Types of Unhealthy Relationships

Unhealthy relationships can have different forms.Unhealthy relationships can have different forms.

Relationships between people can be a source of great pleasure or a source of intense pain and torment. People in unhealthy relationships experience all kinds of negative emotions that impact their lives, such as guilt, low-self-esteem, rejection and loneliness. They also may be physically harmed. Healthy relationships are usually relationships where respect, honesty and empathy prevail.

Sexually Abusive

A sexually abusive relationship is where one partner asserts control and dominance over the other through the use of sexual power. At an extreme level, this can involve rape and forced sexual activity. At a more subtle level, this can involve one partner exerting emotional pressure on another to do sexual things the other partner does not feel comfortable doing.

Physically/Verbally Abusive

Physically and/or verbally abusive relationships are a very common type of unhealthy relationship. In these relationships, one or both partners may engage in verbal abuse to make the other feel less confident and, therefore, more dependent on the other or more inclined to do what the other wishes. Verbal abuse may be direct, violent and confrontational, or it may be subtle, such as quiet put-downs or small but derogatory comments. Similarly, physical abuse can range greatly in scale from extreme physical violence to minor acts of physical domination.


Another type of unhealthy relationship is the unequal relationship. This is where one partner has a greater emotional stake invested in the relationship than the other. One partner may be totally committed to the other, yet, in return, faces indifference and hostility or may simply feel that his feelings and devotion are not returned in equal measure. The inequality results in desperation to please the more indifferent partner, which can lead to other forms of unhealthy behavior and a loss of self-esteem.

Economically Abusive

An economically abusive relationship can be characterized by one partner exerting economic control over the other. It may be that one partner earns more than the other and uses this fact to control the finances or simply constantly reminds the other of the lack of financial equality. It also may be that one partner abuses the other’s financial health by spending the other’s money without asking or assuming control of the finances and having little to do with contributing to them.

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