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HealthInfo Canterbury

Relationships in teens & young adults

A group of young men and women having funRelationships are a part of being human. We all have them – with our families, friends, colleagues, boyfriends and girlfriends.

This page is mostly about intimate or close relationships with another person. This doesn't have to be a sexual relationship. It can be any relationship where there is an important emotional connection.

Healthy relationships

A healthy relationship should be meaningful and fulfilling for the people involved. When you are in a healthy relationship there will be good communication, and you will feel safe, respected, supported and cared for by the other person. You feel good when you are with them and comfortable being yourself. A healthy relationship will be based on trust and honesty. All the people involved are equal. There will never be any controlling or threatening behaviour.

If you're in a sexual relationship, you don't feel pressure at any time to have sex, and you feel respected. Sex should always be consensual – watch this video to learn more about consent.

Unhealthy relationships

An unhealthy relationship is when there is an imbalance of power and control. Relationships can change and sometimes it can be difficult to see the signs of an unhealthy relationship when you are in one. But if a relationship is unhealthy you may not feel good about yourself. You might feel scared, controlled or put down by the other person. This is a form of abuse and is never OK.


Breakups can be really hard, whether you're the person breaking up with someone, or someone break ups with you.

When a breakup happens the pain you feel might be like nothing you've ever experienced before. It can feel unbearable. It's important to remember that the pain will get better with time and you will get to feel OK again. It can help to talk to someone you trust, focus on things that make you happy and spend time with family and friends.

Grief is the feeling of sadness and pain that is a natural response to loss. If you're finding it really hard to get through it's a good idea to talk to someone experienced who can help, such as your GP. If you find it easier to talk to someone anonymously try one of the helplines listed below for advice and support.

Phone and email helplines

The phone lines and online services listed below also provide support and information.

0800 What's Up

Freephone 0800‑942‑8787. Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 11 pm. Weekends 3 pm to 11 pm.

You may prefer to chat online. Monday to Friday, 1 pm to 10 pm. Weekends 3 pm to 10 pm. You can also read all about relationships and chat to a counsellor online.


Freephone 0800‑376-633 (any time) or free txt 234 to speak to a counsellor.

You can also chat online using the webchat between 10 am and 10 pm, 7 days a week.

Email any time. Counsellors aim to respond to emails within 24 hours.

You can also read about relationships and what a healthy relationship looks like.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Information about sexual relationships and consent

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2021.


See also:

Anger in teens & young adults


Emotional & physical abuse

Grief information for teens & young adults

Page reference: 53186

Review key: HIREL-53186