Different Types of Relationships

Throughout our lives, we experience different types of relationships. Each type of relationship can be healthy or unhealthy. Some relationships are a mix of both.

Romantic Feeling a special connection with a person. May or may not include sex.
Sexual Engaging in sexual activity with someone.
Friendship Someone you trust, respect, and care about.
Family A (foster) mother, father, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, guardian, other extended family.
Authority figures Teacher, counsellor, babysitter, coach, police, boss, health care worker, parent or other older family member, religious leader, etc. Someone you depend on; someone who has some power over you.

Characteristics of Healthy Relationships:


Respect is the basis of all relationships. Respect is about treating people well and showing them they are important and valued for who they are.
Trust A person is confident the other person is reliable and truthful. 
Honesty Each person can admit when they are wrong and they expect the other person to do the same. Each person can share what they think, and expect the other person to not make fun of them.
Support Each person is there for the other person, in good times and in bad times.
Equality The two people share in deciding what to do and who to spend time with. One person does not make all the decisions.
Separate identity Each person has their own life—friends, family, hobbies—separate from the other person. Each person feels comfortable doing things without the other person, including new and old activities, and other relationships.
Good communication You can talk openly with the other person about anything and everything, and know they do not judge you. You feel the other person hears what you say and takes it seriously.
Enjoyment You like being around the other person, you have fun together.
Safety You are comfortable around the other person; you know they will not hurt you.


Characteristics of Unhealthy Relationships

Jealousy When someone resents you for spending time with other people.
Clinginess When someone wants to be with you all the time and does not let you have any personal space.
Excessive Arguing When two people are constantly fighting.
Disregarding Feelings When someone doesn’t consider your feelings and doesn’t seem to care when you are upset.
Threats When someone intimidates and controls you to try to get you to do something that you do not want to do.
Persistence When someone won’t take “NO” for an answer and keeps trying to get you get to do something.
Guilt When someone makes you feel badly for saying “NO” or not agreeing to something.

In an unhealthy relationship, one person—the abuser—controls the other person through various forms of abuse.

Physical abuse

A person hits, pushes, punches, slaps, grabs, bites, scratches, strangles, kicks, and/ or uses weapons on the other person.

Emotional abuse

This takes many forms and can be very subtle. It is harder to see evidence of emotional abuse because a person has no bruises, cuts, broken bones, or scars.

  • The abuser yells at the other person, calls them names, or makes fun of them.
    ​“You’re so stupid and ugly! No one else will love you!”
  • The abuser threatens to hurt the other person, their loved ones, or themselves.
    “If you leave me, I’m going to hurt myself!”
    “If you don’t do as I say, I’m going to tell everyone all your secrets!”
  • The abuser stops the other person from seeing friends and family, tells them what to wear, follows them, calls them all the time, doesn’t allow them to have time alone.
    “If you love me, you’ll stop seeing your friends and family. I’m the only one you need.”
    “Who are you trying to impress with that dress? Go put on something else!”
  • The abuser is overly jealous or does things to make the other person jealous.

Financial abuse

A person makes sure the other person doesn’t have any direct access to money; especially not enough money to leave a relationship.

  • The abuser controls the bank account, takes away the other person’s pay cheque, and misuses money—gambles, does not pay bills.

Digital abuse

Facebook, Instagram, and texting make it easy to connect with friends and family. They also make it easy to use technology to abuse people. Someone invades the other person’s privacy—checks their phone and social media.

  • “Who’s Manny? Why is he always liking your FB pictures?”
  • “Give me your phone password.” “Why?” “Why not? Do you have something to hide?”
  • “My partner just sent me this naked picture. I’m going to send it to all my friends!” “Does he/she know?” “Ha ha of course not!”

Sharing intimate photos with others is a crime if the photo involves a minor. It is also a crime if the sender does not have consent from the person in the photo.