. By getting to know yourself, it will get easier to recognize the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Communication, trust and respect are the key ingredients for healthy relationships.

 

Written and reviewed by the CYWH Staff at Boston Children's Hospital

 

Updated: 3/14/2014

 

Related Guides:

Safety In Relationships

In healthy relationships, there is respect and honesty between both people. This means that you listen to each other's thoughts and opinions, and accept each other's right to say no or to change your mind without giving each other a hard time. Communication is very important...

 

Friendships

Friendships are fun and make us feel special, but it's also normal for friendships to be complicated and confusing sometimes...

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