Unhealthy vs Healthy Relationships

Couple taking a walk after domestic violence counseling

Sometimes it is hard to know whether what you are experiencing in a relationship is normal or not. Healthy relationships are based on equality, fairness, trust and partnership, whilst unhealthy relationships can involve the use of various tactics to achieve power, control and dominance.

The graphics1 below may help you reflect on and identify whether your relationship is a healthy one, or not.

Unhealthy Relationships

Unhealthy Relationships


Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships


If you find yourself relating to the ‘unhealthy relationship’ wheel more, you might be experiencing family and domestic violence. Recognising that you are in an abusive relationship can be extremely difficult, but is a big step forward. It is important to start seeking help and support for yourself and/or your children.

Narcissism and Domestic Violence

Health Direct defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as someone ‘who may appear arrogant, with an inflated self-image and disregard for the feelings of others. It is part of the cluster of personality disorders with symptoms of intense and unstable emotions and a distorted self-image2.

There are many different types of personality disorders that may affect how someone behaves, including narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and many others. Each of these disorders requires a diagnosis by a mental health professional. Displaying some or all of the narcissistic traits set out below does not necessarily mean that a person has a narcissistic personality disorder. It is important not to diagnose a person using violence with a personality disorder without first seeking professional medical advice.

If a person using violence has a diagnosed mental health disorder, that disorder is not an excuse or a justification for violent or abusive behaviour, nor  do you have to accept that behaviour or excuse it as being beyond that person’s control. If a person using violence is experiencing a mental health disorder, it is that person’s responsibility to acknowledge and seek help for his or her disorder.

Some characteristics that may be observed in people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder3:

  • Dominates conversations and looks down on people he/she perceives as inferior
  • Demands compliance with his/her expectations and expect favours
  • Has an inflated sense of self-importance
  • Has a sense of entitlement, and a constant and excessive need for admiration
  • Displays a lack of empathy
  • Takes advantage of others to get what he/she wants
  • Behaves in an arrogant and pretentious manner and may appear conceited and boastful
  • Insists on having the best of everything
  • Expects to be recognised as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerates achievements and talents
  • Is preoccupied with unrealistic fantasies of power, unlimited success or ideal love
  • Believes he/she is superior and can only associate with special or high-status individuals or institutions
  • Uses others to get want he/she wants
  • Is jealous of others and believe others envy them
  • May be impatient or angry when he/she does not receive the special treatment he/she is looking for
  • Has difficulty in regulating his/her emotions and behaviours
  • Has significant interpersonal issues

You might be isolated, but you are not alone. We are here to support regional, rural or remote Western Australians experiencing family and domestic violence. To speak confidentially with an experienced counsellor you can find  help locally with our online directory, of local domestic violence support services.

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