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Supporting Teens to Have Healthy Relationships

Chatting about love with people you love is always a good idea. We have resources to help you get that conversation started. You can use our How’s Your Relationship? conversation cards or our Love Like This materials to unwind and talk. Teens are human too, so asking questions, listening up, and staying connected holds true.

When you fall in love for the first time, or second, or gazillionth, everything feels possible. Your opportunities expand, your world broadens. You get to try new foods because you’re dating someone from a different culture. You get to celebrate in different ways because every family does things a bit differently. You meet new people because your circle of friends gets bigger. In a word, everything feels roomy.

When you’re in an unhealthy relationship, things don’t feel quite as possible. Your world tends to narrow, your opportunities to hang out with people or do things you used to enjoy decrease. The person you’re dating doesn’t like your friends, so you stop hanging out with them. You stop spending time on your hobbies because the person you’re dating wants to spend all their time with you. You start wondering what you should wear because the person you’re dating always comments on your outfits. Things feel squished.

Talking to your teenager about how their relationship makes them feel can be a window into seeing if things are healthy or unhealthy. We want young people to feel like the world is wide open to them. Their relationship should help that, not hinder it. You can use our Love Like This images to help guide your conversations.

Love Like This Graphic that says "Love feels like this: Roomy" in large, nicely spaced letters. Underneath, it says "Not Like This: Squished" in tight, overlapping letters.

Staying connected at a time when it is literally your teen’s job to separate from you can feel difficult and overwhelming. And yet, it really is the most critical thing you can do. Simply being present can be a huge point of connection even if words are not exchanged. Being someone they can depend on and rely on is hugely helpful during a time in their lives when everything feels like it is in flux and constantly changing.

Happily, the support we offer the flu-stricken also works when teenagers come down with grouchy silence. Without delving into what’s wrong, we can ask if there’s anything we can do to help them feel better. Would they like our quiet company or prefer some time alone? Is there a comfort food we can offer or is there something they want to watch on TV? We send our teenagers a powerful, reassuring message when we accept and are not alarmed by their inscrutable unease: I can bear your distress, and you can, too.

Why Your Grumpy Teenager Doesn’t Want to Talk to You

There is a special hotline devoted to supporting teens called Love is Respect. You or your teen can reach out by calling 1-866-331-9474, texting LOVEIS to 22522, or chatting online at

Check out our Friends & Family Guide to learn more. Or, download a printable copy of the Friends & Family Guide