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Respectful Relationships

Every relationship is different, but in a healthy relationship you should feel respected, safe and free to be yourself.

On this page you can learn about what it means to be in a respectful relationship.

Watch the Relationships Australia Victoria video (external website) 'Tips for a Healthy Relationship':

Tip: Click the subtitles button in the bottom right hand corner of the video to turn closed captions on and off.

What is a relationship?

A relationship is a close connection between two or more people.

We all have relationships with our family, friends and co-workers. But when people talk about relationships, they often mean a romantic or intimate relationship between people who are dating, living together or married.

Every romantic relationship is different and different types of relationships can work differently for different people, depending on people's needs and circumstances.

Types of intimate relationships

There are lots of different types of intimate relationships. The most common types are listed below.

Photo of two young woman with long brunette hair kissing.

Monogamous relationships

A monogamous relationship is between only two people. Monogamous relationships are the type of relationship people are usually in when they are married or living together and are the most common type of relationship in Australia.

Polyamorous relationships

A polyamorous relationship is between three or more people.

Open relationships

Open relationships are a mix of monogamous and polyamorous relationships. Like monogamous relationships, open relationships involve two people who are committed to each other romantically but they may have other sexual partners.

Casual sex relationships

In a casual sex relationship the people involved agree to have sex, but that is all. There is no committed relationship on top of this.

Gender, sexuality and relationships
All relationships can include people of different genders or the same gender.
The gender of the people you form relationships with depends on your sexuality.
Learn more on the Gender and Sexuality page.

What is a respectful relationship?

In a respectful relationship, the people involved are committed to each other and accept their partner or partners as they are.

Respect

In a healthy relationship, you should not feel like you have to change yourself, or always put the wants of someone else before your own. Healthy relationships involve respecting each other’s decisions, feelings, thoughts and ideas.

Photo of two people's legs who look like they are kissing. One person has foot on in the air.

Equity

In any relationship, the people involved should be equally valued. It is not OK for one person to control everything or act like their life is more important. If you live with your partner, that person should not expect you to do everything, like cleaning and paying bills. People have different ways of sharing paid and unpaid work in relationships. There is no right or wrong way, but it is important that your arrangement is discussed and agreed to by both of you.

Freedom

In relationships, you should share interests and do things together, but you should also be free to have your own friends and interests outside of the relationship.

It is not OK for your partner to stop you from seeing your friends or family, or from doing the things you want to do.

Communication

Communication is important in any relationship. No matter how often you talk to each other, it is important that you listen and be respectful. It is okay to have disagreements, but each person should feel that their views are being listened to.  

Safety

Regardless of what type of relationship you are in you have the right to feel and be safe at all times.
If there is a problem, you should feel safe to talk about it, without being scared of the outcome.

Violence and abuse in relationships is never OK.

If you experience violence or abuse in a relationship you can contact 1800RESPECT for support and counselling. Call 1800 737 732 or chat to someone online (external link).

Signs of an unhealthy relationship

In a healthy relationship, you should feel:

  • safe
  • happy
  • unafraid
  • listened to and believed
  • free to make your own decisions and choices
  • supported
  • allowed to ask for help
  • able to live by your values.


In an unhealthy relationship, you may feel:

  • bad about yourself
  • isolated and unable to talk about how you feel
  • anxious and depressed
  • scared
  • stressed
  • angry
  • trapped
  • overwhelmed.
Tip: If you think you may be in an unhealthy relationship you can get support. Find out where to get support on the Relationships Australia website (external link).

Important Resources

Publications
WWDA Position Statement 1: Right to Freedom from Violence
Information from WWDA about the right to safety from all forms of violence and abuse.
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Guides
Down Syndrome Australia: Healthy Relationships and Sexuality
Information about relationships and sexuality for people with Down syndrome and their families.
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External website
1800RESPECT
A 24-hour confidential information, counselling and support service. Phone or chat online now.
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Checklist
Our Site Checklist: Are You Experiencing Violence?
Violence can be hard to recognise when you are the one experiencing it. This checklist can help you identify if you are experiencing violence.
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Guides
Our Site Fact Sheet: Types of Relationships
A fact sheet about different types of relationships.
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Guides
WWDA Easy English Book: What is LGBTIQA+?
Easy English book about what LGBTIQA+ means.
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Guides
Engender Equality: Love, Sex and Intimacy. Respect in Relationships
A booklet about respectful healthy relationships.
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Guides
1800 Respect Easy English Book 1 - Learn About Violence
Easy English book about violence.
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Guides
1800 Respect Easy English Book 2 - Learn About Rights
Easy English book about your right to be safe from violence.
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Guides
1800 Respect Easy English Book 3 - Where Violence Happens and Who Can Do Violence
Easy English book about where violence happesns and who can do violence.
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Where to next:

External website
Amaze
A website with a series of fun, animated videos that give you all the answers you want to know about sex, your body and relationships.
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External website
QLife
A website providing anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.
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External website
Choice Support: Supported Loving Toolkit
The Supported Loving toolkit is a series of guides to help support people with learning disabilities with issues around sex and relationships.
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External website
Family Violence Law Help
A website where you can learn about domestic and family violence and the law in Australia.
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External website
Say it Out Loud
A website that encourages people from LGBTIQ communities to start talking about their relationships publicly.
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External website
More Than Two
A website about polyamorous relationships: having simultaneous close romantic relationships with two or more other individuals.
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External website
Family Relationships Online: Legal Advice
Information about where to get legal assistance for family law disputes.
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External website
Relationships Australia
A website that supports individuals and couples to think about their relationship, and to explore ways of making their relationship happier and more fulfilling.
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