So you’ve got a boyfriend. Now what? Being in a relationship, even when you’re in middle school or high school, takes work. Just because you’re “with” someone doesn’t mean you lose your rights as a person. It does mean that you some responsibilities.
- Identity—You have the right to be your own person. You get to choose your own clothes, have input on plans including saying no if you don’t want to do something. Remember you don’t have to do everything together.
- Friends—You have the right to keep your friends and spend time with them away from your boyfriend. Just because you have a boyfriend doesn’t mean you have to stop having friends.
- Feelings—You have the right to your own feelings and to express them in appropriate ways.
- Opinions—You have the right to your own opinions even if they are different. It’s okay to disagree about things. What is important is that you agree to disagree.
- Boundaries—You have the right to set boundaries and to have those boundaries respected. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to have to do anything for your boyfriend or girlfriend that you are uncomfortable with. You don’t have to lend him/her money, you don’t have make out, you don’t have to have sex.
- Voice—You have the right to be heard and to tell someone not to interrupt you.
- Affection—You have the right to ask for and refuse affection. If you don’t want a kiss say so. If you need a hug or want to hold hands say so.
- Identity—It takes two unique individuals to be a couple. Your uniqueness is what attracted your boyfriend/girlfriend to you to begin with. It is your responsibility to keep true to who you are. Don’t let another person, even one you are really interested in, change who you are.
- Friends—You need to maintain friendships outside of your new relationship. This can be really hard when all you want is to be with your new boyfriend/girlfriend but its part of what makes a healthy relationship. Each of you need outside friends.
- Feelings—Remember that people aren’t mind readers. At some point in time we will accidentally hurt the people we care about. What is important is to acknowledge that just because you don’t understand why something hurt someone it did. Don’t belittle or reject those feelings. Acknowledge them and work with your partner.
- Opinions—A good relationship is a compromise. You go to a football game when you’d rather be at the movies, he goes to the movies when he’d rather be at a game. It is your responsibility to voice your opinions. Sure they may not always be popular but that’s okay. Nobody ever said being in a relationship meant the two of you were supposed to agree with everything.
- Boundaries—You have to set your boundaries based on your values and you have to respect the boundaries set by your partner. His/her values are part of who they are and that’s why you wanted him/her to be in a relationship with you.
- Voice—If you have the right to be heard and to someone else not to interrupt you, it’s your responsibility to listen to your boyfriend/girlfriend and to not interrupt.
- Affection—It’s your responsibility to remember that affection is a natural part of a healthy relationship but only within the boundaries set by the two of you.