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Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

Let's talk about Romantic and Sexual relationships 

 

Continuing on with the theme of Relationships during November 2019, this discussion will focus on romantic and sexual relationships. 

 

“Relationship” is a broad term and can be used to describe a ton of different human connections! Romantic and sexual relationships also describe a range of different connections, so let’s define them! 

I Love Puzzle GIF

 

What do we mean by Romantic Relationships and Sexual Relationships? 

Romantic and sexual relationships are all about closeness or “intimacy”. Romantic closeness relates to the emotional connection you have with someone. If you feel a romantic attraction to someone you might want to talk to them for hours and tell them all your secrets, you might feel comfortable showing this person the full spectrum of your emotions. 

 

Sexual relationships have more to do with physical closeness. It is possible to have just a sexual attraction to someone, or only a romantic attraction. Sometimes when the stars align you get both romantic and sexual attraction in one! It’s also worth mentioning that there are some relationships that aren’t based on either romantic or sexual attraction - that's okay too! 

 

Navigating relationships can be tricky, so this special discussion will focus on a few important topics including:

  • What healthy and unhealthy relationships look like 
  • When a relationship has ups and downs 
  • Where you can seek support or resources in navigating relationship issues
  • Attraction and sex
  • Consent and choice 

Relationships can be so much broader than the areas we go into in this special discussion, so make sure to have a look at the ReachOut Relationships page for more info! 

 

i love you GIF by Saskdraws

 

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Check out our community activities calendar for November 2019 here

Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

I'd just like to remind everyone that if at all you find this conversation distressing or you feel like you need to talk to someone, about an issue then you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or use their webchat and email services found on their respective sites. The links can be found here Heart Relationships Australia can also provide support for relationship concerns

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Check out our community activities calendar for November 2019 here
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Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

PART 1: What do healthy romantic and sexual relationships look like?

 

When our relationships with those we care about most are healthy and add value to our lives, it can have great impacts on wellbeing, mental health, sense of belonging, sense of meaning and self esteem. Humans are such social creatures, so the connections we have with others can hold purpose in our lives. When our relationships are challenging, it can have a big toll on our wellbeing and everyday life! 

 

Relationships have their ups and downs- that’s a normal part of life! But how do I work out if my relationship is working for me? What do I value in a relationship and why? And what importance do romantic and sexual relationships hold in our lives?

 

best friends love GIF by Spinnin' Records

 

Activity:

 

1. What do you think makes a healthy relationship different from an unhealthy one? (Can be romantic, sexual, companionate etc) 

 

2. What do you value in a relationship, and why do you think people look for romantic or sexual relationships? Are there benefits?

 

3. How do you know if you are ready for a relationship?

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Check out our community activities calendar for November 2019 here

Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

Such an important discussion! 

1. What do you think makes a healthy relationship different from an unhealthy one? (Can be romantic, sexual, companionate etc)
In a relationship, it may be harder to spot the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one. The saying about 'rose-coloured glasses' is true -- you may be so happy and excited to be with them that you may be more lenient towards mistreatment or may not notice it at all. 

I think the number one thing in a healthy relationship is BOUNDARIES. This includes boundaries of every sort. Emotional boundaries, such as knowing when it's time for some privacy or self-care, can be just as important as physical boundaries, such as sexual and intimate consent. Both of these could include how you or your partner expects to receive affection -- for example, your partner may not be comfortable with gift-giving or public displays of affection, but would feel content to just spend time with you. It's really important to communicate often with each other to understand what one's boundaries are, even if these conversations may be difficult. Without clear boundaries, people are left to assume how a person may think or feel, which can turn toxic very fast.

If some good, healthy boundaries are in place, I believe the rest should follow naturally. Obviously, clear and honest communication is required to set such boundaries, but is healthy in other aspects of a relationship to maintain a sense of trust. Other healthy qualities are respect, kindness, and, well, fun! At least for romantic relationships, I think a sense of friendship is very important too.

