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Unhealthy Relationships

Qualities of Unhealthy Relationships

Control is when someone makes all the decisions, tells others what to do, and does not let others do what they want. A controlling person might try to isolate a person from family and friends or become jealous. (This is not the same as parents, caregivers, teachers, and coaches having rules and guidelines in your life. The guidelines, rules, and responsibilities are to help you, even if sometimes it does not feel like it!).

Hostility is when one person tries to pick fights with the other person.

Dishonesty is when one person is lying or keeping information from another person. It could also be the person stealing from the other person. This does not include keeping information like a surprise party or a present from the other person.

Disrespect is when the person makes fun of the other person and their opinions or interests. It could also be destroying something which belongs to the other person.

Dependence is when two people feel as though they cannot live without one another, or when one person feels they cannot live without someone else. If the relationship ends or threatens to end, one person may threaten or do something drastic or unhealthy.

Intimidation is when one person tries to control another through fear (like threats of violence, insults, or isolation).

Violence can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Violence might be used to maintain control over the other person.


If you are experiencing any of these in any of your relationships, please ask for help. Tell a trusted adult and they can help you cope with it. Whichever side of the relationship you are on, talk to a trusted adult about how to develop a positive relationship.


Sometimes, we struggle with our self-esteem. There might be times when you do not feel 100% confident. That is okay! If you find yourself struggling with your self-esteem, tell a trusted adult. Low self-esteem can cause unhealthy consequences.

If you have low self-esteem, it can lead to:

  • Increased anxiety, stress, loneliness, and depression
  • Problems with relationships
  • Difficulty concentrating in schools
  • Increased risk of using drugs or alcohol


If you are struggling with treating yourself with respect, love, and compassion, talk to someone about it. Remember: for every one negative thing you tell yourself, you need to tell yourself ten positive things to cancel it out. Be kind to yourself!


If you are struggling with unhealthy relationships with others, tell someone you trust who can help you. No matter who the unhealthy relationship is with, seeking help and support will help you cope with the situation. Unhealthy relationships with others can lead to an unhealthy relationship with oneself which can negatively impact your wellbeing. You deserve to be happy!

Signs of Unhealthy Relationships With Others

Any type of relationship can be unhealthy. It can be with a friend, family member, coach, or partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.).

What Are the Signs?

Any type of relationship can be unhealthy. There are many different types of red flags (warnings) of unhealthy relationships. If any of these signs sound like what you are going through, talk to someone about it.

They could include:

  • You feel unhappy, weighed down, tired upset, or uncomfortable hanging out with the person. It could also feel this way when you think about hanging out with them or after you hang out with them.
  • It feels wrong to hang out with them.
  • You are the one who puts in all the effort.
  • They use you.
    • This could look like them always asking you for stuff but never returning it. This could even be them constantly talking about them and not wanting to hear about you.
  • They are much older than you and try to be your friend/partner. They might message you constantly or give you expensive presents. They may make you feel bad for not doing something they want to do even if it makes you uncomfortable.
    • While it can seem cool an older person is giving you attention or wants to date, this can be a red flag. They will often use manipulation to get/keep you in the relationship.
      • What is manipulation? It is skillfully influencing or controlling a person by using unfair, clever, or deceptive ways. Example: If you don’t do this, I won’t be your friend anymore.
  • They are not supportive of you and the things you find important.
  • They are not happy for you when you succeed.
  • Communication is poor.
  • Resentment.
  • Lying/cheating.
  • Disrespect.
  • Ignoring your needs.
  • Isolation. You do not hang out with your loved ones as much anymore.
  • You stop taking care of yourself.
  • There is abuse.

Further Resources

If you would like to speak to someone about mental health issues, the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line is available 24/7, offering information and referrals on any aspect of mental health.

Call toll-free: 1-877-303-2642

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Further Resources

If you would like to speak to someone about mental health issues, the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line is available 24/7, offering information and referrals on any aspect of mental health.

Call toll-free: 1-877-303-2642