Here at Respect Me, we talk a lot about Respectful Relationships and what they look and feel like. But what if you have a friendship, or even a boyfriend or girlfriend, that sometimes leaves you feeling bad or confused? In a Respectful Relationship each person has the same amount of power and control, and each person feels special and supported by the other person. If one person has more control and/or power over the other there is the chance for violence and abuse.
It’s normal to disagree or even argue sometimes, but it’s never OK for one person to hurt, insult, or threaten the other person to get their way. Arguments shouldn’t leave you feeling scared or afraid for your safety.
You deserve to feel safe and have respectful friendships, but how do you know if your friendship or relationship is becoming less respectful, or even starting to get hurtful or dangerous? Some possible warning signs include:
- Your friend gets really jealous when you hang out with other people
- Your friend tries to control what you do
- Your friend wants to hang out with you all the time without your family or friends around
- Your friend believes in rigid gender roles – such as boys do things like play sport, fight, and fix things, and girls do their nails, go shopping, and make snacks
- Your friend blames others for their problems or feelings
- You see your friend being cruel to animals and/or younger kids
- During arguments, your friend yells and calls you names
- You friend threatens or hurts you during an argument
- Your friend gets really upset if anyone criticises them.
- Your friend insults or puts down people that you care about, behind their backs
- Your friend blames you when they treat you badly, telling you that you provoked them and it’s your fault
Now, nobody is perfect, and we aren’t saying that if your friend does one of these things you need stop being friends with them. But if you notice some of these things happening, it is time to have a respectful talk with them about how it is making you feel and what kind of behaviour you would prefer in your friendship.
You could try something like this … When you are both having fun and feeling calm (Not in the middle of an argument!) say something like …
” You know when you made fun of my cousin Bailee’s dancing last weekend? I know you thought you were just teasing, but I felt really upset by that because Bailee is my favourite cousin and dancing is really important to him. You are my best friend, and I would like it if we never teased each other’s family or friends.”
Do you think you can recognise all the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship? Head to the Fun and Videos page to take a quiz on relationship warning signs and test your knowledge.