|Relationships...sex?... and you|
|Relationships and you|
|Do you want a relationship?|
|What do you want?|
|When its not all roses|
|Are you ready for sex|
This booklet is intended to provide basic information to a young person who is involved in or is thinking about becoming involved in an intimate relationship. It is designed to act as a starting point and is not intended to replace information from doctors and other service providers. Every attempt has been made to ensure the information provided is correct, however, please be aware that information can change over time.
This booklet has been produced as part of the Making Choices Program – a program aimed at supporting young people to make good choices about their sexual and reproductive health.
Relationships … sex? … and you is for young people male and female who want to know more about intimate relationships.
Thank you to the Office of Children and Youth Affairs who provided the funding and to the Making Choices Action Group who supported the idea for this booklet.
There are many different types of relationships you will have during your life: family, friends, school mates, work colleagues and romantic relationships. Whatever the relationship, it is important for you to be able to feel safe and to be respected.
This booklet will look at intimate relationships – that is, relationships that involve physical or emotional closeness. An intimate relationship often involves feelings of affection, love and/or physical attraction.
Sooner or later most young people start to think about relationships… and sex. If you have picked up this booklet, maybe you are beginning to think about starting a relationship or maybe you are already in one. Perhaps you are starting to think about having sex or perhaps you have already had sex.
Whatever stage you are at, this booklet is designed to provide some information to help you work out:
- what you want from a relationship
- what you deserve from a relationship
- your legal rights and responsibilities and
- how to keep yourself safe in a relationship.
We encourage you to seek more information and support from family, friends or services. See the back of this booklet for some helpful services.
One of the most important and influential relationships you will ever have in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. This includes:
- how you feel about yourself
- having respect for yourself
- the kind of things you say to yourself when you’re going through a tough time
- taking time to do things for yourself
- taking care of your body - and much much more.
It is ok to feel good about yourself. In fact, feeling good about yourself will probably help the relationships you have with other people. If you are not feeling good about yourself it can help to talk to somebody you trust - a parent, friend or counsellor.
Take the time to get to know yourself and work out what you want out of life… and relationships.
Sometimes when you are single it can seem as if the whole world is made up of couples. But before you rush into a relationship, it’s important to take some time to think about what you want from it. Everybody wants different things from a relationship and it can take time to find somebody who wants the same things as you.
And remember, it’s ok to be single – not everybody wants to be in a relationship all of the time.
We are all attracted to different people and for different reasons. People can be attracted to each other because of: appearance, personality, common interests, similar beliefs and values or a combination of different qualities.
Attraction can be instant (love at first sight) or it can take time to develop (like best friends who suddenly realise they’re made for each other).
No matter who you are attracted to or who you choose to have a relationship with - you have the right to be accepted and treated with respect.
Attraction is related to the person, rather than what sex they are and it may change over time. While most people are attracted to the opposite sex, some are attracted to people of the same sex - others to both sexes. This is normal and natural. Trying to work out who you are attracted to can be confusing and challenging. For some people their sex (male/female) and their gender (maleness/femaleness) may be different.
Negative stereotypes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people can be unhelpful and untrue. Sometimes people in same-sex relationships are treated unfairly by others. Violence, discrimination and harassment towards anyone are against the law, regardless of their sexual preference or identification.
It’s ok to question your sexuality – it can help to talk with somebody you trust.
It is important to remember that you’re not on your own with this and these are quite natural feelings to be having at this stage of your life.
Meeting new people, going on dates or changing from friends to partners can be exciting and nerve wracking. You have the right to feel safe at all times. If for some reason you feel unsafe then trust your instincts.
When meeting somebody new, meeting up with somebody you don’t know well, or going out with a friend for the first time, there are some things that you can do to help keep yourself safe:
- Go out on a group date
- Go somewhere where there are other people – the movies, a restaurant
- Arrange your own transport to and from the date
- Avoid using alcohol or other drugs
- Tell somebody you trust where you are going and when you expect to get home
- Take a mobile phone with you.
