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Dating Basics: What Should I Look For?

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There are lots of different qualities that you might be attracted to in a person, physically, emotionally, intellectually, or otherwise. Every relationship is unique and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new partner, whether they’re your first or just your favorite.

All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to unhealthy to abusive, and it’s important to know what to look for in a partner — both good and bad — to make sure you’re building a healthy relationship.

How healthy is my relationship?

A healthy partner encourages you to achieve your goals. They don’t resent your accomplishments or make you feel guilty for spending time with other people, and they aren’t excessively jealous. Ask yourself if:

  • Your partner respects you and your individuality.
  • You feel safe being open and honest with each other.
  • Your partner supports you and your decisions even when they disagree with you.
  • You and your partner have equal say and boundaries that are respected.
  • Your partner understands and respects your need to spend time with friends or family.
  • You can communicate your feelings without being afraid of negative consequences.

But my partner doesn’t physically hurt me…

Just because there’s no physical abuse in your relationship doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or that abuse isn’t occurring in other forms. It’s not healthy if:

  • Your partner is inconsiderate, disrespectful, or distrustful.
  • Your partner doesn’t communicate their feelings.
  • Your partner tries to control you or isolate you emotionally or financially.
  • Your partner humiliates you online or in front of your friends.
  • Your partner prevents you from getting a job or gets you fired.
  • Your partner threatens to out you or reveal information about you to your family or others.

When is it abuse?

The line between unhealthy and abusive behavior isn’t always clear, but abusive actions should never be written off as “normal.” No matter the situation, everybody deserves to be in a healthy relationship free from violence, and you should always take it seriously if there’s violence in your relationship.

If you think you might be in an abusive relationship, you may be confused about what to do or afraid of what will happen if you leave or tell others. If you’re physically or financially dependent on your partner, leaving might feel impossible. Remember: you always have options. Our advocates are available 24/7 to discuss your situation and help you make an informed decision that’s best for you. Learn more about identifying signs of abuse.

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