Friendships and relationships are both built on having some common interests, feelings, respect and trust in your friend or partner.
Intimate relationships are built on these feelings, shared interests and emotions, and can be short term or long term, casual, dating or serious, sexual or non-sexual. As long as you both have trust and respect with each other and have good communication with your partner, then that intimate relationship makes you both feel physically and emotionally happy.
To find out more information about looking for and having positive, respectful and consensual relationships visit the Brook website.
If you decide to become sexual or intimate with your partner for the first time, try not to rush your decision. The first time you have sex, or the first time you have sex with a new partner, should be a positive and pleasurable experience for both of you. If you have good communication with each other, you can also talk about keeping yourselves safe from STIs, or if you are heterosexual (male and female), from becoming pregnant.
Did you know that 2 out of 3 people aged 16 or below have not had sex? So not everyone is doing it! It also doesn’t mean that if you are 16 or older, that you should be having sex.
We’ve put together a quiz below called Are You Ready? which might help you think about whether it’s the right time to become more intimate (thanks to Brook and Jo Adams for letting us use this quiz).
The law and consent
It’s important to know what the law says about sex. This will help you to know what’s right and wrong so you can make safe choices that you are happy with.
The age you can have sex is called ‘the age of consent’. In the UK it is 16 years old. This means that according to the law, only those who are aged 16 or over are able to freely agree to any sexual activity, in full understanding of the consequences of having sex. This applies if you want to have sex with someone of the opposite sex, or the same sex.
Consent is when a person freely gives their permission or agrees to something, after having carefully thought about whether or not they want to do something. This decision should have been made without that person being; pressured or bullied, encouraged to use drugs or alcohol to influence their decision, or manipulated or made to feel stupid. In the UK the law says that both people must give their consent before any physical closeness or sexual activity. This means that if you want to have sex you must be sure that your partner wants to as well.
To find out more about what consent means and how to get it, please watch the following video:
What if I’m under 16?
Sex between anyone who is under 16 is illegal. The law is in place to protect young people from being abused and exploited. It’s not intended to punish consensual (both people have given their consent) sexual activity between two young people of a similar age, as long as it does not involve abuse or exploitation.