Unfortunately, determining if your relationship is healthy isn’t as easy as finding out if you’re a Gryffindor. If only! After all, relationships, whether romantic or any other kind of sexual connection, are complex interplays between people, and it can be hard to gain clarity on people and situations closest to us. This is why it’s important to regularly reflect on how your relationship is going and check in with yourself and your partner. Nonetheless, Loveisrespect.org has some great resources including quizzes on whether your relationship is healthy, unhealthy, or abusive that can help you identify your own behaviors as well as those of your partner(s).
After you check out the quizzes, consider:
- People in all relationships (healthy, unhealthy, or abusive) can feel love, care, and affection for each other, and enjoy each other’s company.
- But people in abusive relationships, or what UNC refers to as interpersonal violence, also use a wide range of abusive behaviors against their partner, including physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that cause the partner to feel intimidated, frightened, terrorized or threatened.
- This abuse may happen during the relationship or after the relationship is over.
- These abusive behaviors are rooted in a need to maintain power and control.
- Often, one partner has and seeks to maintain power and control. It may also be possible that all partners may be engaged in a power struggle, with the person who has the power changing over time. Researchers are still arguing about this.
What we do know is that, since abusive behaviors are about exerting power and control, they can be practiced both by those who are granted privilege in society and by those who have been made to feel out-of-control in their lives for some other reason—such as past trauma or oppression—and are seeking to regain a sense of power. Nothing—including past trauma—justifies abusive behavior. But knowing more about who practices abuse can prompt us to be vigilant about our own behavior in relationships and ensure they’re healthy.
To learn more about how to develop healthy relationships, please see the LGBTQ Healthy Relationship curriculum, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity. If you think you are in an abusive relationship, or are wondering if you are, please see the resources at safe.unc.edu.
Anole Halper is a graduate intern with Student Wellness. They are getting a dual Masters in social work and public health. Their research interests include sexual violence prevention and LGBTQ health equity issues.