Healthy relationships allow both partners to feel supported and connected but still feel independent. COMMUNICATION and BOUNDARIES are the two major components of a healthy relationship. Ultimately, the two people in the relationship decide what is healthy for them and what is not. If something doesn’t feel right, you should have the freedom to voice your concerns to your partner.

Communication is a key part to building a healthy relationship. It allows you and your partner to have a deep understanding of each other, and allows you to connect. The first step is making sure you both want and expect the same things—being on the same page is very important. The following tips can help you create and maintain a healthy relationship:

    • Speak Up. In a healthy relationship, if something is bothering you, it’s best to talk about it instead of holding it in. Speak openly to one another about thoughts and feelings.
    • Respect Your Partner. Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value. Let your significant other know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind. Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
    • Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships, but it’s important that you find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Listen to each other and try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
    • Be Supportive. Offer reassurance and encouragement to your partner. Also, let your partner know when you need their support. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down.
    • Respect Each Other’s Privacy. Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you have to share everything and constantly be together. Healthy relationships require space.
    • Creating boundaries is a good way to keep your relationship healthy and secure. By setting boundaries together, you can both have a deeper understanding of the type of relationship that you and your partner want.
    • Do not criticize each other
    • Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and successes

Boundaries. Each person should express to their partner what they are and are not comfortable with, when it comes to sex life, finances, family and friends, personal space and time. In a healthy relationship with boundaries, both partners:

  • Allow each other to spend time with friends and family
  • Do not abuse technology to check on a partner
  • Trust each other and not require their partner to “check in”
  • Do not pressure the other to do things that they don’t want to do
  • Do not constantly accuse the other of cheating or being unfaithful

What Is Consent?

Consent allows both partners to express what they do want to experience. It can be a moment for both partners to openly express to each other what they’re looking for. The saying “yes means yes” can be empowering and useful in thinking about what consent is.

Your relationship status does not make consent automatic. If you’re married to someone, friends with someone, or dating someone, it doesn’t mean they ‘own’ your consent by default, or that you own theirs. Consent can also be taken back at any time — even if you’re in the midst of something and feeling uncomfortable, you always have the right to stop.

There’s no such thing as implied consent.The absence of a “no” does not equal a “yes.” What you or a partner chooses to wear doesn’t mean that you or they are inviting unwanted sexual attention or “pre-consenting.” The same can be said for flirting, talking, showing interest or any other actions.

It’s not consent if you’re afraid to say no. It’s not consent if you’re being manipulated, pressured, or threatened to say yes. It’s also not consent if you or a partner is unable to legitimately give consent, which includes being asleep, unconscious, under the influence of conscious-altering substances or not able to understand what you’re saying yes to.

Nonconsent means STOP. If anyone involved isn’t consenting, then what is happening is or could be rape, sexual assault or abuse.

Excerpts from the National Domestic Violence Hotline. http://www.thehotline.org/