students sitting on the Quad chatting

What Are the Signs of Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships?

Greg Vander Wal

about the AUTHOR

Dr. Greg Vander Wal is the executive director of The University of Alabama Counseling Center and a licensed psychologist. Vander Wal has over a decade of experience in collegiate mental health services.

As we return to campus and prepare for another fantastic semester at the Capstone, we are reminded of the importance of healthy relationships. Whether it be with your roommates, loved ones or significant other, we all deserve healthy relationships that thrive with open communication, respect and kindness. As a reminder, signs of healthy relationships include:

  • the relationship moving at a comfortable pace
  • honesty
  • respect
  • kindness
  • healthy conflict where issues are openly and respectfully discussed
  • trust
  • independence
  • equality
  • taking responsibility
  • fun

While ideally all our relationships would be defined by these healthy characteristics, sometimes unhealthy relationship behaviors can creep in. It is essential to know what is unhealthy in the context of a relationship. Some unhealthy relationships signs include:

  • intensity
  • manipulation
  • sabotage
  • guilting
  • deflecting responsibility
  • possessiveness
  • isolation
  • belittling
  • volatility
  • betrayal

Relationships take work and thrive with effective communication. If you or one of your peers needs support with an unhealthy relationship or would like to learn more about enhancing your already healthy relationships, we have many campus resources to support our students.

Campus Resources

The Women and Gender Resource Center – The WGRC provides free, confidential and voluntary counseling and advocacy services to members of the UA community who are victims/survivors of interpersonal violence. Alongside individual counseling, the WGRC also hosts the Breaking Free support group. This group is inclusive and non-judgmental and covers topics of boundaries, assertiveness and healthy relationships. To schedule a one-on-one appointment with a therapist or to learn more about the Breaking Free support group, call the WGRC at 205-348-5040.

The Counseling Center – The Counseling Center helps University of Alabama students, both undergraduate and graduate, achieve academic success through a variety of counseling services. Currently enrolled UA students looking for resources on healthy relationships can join the Counseling Center’s Mind Matter’s workshop series on healthy relationships or learn about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships and relationship myths on the Counseling Center’s website. Students wishing to speak to a therapist at the Counseling Center should call 205-348-3863 to schedule a screening or a 30-minute same-day phone consultation.

The Office of Title IX – The Office of the Title IX Coordinator, a part of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Programs, receives and investigates reports of prohibited conduct and assists students and employees with supportive measures. Reports can be made directly to the Title IX office on the UAct website or anonymously online at the EthicsPoint hotline. If you have an immediate safety concern, please contact UAPD at 205-348-5454 or call 911.

This story is part of the Mental Well-being series, which features tips and insights on issues related to mental health from experts at The University of Alabama.