Addressing your unhealthy relationship

Learn what you can do if you think your friendship or romantic relationship has signs of unhealthy behavior.

Unhealthy relationships are built on power and control, instead of equity and respect. In the beginning, unhealthy behaviors might not seem like a big deal. However, insults, jealous accusations, yelling, put-downs, shoving, pushing or other abusive behaviors, are unhealthy and disrespectful. You deserve to be respected.

If you ever feel like you’re in physical danger, call 911 if it is safe to do so. To talk to an advocate, you can call the 24/7 National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text loveis to 22522.

Focus on your safety

If you think your friendship or relationship is unhealthy, think about your safety.

  • Remember, people can only change if they want to. You can’t force the situation – especially if the other person doesn’t think they’re wrong.
  • Trust your gut. If you feel like something is not right, listen to that inner voice.
  • Relationships shouldn’t drain you. If yours is, think about ending it. You deserve to feel good in your relationships.
  • Focus on yourself and your needs. Your wellness is the most important thing. Keep an eye on your stress levels, try to get enough sleep, and be sure to spend time with friends and family. Support systems can help you feel less isolated.

You can’t change your partner or friend’s behavior, but you can make changes in your own life to stay safe. Consider ending the relationship before it gets worse. If you do leave, use a safety plan.

Talk to someone you trust or contact a service provider for support

You don’t have to go through an unhealthy relationship alone. If you are ready to talk about your situation, find someone you trust. This might be a family member, friend, teacher, counselor, coach, coworker, or someone else. You can start by asking them to listen, and take it step by step at the pace you’re comfortable with. You can search for local service providers if you would like to speak to an advocate about options, resources, and/or support. You can also call the 24/7 National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at (866) 331-9474 or text: loveis to 22522.

What you can say

If you don’t know how to begin the conversation, try starting with one of these:

  • “I haven’t been feeling good about my relationship. Can I talk to you about it?”
  • “Do you have any advice about dealing with a friend that isn’t treating me right?”
  • “I don’t know that I’m ready to leave yet, but can I share some things with you about issues happening in my relationship?”
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