2. What do you value in a relationship, and why do you think people look for romantic or sexual relationships? Are there benefits?
The above. 😂 I highly value a sense of mutual understanding -- my ex admitted she didn't really understand my anxiety, and didn't really care to do any research or listen to my advice for how she could help me get through panic attacks etc. I also value a level-playing field, so to speak, and a sense of equality. A partner should be just as interested in my interests as I am with theirs, or else there is a sense of imbalance. I'm not really interested in a relationship living with someone just yet, but I feel this would carry over with domestic responsibilities. I definitely wouldn't cope with the traditional breadwinner/ homemaker type of relationship -- I'd want to be equal with my partner and share responsibilities. I'd also like to share common interests, as well as be able to constantly learn with my partner.

Humans are social creatures. Beyond a bland evolutionary perspective on it (to reproduce and maintain the human race... yay?), relationships are a way to form deep connections and fulfil unmet needs. While people enter relationships for different reasons, I believe the most common reasons would be to maintain a sense of security, to become less isolated, or to fulfil a need for intimacy. All of these things can be a benefit for having a relationship, if the relationship is healthy. 

3. How do you know if you are ready for a relationship?
It's good to know what your boundaries are before entering a relationship, and be prepared for the difficult conversations. It's also really good, in my option, to have a sense of self-worth as an individual rather than as someone belonging to a unit. This helps you understand your own boundaries and know when someone has overstepped them. It also may help to maintain happiness if the relationship breaks down or doesn't go as planned.

Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

I basically agree with everything @Hozzles said, but to answer the questions

 

1. What do you think makes a healthy relationship different from an unhealthy one? (Can be romantic, sexual, companionate etc) 

Definitely boundaries and mutual respect. Having a comprehensive understanding of where each other stands on certain topics and each person respecting how the other feels in certain situations. In a healthy relationship, I think you should be able to talk about things free from judgement and have your feelings heard and respected.

 

2. What do you value in a relationship, and why do you think people look for romantic or sexual relationships? Are there benefits?

 

I value people who take the time to get to know you and understand how you work. I also value the ability to spend quality time with that person and have a mutual understanding that alone time is also super important. 

Why do people look for them? Because they can be incredibly rewarding when with the right person. It can be really wonderful when you get to 'do life' with somebody who shares your interests and wants to see you happy and fulfilled just as much as you want that for them. 

Are there benefits? Absolutely. While relationships absolutely have their ups and downs, in the end, having somebody in your life to share all of these moments with is great. Although it's also worth mentioning, that relationships aren't for everybody. While some people desire that companionship, others may not and that's totally ok too. 

 

3. How do you know if you are ready for a relationship?

I was definitely a late bloomer in this department. I think growing up questioning my sexuality for so long made me pretty uncomfortable about relationships in general. I remember going on a couple of dates with people to see how I felt and the desire to cancel/run in the other direction etc was probably a pretty clear indicator that I wasn't ready. Although, to be fair, I finished telling a friend literally an hour before I met my partner that I wasn't ready for a relationship and here we are now 1 year later, so I guess sometimes things just have a way of falling into place. 

So the answer to this question would vary depending on what you want out of the relationship. But if you feel comfortable in the situation/with the person and you're both on the same page as to what you want, maybe that would be a good start.

Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

Relationships are such a big and important part of our lives as human beings and social creatures so love the opportunity to have these discussions!

 

1. What do you think makes a healthy relationship different from an unhealthy one? (Can be romantic, sexual, companionate etc) 

I think what makes a healthy relationship different from an unhealthy one is the ability to be yourself. Whether it's a romantic relationship, friendship, or family member it's so important to feel comfortable sharing your true self with the other person. Some red flags that I've noticed in my own friendships are when my opinion is repeatedly shut down and I feel like I can no longer speak, when I don't want to share things about my life because I'm afraid of the other person's adverse reaction, and when it feels like I'm always doing all of the listening and none of the sharing. As was mentioned, feeling like equals and equally validated is so important.

