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Relationships

Having a boyfriend or girlfriend for the first time is really exciting. It can be fun getting to know someone but it can be confusing too. It is important to stay safe especially when you feel a relationship you are in may be going wrong.

Love heartWhat are relationships like?

When you start going out with someone, even if you started out as friends, there are lots of new things to learn about the other person. It can be really good being with someone and doing things together.

Sometimes it can feel confusing and you might have feelings which you haven't had before.

Things you might worry about:

  • Does he or she really like me?
  • Is this relationship right for me?
  • Should we have sex?
  • What if we break up?
  • What will my parents think?
  • How can I tell someone I like them?

    It can be helpful to think about what makes you want to be in a relationship and what feels right for you.

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    What if it doesn't feel right?

    If you are really worried about your relationship you could talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about how you feel. It often helps to prepare how you are going to say what you feel and to be clear about your thoughts .

    If you feel like you can't talk to them. You could try:

  • talking to someone you trust like a parent, teacher or other family member
  • talking to a ChildLine counsellor in confidence
  • getting support from other people with similar worries on our message boards
  • writing a letter to Sam for advice or reading letters from other people.
    • My boyfriend or girlfriend is always arguing with me, what should I do ?

      It’s normal to have some arguments in a relationship but it’s also important to feel safe and respected.

      If you are arguing more than getting along, you might want to think about what is causing the arguments and how you’d like things to be. A first step could be talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend about how you feel.

      When an argument turns violent or the person you are with keeps putting you down or forcing you to do things which you don’t want to, this is relationship abuse.

      You can get help by talking to a ChildLine counsellor or asking an adult for help.

    • Should I have sex with my boyfriend or girlfriend?

      Having sex is a big decision and there are lots of things to think about. For many people, sex is a normal part of a relationship as a couple. It can be a really good experience. It can be exciting and make you feel confident. At times it can be embarrassing or painful. The important thing is to find what feels right for you in your relationship.

      Some questions you could ask yourself

      1. Do we both feel ready and comfortable with our decision?
      2. Do we both feel safe?
      3. Have we got protection like condoms or other types of contraception?
      4. Are we legally allowed to have sex?
      5. Have we both made sure we have not made the decision while we were drunk or had taken drugs?
      6. Have we talked about what we want to happen and what we don’t want to happen?

      In the UK you can legally have sex when you are 16 or over. This law is there to protect people. At ChildLine we understand that some young people might have sex before they turn 16. It is important that sex is consensual. This means neither person is being forced to do it. We are here to support you and would never judge you.  

      If you don’t feel comfortable or ready to have sex with someone, you shouldn’t feel like you have to do it. Find out about being assertive so you can say exactly how you feel.

      Take a look at our page about sex or chat to other young people on the sex and sexual health message board.

    • How do I break up with someone?

      It's often hard breaking up with someone but there are ways to make it easier. If you are unhappy about something in your relationship or don't feel the same way about your boyfriend or girlfriend, you might want to end the relationship.

      Five things to think about if you break up with someone
      1. Try to tell your boyfriend or girlfriend face to face. You might want to do this in a quiet place where you can talk without being disturbed.
      2. Try not to break up by text or online – your message could be shared with lots of other people and this could make things hard for you.
      3. Tell your boyfriend or girlfriend why you want to end the relationship.
      4. If you don't want to be friends, don't promise that you will be. It could hurt them more if you lie.
      5. Try to get your stuff back from them if you have given them house keys, money, travel cards or other important things.

      Take a look at our message boards where other people share their experiences.

    • My girlfriend or boyfriend broke up with me. What can I do?

      It can be really upsetting if you are the one who has been broken up with and it takes time to get over it.

      Five ways to help you cope
      1. Talk about how you feel with someone you trust like a friend or family member.
      2. Talk to a ChildLine counsellor for support.
      3. Check out the relationships message board and get help and support from other young people who might be in a similar situation as you.
      4. Focus on things that make you feel happy, like spending time with people you like and doing hobbies.
      5. Take time to think about what is important to you and how you want things to be in the future.

      It can sometimes feel difficult to deal with a break-up but it’s important to remember that things can change. In the days and weeks after a break-up it can still be hard to accept and you could feel hurt and let down. Many people feel different after a while and you could meet someone else in the future.

    • How can I tell someone that I like them?

      Having a crush on someone or liking someone can be exciting. It can also be scary if you want to tell the person how you feel or ask them out but don’t know how to.

      You could try:
      - spending more time with them to see if you both get along
      - finding out more about them to see if you have similar interests
      - choosing a time to tell them how you feel when you’re both free and not in a rush to go somewhere
      - choosing a time to tell them how you feel when nobody else is around, if you feel embarrassed saying this in front of other people
      - checking out our message boards for advice from other people in similar situations.

      If the person feels the same way about you, it can be really good and could be the start of a relationship. If they don’t feel the same way, it can be hard to move on. You might feel embarrassed, rejected or really sad. You can get support by asking an adult for help, getting support from people on our message boards or talking to a counsellor.

    • How can I tell someone that I only want to be friends with them?

      Relationships can be complicated and it’s natural to have different feelings about different people.

      It can be hard if someone has a crush on you or likes you but you don’t feel the same way. It might be that you don’t want a romantic or sexual relationship, but you feel happy with just being friends.

      Being honest about the way you feel is important but it’s also important to be careful how you say this. Telling someone in front of other people can be embarrassing. Telling someone online can be hurtful too because the person who likes you might not understand how you mean something. There is also the risk of what you’ve said being shared online with other people. Find out about staying safe online.