Whatever you want from a relationship, it is important to talk to your partner or the person you’re interested in. Problems can occur when two people have different expectations about the relationship.
Successful and healthy relationships are based on respect, trust, honesty, fairness, equality, negotiation and good communication. Partners will mostly have similar values, beliefs and priorities.
This is a difficult question to answer and it really depends on the couple. A large difference in age can lead to inequality in a relationship. The older partner may have more experience and knowledge and different expectations of the relationship. This may create pressure on the younger partner to do things that they are not ready for. It is important to think about whether or not you are at similar stages in your life in terms of your priorities and what you want from a relationship.
Remember, whatever the age difference between partners, it is important to talk to each other about expectations and desires and to respect the other partner’s decisions.
A casual relationship is where two people may share a physical or emotional relationship, but without the expectation of a more formal or committed relationship. For example it may be for a limited time, the people involved may have other partners or it may be a “friends with benefits” arrangement.
Think carefully about going home with somebody you have just met or don’t know well. If you do, have a safety plan and let somebody you trust know where you are and when you will return home.
Be wary if you are considering starting a casual relationship hoping that it will then develop into a committed relationship - most casual relationships don’t and you may just complicate, or even lose the friendship.
Do not be pressured into accepting a relationship that is less than you want and don’t pressure others to do so.
What about writing down the things you want from a relationship? Some young people find this helps them work out what’s right for them.
Everyone deserves love and respect. While it is unrealistic to think things will be perfect all the time, you have the right to a healthy and happy relationship. Here are some things that you have the right to expect from your relationship:
- You have fun together
- You both feel like you can be yourselves
- You are honest with each other
- You can have different opinions and interests
- You listen to each other
- You trust each other
- You can both compromise, say sorry, and talk arguments out
- You don’t have to spend all of your spare time together – you can spend time on your own, or with your own friends and family.
Relationships need to be worked on – and it is both partners’ responsibility. Both partners should look out for each other.
Your needs and desires are important. You have the right to tell your partner what you do and don’t want. They have the responsibility to listen. You should not feel like you “have to” do something Your partner’s needs and desires are important. Your partner has the right to tell you what they do and don’t want. You have the responsibility to listen.
Getting to know each other can be fun and exciting. However, as you become closer and learn more about each other you may discover differences which can sometimes lead to conflict. There are times in all relationships where couples need to work through issues.
It’s not always easy, but here are some things that may help:
- Be open and honest with each other
- When you disagree, listen to one another – you may have to agree to disagree
- Spend some time apart and some time together
- Talk to each other (even when it’s difficult) about how you feel
- Try not to blame each other
- Take time out if things are getting heated
- If talking is really tough, try writing to one another
- Talk to others who have been in a relationship longer than you for support and advice
If there are more negatives than positives in your relationship, it may be time to re-examine what you and your partner want. Talk to your partner or somebody you trust.
There are times when it may be best to leave a relationship. An abusive relationship is where one person intimidates the other to get them to do what they want. It can often be difficult for people to admit or recognise that they are in an abusive relationship and it can be even harder to leave the relationship.
There are different kinds of abuse:
Physical abuse – a partner physically hurts or frightens you, like hitting, slapping, pushing or kicking you. It also includes acts of violence such as throwing or breaking things or making threats or stalking.
Emotional abuse – a partner may be extremely jealous or possessive, put you down, humiliate you, or try to control what you feel, think, what you wear and who you see. Threatening to hurt themselves or other people if you break up with them is also emotional abuse.
Sexual abuse – someone makes you do sexual things that you don’t want to do through force, pressure or manipulation, for example saying things like ‘you’d do it if you loved me’, or not stopping when you ask.
Verbal abuse – someone screaming and shouting, using abusive language or calling you names, or making negative comments about your looks or your abilities.
