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Dear Dating Teens, Here’s How to Know If You’re In An Unhealthy Relationship

The teen years are all about exploring possible relationships and dating. It’s exciting to meet new people you’re attracted to and enjoy spending time together. Learning how to be in a healthy relationship is a process everyone goes through as they grow up and mature. It’s important for you to understand what you need to feel safe and secure in any relationship and when to leave if it’s not working out for you.   

Many times, teens tend to feel bad about breaking up with their boyfriends/girlfriends, so they stay in a relationship out of obligation instead of taking care of themselves and ending it. Other times, they might feel pressure from their friends so they remain in the relationship to fit into their friend group. And there are those who are fearful of ending the relationship because they worry the other will do something drastic.   

If you are in a relationship and you’re not sure if it’s good for you, there are things to consider that will help you decide if it’s a healthy or unhealthy commitment. There are many different aspects to look at in how you communicate and connect with one another. Both people in a relationship deserve to have mutual trust, respect, care, and support. How does that look in real life? 

Download This Checklist Here

Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself about your boyfriend or girlfriend (Download above or answer here): Take an honest look at each one of these to see if your relationship is more like #1 or #2, and circle each number as you go.   

  1. I feel like I can be myself around my BF/GF.   
  2. I sometimes pretend to be someone I’m not when I’m with my BF/GF.   
  1. My BF/GF accepts me for who I am.   
  2. My BF/GF wants me to change certain things about myself that I don’t want to change. 
  1. I feel comfortable telling my BF/GF anything.   
  2. I’m afraid to share certain parts of my life because I don’t think my BF/GF will understand.  
  1. My BF/GF cares about my problems.   
  2. My BF/GF doesn’t care about my problems.  
  1. My BF/GF listens to me when I tell them what I need.   
  2. My BF/GF rarely listens to me when I tell them what I need. 
  1. I trust that my BF/GF is being faithful.   
  2. I wonder if my BF/GF is secretly seeing other people. 
  1. When my BF/GF sees me do something they don’t like; they share their feelings respectfully.   
  2. When my BF/GF sees me do something they don’t like, they yell at me or threaten me. 
  1. I can make plans with other people and do my own thing whenever I want.   
  2. I have to ask for permission from my BF/GF to do stuff with other friends.  
  1. My BF/GF respects my physical boundaries.   
  2. My BF/GF pressures me into doing some sexual things I’m not comfortable doing. 
  1. When we fight, my BF/GF is always willing to talk it out.   
  2. When we fight, my BF/GF isn’t willing to see things from my side and shuts down the conversation.    
  1. My BF/GF says sorry if they make a mistake or do something wrong.   
  2. My BF/GF gets mad at me when I confront them about doing anything wrong. 
  1. My BF/GF considers my ideas when we make plans so we can choose together.   
  2. My BF/GF makes all the plans and doesn’t give me a choice in the matter.    
  1. My BF/GF is lovingly attentive to me when we spend time together.   
  2. My BF/GF sometimes ignores me or acts rude when we spend time together. 
  1.  I have the freedom to choose what I want to do and my BF/GF is supportive. 
  2.  There are certain things I’m not allowed to do because my BF/GF sets the rules.
  1. When we fight, we talk through our problems calmly.   
  2. When we fight, sometimes my BF/GF can get physical or verbally insult me.  
  1. The friends and family members I trust really like my BF/GF.  
  2. The friends and family members I trust don’t like my BF/GF. 
  1. My BF/GF makes me feel seen and valued, just being me. 
  2. My BF/GF is critical of all my flaws and weaknesses.  
  1. My BF/GF supports all the things I love to do.  
  2. My BF/GF wants me to be less social and active so I can only be with them.  
  1. I feel confident and strong when I’m around my BF/GF.   
  2. I feel insecure and nervous when I’m around my BF/GF.    
  1. My BF/GF appreciates all my strengths and talents.   
  2. My BF/GF doesn’t really acknowledge my strengths and talents. 
  1. I feel I could end the relationship on good terms even though it would be hard.  
  2. I’m scared to leave my BF/GF because they’ve threatened to do something hurtful or dangerous.    
  1. People really like and respect my BF/GF.  
  2. My BF/GF has a bad reputation.  
  1. Since we started dating, I feel like I’m becoming a better person.    
  2. Since we started dating, I’m getting into more trouble.  
  1. This relationship is helping me grow into a better person.   
  2. This relationship makes me feel stuck and I’m not progressing in anything at all. 
  1. I’m proud of all the things my BF/GF does.   
  2. I’m embarrassed and ashamed by some things my BF/GF does. 
  1. My life is much more enjoyable with my BF/GF in it.   
  2. My life is harder and more complicated with my BF/GF in it.  
  1. I feel like my BF/GF adds positivity and hope to my life.  
  2. I feel like my BF/GF adds more anxiety and stress to my life.  

If you picked #2 for any choices on the list, I urge you to seriously consider ending the relationship. Those show unhealthy symptoms and may be signs that you are in a toxic relationship. Of course, there will be difficulties in any relationship, but these key points show there could be something more serious.  

Sometimes the people we choose aren’t the people we thought they were. Instead, they turn out to be hurtful or controlling and even abusive. Please reach out to someone if you are scared your BF/GF will do something dangerous to you or anyone else or even themself if you end it. Find a trusted adult who can help you feel safe and supported through the process of breaking up. Pick a teacher, family member, parent, counselor, coach, mentor, youth leader, trainer, friend’s parent, or any other adult you feel comfortable with, and they will help you through it all.

Everyone goes through lots of heartaches and heartbreaks in their lives that teach them really important lessons about what true love really means. You are strong and capable of doing hard things, and now more than ever, you need to make this change to protect yourself from the harmful dynamics of this relationship.   It takes a lot of courage to take the next step, but I promise you, it will be worth it. And please know and believe this to be true: In time, you will find that wonderful someone who will love you well, and you will love them well too.  

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