Identifying an unhealthy relationship

College is a time when everyone is trying new things out. Whether that’s trying sushi for the first time, experimenting with your sexuality, or just dating different types of people, it’s a great time in your life to understand your preferences. As you go through these experiences, be kind to yourself as you learn. My hope for you is that you are able to experience an amazing relationship that makes you so happy you can barely see straight. But if you do get into a serious relationship, you still might want to look out for some signs that the relationship may be unhealthy. Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Jealously or possessiveness: Either partner has an irrational fear about what their partner is doing. Signs of control may be checking your phone, preventing you from going places, or making you feel guilty.
  • Dishonesty: Whether you or your partner are not telling the truth, it’s a sign that it’s likely time to part ways. Healthy relationships are built on open communication and without this foundation, your relationship does not have a foot to stand upon.
  • Abuse in any way: Whether it is sexual, emotional, verbal, physical—no form of abuse is okay. You deserve to be treated with dignity and any partner that inflicts harm on their partner should not stay in the relationship.

Of course, breaking up can be an extremely painful process. Not only is that person your partner, but also your best friend. Even if unhealthy, the end of the relationship is still a loss. If you identified with any of what we discussed today, I strongly encourage you to check out your school’s counseling center. The therapists there are trained to work with relationship distress on a regular basis and they can help you work through the pain. The same goes if you have a friend that you’re worried about. Find the courage to express your concern for them and support them in the process of getting help. Remember, you are never alone and support is always here for you.


Lauren Cook is a speaker and author specializing in mental health, particularly for young adults. Her book, Name Your Story, focuses on how to help families have conversations surrounding mental health while integrating opportunities for wellbeing. Lauren has developed an online learning curriculum within the Name Your Story program that specifically educates collegians about how to improve their mental health by noticing signs and symptoms of distress while integrating preventative self-care. Lauren has her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and is getting her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University. She currently works with clients at the Pepperdine Encino Counseling Center along with the UCLA Center for the Assessment and Prevention of Prodromal States.

SPEAK UP, LaunchPoint Solutions

Alpha Sigma Alpha, in partnership with LaunchPoint Solutions, introduced the SPEAK UP program to all collegiate members in January 2018. SPEAK UP empowers members to take a stand against sexual assault and gives them the tools they need to speak up and intervene in difficult situations. The SPEAK UP program offers video-based online learning experiences on a multitude of topics. SPEAK UP will help members understand the concepts of healthy relationships, bystander intervention, self-care and consent, and alcohol and risk reduction. To learn more or view the SPEAK UP videos, please visit 

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