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Looking for a relationship

Here are some things to bear in mind if you’re looking for a relationship or you want to ask someone out

Are you ready for a relationship?

Before you start looking for a relationship, take a minute to make sure it is really what you want and the time is right.

Why do you want a relationship?

Is it that your friend is in a relationship and you see less of them? Do you feel like the odd one out? Do you feel like it’s something you should have? Do you have lots of free time and don’t know what to do with it? None of these are good reasons to look for a relationship and you might find better ways of coping with these changes, maybe by meeting new people and making new friends or trying new hobbies.

Do you have the time and effort for a relationship?

If you’re emotionally unavailable (unable to offer time and emotion to the other person) it is very difficult to build a relationship with someone.

Do you know what you’re looking for?

You don’t have to know exactly what you’re looking for but it does help to make sure you find something that is good for you. If you don’t want a serious relationship or are looking for something in particular it’s always best to be honest with any potential partners so you know early on what you’re both looking for and whether you’re on the same page.

Do you know your worth?

How you feel about yourself often affects who you date.

  • If you don’t feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to put up with behaviour that isn’t acceptable. You also might rely too heavily on your relationship and it can become a codependent relationship where your life revolves around your partner. This can make it hard to end things or create boundaries around how you treat one another.
  • If you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to find someone who will also make you feel good and more likely to have a healthy relationship.

That’s why it’s important that you’re getting validation (a sense of purpose and self-confidence) from other parts of your life, for example through a hobby or though your friends or family. A partner should be there to compliment your life and not be a filler for something you feel you are lacking.

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.

Where to look for a partner(s)

Through friends

Lots of people meet their partner(s) through mutual friends. It seems obvious that if you both get along with your mutual friend, you’re also likely to get along with each other. It also means you know who they are and know a bit about them before meeting them which can reduce first date nerves and help make you feel more comfortable and safe.

Groups and clubs

Starting a new hobby or joining new sports clubs is a great way to meet new people whether that’s friends or something more. You’re also then meeting people with a shared interest.

Dating apps – over 18s only

if you’re over 18 there are lots of dating apps that you can use to meet people. There are dangers and risks with meeting someone you don’t know so make sure you look at our top tips for keeping safe with online dating.

Social media

Sliding into someone’s DMs is often an easier and less scary way of starting a conversation with someone you know and follow. But you may also use social media to meet new people for example if you follow the same accounts or have similar interests. However, as with dating apps there is always a risk with meeting people online so it’s important you know how to keep yourself safe.

What to look for

Everyone has different ideas of what their ideal partner might be like and what they want from a relationship. But there are some key things that demonstrate a healthy relationship that you should look out for. These are often called green flags and are the opposite of red flags, which are things to be wary of in relationships.

Look for someone that…

  • Makes you feel good about yourself 
  • Respects your boundaries
  • Is a good communicator
  • Listens and responds to how you want to be treated
  • Brings out a version of yourself that you like 
  • Asks questions and is interested in getting to know you
  • Makes you feel safe and comfortable
  • Likes you for you and doesn’t try to change you 
  • Shows you respect and compassion  

How to ask someone out

So you want to ask someone out? Before you ask them, think about whether they want you to ask them out.

What are your instincts telling you? Do they show signs of fancying you back? Sometimes it’s easy to know this, especially if you have a mutual friend who knows how they feel. Other times it can be difficult to know as some people go shy and awkward around people they like. If you’re not sure, can you get to know them better before you ask?

If they’re showing clear signs that they’re not interested, then save yourself the trouble and hurt and don’t ask them.

If you think they might be interested then here are some tips to bear in mind when asking someone out:

  • You could give them your number rather than asking for theirs so they have the choice to message you or not
  • Be prepared that they may say no – respond kindly with something like “no worries, I thought I’d ask anyway” and praise yourself for being brave and putting yourself out there
  • Be prepared that they may say yes but mean no – if you ask someone out in person they might feel under pressure to say yes to the date or feel awkward saying no. Give them the space to decide and understand that they might change their mind.
  • They may not give you a reason for why they don’t want to go out with you and that’s completely acceptable – don’t pressure them to give a reason. They may also give you an excuse that might be a lie because they want to let you down nicely. For example, they might say that they’re busy on the day you suggested or say they’re not dating at the moment. You won’t know if they’re being honest and you don’t need to!

How to make the first move

The first kiss can be both exciting and daunting. The first kiss should only happen without pressure and when you’re both comfortable with it and have given consent. Consent means agreeing to something.

You shouldn’t kiss someone if you’re not sure if they want to kiss you. Here are some tips to make sure:

  • Ask them – saying something as simple as “I’d really like to kiss you” or asking “can I kiss you?” are easy ways to find out if they’re on the same page.
  • Read their body language – if their arms are crossed or they’re leaning away it’s unlikely they want to kiss you. You also need to read their body language during the kiss, are they responding and kissing you back? Are they leaning into you? If you’re not sure it’s best to end the kiss, that way if they do want to kiss you they can restart the kiss.
  • Meet them halfway – rather than you kissing them, you can lean into the kiss but stop short so if they want to kiss you they will lean in and meet you halfway.
  • Talk about it beforehand – do they like kissing in public? Have they kissed someone before? Have they told you they like you?

The first kiss is never perfect – people can change their kissing style with different people and it’s hard to work out how the other person likes to be kissed from the first kiss alone. That’s why it’s easier to start off slow with the first kiss and pay attention to how your partner is responding.

What if it doesn’t work out?

Relationships can be hard and they’re often not what you see in films or books. They require effort, communication and commitment but even with all these things they don’t always work. The end of any relationship can be upsetting even if it was the early stages but it’s not the end of the world and you will have more relationships even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Things fizzle out

Not all relationships work. You might have an idea of what someone is like in your head that doesn’t match up to their personality when you get to know them more, or you might not fancy them after all. There are lots of reasons why things can fizzle out but it’s better to look for something more suited to you than settle for a relationship that won’t make you happy or that isn’t what you’re looking for.


You might together decide that you just want to be friends and there’s nothing romantic there. Or one of you may not fancy the other person and just want to be friends.

Being ‘friendzoned’ can be disheartening if you like the person and being their friend can be hard if you still have feelings for them. If they’ve been clear with you and said there is nothing beyond friendship for them then you need to take their word for it. Don’t stay their friend in the hope that they might change their mind at some point in the future.

If it’s hard being their friend, it’s okay to put yourself first and explain to them that it’s better that you don’t see each other even as friends or block them on social media so you’re not tempted to check in and see if they’ve changed their mind.

Break up

Relationships aren’t always forever – what suits you at one point in your life may not suit you in a couple of years. We’re all constantly growing and changing and it might be that your partner(s) doesn’t grow in the same direction as you.

  • On this page

    Other Stuff you might find useful…


    How to give and get consent


    What does it mean to be a man?




    Arguments: How to manage arguments with a partner


    Non-monogamous relationships


    Breaking up


    Having sex for the first time


    Deciding to have sex

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