Boyfriends and Girlfriends

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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.

There are many types of relationships, which you learn more about in this video by Childline.

You can also find some great videos in this Youtube playlist by Childline, which covers a range of topics, from sex and pregnancy, to abuse and leaving a bad relationship.

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, so it is up to you and your partner to work out and discuss what you both want and expect from each other.

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.

Check out this video by Childline which talks about handling relationships.

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.
  • 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.

Your Friends

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 likely 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/Guardians

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’ for you
  • 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.

It is important to listen to their concerns – as they are older, and more experienced than you, they may be able to pick up on any potential red flags that you would miss.

Getting Together

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.

It is important to respect their feelings, and NO means NO. If this is the case, it is best to accept their answer and move on respectfully.

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 and that’s okay. It is best to stay respectful of their decision.

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

There are many ways to meet new people, whether it be for friendship or a relationship. When you’re younger, most of the people you meet will be at school, after-school clubs, or those who live in your area.

As you get older, you may meet people online, at college or university, at work. You can also start new hobbies to socialise with people who have similar interests.

The Internet can a good way to meet new people, especially if you are shy or live in an isolated area. However, this can be dangerous as there are people who will catfish you (pretend to be someone else) or want to do you harm, so it is best to be cautious. If you are meeting someone from the internet, it is best to meet in a public place and tell people you trust where you are going and who you’re going with. You should take these precautions just in case the person isn’t who they said they were.

For more information, you can check out our page on Online Safety.

Arguments

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

Sex

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. Consent is vital for a healthy relationship – NO means 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.

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. You can use this helpful guide by the NHS to learn more about sex and whether you’re ready.

It is also important to decide together what protection you want to use. This can be a difficult and embarrassing topic, but it should not be ignored.

Unprotected sex – without any contraception – can result in pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are many forms of contraception you can use to protect yourself and your partner, such as condoms, the pill, and the implant. You can find more information on our Sexual Health page.

Living Together

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.
  • 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. You can check out our page about Banks and Building Societies for more information.
  • 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 end up in court.
  • It is also important to spend time apart. It isn’t healthy to spend every hour of the day together, so some alone time is recommend. This can include working somewhere else, different hobbies, or spending time out separately alone or with friends.

If you haven’t lived together before you may want to start out by renting somewhere to live for a few months or years as a trial period. This will give you time to decide if this is the right decision.

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

Break Ups

Sometimes, relationships don’t work out. This can be for many reasons, such as differences in opinions and expectations, miscommunication, arguments, abuse, cheating, or even just growing apart.

If things aren’t working out between you and your partner, it is important to try and fix things between you through communication and compromises. However, you shouldn’t stay in a relationship if you or your partner are unhappy and you’ve already tried a few different methods to fix things between you.

Break ups can bring you stress, emotional pain, and feelings of isolation. Friends and family members will often be the ones to support and comfort you during this difficult time.

If you want to find out more about how to deal with break ups, you can check out our section in the Grief and Bereavement page.

Your Rights

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

Abuse

This can be a very difficult subject for people to talk about as it can be confusing and difficult to recognise that you are being abused. You might feel embarrassed or afraid to talk about it to anyone.

If you’re not sure, you can watch this video by The Mix.

Domestic violence is abuse. It is aggressive and uncontrollable behaviour that takes place in the home, within the family or within relationships. Men, women and children can be victims of domestic violence. One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute.

Abuse can take many forms:

  • Physical abuse such as punching, hitting, pushing, kicking, pulling hair etc
  • Emotional abuse such as threats, psychological intimidation, acts of cruelty, excessive jealousy and controlling behaviour such as not letting you see your friends or leave the house, controlling your life, putting you down and criticising you constantly, name-calling or any other forms of intimidation
  • Forcing you to perform a sexual act you don’t consent to
  • Neglect, which means not looking after you properly such as not providing enough to eat or failing to keep you safe from harm
  • Withholding your money or taking your money and not returning it

Every form of abuse is a crime and this also applies to victims who are under 18. It is your right to be protected from it so seek help immediately.

Deciding to tell someone and finding help is an important step to making the abuse stop. It can be a difficult thing to do especially with the way it can make you feel but it only takes a moment of bravery and courage to tell someone to help prevent you from being abused again.

Please see a list at the bottom of the page of organisations and charities that can offer you support, advice and guidance if you are or have been abused.

Getting Help

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger from domestic violence, please call the police on 999 or ring your local police station and ask for the domestic violence support unit.

Many people who are being abused worry that they will get into trouble or that their family won’t believe them if they told them what is happening. Remember, it is not your fault if you are being abused. You are in no way responsible for what is happening. There is always a way out of the problem and people you can talk to, you don’t have to keep it to yourself.

Leaving can be very difficult, so it may help to involve others. If you feel comfortable, try talking to your mum or dad, older brother or sister, or close family member about what is bothering you. They might be able to give you advice and support and work with you to resolve the problem. Sometimes the problem might come from within your family so you might want to try talking to someone like a teacher, youth worker, doctor, a neighbour or a friend’s parent instead. It is important to have someone with you for protection when you leave.

You will also need to find a safe place to go. You could go to your parents or a friend’s, but if you are worried your partner will find you, there are organisations that can provide secret and secure accommodation for you and any children you have.

If you don’t want to tell anyone close to you, there are special organisations dedicated to helping young people who are being abused or to help people who know of someone being abused. These organisations are there to listen and help. They won’t be shocked by anything you say, won’t judge you and will let you tell them in your own way.  They are there for anyone who is a victim, not just women. Abuse can happen to anyone.

Although most help lines are confidential, if the person you are talking to thinks you are in serious danger, they might decide that action needs to be taken. This will only be in extreme cases where your safety is at risk. If this happens, the person might ask you for your name and address so they can send someone to help you. Don’t be frightened – they are there for you and you are not in any trouble

Keeping things to yourself will not make the problem go away and getting help is the first step to making things better. There is always someone who can help and there is no problem too big to solve with the right support

For more advice, information, and support, you can check out these organisations.

Brook – Putting young people’s health and wellbeing first for 50 years, often swimming against the tide, but always putting young people front and centre.

The Mix – Free information and support for under 25s in the UK. Get advice about sex, relationships, drugs, mental health, money & jobs.

RelateRelate offers counselling services for every type of relationship nationwide. We provide advice on marriage, LGBT issues, divorce and parenting.

Childline – Get help and advice about a wide range of issues, call us on 0800 1111, talk to a counsellor online, send Childline an email or post on the message boards.

Meic – The helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales.

NHS – Helping you take control of your health and wellbeing.

SamaritansSamaritans works to make sure there’s always someone there for anyone who needs someone.

Women’s Aid – A national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children.

Dyn Project – The Safer Wales Dyn project provides support to Heterosexual, Gay, Bisexual and Trans men who are experiencing Domestic abuse from a partner.

StonewallStonewall campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across Britain.

Live Fear Free – Providing help and advice about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

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