Unhealthy romantic relationships among young persons: Implication for social work practice in Nigeria

  • Prince C. Ekoh, Agha A. Agha
  • Chukwuemeka Ejimkaraonye


Human beings engage in several productive and/or unproductive relationships during their lifetime. Romantic relationship, one of such relationships, can be both exhilarating and supportive, but it can also be destructive. In recognition of humans as psychosocial beings capable of experiencing social suffering, this paper explored how young people identify and deal with unhealthy romantic relationships. Symbolic interaction theory was adopted for the study. Focus group discussion (FGD) and in-debt interviews were conducted with 28 young adults in a community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu state, Nigeria. Twenty-four persons participated in the FGD while 4 persons were interviewed. The result showed that many adolescents and young adults, especially the women, unknowingly entered unhealthy romantic relationships where they suffered emotional, psychological and physical abuses. Some chose to stay in it for the values they got, while others opted out after they had tried but failed to get the relationship to work productively. Implications of these findings for social work practice in Nigeria were explored. The study recommended prompt intervention of social workers in advocacy and counselling, identifying patterns of behaviour in an unhealthy romantic relationship, and educating the young adults on the viability of self-empowerment as a potent vehicle for the realisation of happier life and healthy romantic relationships.