Maintaining healthy relationships during Sexual Health Week

It’s Sexual Health Week and the theme of this year is consent: a topic that underpins all conversations about relationships and sexual health and wellbeing. We take a look at healthy relationships, and how to maintain them.

Giving consent is not just the action of giving permission or agreeing to do something, it’s also ensuring that you feel comfortable with your decision to partake in the activity.

As the Family Planning Association says, “It’s about listening, negotiating, and enthusiastically agreeing.”


As young people, we are often taught to say “yes” to everything, to make sure we don’t miss out on any experiences. It is meant to be taught as a positive thing, but can have negative consequences if it stops you from feeling like you can say “no”, and it can be hard, therefore, to understand that it’s okay to refuse to do something that makes you uncomfortable or scared.

No one should ever make you feel like you have to do something. If you’re feeling coerced or pressured into doing anything you don’t want to, you are allowed to refuse, and it’s okay to refuse. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel safe saying “no”, make sure you contact someone you trust to help, or the emergency services.


Though it’s important to understand that we can say “no” to things that make us uncomfortable, it’s also vital that we address our own behaviour, and ensure we’re treating others how we’d like to be treated. How do we react when someone says “no” to us? Do we respect their decision, or do we push them further?

Every relationship in your life should be one that you feel comfortable and safe in, whether that be a family member, a friend, or a romantic relationship. With consent, there’s no “grey area”: there is yes and there is no. If you’re not sure if someone has given you their consent, don’t do it.

And if you don’t want to give your consent, you don’t have to.


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