What It Means to Be in a Healthy Romantic Relationship

Caring romantic relationships can be one of the best parts of life, boosting self-esteem and happiness.  Love and commitment to another person can happen within or outside of traditional marriage. The following are important building blocks for developing and maintaining a healthy romantic relationship with any partner. 

  • Respect and value each other. This includes understanding each other’s boundaries and what you want or do not want. Your partner should also respect your child.
  • Encourage self-confidence in each other and support each other's goals. Offer a lot of encouragement and remind your partner regularly that you believe in them.
  • Maintain individuality. Make sure to keep your same friends and hobbies. However, also be open to trying out new things with your partner and meeting their friends.
  • Practice effective communication. Speak honestly and openly with each other – this can help you build trust in each other and make you feel heard. Also, listen when the other person talks and avoid talking over or interrupting your partner. Try to be understanding of each other's feelings and needs.
  • Be willing to compromise. When you don’t see eye to eye, try to be understanding of your partner’s feelings and needs. It’s totally OK to have different perspectives and opinions.
  • Value consent. Do not bully or force the other person into activities (including sexual activities) that they are not interested in or willing to do. Both partners should feel comfortable and safe saying "no.”
  • Manage anger in healthy ways. Calmly discuss why you are angry and take a pause to think about what you want to say. Discussions that become too heated can lead to emotional or physical violence, which is unhealthy and can be dangerous for you and your child.

Sexual Health in Romantic Relationships 

It is important that both partners always consent to sexual activities. Another important part of sexual health is preventing sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV, which are spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. STIs can be harmful to your health, but many can be prevented by using condoms. To learn more about STI symptoms, testing and treatment, see our STI article. Family planning is also very important to reaching your goals and making the best life for yourself and your child. Choosing the right contraception option for you allow you to plan if and when you have another child. 

Act Now If You Are in an Unhealthy Relationship

Unhealthy relationships can be very stressful, negatively impact your emotional health, and create a bad example of relationships for your child. They can also lead to dangerous or violent behaviors such as stalking, harassing, or becoming physically violent. If your partner regularly insults you, keeps you isolated from others, or physically harms you or your child (such as pinching, shoving, slapping, or punching), we encourage you to get help. 

Here are some resources if you believe you are in an unhealthy relationship: 
  • CALL 911 if you or your child are in immediate danger.
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9471) to speak with a professional who can advise you on how to move forward with the relationship.
  • Tell family and friends so that they can help or support you.
  • Seek counseling, individually or as a couple. This can be a helpful way to talk through your feelings, share concerns you have about your relationship, and seek personalized advice on developing a healthy relationship. To find counseling, talk to your doctor or contact a local health center.