Abuse and violence are not acceptable in any relationship – in fact, they are against the law. Anyone can be the victim of abuse – male or female.
If someone is abusing you, it’s not your fault. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and care. Help is available. Even if your partner is stressed, tired, under financial pressure, it does not justify abusive behaviour.
If you’re in an abusive relationship it is important to find someone you trust to talk to about your feelings and to make a safety plan for yourself. You may feel that you can’t break up with the person but remember, if someone claimes to like or love you then they should always treat you with respect. Give yourself time to think and talk through your concerns with someone you trust.
If you decide to break up with the person it is a good idea to have a friend or family member with you at the time, and talk to someone about what you can do to legally protect yourself.
If you are in danger, call the police on 000. If your partner is violent or abusive they are commiting a crime and can be charged.
Sooner or later in an intimate relationship, thoughts may turn to sex. Sex can be an incredibly special way of being intimate with somebody – with the right person, at the right time.
A relationship can be healthy and happy without sex or being sexual. Talking about sex with your partner may help you to work out if it’s what you both want.
Talking to your partner about sex and what you do and don’t want is not always easy. It is best to discuss this when you are not being physically intimate – in the heat of the moment you are more likely to go further than you intended, or it may be harder to communicate clearly with your partner.
If you do not want to be sexual or have sex, it is best to be direct and honest with your partner. You don’t have to explain your reasons but you may find it helps your partner to understand your decision.
If your partner does not want to be sexual or to have sex, it is important to respect their decision – even if you don’t understand it. It may not have been easy for them to tell you. It does not mean they don’t like or love you, it just means they are not ready for sex. It may help to talk about your feelings with somebody you trust.
This is an important question to ask yourself before becoming sexually active or before having sex with a partner for the first time. It is not an easy question to answer. There is no magic time – the right time is different for every person and every couple. Sex can be a great way to share your feelings but having sex or being sexual when you are not ready can lead to regret and feeling bad.
Signs that sex may not be right for you at this time:
- You feel pressure to have sex
- Your partner does not feel ready
- You and your partner have not talked about sex
- You are worried that your relationship will end if you don’t have sex
- Having sex now is against your religious or moral beliefs
- You feel you need to be drunk or high to be comfortable enough to have sex
- You are having sex because you want to feel better about yourself
Take the time to think about your reasons for wanting to have sex. Talk about it with somebody you trust.
The following points might help you with making decisions about sex that are right for you:
- Love does not equal sex – just because you love somebody does not mean you have to have sex. There are other ways to be intimate and to show affection
- There’s more to sex than intercourse – being sexual can involve just touching, kissing, cuddling, sucking, nibbling, massage, sexual fantasy or masturbation
- You have the right to say “yes” to some sexual activities and “no” to others
- Before having sex, make sure it is something you both want
- Good sex is about making sure it is enjoyable and pleasurable for both of you.
- If you have sex once, you can decide that you don’t want to have sex again.
- Just because you had sex with a previous partner does not mean you have to have sex with your next partner.
- Not everything you hear about sex is true, not everybody is “doing it”, guys aren’t always up for it, girls can initiate sex too.
- It can sometimes be hard to say “no” – so it’s important that you check that it’s what you really want.
There are laws about having sex, laws that are there to protect you. If someone breaks these laws tell somebody you trust. In Tasmania, the age of consent is 17 years old, therefore if you are younger than 17, no one can legally to have sex with you.*
It is against the law to have sex with somebody who does not agree or consent to have sex with you. This is sexual assault and it is a crime. Sexual assault also includes any unwanted sexual act e.g.
- being forced to participate in, or watch pornography
- being the target for unwanted sexual attention that makes you feel uncomfortable or scared
- being forced, threatened, manipulated or coerced into any sexual activity. Sexual assault is about power. It is never the victim’s fault
Tasmanian law also says that it is illegal to have sex with anybody who is asleep, unconscious or so affected by alcohol or other drugs that they are not able to freely agree to sexual intercourse.
