A man and a woman stand back to back.

Recognizing Unhealthy Relationship Behaviors

Most relationships consist of a mixture of healthy and unhealthy behaviors. No relationship is perfect, but it’s important to recognize the warning signs of unhealthy behaviors. Relationships can start out great, but unreasonable expectations and controlling behaviors can emerge over time, causing common conflicts to escalate and the relationship to become abusive.

What is unhealthy behavior?

When you’re in the throes of the honeymoon phase, it’s not always easy to see how a relationship may evolve over time, or how a loving partner could become controlling or possessive. Unhealthy behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

Unhealthy behavior like abuse and control take many forms – physical, economic, emotional and/or sexual – and can happen to anyone. Learn to recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your partner get upset when you make plans to go out with your friends?
  • Is your partner obsessive about who you interact with on Facebook?
  • Does your partner talk over you or dismiss what you say in public?
  • Does your partner avoid your family get-togethers and discourage you from visiting friends and family?
  • Does your partner try to take control of all the money?
  • Does your partner discourage you from going back to school or pursuing a better career?
  • Does your partner tell you what to wear?
  • Does your partner go through your phone and read your texts?

Abuse doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner’s aim is to gain more power and control over their partner.

Do you know where your relationship lies on the scale of healthy and unhealthy behaviors?

How to get help: Family Advocacy Program and more

It is important to recognize the warning signs that could escalate into more serious forms of domestic violence. Everyone deserves to be healthy and safe in their relationships. The Department of Defense is committed to educating service members and families about domestic abuse to ensure that all active duty personnel and military family members are protected from relationship violence.

No matter where your relationship lies on the healthy/unhealthy scale, help is available and you have options. It’s safe to reach out. Talk whenever you want to. Confidential information and support is free and available 24/7.

Help is available at your installation or through Military OneSource. Contact your installation’s Family Advocacy Program for help or services, or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 for information or counseling. Military OneSource offers confidential help from experts who understand military life.

You can also reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. In a domestic violence emergency, do not hesitate to call 911.