A healthy relationship is one where you’re free to be yourself. You’re able to dress how you choose, eat whatever you like, speak to whomever you wish without seeking your other half’s permission. A healthy relationship should be a positive experience for you both, in an environment where you feel safe and secure. A space for each of you to follow your own path, knowing that your partner is there to support and encourage you along the way.

Obviously, in a relationship you’ll want to spend time together, have fun, be intimate with each other, but you’ll also need a good balance of space to yourself and to spend time with your friends and family without your partner – we can’t live in each other’s pockets 24/7. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to set boundaries. Boundaries are necessary for setting standards for how you’d like to be treated. Boundaries help to outline our likes and dislikes; establish consent by requiring permission and respect for our values, our feelings and for our differing opinions.

A healthy relationship should make you feel good about yourself, and you should feel happy. In a healthy relationship you will feel safe, supported, loved. There should be no pressure to do anything you don’t want to do, or don’t feel ready to do.

I am not suggesting that once you enter a relationship that it’ll be your happy ever after. There will be occasional arguments, disagreements, and differences of opinion. The key word here is occasional, and the thing to remember is that in a healthy relationship these issues will be resolved, they won’t fester, nor should they come back to bite you in 6 months' time. With proper communication you can work through these issues together and come out stronger on the other side. Communication is integral to a healthy relationship. It isn’t just about what we say, it’s about the tone we use and even our body language as we communicate. Listening is equally as important as talking, though it is often over-looked. It is essential that everyone practices ‘active listening’ - this means not only listening to the words the other person is saying, but also to the message they’re trying to convey. It is important to know that your partner has paid attention and understood when you express yourself to them.

If you’re in a relationship, take some time to sit back and reflect. Do you feel respected? Are you being listened to? Do you feel worthy or worthless? Does your partner care for and support you? Do you feel that your opinions are valid? Do you have the freedom to see your friends and family without your partner checking up on you? Can you freely send messages to people without your partner feeling the need to read them? These are your rights, and no-one has the right to take them away from you.

Ellish Brown, Nexus Education & Training Team