If there is a pregnancy resulting in the birth of a child it will be the responsibility of both parents until the child turns 18. This can include having to pay child support if the parents separate.
* It may be a defence against the charge if you are 15 years or older and your sexual partner is not more than 5 years older than you, or if you are 12 years or older and your sexual partner if not more than 3 years older than you.
In sexual relationships, it is important to protect yourself and your partner from feeling unsafe or from harm. The information and tips already mentioned in this booklet can help you look after yours and your partner’s emotional health.
When you are in a sexual relationship, it is also important to look after your physical health. This should include:
- your safety
- protecting yourself against Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) and
- preventing unplanned pregnancy. This is the responsibility of both people in the relationship so you need to talk about it together.
Sex, alcohol and drugs can be a very risky combination because:
- Alcohol and drugs affect your ability make decisions and you are more likely to take risks you may regret
- Talking and listening become more difficult
- It can be harder to tell if a situation is dangerous
- Alcohol and drugs increase people’s aggression
- Alcohol is the most common reason for young people having unwanted sex
The internet and mobile phones can be great fun, however, there are some risks to be aware of. Many people chat and make friends over the internet. It is important to remember that not everybody tells the truth and is who they say they are. Be very careful about giving out your personal details such as your address or phone number. Never tell someone your bank or credit card details.
If you choose to meet an internet friend in real life take some steps to keep yourself safe: meet in a busy, public place; take a trusted friend with you; make your own way there and back; avoid getting drunk; take a phone with you; tell somebody where you are going and when you expect to return.
Taking pictures and videos, posting them on the internet or sending to friends or partners can be a great way to keep in touch, but it is important to be careful about what you post or send. Once you have pressed send you have no control over what happens to that picture or video. Once you have posted something on the internet anybody can see it.
There can be images and footage on the internet and in messages that can be disturbing or upsetting. Nobody should ever force you to view things that you do not want to. If you do see something that upsets you or makes you feel uncomfortable, talk it over with somebody you trust.
STIs are infections that can be caught through sexual activity. Infections can be present in the body fluids that may be shared in oral, anal and vaginal sex. Some STIs, such as HPV (genital warts) and Herpes are caught through skin to skin contact. It is important to use condoms to reduce the risk of catching or transmitting an STI.
STIs often do not show symptoms and you cannot always tell if a person has an infection just by looking at them. Possible symptoms may include:
- Unusual discharge (funny colour or smell) from the penis or vagina
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain when taking a pee
- Sores, blisters, ulcers, warts, itching, lumps, rashes in the genital or anal area
- Bleeding between periods
If you are sexually active, the only way to know for sure that you are infection free is to get a sexual health checkup. This usually involves a visit to a doctor and peeing into a cup or having a genital swab taken. STIs can be treated, although not all can be cured. STIs caused by bacteria (Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis) can be cured with antibiotics but there is a risk that they could affect your chances of having children later on. Some STIs caused by viruses may clear naturally (HPV, hepatitis A/B). Other infections will stay in the body for life (herpes, HIV) but the symptoms can be treated. Many young people think that the chance of catching HIV is very low In Australia but there has recently been an increase in the number of people contracting this virus.
Contraception means preventing pregnancy. If you and your partner do not want to get pregnant, it is important to use contraception every time you have sexual intercourse to reduce the risk of pregnancy. Contraception is the responsibility of both partners, so it is a good idea to talk to each other about it. Guys – don’t just presume she is on the pill and girls – don’t just presume he’ll have a condom.
There are different types of contraception
- Make sure the type of contraception is right for you
- Get all the information you need to make your choice about contraception
- If you are not happy with your form of contraception talk to your doctor about other options
The best protection against STIs and unplanned pregnancy is using condoms and a form of hormone contraception
Condoms - are made from a sheet of thin latex rubber which, when placed over an erect penis, trap sperm at the point of ejaculation. Condoms are fairly easy to get and can be bought at chemists and supermarkets and are sometimes available in other places such as pubs, colleges and other public toilets. Condoms are the only form of contraception that protect against both pregnancy and most STI’s (sexually transmitted infections).
