My all-time favorite romance movies are the following:

  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. Love Actually
  3. Notting Hill
  4. 10 Things I Hate About You
  5. The Notebook
  6. Say Anything
  7. Pretty Woman
  8. 27 Dresses 

This is one of my favorite scenes from Pride & Prejudice: (it’s a bit slow at first, so sit back and enjoy the music!)

Elizabeth Benet and Mr. Darcy

Elizabeth Benet and Mr. Darcy

If anyone mentions a romance movie, I will provide the popcorn and drinks and come running. I love romance movies. I want to be Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice. I want Mr. Darcy to come walking towards me in the mist and tell me that he loves me, too.

I swoon, I cry, and I laugh through all of these romance movies. It is wonderful entertainment and a great girls’ night (or a date night!), but when it comes to reality, relationships do not always follow the plot of a romance movie. Movies present the ideal, but sometimes it’s the imperfections, idiosyncrasies, and quirks in your partner that make your love grow stronger.

Relationships are meaningful, fulfilling, and contribute to overall happiness. However, sometimes there are fine lines and more distinct lines when relationships move from healthy to unhealthy, and sometimes to abusive.


Healthy Relationship Characteristics:

  • Trust. Trust is essentially the foundation of forming a healthy and honest relationship.
  • Giving without expecting anything in return. This is an entirely selfless act, and a sign of really caring for your partner.
  • Accept your partner for who they are, and this goes beyond looks.
  • Respect privacy. You don’t reveal private details about your partner to anyone.
  • Arguing: is inevitable. But, if a quarrel is used as a learning experience, then you gain insight into how that other person thinks and you can continue to strengthen your bond.
  • Shared goals: are crucial, because it encourages you both to think together about you want, and communicate openly with each other.
  • Ask Questions! Show interest in your partner.
  • Support one another, always.
  • Your partner will say things like, “You look beautiful/handsome” even if you don’t feel beautiful/handsome at that particular time.
  • You feel butterflies in the pit of your stomach when you’re with your partner- that’s a great feeling.

Unhealthy Relationship Characteristics:

  • Self-centeredness: if your partner is constantly making you conform to their ideas/needs/demands.
  • Control: if your partner only wants you to spend time with them, asks where you are all the time, and doesn’t trust you on your own.
  • Private moments become the source of jokes and nagging.
  • The guilt trip: making you feel guilty all the time, for things you shouldn’t feel guilty about.
  • Jealousy, possessiveness.
  • Pressures you to have sex.
  • You feel the need to focus all energy on your partner.
  • Dropping friends, family, and/or activities you enjoy.

Signs of Abusive Relationships:

This wheel can help you visually see some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship.

This wheel can help you visually see some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship.

It can be very difficult to tell if you are in an abusive relationship, because abuse comes in many forms, including physical, emotional, verbal, and/or spiritual abuse. Some signs of an abusive relationship:

  • Physical violence – hitting, pushing, shoving, punching, kicking, etc.
  • Partner unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful all the time.
  • Partner prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family.
  • Controls your use of needed medications.
  • Threatens to hurt you.
  • Forces you to have sex.
  • Threatens to harm himself/herself when upset with you.
  • Says things like “If I can’t have you, then no one can.”
  • Degrades you by calling you names.


How To Get Help at UNH

October marked the 34th anniversary of Domestic Violence Awareness Month here in New Hampshire. It is important to know that in the US, 1 in 4 women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. 33.4% of women, and 24% men in NH have experienced physical assault by an intimate partner.

If you or a loved one may be experiencing an unhealthy or abusive relationship, the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) can offer guidance, information, and advocacy.

SHARPP’s mission statement is the following: “The mission of the Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program is to eliminate sexual and intimate partner violence. SHARPP’s mission is accomplished in two parts: by providing free and confidential advocacy and direct services to all survivors and their allies; and by offering culturally competent awareness and prevention programs to the University of New Hampshire community.”

SHARPP is a member of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. The Coalition works for legislative changes to aid victims of family violence and sexual assault.

The UNH Counseling Center offers individual counseling if you or a friend has concerns about their relationship.

UNH Health Services provides an empowerment group for women called “Being Fierce and Fabulous.” If you have questions about this group, please contact Dawn Zitney at (603) 862-4484 or email her at dawn.zitney@unh.edu. The next group starts February 2016.

Other Resources: