Unhealthy relationships

Are you in an unhealthy relationship?

If you feel that the relationship that you are currently involved in has problems, talk to the other person in a non-threatening manner to see if you can work out a compromise.

Keys to knowing if a relationship is worth working on include:

  • Feeling at ease with the other person
  • Feeling good together and apart
  • Feeling like you're being listened to
  • Both of you being open about the past, present, and future
  • Both of you feeling cared for, appreciated, and accepted
  • Both of you being able to say no without feeling guilty

If the relationship you are worried about does not meet any of the criteria to make it worth working on, it may be time to end your unhealthy relationship before it makes a negative impact on you and your health.

Indicators of an unhealthy relationship


Can you make a decision without checking with the other person in the relationship first? Do your plans often change to accommodate this person's wishes? Do you allow your moods to change based on this person's mood? If so, you are showing signs of overdependence.


Are you always covering for this person by lying for them, doing their homework, etc.? By doing so you are enabling the other person to be unhealthy, which is reflecting on your relationship with them.


How often do you receive apologies or have to apologize to the other person? Granted, being able to apologize is a quality that every person in a relationship needs, but it's the amount and frequency of apologies that is key. If you are giving or receiving apologies frequently, this is an indicator of an unhealthy relationship.

Feeling misunderstood

If you find yourself constantly trying to explain your point of view or how you feel to someone who never seems to understand, this is a good indicator of an unhealthy relationship.


If you are always lying or suspect that someone is lying to you, that is a sign something might be wrong with the relationship.


Having sex unwillingly or feeling guilty after sex are signs of an unhealthy relationship. You are never obligated to engage in any sexual activity at any point, even if you are in a relationship.

Verbal abuse

A friend or loved one should not be calling you degrading names or cursing at you.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse includes pushing, restraining, tripping, cutting, bruising, grabbing, hitting, slapping, and pinching. If you are involved with a person who is hurting you verbally or physically, you can seek support through the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) or call their 24-hour hotline at 1-800-373-1043. It is never your fault if someone is hurting you.

University of Iowa students can schedule an appointment with a provider at Student Health and Wellness online through their MyChart account or by calling 1-319-335-8394.
Last reviewed: 
August 2017

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