12 Elements of Healthy Relationships

| September 15, 2020

In every relationship, it’s important to consider how we treat one another. Whether it’s romantic, platonic, familial, intimate, or sexual, your relationship with another should be respectful, honest, and fun. 

When relationships are healthy, they promote emotional and social wellnessWhen relationships are unhealthy, you may feel drained, overwhelmed, and invisible 

In a pandemic, it’s even more important to consider how you engage with others. Boundaries, communication, and time apart are vital to having relationships everyone involved feels good about. Reflect on your current relationships and consider how you can incorporate the elements listed below: 

  • Communication. The way you talk with friends or partners is an important part of a relationship. Everyone involved should be able to communicate feelings, opinions, and beliefs. When communicating, consider tone and phrasing. Miscommunication often occurs when individuals choose to text versus talking in person or a phone call. Figuring out the best ways to express your feelings together will help eliminate miscommunication.
  • Boundaries. Boundaries are physical, emotional, and mental limits or guidelines a person sets for themselves which others need to respect. You and your partners or friends should feel comfortable in the activities you are doing together. All individuals involved should be respectful of boundaries. Whether it’s romantic, sexual, or platonic, consider what you want the relationship to look like and discuss it with the other(s).
  • Consent. Consent is important in all relationships. Consent is uncoerced permission to interact with the body or the life of another person. Coercion can look like pressure to do something, physical force, bargaining, or someone holding power over another to get what they want. Consent can look like asking about boundaries in relationships, actively listening to responses, and always respecting those boundaries.
  • Trust. Each person in the relationship should have confidence in one another. If you are questioning whether to trust someone, it may be important to communicate your feelings to them. Consider what makes you not trust someone. Is it something they did, or is it something you’ve experienced in other relationships?
  • Honesty. Honesty is important for communication. Each person within the relationship or friendship should have the opportunity to express their feelings and concerns. If you don’t feel comfortable being honest with someone, consider why and seek support if needed.
  • Independence. It’s important to have time to yourself in any relationship. Having opportunities to hang with others or time for self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship. If you live with your partner(s) or friend(s), set up designated areas within your place where you can spend time alone.
  • Equality. Each person in the relationship should have an equal say in what’s going on. Listen to each other and respect boundaries.
  • Support. Each person in the relationship should feel supported. It’s important to have compassion and empathy for one another. In addition to supporting one another, it’s important to recognize your own needs and communicate boundaries around support.
  • Responsibility. Some days you may find you said something hurtful or made a mistake. Make sure to take responsibility for your actions and do not place the blame on your partner(s) or friend(s). Taking responsibility for your actions will further trust and honesty.
  • Healthy conflict. You may think conflict is a sign of an unhealthy relationship, but talking about issues or disagreements is normal. You won’t find a person that has the exact same interests, opinions, and beliefs as you; thus, at times disagreements may occur. Communicating your feelings and opinions while being respectful and kind is part of a healthy relationship.
  • Safety. Safety is the foundation of connection in a relationship. In order to set boundaries, communicate, and have fun, everyone must feel safe. If you do not feel safe to express your feelings, have independence, or anything else on this list, seek support using the resources below.
  • Fun. In addition to all these components, you should be enjoying the time you spend with others. Again, it’s important that your relationships promote your well-being and do not diminish it.

Want to learn more about healthy relationships? Check out this quiz by Love is Respect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, the university has confidential, non-confidential, and peer-led resources you can contact for help and support.


Confidential resources provide assistance and support and information shared is protected and cannot be reported unless given explicit permission from the individual that disclosed; there is imminent threat of harm to the individual or others; the conduct involves suspected abuse of a minor under the age of 18; or otherwise permitted by law or court order.

Non-confidential resources are available to provide support or assistance to individuals but are not confidential and may have broader obligations to report information. Non-confidential resources will report information only to the necessary departments, such as Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).

Peer-led resources are available to provide support and assistance. Services are provided by Johns Hopkins students, and are non-confidential.

Hopkins Confidential Resources

  • Counseling Center: 410-516-8278 (press 1 for the on-call counselor). Serves all full-time undergraduate & graduate students from KSAS, WSE, and Peabody.
  • Counseling Center Sexual Assault HelpLine: 410-516-7333. Serves all Johns Hopkins students.
  • Student Health and Wellness Center: 410-516-4784. Serves all full-time, part-time, and visiting undergraduate and graduate students from KSAS, WSE, and Peabody. Serves post-doctoral fellows enrolled in KSAS, WSE, School of Education, and Sheridan Libraries.
  • Religious and Spiritual Life: 410-516-1880.
  • Gender Violence Prevention and Education: Alyse Campbell, acampb39@jh.edu, book a time to chat at: tinyurl.com/MeetwAlyse. Serves all Johns Hopkins students.
  • University Health Services: Serves BSPH, SOM, and SON students, residents, fellows, trainees, and spouses or domestic partners.
  • Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program (JHSAP): 443-287-7000. Serves graduate, medical, and professional students, and immediate family members.

Hopkins Non-confidential Resources

Peer-Led Resources

Community Resources