Healthy and unhealthy relationships

Relationships can be confusing. Especially if you really like someone but they do things you're not comfortable with.

So think about what feels right for you. And remember - always #listentoyourselfie.


Lots of people have been contacting us about their relationships. And wanting advice on what's healthy and unhealthy. So we're doing this campaign to help you work out what's right for you when it comes to relationships.

#ListenToYourSelfie is a way of reminding you to listen to your gut feeling. And if you're unsure, you can always get support.

understanding a confusing relationship

Being in a new relationship can make you feel excited, happy and in control. It’s normal to enjoy getting compliments, feeling special and safe or like you’ve got more confidence.

Relationships can often change and it can be hard to know when things are starting to go wrong.

Relationship abuse can be an ongoing thing or only happen once. The controlling or threatening behaviour could be physical, sexual, emotional, financial or psychological - by affecting you mentally.

Saying what you want

You have the right to say how you feel and to be respected. Consent in relationships is about feeling in control and saying yes or doing things because you choose to, not because someone is pressuring you to.

If someone is pressuring you to have sex, do something sexual, dangerous or violent, this is wrong. 

If you ever feel unsure, unsafe or get that sick feeling in your tummy, it could mean you’re not comfortable with what’s happening.

Being in an unhealthy relationship can mean that you’re being exploited or abused. And this is never OK. So it's important to listen to yourself. And get support at any time.

Is your body trying to tell you something?

Often when something doesn’t seem right, your body reacts by:

  • your heart beating faster
  • sweating more or feeling hot
  • finding it harder to breathe
  • feeling uneasy or tightness in your tummy
  • having a dry throat
  • dizziness or feeling like your head is spinning
  • feeling stiff and tense.

Find out what consent means

but i said yes before...

Even if you’ve said yes to something before or felt OK with stuff, you can still change your mind and say no. It can be confusing if someone is pressuring you.

Remember, it’s wrong for anyone to:

  • make you feel bad for saying no and to keep asking you
  • pressure you into feeling like you owe them something
  • bully you or call you names because they don’t agree with your decision
  • threaten to tell other people or share stuff online
  • offer you something in exchange for sex
  • force you into anything or hurt you.

It's important to think about what feels right for you. And remember - always #ListenToYourSelfie.

Top 6 signs of a good relationship: 

  1. good communication 
  2. respecting each other 
  3. trust
  4. honesty 
  5. both people feeling equal 
  6. having your own interests.

being pressured into sex

Having sex is a big decision. If you don’t feel comfortable or ready to have sex or do sexual things with someone, then you shouldn’t feel like you have to. The person you’re with should care about you enough not to pressure you or make you do something you’re not happy about.  

Consent means agreeing to do something. Sex is only ever okay if both people involved want to have sex. Having sex if someone hasn’t given their consent (which means they don’t want to have sex) is illegal and is called rape.

There can be a lot of pressure from things like music videos or online porn to have sex. And it might seem like lots of other young people are doing it. Or talking about doing it. But this shouldn’t be a reason to start having sex. Everyone is different, and you should do it because you want to, you feel ready and you are 16 or over. 

If you need to talk about sex, you can talk to us any time. You can also look at advice on Disrespect NoBody.

what to do if you feel unsafe

If your boyfriend or girlfriend makes you feel scared in your relationship, it's important to get support. Try talking to an adult you trust or to a Childline counsellor.

Having a safety plan can also help keep you safe. And help you get support.

Before creating a safety plan, it’s important to tell an adult you trust about what’s happening. Read the safety plan instructions below and make sure you print and keep your plan in a safe place where your girlfriend or boyfriend won’t see it.

worried about someone's relationship

You might be worried about a friend, relative or someone else. If you think they’re in an unhealthy relationship, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s happening or how to help them.

If someone is in an abusive relationship or being groomed, it can make it hard for them to know when something is wrong. And you might be unsure about how to help them.

Being groomed is never someone’s fault.

Things you can try