Megan Lynch was 24 when she met Aaron at a bar in Baltimore. He was attractive, he liked to party, and she needed to blow off steam since beginning her PhD at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He was a perfect solution for a while, but it wasn’t supposed to be serious.

Her fling turned into a six-month relationship, which continued even when he began to physically and emotionally abuse her.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, relationships have as much of an impact on one’s health as exercise and diet. Romantic relationships aren’t the only type that can be unhealthy, though. Friendships and professional relationships can also be toxic to a person.

Mellisa Holtzman, a sociology professor at Ball State University, says that open communication, honesty, and mutual respect are key aspects of a healthy relationship. If those aren’t there, both the health of the relationship and the people involved can suffer.

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