What exactly do we mean by healthy relationships? Who in the relationship decides what is healthy and what is not?
Healthy relationships allow both partners to feel supported and connected but still feel independent. Communication and boundaries are the two major components of a healthy relationship. Ultimately, the two people in the relationship decide what is healthy for them and what is not.
If something doesn’t feel right, you should have the freedom to voice your concerns to your partner.
If you're feeling trapped in a relationship that's causing you pain or distress, reach out for support. We are here for you.
Communication allows you and your partner to have a deep understanding of each other, and allows you to connect. In a healthy relationship with good communication, both partners:
Each person should express to their partner what they are and are not comfortable with, when it comes to sex life, finances, family and friends, personal space and time. In a healthy relationship with boundaries, both partners:
It can be a moment for both partners to openly express to each other what they’re looking for. The saying “yes means yes” can be empowering and useful in thinking about what consent is.
Both partners should keep giving consent. Just because you’ve given consent to an act before, doesn’t mean it becomes a “given” every time. This also relates to new relationships — just because you’ve given consent to something in a different relationship doesn’t make it “automatic."
Saying yes to one act doesn’t mean you are giving consent to other acts. Each requires its own consent. For example, saying yes to oral sex doesn’t automatically mean you’re saying yes to intercourse.
If you’re married to someone, just friends or dating someone, it doesn’t mean they ‘own’ your consent by default, or that you own theirs. Consent can also be taken back at any time — even if you’re in the midst of something and feeling uncomfortable, you always have the right to stop.
The absence of a “no” does not equal a “yes.” What you or a partner chooses to wear doesn’t mean that you or they are inviting unwanted sexual attention or “pre-consenting.” The same can be said for flirting, talking, showing interest or any other actions.
It’s not consent if you’re being manipulated, pressured, or threatened to say yes. It’s also not consent if you or a partner is unable to legitimately give consent, which includes being asleep, unconscious, under the influence of conscious-altering substances or not able to understand what you’re saying yes to.
Consent is a fundamental aspect of healthy relationships. Boundaries must be respected. If you're ever unsure, uncomfortable or worried about a situation, remember you have the right to speak up and seek help.