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Healthy and Unhealthy Love: What are the differences?

Written by Cindy NgoUpdated on May 17, 2023

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We hear the word "Love" frequently in our daily lives. This is one of the mental states that is hard-wired in each person. However, we've never been taught how to love. In this TED Talk, Katie Hood, CEO of One Love Foundation, shares insights into the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. This can help us to improve our relationships in life. 
This article summarizes some key points of her talk and provides some essential takeaways for you. Let's find out!

5 signs of unhealthy and healthy relationships

In her talk, Katie Hood identifies five markers of an unhealthy relationship. It includes intensity, isolation, extreme jealousy, belittling, and volatility. 
Remember, these markers can be subtle and may disguise themselves as love, making it difficult for you to recognize unhealthy behaviors in your relationships. Understanding these signs can empower you to take action and work towards healthier relationships.


Intensity is the first sign that you can notice in an unhealthy relationship. 
Unhealthy love often starts as exciting and exhilarating, but over time, and it can become overwhelming and suffocating. It’s best that you should pay attention to how you feel in the early stages of a relationship. Then you should communicate your needs to ensure both partners are comfortable with the pace of intimacy.


If your partner tries to keep you away from your own friends and family member, it's a sign of unhealthy love. In contrast, a healthy love should let both people have their own lives outside the relationship.

Extreme jealousy

Extreme jealousy will pop up in an unhealthy relationship. It can manifest as possessiveness, mistrust, and constant accusations of infidelity.
Real and healthy love should not feel threatening or desperate but always safe and worry-free. 


Unhealthy love may involve using words as weapons, with one partner making fun of or belittling the other. A healthy relationship should involve mutual respect, where partners build each other up rather than tearing each other down.


Many of us might think that volatility is normal in a relationship. Yes, it is. However, it will become an unhealthy relationship if it's like a roller coaster of emotions, with tearful fights, and break up followed by emotional makeup. 
Recognizing the signs of volatility and addressing them is crucial for a stable and healthy relationship.

Ways to make your relationship better

Step 1: Recognizing signs

Understanding and recognizing the signs of unhealthy relationships is the first step toward improving relationships. 

Step 2: Developing

Understand the fundamental elements to build a strong and healthier relationship. These include:
  • Open communication
  • Mutual respect 
  • Kindness
  • Patience

Step 3: Put it into practice 

Love is a feeling, but you can learn to love better. Through practice, this can help strengthen your romantic relationships, friendships, family relationships, and work relationships.


Speaker Biography

Katie Hood is the CEO of the One Love Foundation. With experience in public health and nonprofit organizations, Katie has dedicated years to making the world a safer, more caring place. 
Especially her focus on mental health is on relationship health and personal growth. By talking to young people on what are the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationship, she hopes it will help prevent abusive behaviors before it starts. Thus, it can guide young people in building strong and healthy relationships.

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