Building healthy, respectful relationships

Key points about respectful relationships

  • Although most people treat their partners with respect, some hold the belief that they have more rights and power than their partner does.
  • Challenging these ideas and learning how to treat your partner with respect will not only give you a better relationship but will also lead to a happier, more satisfying life. 
  • Here are our top tips for building a respectful relationship.
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1. Equality

A key aspect of any healthy relationship is equality. That means both people in the relationship have equal power. One person shouldn’t have power or control over the other person. Decisions should be made together, not for the other person. Both voices must be heard fairly and decisions reached together. One person should not be 'in charge' of the other person. 

2. Communication

Good communication involves being a good listener and talking openly about how you’re feeling. It also involves respecting the other person’s thoughts, feelings and opinions. Good communication helps you feel connected and supported. Conflict arises in all relationships so you need to talk things through in a respectful way to help resolve disagreements.

3. Consent

Consent to sexual activity in any kind of context or relationship should never be assumed. You must never pressure a person into doing something they’re not comfortable doing. Both people must consent and each person has a right to change their mind at any time. Sexual activity without consent is illegal.

4. Taking responsibility

It’s important to take responsibility for your actions if you are violent or disrespectful towards your partner. If you find yourself in that situation you need to take steps to change your behaviour. Begin by believing your life can get better, talking to someone you trust, becoming aware of your feelings and learning about your own behaviour.

5. Helping others

You can help others around you to be respectful to their partners. Encourage family members to respect their partners and talk about what it means to be in a healthy relationship. If you hear or see anything disrespectful, speak up and let the person know it’s not okay to speak or act like that.

Video: Raise Our Men

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(White Ribbon NZ, 2017)

White Ribbon(external link) is an organisation working towards ending men’s violence against women. They’ve produced a toolbox(external link) for men that gives practical tips on how to treat women equally and with respect.

You, Me, Us(external link) provides advice on healthy relationships and what to do when things go wrong for the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, takatāpui, queer, fa'afafine) community.

If you are concerned about violence, these organisations can help or offer advice:

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Credits: Healthify Editorial Team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

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