A relationship doesn’t just mean what happens in your love life! Most of our important relationships – like with our family, friends and pets – involve our feelings but don’t involve any romance! We also have relationships with teachers, health professionals and neighbours. Whatever the relationship, it will probably have ups and downs – most do! Good communication and respect going both ways are really important to make it work well.
Everyone has the right to be safe and happy in their relationships, whoever they are and whoever they’re with. Try not to make judgements about people and their relationships – imagine all the great people you might never meet if you decide they’re not ‘your type’ before even speaking to them. It’s true that the world would be a pretty boring place if everyone were the same, and there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to how people look, their family set-up, culture and who they fancy. So get to know people, and enjoy all the differences between them! Most importantly, remember to treat others and yourself with respect.
Respect is about knowing that your feelings are just as important as everyone else’s and that you deserve to be treated well…by yourself as well as by other people. Being different is OK – you are a unique and special human being with feelings, needs and rights – there’s no one else quite like you! We all have rights and responsibilities. It’s important to trust your instincts, to ask for help and to speak up for yourself.
It’s also important to respect other people. This isn’t necessarily about admiring them, liking them or expecting them to ‘earn’ it. Everyone’s entitled to their own feelings and points of view, even if we don’t know them or agree with them. People who have respect for others don’t discriminate or bully, because they understand that other people’s feelings are just as important as their own.
People who respect others will always avoid harming them, in any way, because they understand that everyone has a right to wellbeing.
Sometimes, when there is a lack of respect in a relationship, one partner may abuse their power and inflict harm on the other person. This could be emotional, physical or sexual harm, and all of these are always unacceptable. If you feel that there is a lack of respect in your relationship, or an abuse of power, talk to someone you know that you can trust.