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Our relationships play an important role in our lives. Whether it’s with our parents, friends, or even teachers, when our relationships are going well, it has a positive impact on our wellbeing and mental health!

You’ve probably heard about respectful relationships – hopefully you can identify some in your life already. But what is a respectful relationship, and how can we nurture them?

What is a respectful relationship?

A respectful relationship is built on trust and communication, where each person is treated with kindness, empathy and honesty, where each person is treated equally and their views are heard and respected. In respectful relationships, each person’s values, views and individuality are recognised and appreciated, creating a safe and supportive environment where everyone can express their thoughts, feelings and boundaries.

What are the key elements of respectful relationships?
  • Consent: In an intimate respectful relationship, everyone gives freely and voluntarily their informed and enthusiastic consent to any sexual activity. This means that each person has the right to say “yes” or “no” to any request, without fear of being pressured. They also have the right to change their mind at any time. It’s important to keep checking in with your partner.

  • No bullying: Respectful relationships are free of bullying and harassment. Everyone is treated with kindness and respect, there’s no power imbalance and no intention to harm or humiliate the other person.

  • Respect: Respectful relationships are based on a foundation of mutual respect and equality. Differences are acknowledged and celebrated! No judgements or assumptions here.
  • Self-respect: It’s important to remember you are valued. Your views and feelings are as important as other people’s and deserve to be respected. 

What happens when the relationship isn’t respectful?

Unfortunately, there are times when relationships break down and we find ourselves in tough situations. You might feel scared and alone, but it’s important to remember there are people available to help. If you find yourself in this situation, talk to a friend or a trusted adult. You can find more information on the Respectful Relationships Education Hub. Remember, you don’t have to deal with things alone!