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Relationship Basics

Many of us want to Stand Up, and Speak Up to promote respect and create safer relationships and communities. The first step to standing up and speaking up is understanding the relationship and respect basics.

What can I do to be in a healthy relationship?

No relationship is perfect all the time, but a relationship should feel good to both individuals in the relationship. Here are some things that you can do and expect in a healthy relationship.

  • Resolve conflicts fairly
  • Know your boundaries (your own and your boyfriend/girlfriend's)
  • Support your boyfriend/girlfriend in their goals and interests
  • Break down a problem and solve it
  • Speak honestly
  • Value your boyfriend/girlfriend

No relationship is perfect and there are things that you might have to work on together, but if your boyfriend or girlfriend is putting you down, makes you feel ugly, hurts you, ignores your feelings or disregards your boundaries, or tries to control you then it may be time to end the relationship or get help.

Sometimes it seems like everyone is having sex. What's the truth?
Having sex is a choice and a responsibility. Many youth in Alaska are reporting that they are choosing not have sex. Only 26.2% of Alaskan 9th graders have had sex. Private conversations with boys in particular revealed that they talk about having sex a lot more than they actually are. The best thing to do to make this decision is to get good information so you can decide what is right for you. Consider talking to friends, parents, church leaders, counselors, health practitioners or others that you trust. Get informed and make the decision that is right for you.
What is healthy and consensual sex?
Decisions around sexuality can be life-changing and your decision to have sex should include information from reliable sources or trusted adults. Many youth choose to abstain from, or wait to have sex. Learn more about abstinence here: https://www.friendsfirst.org/. If you choose to have sex, sex should be consensual and experienced in a state of physical, emotional, social, and cultural well-being. Both individuals must agree to have sex for it to be consensual. If someone is intoxicated or under the age of consent, (Age of consent is 16 in AK), they cannot consent to having sex. You must have consent each time you are having sex.

There are legal considerations before having sex. See your legal rights here. There are health considerations before having sex. Find health information here.
How can I strengthen my relationships?
  • Love yourself. It is important that you are comfortable with yourself. Know your own strengths and be proud of them. If you are happy with yourself, you will be a happier partner.
  • Share your feelings. If you are upset or concerned, talk about it. Working through difficult situations builds trust and helps make relationships even stronger.
  • Don't assume you know what someone else is thinking or feeling. If you want to know what is on your partner's mind — ask. Make sure you are ready to hear the answer.
  • Spend time on your own. Sometimes people think a healthy relationship means spending all your time together. It is actually healthier for people to spend time with different people other than with just one person. That way they can develop their own interests and talents and grow as individuals.
  • Communicate openly and honestly about sex. This is the only way your partner will really know what is comfortable for you and what gives you pleasure.
  • Take care of your sexual health. In a healthy relationship, both partners talk about and decide if they want to have sex. If both partners choose to have sex they take responsibility to protect their sexual health. Check out some resources here: www.sexetc.org, www.iknowmine.org, www.plannedparenthood.org.
How do I talk to my boyfriend/girlfriend about my relationship concerns?

The first thing to consider when deciding to talk about your concerns: Is this safe? If you do not feel it is safe to talk to your partner about your concerns, click here to learn more. If you feel it is safe to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend then:

  • Be clear about your concerns
  • Be honest
  • Listen to and respect their point of view
  • Identify some concrete ways in which you can address your concern
  • Trust your instincts and decide if this is going to work
I know I should ask my boyfriend or girlfriend for permission before having sex or becoming intimate, but it seems so awkward. How do I do this?
It may seem awkward to talk about having sex, but sometimes it can really help to be clear about the next steps in becoming intimate. If you are not ready to have this conversation you may not be ready for this level of intimacy. Talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend about sex is the best way to make sure that your intimacy is consensual and responsible. So having the discussion is just a matter of having the right talking points. Sometimes it is OK to just say: I know this is awkward, but I wanted to see what you thought about (making out, having sex, using condoms, fill in the blank here). Your boyfriend or girlfriend may or may not be ready. Remember respect means understanding and appreciating one another’s point of view.
How do I end a relationship?

If you are ready to end a relationship there are several things to think about. The first question … is it safe to end the relationship or should you get help? Here are some other pointers for ending the relationship…

  • Communicate your reasons for ending the relationship clearly
  • Do not break up with someone as a way of manipulating them or negotiating
  • Give both of you the time and space to talk about your feelings.
  • Choose a public space to end the relationship.
  • Try not to be too isolated and make sure other people can hear you in case things get out of control quickly.
  • Unless there is a concern about violence …don't break up over the phone, in a text message, or through a letter, or through a friend.

Teen Talk

Teens and adults across the state were asked what they think makes a healthy and respectful relationship: Here is what they said.

  • Non-violent, peaceful, safe

    Nonviolent: A nonviolent partner or relationship means rejecting the use of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse in any situation within a relationship. Each partner should feel safe and comfortable expressing themselves.

  • Mutually supportive

    Mutually supportive: Supporting one another's goals, friends, and interests. Respecting one another's right to friends, feelings, opinion, and activities.

  • Honest

    Honest: This means communicating openly and truthfully.

  • Equal

    Equal: Making decisions together that are beneficial to both partners.

  • Sex is consensual

    Sex is consensual: Sex is a choice and physically boundaries must be respected for consent. It is a mutual decision and between people that are of equal power and unimpaired.

Take a quiz to see if your friendships and romantic relationships have respect basics
Take a quiz to see if your friendships and romantic relationships have respect basics

What does it mean to you?