Our top tips!
- There’s no need to rush
You may feel like you’re the only one not in a relationship, but don’t rush or force yourself into anything. People feel ready for relationships at different points in their lives – don’t compare your timeline on anyone else or feel pressured by others’ expectations.
- Focus on your own needs
Your wellbeing is important, so make sure you are sleeping and eating well and exercising regularly. If you find that a relationship is draining you, taking care of yourself can bring clarity and perspective.
Remember the importance of consent
You should always feel comfortable saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Even if you agreed to something previously, you can change your mind. It’s also really important to make sure that anyone you are in a relationship with is consensual as well.
What makes a relationship safe?
There’s no set time to be in a relationship, but if you do feel ready start one, it’s important to think about how you feel. Relationships can bring out the best in us, make us feel happy and naturally make us want to spend more time with the other person.
But sometimes it can be confusing and difficult to assess whether you’re in a healthy relationship, or to know when things aren’t quite right
Feeling emotionally and physically safe is an essential foundation for any intimate relationship. A safe relationship should be supportive and accepting, and you should be able to share your feelings without fear.
Sometimes, a relationship may start safe, but become increasingly unsafe, making it harder to identify when the relationship is no longer healthy. However, it is important that your relationship, be it with a romantic partner, your parents or friends, should enhance your life and elevate the happiness you already have.
If there is any point that you feel a relationship has become unsafe or unhealthy, you should reach out to someone immediately to get support.
What makes a relationship healthy?
There is no perfect formula for making a relationship healthy, but there are some key things you should consider:
- Mutual respect: It’s normal to not agree on everything, but you should always treat each other with respect.
- Compromise: We all have different opinions or views. Compromise is about being willing to give and take in order to come to a place of understanding.
- Honesty: It’s important to be open and truthful, not knowingly misinforming or misleading each other. This shouldn’t, however, be a license to be rude or hurtful.
- Trust: Trusting yourself and the other person includes feeling safe physically and emotionally and having the confidence to confide in and rely on them.
- Communication: Good communication is crucial: talking to each other, speaking honestly and openly, and respecting each other’s wishes.
- Individuality: One person shouldn’t be trying to control the other in a healthy relationship. You should be comfortable being yourself.
How can I create a healthy relationship?
Here are some ideas for both you and your partner to discuss and consciously act upon to prevent the relationship becoming unhealthy or unsafe:
- Take an interest in your partner’s passions and values: Try not to judge them if their beliefs don’t align your own, and take the time to see their perspective too.
- Try to keep communication as open as possible: Communication is key to forming the basis of respect, trust and honestly in a relationship. It’s important to maintain an open, non-offensive dialogue, true to yourself and each other.
- Be supportive of your partner: Offering reassurance and encouragement helps to nurture a sense of safety in the relationship.
- Respect each other’s privacy: Safe and healthy relationships require space; you don’t have to share and do everything with your partner. Taking the time to meet with friends separately and be independent fosters strength in the relationship.
Spotting the signs of an unsafe relationship
You feel afraid
You may start to feel afraid to disagree with your partner or to do certain things for fear of how your partner will react. For instance, you may not openly disagree with your partner because you believe it would spark confrontation and conflict.
You feel defensive
You may become defensive in response to how others view your relationship. This can be a sign of a troubled relationship since you are permanently trying to defend yourself against potential criticism, shaming or rejection.
Imbalance of power
Your partner should be your equal, but this is not the case if you are always seeking your partner’s approval out of fear or obedience. A power imbalance often occurs in relationships where one partner has financial or psychological control.
Feeling the pressure
Feeling pressured can come in many forms. If your partner makes you feel guilty when you want independence or time to do your own thing, this is not a positive sign. Your partner may also pressure you to do things you don’t want to do.
You’ve stopped doing things that make you happy and healthy. Reminiscing about the things you used to do is a warning sign. A safe and respectful partner would allow you to pursue your passions outside of the relationship without even thinking about it.
If your partner questions everything you do or makes you feel insecure, this may indicate controlling or abusive behaviour. You should not feel like you are constantly being questioned in your relationship; instead, you should feel safe to do whatever you want.
Demanding trust, without giving you any trust is a key way for someone to maintain control. If a partner demands your trust, but has done little to earn it, or make you feel like they are always in the right and you are always in the wrong, this can be a warning sign.
I think I might need some help... what do I do?
Being in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship will often leave people feeling helpless and isolated. You might think nobody could understand your experience and that you can’t ask anyone for help, but that isn’t true.
Find someone you can talk to so you can get the help you need. Never be afraid of getting help in these situations.
Speak to us
You don’t need to suffer in an unsafe relationship in silence. You may feel alone, you may feel scared and you may feel like we won’t understand. However, it is really important that you reach out and speak to someone. If you are struggling, our mentors will be able to talk to you and help you out.
Speak to the police
Unhealthy relationships can often include violence or other criminal acts. If you are scared and feeling stuck because of violent or emotional abuse, reach out to the police. They will be able to keep you safe.
Speak to somebody you trust
Speaking to somebody you trust is really important. Having someone who knows what is going on means that you have someone to go to if you are feeling unhappy or unsafe. Reach out to a friend or a parent.
What if I want to end the relationship?
If you do find you want to leave a relationship for any reason, don’t feel guilty. You should feel free to end the relationship if you want to.
It can be hard to do, but having a plan can help. Think about what you want to say in advance and meet somewhere with others around for your own safety.
Don’t be hard on yourself – you can ask people you trust for advice and guidance, and spend time doing things you enjoy to distract yourself.
If you are trying to leave an unsafe relationship, consider the following:
- They probably won’t change, no matter how many times they say it.
- Never make excuses for your partner, and have the courage to walk away.
- Reach out to your support network; they can keep you grounded.
- Consider keeping a journal to help document any incidents.
- Reconnect with hobbies and activities that you enjoy to take your mind off it.