The following methods don’t protect against STIs so should be used together with condoms
The Pill (oral contraceptive pill) – There are two types of pill. The ‘combined pill’ contains oestrogen and progestogen and the ‘mini pill’ contains progestogen only. The pill needs to be taken at the same time everyday to be effective and vomiting or diarrhoea can impact on its effectiveness. The pill can be prescribed by your GP or family planning clinic.
Implanon – is a hormonal implant (it looks like s soft plastic rod) and is put under the skin of the upper arm by a doctor. It can be taken out at any time but must be removed or changed after three years. A doctor can do this using local anaesthetic and it will usually take about 5-10 minutes.
Injectable contraception (Depo provera) – is a contraceptive that contains progestogen only. Each injection (usually given in the buttock) provides contraception for 12 weeks. It is important to remember when the 12 weeks is up and go back to your doctor for the next injection. It is not the preferred method for adolescents because of its possible effect on developing bones.
Emergency Contraception (ECP) - is useful if you have had unprotected sex or have had a problem with the contraception you are using (eg condom broke, you forgot to take your normal pill or you didn’t use any contraception). Emergency contraception is available from your local pharmacy,Family Planning Tasmania and Sexual Health . It is most effective if taken in the first 24 hours after unprotected sex but can be taken up to 5 days after (although much better if taken in the first 72 hours). The cost of ECP is about $30. If you need the ECP but have no money there are services that can help. Contact your local youth health service or family planning clinic.
There are other contraceptive methods available such the Vaginal Ring (Nuva Ring), IUD (Intrauterine device), diaphragms and the female condom. If you would like more information please contact Family Planning Tasmania or ask your GP.
Some couples consider moving in together. This is a big decision. If you and your partner are thinking about this, take time to talk about it and make sure you know what it’s really about. It may also help to talk to friends and family . Living together can change the dynamic of a relationship as you spend more time together and you will probably have shared financial responsibilities.
- Why do you want to live together?
- Is this the right time?
- How are you going to split the bills?
- How are you going to share household chores?
- How are you going to make time for your own friends and interests?
- What will you do if it doesn't work out?
Sometimes no matter how much you want a relationship to work, it doesn’t. It can be hard when you realise a relationship is going to end – no matter who does the breaking up.
People feel many emotions when they go through a break up: sadness, disbelief, relief, anger, guilt. It’s important to talk about what you are feeling with someone you trust.
Some other things you may find helpful:
Take care of yourself – eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly helps your body stay healthy. You may also like to treat yourself to something special. Try to think positively about your achievements, your friendships and other positive parts of your life.
Spend time with people who care about you – whether it is family or friends, spending time with others can give you a chance to talk about what you are going through, or time to just hang out and enjoy other people’s company.
Try something new – take the opportunity to make a fresh start and do something you have always wanted to – a new hobby, play a sport, learn a new skill.
www.fpt.asn.au/youth – Family Planning Tasmania’s youth website
www.reachout.org.au – has good information about relationships, well-being and mental health
www.yoursexhealth.org – covers a range of sexual health information
www.likeitis.com – a website covering lots of sexual health information for young people which aims to "tell it like it is"
www.linkzone.com.au – information and links to services for young people in Tasmania
www.justlook.org.au – a website run by Lifeline where you can search for services in your area
www.ybblue.com.au – information and advice about depression for young people
www.lawstuff.org.au – information about laws in every state and territory in Australia
www.aboutdaterape.nsw.gov.au – information about date rape, drink spiking and tips for being safe
www.menslineaus.org.au – a site for men with relationship and family concerns
Family Planning Tasmania
Family Planning Tasmania has nurses and doctors who can help with your sexual and reproductive health needs. Contraception, emergency contraception, sexually transmissible infections checks and treatment, pap smears, pregnancy testing, advice and counselling.
