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Feelings, Sex & Relationships
Working out who you are, what sex means to you and what you think a good relationship should be is a complicated business! But, it's a massive and really important part of growing up.
Being attracted to someone
Being attracted to someone can be exciting but you may feel quite anxious, wondering if they feel the same for you. If you ask them out and they refuse you may feel rejected. You may be concerned that if people find out who you're interested in, they may tease you about it. Some people are so worried about this that they find it difficult to start having a relationship.
You may find that you’re only attracted to people of the same sex or only to people of the opposite sex - you may be attracted to both.
When it comes to asking someone out / asking someone on a date / asking someone you fancy if they’d like to spend more time with you or any similar question, the main thing to remember is that 'if you don't ask, you'll never know'. What's the worst that could happen? They say "no." Well, that's not the end of the world - and anyway, they might say "yes", you won't know until you ask. There is no exact formula to follow when asking someone out - it can be different in every situation.
What counts as a relationship?
There are lots of different types of relationship, from casual sex to marriage. People from some backgrounds often get married to someone they’ve only met a few times, and then begin the process of getting to know them and loving them through time. In other contexts, people try relationships out with different people, and it can take a while for them to find out what they want and what works.
Some people have lots of relationships. Some people have a few, or one long one. Some people don't want a close relationship at certain times in their life. All relationships are different, but they usually all have one thing in common - when you're in a relationship with someone it usually means that you both like each other (and fancy each other!) more than anyone else.
It’s completely fine not to be in a relationship until you are ready.
Being in a relationship
Being in a relationship should be a great experience for you and your partner. There may be some ups and downs, but there are a few important things that should be there:
- Respect – It’s really important that you understand and value the person that you’re with and respect them for who they are.
- Honesty – You also need to be able to show them who you are – let him or her know how you’re feeling and what you think about things. Good relationships involve speaking openly to each other.
- Trust – Relationships shouldn’t make you worried or anxious about what the other person is doing, you should be able to trust them, and feel secure that they want to be with you.
- Your own separate lives, with other people you can trust – You shouldn’t cut out friends, family or other important people in your life because you’re in a relationship. Make time for your friends and don’t give up on things that you do independently from your partner.
- Equality – Relationships should be fair, with both people sometimes making compromises for each other. You shouldn’t feel as if your partner has power over you, or like you can boss your partner around.
If the person you are in a relationship with is making you feel bad in some way, this is not a great relationship! If your partner ever says things to insult you, tries to control you, forces you into anything sexual that you're not comfortable with, tries to isolate you from the other important people in your life or disrespects you, then you shouldn’t have to be with them. This can apply to both men and women, in straight or gay relationships.
Sex and relationships
Having a monogamous relationship means that for as long as you stay together, you'll only be physical with each other - you won't do anything sexual with anyone else. The advantage of this is that you're less likely to catch any sexually transmitted infections, if you stay with just one partner (as long as they don't have any other partners or STIs!). If you have multiple sexual relationships, with more than one partner at once, you are more at risk of catching and passing on sexually transmitted infections, if you don't use a condom.
Sex is an important part of many people's relationships. Not just sexual intercourse ('going all the way') but kissing and touching each other for pleasure. Although, just because you are in a relationship with someone, it doesn’t mean that you have to have sexual intercourse or do anything else that you don’t feel comfortable with.
If you are thinking of having sex with someone, then we have a page that can help you to make decisions about what you do and don’t feel comfortable with.
Ending a relationship
Relationships break up for lots of reasons. For example, because one person felt that the relationship was unhealthy. Sometimes just because you’ve become less close or want to do different things.
It can be difficult to break up because you may feel upset and feel like you're hurting someone. But sometimes it may be a relief for both of you.
Talking about your feelings
Talking about your feelings can help. It can stop you feeling alone and the chances are you will discover other people have had the same feelings. Realising other people have been in the same position helps and you may learn from their experience.
Choosing who you talk to and when is important. It may be someone you fancy or someone you are going out with. If these people are connected with the feelings you have, it can sometimes make it more difficult.
The person you talk to should be someone you feel easy and relaxed with and can trust. It might be a parent or guardian, especially if you have a good relationship with them.
Or it might be that a sister or brother or other relative would be better. Some of your friends' parents might be approachable or you might have a friend who would listen.
Talking to people who are a bit less close to you might be good too. For example, a teacher, or someone at a youth group or a medical person such as a doctor.
Talking about things can be hard. Especially if they are difficult feelings. But it's worth remembering that very often the reaction you get will be helpful and understanding. You may wonder why you got so worked up in the first place.
If you've had an experience different from those covered on this page there are teen websites such as goaskalice that can offer counselling and advice.