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When relationships happen online, it can be harder to know what is healthy and what isn’t.
Healthy online relationships require the same key ingredients as healthy offline relationships:
These are some examples of behaviours that may occur in online relationships that are never okay.
You (and only you) have the right to decide who you connect with on social media.
Sending threats or spreading rumours online is a form of online bullying and is never okay.
Receiving nudes requires your consent. The same goes with sending nudes to someone else – you should not feel pressured into doing this.
You should never be made to do anything that you are not comfortable doing, this includes sexting. The people we are in relationships with should respect our wants AND limitations.
This is called image-based abuse and in many cases, is a criminal offence. Intimate content should NEVER be shared without a person’s consent.
Everyone has the right to their own privacy. In a healthy relationship, people trust one another and don’t feel the need to monitor each other’s online activity. Not everything in a relationship has to be shared, this includes passwords.
You should not be expected to be available 24/7, online or offline. A healthy relationship does NOT involve people getting angry at each other for not replying to messages and/or calls right away.
Trust is super important for a healthy relationship. There should not be the need for people to monitor each other’s online activity.
This is a form of online bullying. People should not be tagged in online content unless they have given their consent for this to happen.
Everyone in the relationship must consent to the relationship being made public online. Privacy means different things to different people, and so it’s important that digital boundaries are communicated and respected.
When words are used as weapons online, they can cause the same amount of hurt and damage as unkind words said in person. NO ONE deserves to be put down or encouraged to self-harm, ever.
To note - These are just some examples of abusive online relationship behaviours. If there are other things happening in your online relationship that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, then it’s important to take note of how you’re feeling and seek support.
We should never excuse abusive behaviour, even if we care about the other person or they say they care about us. Being violent, controlling, possessive, manipulative or angry is not a way of showing care, love and respect both online and offline.
Do you think you might be in an unhealthy online relationship?
If you recognise any of these behaviours happening in your own online relationship, it’s important to know that it’s not your fault, and that lots of support is out there to help you know what to do next. It can help to talk to an adult you trust, or get in touch with a support service here: