Healthy & Unhealthy Relationships Affect Our Mental, Emotional, and Physical Health 

Healthy relationships with family, friends, parents, siblings, cousins, or co-workers play a vital role in our lives and are part of a healthy lifestyle. But not all relationships are healthy or good for us. An unhealthy relationship can add tension, lead to feeling distracted, and reduce our productivity at school or work.  

Relationships impact our mental, emotional, and physical health and overall well-being, so it’s essential to know the traits of healthy and unhealthy relationships and what to do if someone in your life creates an unhealthy relationship. 

In healthy relationships, we connect with others, do things together, support one another, and laugh together. When we’re having a bad day or need help, we have someone to turn to.  

As kids make friends and as teens or adults start to date, it’s common for a parent or friend to ask, “Are they nice?” or “Are they kind?” While those are valid questions, there are many more components we need to be aware of.

Signs of a healthy relationship include: 

  • Being Supportive 
  • Understanding 
  • Safety 
  • Trusting 
  • Mutually Respectful 
  • Enjoyability 
  • Authenticity 
  • Non-judgmental 
  • Accountability 
  • Empathy 
  • Valuing each other’s opinions, feelings, thoughts, and values 
  • Communicating openly 
  • Honesty 
  • Listening to each other 
  • Problem-solving together 
  • Assuming the best of the other person 
  • Investing in each other 
  • Having hobbies and friendships outside the relationship 

In a healthy relationship, you may feel: 

  • Accepted for your true self 
  • Confident  
  • Calm  
  • Secure 
  • That you bring out the best in each other 
  • Relaxed 
  • Appreciated  
  • Heard 
  • Valued 

Signs of an unhealthy relationship can include:  

  • Disregarding the other person’s feelings 
  • Disrespectful of the other person’s beliefs or values 
  • Putting down or criticizing the other person 
  • Making fun of the partner’s friends or family 
  • Being suspicious or jealous 
  • Lying to the other person 
  • Blaming the other person or uses guilt trips 
  • Monopolizing the other person’s time 
  • Limiting outside interests or friends 
  • Getting upset easily 
  • Escalating disagreements into fights 
  • Using a loud voice, harsh words, or insults to hurt the other person. 
  • Not willing to compromise 

If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you may experience: 

  • Confusion 
  • Stress 
  • Distractions 
  • Unhappiness 
  • Second-guessing yourself 
  • Guilt 
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Less productivity 
  • Irritability  
  • Less energy 
  • Anxiety 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Crying for no reason and not understanding why 
  • Weight changes 

Psychology Today, shares additional details about signs of unhealthy relationships.  

What to do if you have an Unhealthy Relationship  

Suppose we are in a friendship or relationship with any of the unhealthy traits or effects listed above. In that case, it’s important to take steps to help ourselves.  

  1. Take time to think about your relationships, the characteristics of each, and how each makes you feel. Identify any with unhealthy traits.  
  2. Determine what is unhealthy in the relationship. Does the other person make unkind comments to or about you? Do you have conflicting values in an important area? Is it something else? 
  3. Decide how to approach the other person. Such as asking for time to talk and thinking about how to start the conversation. Share your feelings with them and give them time to respond. They may not be aware that they’re doing something that bothers or hurts you and will be open to making a change.  
  4. Recognize the conversation may feel uncomfortable for both of you. To give yourself confidence, take a deep breath before meeting with the other person or starting the conversation. Sit up tall. Look the other person in the eye.  
  5. Use I phrases such as, “I feel…” instead of “You make me feel…” 
  6. Give them time to respond. You had time to decide what to talk about and prepare how to start the conversation. Be patient while they digest what you’ve shared and respond.  
  7. Pay attention to their response.  
  • If the other person is receptive, expresses concern for you, or is willing to talk it through and try to improve, these are healthy responses, and they may work to improve in this area.  
  • If they deflect, try to make you feel guilty, don’t take responsibility for their actions, or otherwise try to imply it has something to do with you rather than them, they may be unwilling to change. (i.e., I would never try to hurt you instead of I’m sorry I hurt you that way
  • If the conversation escalates into yelling, it may be helpful to revisit when both people can be calm. But if conversations or discussions result in yelling or shouting, it can also be a sign that the relationship is unhealthy.  
  1. Give it some time. It may take the other person time to become aware of when they’re using an unhealthy trait and adjust their interactions.  
  2. Decide how you want to move forward if it doesn’t get better.  
  • If it’s a co-worker or family member, you can work to limit your interaction with them. You can also think of strategies to protect yourself when you need to work with or communicate with them, such as pretending their hurtful words are a gentle bouncy ball that bounces off you when spoken (rather than absorbing them). Also, plan time to think through any hurtful comments and what you know to be true about yourself. Doing so helps neutralize their comment rather than stewing over it or doubting yourself.  
  • If it’s a friendship or dating relationship, it may be time to decide if this is the right relationship for you. If it’s a friendship, it may be okay to spend less time with the other person, but it may also be time to move on to a new friendship. If it’s a dating relationship, it’s unlikely it will improve and may get worse if the relationship leads to marriage.  
  1. Take care of yourself. Being in an unhealthy relationship can be challenging and stressful. It’s important to take care of yourself. This article has great tips for creating balance in your life, including getting enough downtime to reflect, rest, eat well, and more. This article on creating healthy routines includes information about reducing screen time, daily downtime, and getting outside each day. All are things that boost our mental and emotional health and can help you navigate an unhealthy relationship.   

Someone once said, “The most important decision you’ll make is whom you date and marry.” At Positively Impacting Communities, Inc. (PIC), we believe it’s the second most important decision after deciding to believe in and follow Jesus.  

Wishing you a lifetime of safe and healthy relationships! 

Author Bio: 

Dee Dee Said is the Author of It Doesn’t Start with a Punch: My Journey through an Abusive Teen Dating Relationship and founder of Positively Impacting Communities, Inc. (PIC). She’s passionate about helping others to be able to identify warning signs, safely leave harmful relationships, and have healthy relationships. Through PIC, Dee Dee presents information about unhealthy relationships and how to help. PIC also offers CEU for counselors. Connect with Dee Dee on PIC’s website,, subscribe to PIC’s blog or follow PIC on Facebook or Instagram  @positivelyimpactingcommunities.

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