 

2. What do you value in a relationship, and why do you think people look for romantic or sexual relationships? Are there benefits?

I think the things I value in a relationship are pretty standard - honesty, trust, the ability to listen without judgment, and compassion. When in a romantic relationship you need to be equals and partners. I think people look for romantic relationships because it feels nice to know there is someone out there you can rely on and share your experiences with. Life is better with someone and, for me, I often search for that someone in romantic relationships, although I also have many incredibly important non-romantic relationships too. It simply feels nice to be intimate and a little bit vulnerable with another human being.

Just sharing some human experiences together. How we humans do.

 

3. How do you know if you are ready for a relationship?

Good question! I want to say that maybe you never know if you're ready for a relationship until you give it a go? If it feels wrong at the start, or you find yourself wanting to pull away, maybe that means you have to do some more work on yourself before you dive into a romantic commitment .... or maybe that person just isn't a good fit for you. Robot Embarassed

 

Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

I have loved reading these posts this morning!

 

@Hozzles You mentioned "Emotional boundaries, such as knowing when it's time for some privacy or self-care, can be just as important as physical boundaries, such as sexual and intimate consent". I could not agree with you more about boundaries- super important! When it comes to setting and communicating boundaries to a partner, what advice do you have for those who aren't sure how to start that conversation? 

 

@Sunflower18 Building on Hozzles point about boundaries, you have mentioned a few things that you really value; mutual understanding, non-judgmental communication, and the importance of having together time and alone time. I really resonate with that last one about quality time together, and spending time apart- this is is a really important balance Smiley Happy

 

@recharging_introvert Being yourself in a relationship is so powerful and reaffirming! Mutuality and equality are both terms that have come up in this discussion. You mentioned "feeling like equals and equally validated is so important." Could not agree more Smiley Happy

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Check out our community activities calendar for November 2019 here

Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

I've just pulled some of the key words that have come up so far in this discussion into a word cloud; What things our community value in a healthy relationship

 

WordItOut-word-cloud-3992070 (1).pngWhat our community values in a healthy relationship

 

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Check out our community activities calendar for November 2019 here

Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

Part 2: Coping with relationship stresses, pressures or challenges

 

Discussion: 

 

What are some “healthy” relationship challenges? 

 

What are your “deal breakers” (challenges that overstep your boundaries) 

 

What do you think is most important when handling conflict with your partner?

 

 

Last week we dipped our toes in the discussion topic of healthy romantic and sexual relationships! This week we want to open up a deeper discussion into how to cope with the stresses, pressures or challenges that you may come up against when in a romantic or sexual relationship. 

 

Romantic and sexual relationships can bring a feeling of joy that is really unique and special. The closeness of these relationships often heighten all our emotions - the good ones and sometimes the uncomfortable ones. 

 

Like any relationship, there are challenges that arise so it helps to have some tools handy to help you cope when things are stressful. There are different kinds of pressures that can add stress to a relationship. Below I’ve made a few dot points but please feel free to add to the list in your comments! 


Internal pressures: 

  • Insecurity/Jealousy 
  • Difference in culture/age/beliefs 
  • Unrealistic expectations 

 

External pressures:  

  • Family and/or friends 
  • Study/Work commitments 
  • Money

                                                      

Re: Romantic and Sexual Relationships: Special Discussion

I tag bombing a bunch of community members for this one! If you are interested in this topic, we would love to hear from you!

 

@Ladybug @reach804 @_Star_Gazer_17_ @Maddyw @spacejam @queenP @Tasi @Decal21 @recharging_introvert @jesseka_grace @Mcro @Sunflower18 @LovesFood @dncinginthedirt @linkinpark13 @lokifish @May_ @missep @mrmusic @blobby @not-an-otter @AJ16 @Alison5 @CowboyBebop @DirtWitch @DIVYA @dncinginthedirt @dog_lover94 @FootyFan26 @Groovy_Popsicles @Hozzles @I_am_not_Groot @Jane_Rose @Ladybug

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Check out our community activities calendar for November 2019 here