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

Relationships and respect

Healthy relationships basics

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. 

Help others

How to help if you're concerned about another student

It’s easy to doubt your judgment about whether someone needs help, especially if the person you’re worried about denies that anything is wrong. However, don’t fall into the trap of doing nothing out of uncertainty.

Recognize the signs and symptoms of distress

Stated need for help

The person you are concerned about may communicate the need for help directly. It's important to listen not only to what is being said, but also how it is being said (e.g., tone of voice, expressions, gestures).

References to suicide

Regardless of the circumstances or context, anyone who makes a reference to committing suicide should be considered in need of immediate help.

Marked changes in mood or behaviour

Actions that are inconsistent with their normal behaviour may indicate that they are experiencing psychological distress.

Difficulties communicating and/or apparent distortions of reality

Communication difficulties and apparent distortions of reality may indicate a more severe psychological difficulty that requires professional assessment and treatment.

Harm to or from others

Behaviours that pose a threat to other students, staff, or faculty members must be immediately addressed.

Traumatic changes in personal relationships

Someone who is experiencing a traumatic change in a personal relationship or interpersonal difficulties may need assistance to cope effectively.

Drug and alcohol misuse

Drug misuse or drug dependence is almost always indicative of psychological difficulties.

Disordered eating

In the case of disordered eating such as excessive dieting, uncontrolled binge eating, or induced vomiting after eating, professional treatment should be accessed as soon as possible.

Talk to the person you’re concerned about

  • Talk to your friend about your concerns and show your support in a non-judgmental way.
  • Let the person know you support them, that they are not alone, and that you have had difficulties too. Avoid simplifying the problem by looking through the lens of your own experience.
  • Encourage the person to see a health care professional and offer to come to the appointment with them. If they are uncomfortable or unable to communicate the problem, offer to do it with them.
  • Communicate that getting help is not weak. Many people will deny that they need help, believing that they should be able to cope on their own, but this is a false and harmful belief; true strength is admitting when you need help.

Connect with experienced students

Wellness Centre, Student Services
  • Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
    1961 East Mall  Room 183
    VancouverBC Canada V6T 1Z1

The Wellness Centre is staffed by trained student volunteers who have a passion for mental and physical health promotion.

Speakeasy, AMS
  • AMS Nest
    6133 University Blvd  Room 3121
    VancouverBC Canada V6T 1Z1

Speakeasy is staffed by trained student volunteers and offers peer support, information, and referrals to the UBC community.

Get support from UBC professionals

Counselling Services, Student Services
  • Brock Hall
    1874 East Mall  Room 1040
    VancouverBC Canada V6T 1Z1
  • First Nations House of Learning
    (Counselling for Aboriginal students)  1985 West Mall
    VancouverBC Canada V6T 1Z2

Counselling Services offers free and confidential counselling for UBC students wanting assistance with a wide range of mental health concerns.

Student Health Service, Vancouver Campus, Student Services
  • UBC Hospital
    2211 Wesbrook Mall  Room M334, Koerner Pavilion
    VancouverBC Canada V6T 1Z3

Student Health Service offers health care for registered UBC students year-round. Services are provided by family doctors and registered nurses.

Sexual Assault Support Centre, AMS
  • Student Union Building
    6138 Student Union Boulevard  Room 249M
    VancouverBC Canada V6T 1Z1

Provides survivors of sexual assault (female, male, and trans, as well as their friends, family members, and partners) with emotional, medical, and legal support.

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