It’s normal and healthy to want to find someone to be in a relationship with, to share your time and experiences with. Every relationship is unique and there is also no hurry to get into a relationship until you feel you are ready.
It can be a great experience but sometimes it can also be a confusing or worrying time for many of us. Being with someone requires respect, compromise and communication about our feelings. Sometimes it is easy to forget how much time, patience and commitment we need to put in to make the relationship work.
You have the right to make choices in your relationships and shouldn’t be pressured to rush into anything. Remember, your feelings are what matter the most and if you need help and advice, always approach someone you trust to voice your concerns.
With advice and support on relationship matters like finding someone to go out with, turning a friendship into a relationship, going out with someone, sex, moving in with someone and getting married, this section covers a range of topics including some of the emotional aspects to consider.
Boyfriends & Girlfriends
A boyfriend or girlfriend is someone you are in a romantic relationship with and every relationship is different, a ‘romantic relationship’ can mean different things to different people – every relationship is different.
A romantic relationship could be simply spending time together, going out to places together, sharing affection and talking to each other. If you enjoy spending time together, you may find you become closer and your feelings may become stronger for him or her.
Having A Boyfriend Or Girlfriend
- Don’t worry if your friends all seem to be getting boyfriends/girlfriends. Your relationships are personal to you, so don’t feel pressured into starting a relationship with somebody if you do not want to or don’t feel ready
- At the start of a relationship, it is normal to feel a bit nervous at the thought of being close to someone new. Relax and concentrate on what makes you feel happy about that person
- Having a boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t mean you have to have sex. Every relationship is different, so don’t feel you need a sexual relationship if you don’t feel comfortable or ready. It’s normal to want to have sex, but boys might be ready to have sex before their girlfriends so it is important to respect their feelings too. Sex can be a very different experience for men than for women so be understanding and not pushy. Think about how you may feel if your relationship became a sexual one, would it change? Most people want to be in a relationship where they completely trust the other person before they decide to have sex
- It is normal to have friends of the opposite sex. Just because you are friends with a boy or a girl, does not mean they are your boyfriend or girlfriend. See ‘Going Out’ for more information about friendships developing into relationships
- The key to a happy relationship is good communication – keep talking to each other about how you feel
- Don’t rush into anything if you are unsure. Your relationship is personal to you – you have a choice
Boys And Girls Are Different
- Girls generally mature more quickly than boys, so they may have different ideas of what a boyfriend should be
- Good communication is the key to a happy relationship – so keep talking about how you feel
- When you have a boyfriend or girlfriend it is natural to want to spend a lot of time together, but it’s important not to neglect your friends. After all, they have been there for you longer than he or she has and if you spilt up, they will still be there for you
- You might try socialising together as a group, but if you spend a lot of time alone with your boyfriend or girlfriend, remember not to lose touch with your friends or doing the things you enjoyed before you got together
Your parents or guardians might feel differently to you about your relationship. They might not be comfortable with you having a boyfriend or girlfriend for any number of reasons. Common ones include:
- You are ‘too young’
- He or she is ‘too old’
- They are not happy about someone spending a lot of time with you if they don’t know them
- They ‘don’t like him or her’ or think you can do better
- It may seem as though they are interfering but your parents/guardians are only looking out for you. Talking to them can help if you really like the person so find a quiet time when you can discuss the situation together calmly
- It may help for your parents or guardians to get to know your boyfriend or girlfriend. For example, suggest inviting them over for a meal or for all of you to spend some time together doing something
Going out with somebody means you are in a romantic relationship with that person. Every relationship is different so try not to compare your relationship to others or let anyone else decide who you should go out with.
The right relationship should make you feel good about yourself. You should feel relaxed, confident and happy with that person. There is no rush to get into a relationship with somebody. Wait until you feel ready and mature enough to be in a relationship before you get involved with anyone.
Asking somebody out can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you already know each other, this may help you judge the best way to approach them. Everybody is different and there is no right or wrong way to ask someone out.
Turning Friendship Into Something More
- A good friendship can provide a solid base for a successful relationship as you will already know that person well. Sometimes friendships develop into relationships and sometimes they don’t. It’s important that you both know whether you want to be more than friends
- Sometimes a boy or girl might start a friendship with you because they fancy you and hope that it will develop into something more. If you know you would like more than friendship with someone from the start then it might be better to just ask if they like you too, otherwise things can get complicated and confusing for you both
- If you start to have feelings for a friend and want a relationship with them you might read more into the way they are with you or what they say to you than they might mean. You might want to go out with them, but they might just want to remain friends so you end up in the ‘friendzone’ seeing you the same as one of their female friends that they confide in or seeing you as ‘one of the boys’
- There might be signs to indicate whether your friend might want a relationship with you, like flirting with you or becoming jealous of you with other boys or girls but there is no definite way of knowing without asking them
- Asking them or telling them how you feel can be difficult, especially if you are very close as friends. You risk both of you ending up feeling awkward and hurt if they don’t feel the same way and might lose your friendship
- Think about things carefully before trying to turn your friendship into a relationship, it might be a good idea to talk to some of your other friends or theirs discreetly to find out what their opinion is
Meeting New People
- You can meet new people at school, college, after-school clubs or simply by socialising. The Internet is a good way to meet new people, especially if you are shy or live in an isolated area. But there are certain dangers associated with meeting people online, so treat this with caution. Read our ‘Online Relationships’ section before speaking to anyone unknown online.
