5 Signs of a Healthy Teen Relationship
You’d be hard pressed to find a teen who isn’t glued to their smartphone these days. But what about that teen who’s being bombarded with text messages from a significant other – is that just normal behavior or perhaps a sign of “textual harassment”?
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and despite startling statistics—such as nearly 60 percent of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship—the good news is that adults can play a role in encouraging healthy dating behavior.
Here are 5 signs of a healthy teen relationship you should know:
- They give each other space to hang out with friends and family. It’s a good sign when teens are balancing all of the relationships in their lives, as well continuing to pursue hobbies and activities outside of their romantic partnership.
- It’s OK to disagree. If one partner isn’t feeling comfortable speaking their mind or seems afraid to disagree with their girlfriend/boyfriend, it could be a red flag.
- Physical boundaries are respected. Constant and affirmative consent is key, including not pressuring someone to drink alcohol or do drugs in an effort to engage in sexual activity.
- They are in control. Teens should feel able to wear clothing they choose, go where they want to go, and do what they like to do – without fear of a partner being upset or trying to control them.
- They exhibit healthy texting behavior. As long as the texts aren’t excessive or interrupting daily life, it’s not necessarily what we call “textual harassment.” If texts become abusive or if someone is pressuring for them to send private photos, it might be time to talk digital boundaries.
So what can you do to help teens maintain healthy relationships?
Get Involved with That’s Not Cool
Throughout this month, That’s Not Cool – in partnership with Love Is Respect and Break the Cycle – will be hosting numerous activities (here’s a calendar) for you and the teens in your life to raise awareness. Check out That’s Not Cool on Facebook and Twitter, along with following the hashtag #teenDVmonth, to stay in the loop.
Beyond just this month, you can also become an adult ally of That’s Not Cool and encourage the teens you know to become an ambassador.
Start the Conversation
Early education and prevention are critical. Some helpful resources:
- 10 Tips on Talking About Healthy Relationships with Teens
- Conversation Starters: Dating Abuse
- Conversation Starters: Respectful Relationships
- Talking to Your Young Teen About Friendship and Bullying
There are national hotlines that can help you or your teen 24 hours, 7 days a week:
National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474, 1-866-331-8453 (TTY)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)