My Intimate Relationships

The “101”

A type of relationship that could show up for the first time at this stage of your life is an intimate relationship. An intimate relationship is one where there is close physical and/or emotional connection between the people in the relationship.

Intimate relationships come in many forms, including “hooking up,” dating, forming a couple, or becoming partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, significant others, or spouses. Intimate relationships can be between people of the same gender or people of different genders.

Intimate relationships may or may not include sexual activity.

There is no set time to enter into an intimate relationship. Don’t hurry yourself simply because some of your peers may be in one. You’ll know in your gut if you are ready to explore intimate relationships or form one with another person or people.

People in healthy intimate relationships treat each other as equals and with respect. Intimate relationships can also be unhealthy. Symptoms of an unhealthy relationship include “game-playing,” constant arguments, physical or emotional violence, and forced sexual activity. An adult you trust can help you define the characteristics of a healthy relationship and an unhealthy relationship. There’s also plenty of advice available from experts.

Reflect On It

Write in your journal (download journal) any thoughts you have as you think about this topic, using the questions below:

Learn More

Loveisrespect Read the articles on dating, healthy relationships, and abusive relationships in the “Relationships 101” section of this reliable website on youth healthy relationships and dating violence. The organization also has people available to answer your questions or concerns about dating relationships. Free and confidential phone, live chat, and texting services are available 24/7/365. Call: 1.866.331.9474, Text: loveis to 22522, or chat through their website.

Take Action!

Have Conversations about Consent with Your Potential Sexual Partner

Planned Parenthood Federation of America offers a series of videos to educate young people about consent that model the skills they need to communicate and negotiate in relationships. The videos demonstrate key communication skills, explain what consent is, and model what it looks like in different situations.

Have Conversations about STIs with Your Sexual Partner

Planned Parenthood Federation of America offers a series of videos to educate young people ages 16 through 22 about STIs that model the skills they need to communicate and negotiate. The videos demonstrate key communication skills, including how to talk with a partner about safer sex, STI testing, and disclosing an STI.

Look Out for Yourself and Others

Download the Circle of 6 app so that you can connect with your friends to stay close, stay safe, and prevent violence before it happens.

Prevent and Respond to Campus Sexual Assault

The Center for Changing Our Campus Culture offers resources for students for addressing sexual assault at colleges and universities.

Get Out of the Violent Situation

If you are experiencing violence in your intimate relationship, for your own safety and those of your loved ones (such as your own children), you must pause the relationship until the couple or family gets back on a healthy track, if you want that. There are several crisis and safety plan resources for you, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

Get Help to Prevent or Stop Yourself from Acting Violently

If you have considered harming an intimate partner or are afraid you will lose control of your emotions and could do so, you must address this serious health issue. Ask the adult responsible for your health care to arrange an appointment with your healthcare provider, or set one for yourself if you are responsible for your own care. (It’s okay if for confidentiality reasons you do not want to disclose exactly why you want the appointment.) If you do not want to involve an adult, get help on your own. Find free or low-cost mental health services by ZIP Code and type of service or reach the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or online.

If you have harmed another person or group of people, it’s essential that you report that to an adult you trust or directly to a child protection or law enforcement agency. Committing violence is a serious health issue, as well as a legal matter. Get the help you need to prevent yourself from acting violently again. And, by disclosing your violent action, the person or people you harmed can get help too.

Get Help in a Physical Emergency

Call 911 if you are having any type of physical emergency, including being harmed physically or being at immediate risk of harm for any circumstance, including due to dating violence, sexual assault, rape, or stalking.

Get Help in an Emotional Emergency

Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or initiate a confidential online chat with a trained counselor if you are despondent or are considering harming yourself for any reason, including due to dating violence, sexual assault, rape, or stalking.

Stop Yourself from Committing Violence

Call 911 for emergency services if you are seriously considering committing violence against another person or if you have just done so.

Get Help if You Are Being Trafficked for Sex or Labor

If another person is using force, fraud or coercion to control you for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against your will, that’s called “trafficking,” and it’s against the law. There’s help for you! Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or visit the hotline website.

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