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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Relationships in teens & young adults

Ngā piringa ki ngā taiohi me ngā rangatahi

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

This page is mostly about intimate or close relationships with another person. This does not 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 should be good communication. You should feel safe, respected, supported and cared for by the other person. You should feel good when you are with them and comfortable being yourself. A healthy relationship should be based on trust and honesty. All the people involved should be equal. There should never be any controlling or threatening behaviour.

If you are in a sexual relationship, you should not feel pressure at any time to have sex and you should 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.


Break-ups can be really hard, whether you are the person breaking up with someone or someone is breaking up with you.

When a break-up happens, the pain you feel might be like nothing you have ever experienced before. It can feel unbearable. It is 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 are finding it really hard to get through, it is a good idea to talk to someone experienced who can help, such as your general practice team. 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. 12 noon to 11 pm, Monday to Friday and 3 pm to 11 pm, weekends.

You may prefer to chat online. 11 am to 10.30 pm, daily.

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, Tuesday to Friday and 4:30 pm to 10 pm, Saturday to Monday.

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

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2023.


See also:

Anger in teens & young adults

Bullying information for young people

Emotional & physical abuse in teens & young adults

Grief information for teens & young adults

Page reference: 53186

Review key: HIREL-53186