Communication is often listed as one of the most important elements of a healthy relationship

Relationships and respect

Healthy relationships basics

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Healthy relationships

Healthy relationships can bring out the best in people, allowing them to experience personal growth, more happiness, and even less stress. This is true for intimate relationships, as well as friendships and relationships with family members.

What are healthy relationships?

The first step to taking care of your relationships is to take an honest look at them. A healthy relationship has a least five important qualities:

  • safety

  • honesty

  • acceptance

  • respect

  • enjoyment

Tips for building healthy relationships

While there are many strategies and tips for building healthy relationships, here are a few ideas to get you started whether you’re beginning a new relationship or you want to improve an existing relationship:

Strive for meaningful relationships

Developing meaningful relationships can be challenging because it involves sharing our feelings as well as our needs and wants; however, being close with someone involves sharing these things.

Learning how to communicate effectively about your feelings and what’s important to you is important, as is respecting others feelings and needs.

Communicate effectively

Communication is often listed as one of the most important elements of a healthy relationship.

  • Own your opinions and reactions by using “I-statements” (ex. “I feel sad because this wasn’t how I expected things to turn out.”). I-statements allow you to take responsibility for how you think and feel without blaming the other person.
  • Take time to listen to what someone has to say.
  • Reflect your understanding back to the other person. Re-sate what you’ve heard in your own words.

Fight fairly

Most relationships will have some conflict. This is normal and means you disagree, not that you don’t like each other.

  • Keep the conversation about behaviour, not about personalities.
  • Stay in the present – focus on the current conflict and avoid bringing up past difficulties.

Make time to discuss what’s important. If you or the other person is tired or busy, be sure to find a better time to talk about what’s bothering you.

When a relationship ends

Coping with the end of a relationship

It can be difficult to cope when a relationship ends, regardless of the type of relationship or how it ended. Some of the most important things you can do are to:

  • talk to friends, family, and other trusted individuals (and, conversely, not to isolate yourself),
  • take care of your health (e.g., exercise, get enough sleep, and eat healthy food), and
  • give yourself some time to move past the pain you are experiencing
  • recognize that grief is a common experience at the end of a relationship
  • permit yourself to grieve for the loss of the relationship

If things don’t get better after you've done these things, think about talking to a counsellor. They can help you work through the pain and grief you’re experiencing.

Grief and tragedy

Managing grief

All of us experience loss at some point in our lives. Sometimes we’re able to anticipate and prepare for loss, while other times it may be sudden and unexpected. The loss might be something we experience directly, or it may happen to someone we care about.

While loss may be very difficult for you or someone you know, there are ways that you can cope and get through this challenging time.

Sexual assault

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is any unwanted act of a sexual nature. It can include anything from unwanted sexual touching, to rape or sexual exploitation.
People from all walks of life, all ages and genders can experience sexual assault. Most people know the person who assaulted them; they can be someone they know a little (e.g., a first date) or very well (e.g., a good friend or partner). Many people do not tell anyone of their assault, or even realize it was an assault until months or years later.
In Canadian law, sexual assault happens when one person does not freely consent to the sexual activity. Consent can not be given by someone who is intoxicated as a result of using drugs or alcohol. 

Get help

Related resources

A Canadian resource providing accurate, credible, and up-to-date information and education on sexual health.


Information and resources about sexual assault and consent