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.
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.
A polyamorous relationship is between three or more people.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
- listened to and believed
- free to make your own decisions and choices
- 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
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).