|2 Midwood Street||269 Wellington Street||1 Pine Avenue|
|New Town 7008||Launceston 7250||Upper Burnie 7320|
|Ph: (03) 6228 5244||Ph: (03) 6343 4566||Ph: (03) 6431 7692|
Sexual Health (Department of Health and Human Services)
A statewide service staffed by doctors, nurses, counsellors, and educators aimed at providing people with the opportunity to enhance their sexual health and wellbeing.
|60 Collins Street||43 Canning Street||23 Steele Street||1 Jones Street|
|Ph: (03) 6233 3557||Ph: (03) 6336 2216||Ph: (03) 6421 7759||Ph: (03) 6434 6315|
Freecall from anywhere in Tasmania - phone: 1800 675 859
Youth Health Services
Youth Health Centres provide a range of serves including information, counselling referral and support.
|Pulse Youth Health Centre||Headspace|
|2 Terry Street,||Cnr Brisbane and Wellington Street|
|Ph: (03) 6233 8900||Ph: (03) 6335 3100|
|The Link Youth Health Centre||Youth Health Team|
|57 Liverpool Street||Parkside, Strahan Street|
|Ph: (03) 6231 2927||Ph: (03) 6440 7140|
Family Violence Counselling and Support Services
Free and confidential crisis intervention service available to anyone who needs help because their partner or former partner is violent and/ or abusive to them.
|Ph: (03) 6336 2599||Ph: (03) 6233 4397|
Freecall 1800 608 122
9am - midnight weekdays 4pm – midnight weekends and public holidays
|Ph: (03) 6434 5477||Ph: (03) 6336 2692||Ph: (03) 6233 3818|
Centacare Family and Relationship Counselling Program
35 Tower Road
Ph: (03) 6278 1660
Sexual Assault Support Service (SASS)
SASS provides counselling, support and information for those who have experienced sexual assault at any time during their lives.
|Crisis service (24 hours)||Galileo House|
|Ph: (03) 6231 1817||(child and adolescent service 0-18 years)|
|73 Federal Street|
|Adult Service||North Hobart 7002|
|97 Campbell Street||Ph: (03) 6231 0044|
|Ph: (03) 6231 1811|
A community organisation for victims/survivors of sexual violence and their families, friends and support people. They provide face-to-face and phone counselling, 24-hour crisis service and support through the forensic/medical process and legal processes.
Ph 0409 800 394
PO Box 1062, Launceston 7250
Ph: (03) 6334 2740
Fax: (03) 6334 4234
North West Centre Against Sexual Abuse
Free and confidential counselling and support for anyone who has been affected by sexual assault or rape.
Ph: (03) 6431 9711
Working it Out
A community organisation aimed at supporting the interests of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.
|39 Burnett Street||45 Canning Street||Burnie Community Health Centre|
|North Hobart 7002||Launceston 7250||11 Jones Street|
|Ph: (03) 6231 1200||Ph: (03) 6334 4013||Burnie 7230|
|Ph: (03) 6432 3643|
S. H. E. ( Support Help and Empowerment Inc.)
Provides telephone and face-to-face counselling for women in or from abusive intimate relationships.
PO Box 300
Telephone us on (03) 6278 9090
Fax: (03) 6278 8292
Kids Help Line
24 hour telephone, online counselling for children and young people under 18 years.
1800 55 1800 (24 hours)
131114 (24 hours)
The booklet was produced as part of the Making Choices Project. The Making Choices Project is a collaborative partnership that aims to increase the information and services available to young people in relation to sexual and reproductive health. The project has involved a range of government and non government services working together to ensure young people have access to appropriate information and services that they need to make good choices about pregnancy and parenting.
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