Healthy lives for young people
Relationships

Looking for a relationship

Start by thinking about why you’re looking for a relationship. If it’s because it feels like everyone you know has paired off except you, check if this is really the case.

A 2015 survey of over 5000 people on relationships called The Way We Are Now found that most 16-24 year olds in the UK (62%) weren’t in a relationship. 27% said they were in a relationship but not living with a partner and 11% said they were living with a partner.

If some of your good friends, or even just one good friend, isn’t around as much as before because they’re hanging out with their newfound love, you can feel like the odd one out. But look beyond your immediate circle of friends, and it’s more than likely there are lots of other people who are still single. 

There’s no normal or right age to have your first relationship. So don’t rush into anything you’re not ready for. And don’t settle for something that doesn’t feel quite right. Not having a relationship can be a perfectly good choice at any age. 

Meeting someone

Meeting someone you fancy could happen anywhere and anytime – though there’s always an element of luck.

When 16 to 24 year olds were asked how they met their current partner in The Way We Are Now survey, the most common answers were ‘through friends’ or ‘at school/college/university’. This was the breakdown of their responses:

  • 41% at school/college/university
  • 21% through friends
  • 7% through online dating sites
  • 6% via social networking sites (such as Facebook)
  • 12% by chance
  • 2% through family
  • 1% blind date
  • 13% other 

If you can’t see any possibilities for romance, maybe it’s time to think about how you could meet some new people. 

Check out what’s on offer around you to widen your social group. You could join a club, start a new course, volunteer or try a new sport or activity. Even if you don’t end up meeting a love interest, you might make new friends, learn a new skill, discover a new talent – and above all enjoy yourself. 

Friends
We know from research on relationships across all age groups that one of the most common way people meet a partner is through friends. Make the most of opportunities to go out with your friends and encourage them to bring along and introduce you to new friends. 

Also, don’t wait for other people to do the inviting. Take the initiative and think of fun ways to bring people together – it could be anything from a picnic or fancy dress party to a pub quiz or a sponsored charity event. 

The more you hang out with people whose company you enjoy, the more likely you are to meet someone you’re going to click with. 

Online
As shown by the The Way We Are Now survey, some people get together through dating websites or social networking. 

If you decide to look for love online, just make sure you know how to do so safely. This is especially important if you’re under 18 as some people lie about who they are online and deliberately target young people for sex. Read more about staying safe while dating online.
 
If you decide to meet face to face with someone you’ve met online, always put your safety first. Arrange a date in a public place and tell someone you trust where you’re going, when and who you’re meeting.  

You can find more advice on digital dating on BISH the sex and relationships website.

Making the first move

You fancy someone

What now? This depends on what you feel comfortable with. Many people feel anxious and don’t know what to do and this is normal. 

Do they feel the same? 

It’s often hard to know. With some people, it might be obvious because it’s clear you get on or maybe your friends are telling you that they fancy you.  With others, you can’t be sure. Some people clam up and go really shy or awkward when they fancy someone. It helps if you get to know someone first and if you can, just be relaxed about things.

Asking someone out

So you want to ask someone out? What are your instincts telling you? Is there a spark between you? It’s usually best to get to know them a bit first. If you think they share your feelings, suggest meeting up to do something together. Some people find it easy to make a move. But most people are at least a bit nervous and fear rejection. But you won’t know if you don’t try. Find more tips on how to ask someone out on BISH

The first kiss
This is all about timing and should only happen without pressure and when you’re both comfortable with it and have given consent. Consent means agreeing to something.

For many people, the first kiss is both exciting and daunting. No one can get it perfectly right the first time. And people can change their kissing style with different people. One tip is to start off slow and pay attention to how your partner is responding. Get more tips on kissing, read The Site’s snogging masterclass.

Dealing with rejection

If you suggest a date and they’re not interested, they may not come right out and say it. They’re more likely to make an excuse and say they’re busy at that time. If this happens, don’t push it. And don’t be harsh on yourself, you were really brave asking in the first place. It just wasn’t the right person or the right time. Be patient and your time will come.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Dating and relationships should be fun and positive. If you are struggling or have been rejected, take a break for a while and try not to get discouraged. Hang out with your friends and try to stay confident and positive. The right person will come along soon enough. 

Be positive about yourself

If you don’t feel very good about yourself, or feel unhappy a lot of the time, it can be hard to decide what you want for yourself. If you feel very unhappy or low about yourself, then consider talking to someone about this. Read our guide to 5 steps to building your self-esteem and our page on how to be happy.

A new relationship

Dating and relationships should be fun and should make you feel good. There are no set rules for how to have a successful relationship. Everyone is different and every couple is different. You’ll just need to explore what works for you. 

It can be easy to get sucked into believing some of the stereotypes about relationships and think it’s all about grand gestures, hearts and flowers and lots of sex. But when the Enduring Love? research team asked over 5000 people in long term relationships what they liked most about their relationship, the things that came out top were talking, listening, being best friends and being kind to each other.

How do you know if they’re ‘the one’?

Relate are the UK’s largest provider of relationship support. Watch their video on how to know if they’re ‘the one’
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