      Tips on how to tell someone you only want to be friends:
      1. Find a time when you’re both free and not rushing to go somewhere.
      2. Choose a place that is not loud and crowded so you won’t be distracted.
      3. Start by saying what you like about them, such as, their laugh, sense of humour, taste in music or hairstyle.
      4. Let them know that you don’t feel the same way about them but you would like to be friends.
      5. If it feels right, you could suggest hanging out together another time, maybe with other friends too.

    • I fancy my teacher. What should I do?

      Lots of young people have crushes on teachers or feelings for them and this is normal. The important thing to remember is that acting on these feelings or having a relationship with a teacher is wrong.

      It’s wrong because your teacher is in a position of trust and it’s against the law for them to have any kind of personal relationship with a student who is under the age of 18. They could go to prison for having a relationship with a student.

      A teacher has to work with you in a strictly professional way. This means that at all times they are a teacher and you are a student. If you left school or if the teacher worked at a different school, it would still be seen as wrong and unprofessional.

      It can be hard when you have feelings for someone like a teacher and you realise that you can’t be together. 

      Five ways to help you cope
      1. Talk about how you feel with someone you trust.
      2. See how other people in similar situations have coped by looking at our message boards.
      3. Find other things to focus on like hobbies or spending time with friends and family.
      4. Talk to a ChildLine counsellor. They are there to listen to you and support you.
      5. Think about what is important to you and make time for yourself.

      If you felt pressured by a teacher to do anything which you felt uncomfortable or unsure about, you should talk to a ChildLine counsellor.

    • Is it okay to have a relationship with someone if there is a big age difference?

      Relationships can often be confusing. Things can be even more confusing when the person you’re with is much older or much younger.

      When there is a big age difference it can affect lots of areas of your life. For example:
      - If one of you is at school, the other might not realise how stressful it can be with exams or how you might need time to study or do homework.
      - While it is not against the law to have a boyfriend or girlfriend who is older than you, it is against the law for an adult to have sex with anyone under the age of 16. It might be that you don't feel ready to do some sexual things and they expect you to.
      - If one person is working or has more money than the other, it can be hard to make decisions about paying for things.
      - If one of you is 18 or over and the other isn’t, it might mean you can't go out together to places like pubs, bars and clubs.
      - If one person is much older, they may have more experience, more knowledge and different expectations like buying a house and having children.

      Five things to think about
      1. Are you both genuinely interested in each other or is the age difference something that you or they get a thrill out of?
      2. Do you both feel equal in the relationship and respect each other?
      3. Do you trust each other and feel safe when you’re together?
      4. Can you tell your family and friends about your relationship?
      5. Do you have similar interests and ideas?

      If you are worried about anything in your relationship or worried about someone else, you can get support by talking to a ChildLine counsellor. They are there to listen to you and will never judge you.

    • My family don't want me to be with the person I like. What should I do?

      If you are in a relationship with someone or want to be with them and your family are not happy about this, it can be really hard for you. You might feel sad, angry, confused or isolated.

      Sometimes parents or other family members might not want you to be with a certain person. This could be because of their behaviour, age, race, religion or because of other reasons. Sometimes it could be that they’re worried about you or unsure about your relationship.

      Five things to try
      1. Find out more about what makes your parents or family think this way.
      2. Talk to your parents about how you feel and see if you can work things out together.
      3. Ask an adult for help like a family member, teacher or someone else you trust.
      4. Talk to a ChildLine counsellor for advice and support.
      5. Check out our message boards for advice from other young people who are going through similar experiences.

      It’s important to feel safe in a relationship. If you are ever worried about anything, you can contact a counsellor.

    • I'm worried about my friend's relationship with someone

      It can be difficult for you if you are worried about your friend.

      We often hear from people who tell ChildLine:

      - ‘My friend’s boyfriend is treating her badly’.
      - ‘My friend’s girlfriend is always teasing him and putting him down’.
      - ‘My friend is in a relationship with someone who is much older’.
      - ‘My friend is being forced to have sex’.

      If you are worried about a friend, you don’t have to cope on your own. You could:

      - talk to your friend about how you feel
      - take a look at our page about relationship abuse. You could even show it to your friend
      - ask an adult for help, like a parent, teacher or older relative
      - talk to a ChildLine counsellor for support
      - call 999 for urgent help if you think your friend is in serious danger.

      Read our advice about helping a friend.

    • I don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend. What can I do?

      If your friends or other people around you have boyfriends or girlfriends, it can feel like you are the only person who isn’t in a relationship. It could also make you feel happy about being on your own.

      It’s important to remember that everyone is different. There is no set time for when you should be in a relationship. It’s completely normal for some people to have their first relationship when they are adults. It's also okay if you choose not to be in a relationship. You could think about what makes you want to be with someone and what are the good things are about being single.

      Five things to try if you're feeling down
      1. Talk to someone you trust about how you feel.
      2. Get support from other young people by looking at our message boards.
      3. Think about how you could meet people and look at our tips for making friends.
      4. Read our page about building confidence and self-esteem.
      5. Focus on other things like spending time with friends and family or doing things you enjoy like hobbies.  

    Other sites that can help

    Free and confidential information about sex and relationships for under 25s
    Brook

    Abuse is never ok. Find out how to tell if you are in an abusive relationship and how to get help.
    This is ABUSE

    Call ChildLine

    You can call ChildLine at any time on 0800 1111 to speak to a counsellor. Calls are free and confidential.

    Call ChildLine

    Relationships message board

    Speak to other young people about relationships and any worries you might have on the ChildLine message boards.

    Visit the message board

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