Brook.Org – Looking for a relationship
When You’re Together
- Relationships are based on mutual respect, honesty and trust. Being in a relationship with somebody means you are committed to them and being faithful will build trust between you
- Kissing and affection is a natural part of any relationship, but be aware of being overly affectionate in public as this might make other people around you feel uncomfortable!
- It is up to you how you spend your time together – you don’t have to feel like you should be doing the same as other couples. Your relationship is unique to you so do whatever you both enjoy doing
- Take your time to get to know somebody. Enjoy the time you spend together and don’t rush anything
- Not every relationship has to involve sex. Many couples simply enjoy being together. However sex is more enjoyable in a relationship as long as it is done safely
- Don’t feel pressured into having sex with your partner if you don’t feel comfortable. If your relationship is special and made to last, your partner will wait until you are ready. See our sex section below.
- It can be an upsetting and frustrating experience to argue with your partner, but falling out is a normal and healthy part of any relationship. It allows you to express your feelings to each other, keeping the communication channels open and airing any problems, rather than bottling them up
- However arguments can sometimes be avoided by making time for each other and doing things you enjoy together. Balance your time carefully between yourself, your friends and your partner
- If you are having more arguments than you think you should and it is hard to talk to your partner, talk to someone else you are close to. It may help to put problems into perspective and provide new solutions. Remember – good communication is vital to any relationship. It is important to share your feelings in order to understand each other better
Brook.Org – How to deal with arguments better
Sex is an intimate and private experience between two people and should not be rushed into. Having sex for the first time is an important decision and one you cannot take back, so make sure you feel ready first.
You should never be pressurised into having sex. Every person has the right to say no at any time before or during sex or sexual activity. It is your decision – It’s ok to say no.
- It may seem that all your friends are having sex, but in fact only 25 per cent of girls and 30 per cent of boys under 16 have had sex, so being a virgin under 16 is very normal. Sex isn’t a competition, it’s personal to you
- The age of consent for both heterosexual and homosexual intercourse in Wales and England is 16 years old. This means it is illegal to participate in penetrative sex, oral sex or mutual masturbation under the age of 16
- Most young people wait until they are in a stable relationship or with someone they trust before they have sex as it usually makes the experience more enjoyable
- Sex can mean different things to different people so make sure the person you choose to have sex with feels the same way as you do
- Communication is key to a good and healthy sex life
It can be embarrassing to ask about contraception, you might already feel vulnerable and exposed when you’re about to have sex with someone for the first time. Try to move past this, as it’s more important to be safe and protected than to experience a few moments of embarrassment.
- Unprotected sex (without contraception) can result in unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (S.T.I.’s). See the SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS section for more information
- ALWAYS use a condom during sex to protect against both pregnancy and S.T.I.s. Other forms of contraception that only protect against pregnancy include the contraceptive pill and the contraceptive injection but there are other options as well. Please visit the CONTRACEPTION section for more details
- You can get pregnant from the very first time you have sex so always take precautions and stay safe and enjoy yourself
- If you’ve had unprotected sex, please visit the PREGNANCY and SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS section for help and advice
Take a look at the NHS’ section on contraception and where you can get it.
Moving in together for the first time can be romantic and exciting, but sharing a house or flat can make or break a relationship, so be certain before you both commit to living together. You will be sharing each others’ space all the time and it’s important to realise that this can sometimes be frustrating.
- Getting to know each other well first is essential. Living together may seem like a great idea, but how well do you get on now? Will you still get on when you share your time and space with each other?
- Living together will require you to adapt your lifestyle, so remember to think about how this will affect you both. Before you move in together, it can help to have a talk about what you expect from each other
- You may want to sort out money, how to divide up the housework and making time for each other before you decide to move in
- One of the things couples who are considering living together are advised to do is to list all their possessions saying who owns what. This makes it a lot easier to divide things if a relationship ends. Arguments over possessions are one of the main reasons why couples land up in court
- You may want to set up a joint account to pay your rent or mortgage, bills and shopping. Any bank or building society can arrange this for you
Buy Or Rent?
- If you haven’t lived together before you may want to start out by renting somewhere to live for a few months first as a trial period. This will give you time to decide if it is the right move for you both
- If you are thinking about buying a house together, there are many important points you will need to consider whether you are married or unmarried. If you are unmarried and buying a house together, where you will both contribute to the mortgage, make sure both your names are on the mortgage
It is important you are aware of your rights just in case things don’t work out between the two of you.
- If you are unmarried and living together, the law treats you as two separate individuals with no rights or liabilities to each other if you break up
- Most people think that after you have been living with your partner for two years or more you get the same legal rights as married couples (‘Common law marriage’). This isn’t true – this law hasn’t existed since 1753!
- It will be left to the both of you to split what you own or pay for together and this can be a messy and emotional process. You need to shut down joint accounts, sort out the bills or sell the house and it often leaves people vulnerable. For example, your partner could close your joint account and take all the money in it without your consent
- You may want to consider putting together a Cohabitation Agreement or Deed of Trust to cover your property or financial arrangements. However they are not always enforceable