Relationship Health

Perspectives on mental health and sexuality:

Interview of Dr. Goldenberg on psychology and kink, facilitated by Sinclair Sexsmith of “The Sugarbutch Chronicles” 

Qualities of a healthy relationship:

  • Based upon trust and equal power
  • Makes you feel respected as a person
  • Makes you feel important with something to contribute
  • Encourages shared responsibility between partners
  • Practices open and honest communication
  • Each member is willing to compromise
  • The privacy of each person is respected
  • Each member accepts responsibility for her or his actions
  • Makes you feel your opinion is valuable
  • There is room for disagreement, and each member is willing to compromise
  • Conflict is managed in a respectful manner, without violence
  • Helps you grow as a person and retain your sense of self
  • Decisions are shared and discussed truthfully
  • Free from intimidation, threats, coercion, or violence
  • Sexual activity is based upon consent (to agree by free will)
  • Concerned about a relationship? Does it:
  • Help you feel good about yourself?
  • Encourage you to have outside interests and friendships?
  • Have characteristics you enjoy, and can you give examples of these?
  • Accept your needs for space and privacy?
  • Value your opinion and seek it before making major decisions?
  • Treat you with respect and courtesy?
  • Depend on honesty, respect, and shared giving and responsibility?
  • Have reasonable expectations?
  • Have room for family and other friends?

*Adapted by the University of Washington Counseling Center

What is Consent?

To consent means to give approval and to agree by free will.

Consent is based on choice.

Consent is active, not passive.

Consent is possible only when there is equal power.

Giving in because of fear is not consent.

In consent, both parties must be equally free to act.

Going along with something because of wanting to fit in, feeling bad, or being deceived is not consent.

In consent, both parties must be fully conscious, and have clearly communicated their consent.

If you can’t say “NO” comfortably, then “YES” has no meaning.
If you are unwilling to accept a “NO,” then “YES” has no meaning.

Source: Sexual Assault Prevention through Peer Education. Carrothers & Rypisi, 1997

Depending on your identity and the dynamics of your relationship, there may be several factors to consider as you reflect how healthy your relationship is. Many unhealthy relationships will follow a certain pattern of behaviors. Click here for a list of variant models of the power and control wheel, a tool commonly used to graph unhealthy relational patterns.

Need help?  Get connected:

King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Domestic Abuse Women’s Network

NW Network

Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project