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Cultivating Healthy Relationships

Relationships help us thrive

Though all relationships are different, healthy relationships involve trust, communication, boundaries and support. Healthy relationships help you thrive, support you in achieving your goals and honor all your boundaries. These relationships involve a level of independence, you are still your own person outside of the relationship and are supported in maintaining that identity.

We all have more to learn when it comes to cultivating healthy relationships with everyone we care about, including significant others, family and friends. Take a moment to learn more and consider sharing this information with someone you care about.

Learn more about the spectrum of relationships and visit the education page to browse additional topics.

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All relationships

The foundation of a healthy relationship, communication, trust, boundaries and support, can be found in all healthy relationships. It is common to assume that these are only characteristics of romantic, sexual or dating relationships, but in actuality these are necessary characteristics of all healthy relationships. For example, healthy friendships require that your boundaries be respected and that your friend supports your goals and aspirations. The same is true for our family members, professional colleagues and more.


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Healthy conflict

No relationship is perfect. That means that even healthy relationships involve conflict. In healthy relationships, conflict can be addressed respectfully and without judgment. Both partners are able to feel heard as they work to ascertain the causes of the concern. Healthy conflict does not involve yelling, belittling or shaming.


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Turn inward

It is common to compare your relationship to others, particularly when it comes to social media and how relationships are often presented in their best light via these platforms. All relationships are different and no relationship is perfect, instead of turning outward, turn inward to explore how the relationship is making you feel.

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Healthy partners trust you and the decisions you make. Unhealthy or abusive partners may require you to prove where you were or control who you can talk to.

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Healthy partners exhibit kind communication, even when a concern arises. Unhealthy or abusive partners may guilt-trip or give ultimatums.

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Healthy partners respect your boundaries. Yes, this means all of them: sexual, physical, spiritual, and emotional. Everyone goes at their own pace in relationships and everyone’s pace must be respected.

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Healthy partners support you in reaching your goals and care about what matters to you. Unhealthy or abusive partners limit or control you in a way that is not conducive to your goals.

You may begin to notice some red flags in your relationship, or a friend’s, but feel unsure about what to do next. It is normal to want to talk to someone to formulate a plan:

  • Visit ASU Counseling Services to learn more about counseling and crisis support on campus
  • Utilize the MyPlan app to further explore aspects of your, or a friend’s, relationship and be connected with resources for support.
  • Connect with the Sun Devil Support Network to talk to a peer about the resources available
  • Speak with an ASU Victim-Survivor Advocate by calling 480-965-0107 or visit the Victim and Survivor Services webpage to explore options to speak with an advocate.
  • Reach out to EMPACT’s 24-hour ASU-dedicated crisis hotline at 480-921-1006.
  • In a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

Poster messages

Healthy relationships are supportive and encourage you to succeed.

Healthy relationships build you up rather than break you down. Healthy partners and friends encourage you to reach your goals while maintaining independence outside of the relationship. This can mean your partners or friends assist you with studying for a stressful exam, offer a listening ear or give you additional space during a particularly tough week.

Healthy partners…

  • Respect your boundaries and understand that your boundaries are your own and may look different than theirs. All partners’ boundaries must be mutually respected.
  • Support your goals academically, professionally and personally by caring about what matters to you.
  • Encourage you to maintain your independence outside of the relationship. Healthy relationships involve a mixture of time spent together and time spent apart.
  • Trust you. Healthy relationships require trust and kind communication. This means that when concerns do arise they are expressed with compassion and your partner trusts the decisions you make.

All relationships are different, but all healthy relationships help you thrive by:

  • Supporting your independence. Sometimes when we’re in relationships we want to spend a lot of time with our significant other or friend and that’s okay. There should also be space for you to not only spend time alone, but for you to participate in activities that don’t involve your partner or friend. A healthy relationship supports you and your independence outside of the relationship.
  • Respecting your boundaries. Healthy relationships support all your boundaries as it relates to your finances, time, personal space and more.
  • Demonstrating trust. Healthy relationships involve a sense of trust. This trust is the result of good communication and a standard of honesty among partners.

Consent must always be present, even in relationships.

Healthy relationships mean that everyone’s boundaries are respected and that consent is present. Consent is a sober, enthusiastic “yes!” given by all partners. It is active, which means consent must be present before every act and can be removed at any time.

Consent is...

  • Mutual: All partners involved in the activity must consent. If not everyone is excited about the activity, then consent isn’t in the room.
  • Voluntary: Consent is voluntary and freely given. If someone is coerced or forced in any way to offer consent, then it is not consent.
  • Clear: Know or it’s no. If you are unsure, then you do not have consent. Being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs alters one’s thinking. When someone is under the influence of any of these substances they cannot consent.
  • Active: Consent is required before every act, every single time. Just because someone consented to some form of sexual activity earlier, does not mean they are consenting now. This also means anyone can change their mind during sexual activity; consent can be revoked at any time and must be an active part of the interaction.
  • Enthusiastic: A shrug of the shoulders or a “sure” isn’t going to suffice. Anything that leaves you wondering if the other person really does want to engage in the activity with you, isn’t consent. You want your partner(s) to be enthusiastic about the activity they are hoping to engage in with you.
  • Mandatory: Consent is required, even when in relationships. Being in a relationship with someone, of any capacity, does not negate the need for consent nor allow for consent to be assumed. There is no situation or relationship in which consent can be assumed.

No relationship is perfect and every relationship is different. Comparing your relationship to others online can:

  • Make you feel self-conscious. Comparing ourselves to others usually doesn’t make us feel empowered or uplifted. Instead it can often make us feel less-than or self-conscious. You should feel empowered to be yourself.
  • Result in unrealistic expectations. Relationships are often exclusively presented in their best light on social media and online. This may cause others to feel as if their relationship should be perfect and never involve disagreements. That is an unrealistic expectation, all relationships involve disagreements, but healthy relationships settle disagreements through respect and compromise.
  • Cause emotional distress. It can be stressful to consistently compare yourself and your relationships to others.

Instead of looking to social media for the answer, turn inward and ask yourself how the relationship makes you feel.