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Negotiating Relationships

What are relationships?

Relationships cover a wide range of people including work colleagues, tutors, friends, family, sexual relationships, living together and marriage. They apply equally to heterosexual, gay, lesbian or bi-sexual people.

How do relationships affect you?

Good relationships can be very supportive and enhance our lives. However most relationships go through difficult patches and need the willingness to compromise.

Relationship difficulties can produce or stir up feelings that may be from the past - hurt, anger, hopelessness, worthlessness etc.. This can be quite frightening and may make you irritable or withdrawn.

You may be considering starting a sexual relationship or feel under pressure to do so. Remember it's your choice. It's ok to say 'No' if you do not feel ready. You (and your partner) need to think carefully about safer sex, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and possibly contraception / emergency contraception. (see below).

What may affect a relationship?

All sorts of things can make relationships difficult although some measure of argument and disagreement can be quite healthy.

However relationships can be abusive, whether physically, emotionally or psychologically, and there are various places you can go to get advice and information. (see below).

Sometimes relationships struggle because of different expectations - you may expect your friend to be there for you when you are upset but s/he may not have noticed your upset and you may have to ask clearly for support.

Family relationships can become strained as you grow older and have to renegotiate your position in the household - you may be wanting to come and go as you please or only return for holidays, and other members of the family may feel resentful, excluded, used or hurt.

Factors such as finances, pregnancy, health, housework, housing, work difficulties, unemployment, study problems can all put a strain on relationships, whether you are in a couple or living independently in a shared house or still at home.

What can help with relationships?

If you are experiencing a hard time in one relationship try to seek out more positive ones to remind yourself of how much some people value you.

Try to talk openly about your feelings and what you are finding so difficult with the person involved

Get as much information and support as possible from sources such as those below.

Try not to drown your sorrows too much either through alcohol or drugs.

Find someone to talk to about how you are feeling - this could be a friend, a tutor, a member of your family, your GP, or a counsellor.

Before entering into a living together arrangement whether with friends or lovers it may be helpful to talk about your differing expectations of each other and the household eg. housework, shopping, paying bills.

Remember, if you feel that you are putting in more than you get out of the relationship or you feel bullied, frightened or put down, you have the right to finish it. You don't have to stay in a relationship if it is no longer all right for you.

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