All About Relationships

What is a healthy relationship?

From dating to "it's complicated", relationships can be…. complex!

Here are some values that help relationships stay strong

  • Honesty
  • Respect for each other
  • Shared responsibility
  • Communication
  • Trust

Of course, these values are not candy that people get at the store. It takes time to get to know each other and it is important to be humble to learn from our own mistakes. Every relationship we have, even if there is a breakup, shows something about ourselves and is an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Ask yourself

  • What are your values?
  • What skills are important in the people you hang up with?
  • What are your weaknesses and strengths?
  • How can you help the people in your environment?
  • How can people in your environment help you?
  • Are you good at asking for help?
  • What are your dreams and what do you envision for your future?
  • Are the people in your life on the same page as you?

If you’re worried that your relationship might be unhealthy or abusive, you should go to relationship myths and unhealthy relationships sections.


What is an unhealthy relationship?

Unhealthy and abusive relationships are about someone having power and control over the other person. Unfortunately, many people experience abusive relationships or domestic violence. That includes young people. Each year, 1.5 million high school students in America experience intimate partner violence.

There are some signs that a relationship is unhealthy or abusive. Keep in mind that abuse can either be physical, psychological, or both. There are many ways a person can have power and control over others.


Relationship bill of rights

In my relationships, I have the right to

  1. Be treated with dignity and respect.
  2. Have a partner who encourages and supports me.
  3. Say no and not feel guilty.
  4. Feel safe.
  5. Ask for what I want.
  6. Leave conversations with people who make me feel put down or humiliated.
  7. Not be responsible for other people's behavior, actions, feelings, or problems.
  8. Set boundaries about sex, privacy, and emotional needs.
  9. Make decisions based on my feelings, my judgments, or any reason that I choose.
  10. Talk about issues and conflicts with people I am in a relationship with.
  11. End a relationship without fear, harassment, or being made to feel guilty.


Relationship myths

We learn about relationships from a lot of different places like social media, family, friends, and tv. But sometimes what we hear are myths and not true.

Here are some common myths about relationships

MYTH: My partner and I need to have each other's passwords to trust each other.

FACT: Passwords to your social media accounts and email are private, you don’t have to share that information if you don’t want to.


MYTH: They paid for the date and I flirted with them, so I owe them sex.

FACT: Nope! You never owe sex to anyone for any reason. And you can change your mind at any point.


MYTH: Love means never having to say you are sorry.

FACT: Everyone makes mistakes, so hopefully we will all say sorry at some point. Apologizing and working to do better in the future is an important way to build trust.


MYTH: If my partner really loved me, they should be willing to change for me.

FACT: Everyone has the right to be loved and respected for who they are. If your partner wants you to change part of your personality or your life goals to fit them, it could be a sign that the relationship is unhealthy.


MYTH: It is normal for my partner to tell me not to be friends with someone or that I should spend all my time with them.

FACT: You have the right to be friends with and talk to whomever you want. Jealousy and possessiveness can be unhealthy. Just because you’re in a relationship with someone doesn’t mean that person owns you and can control everything you do.


MYTH: Constantly calling/texting to see where I am is normal. It means my partner cares.

FACT: Constant checking in can be a sign of a partner who is trying to control you, and a sign of an unhealthy relationship.


MYTH: Only men can be abusive.

FACT: Anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, can do things in a relationship that are unhealthy or abusive.


MYTH: Obviously it is not an abusive relationship. If it were abusive, they would want to leave.

FACT: People stay in abusive relationships for a lot of reasons including kids, fear, guilt for being with this person, and not knowing what to do. Staying doesn’t mean the relationship is not abusive or that you are okay with it.


MYTH: Abuse happens only in straight relationships.

FACT: LGBTQ+ relationships can be unhealthy or abusive. Anyone experiencing harm in their relationship deserves support and help.


MYTH: Women make false rape accusations all the time and men have to pay the price.

FACT: It can be really hard to make an accusation of rape or sexual assault. When someone experiences sexual violence, they might feel like it was their fault or it isn’t a big enough deal to report even if that isn’t true. Very few rape accusations are found to be false after an investigation.


MYTH: We are not dating, so it is not abuse.

FACT: You have the right to feel safe in any relationship, even if you are not officially a couple. If they disrespect, control, threaten, harass, stalk, or manipulate you, it is an abusive relationship.


What are boundaries?

Boundaries are the limits that show under what circumstances you feel comfortable and safe, and where is the line where you feel exposed or in danger.

How do you figure out what your boundaries are?

  • Boundaries are physical and non-physical: Think about what makes you feel secure or insecure. It could be physical like how do you feel about holding hands? Kissing? Having sex? Boundaries can also be non-physical things like if you’re ok with people posting about you on social media or how much alone time you need. Really think about what you would be okay with and then talk about it with your partner. Ask them what they’re comfortable with.
  • Boundaries can change: Maybe you feel comfortable with more things as time passes and you feel closer to the other person. You might not know what your boundaries are until you are in the moment. Maybe you thought you would be okay with touching, but you get to that point and think, "Oh no! I want to stop." That is okay. You have the right to change your mind and say no.
  • Boundaries are about mutual respect: Pay attention to how you feel and respect your partner's boundaries as well. Remember, they have the right to say no and stop the situation if they want to.


What is consent?

Consent is someone agreeing to do something. We’ll be focusing on what consent means when it comes to sex and relationships, but people consent to lots of other things too. When it comes to consent in sex, it’s about someone understanding what is happening and having a choice.

Consent should be

  • Freely given: You should feel comfortable and certain that it is what you want to do. If someone is threatened, tricked, or trapped, their consent is not freely given.
  • Reversible: You have the right to withdraw consent at any time for any reason. Everyone has the right to change their mind.
  • Informed: Each person should have the info they need to feel safe and comfortable with what is happening.
  • Enthusiastic: You are agreeing because it is what you want to do and you’re feeling good about it.
  • Specific: Just because you consented to one sexual act does not mean you consented to others.


What consent is NOT

There are some situations that under the law can’t be consensual

  • If someone is drunk or high, they legally can’t consent.
  • If someone is under 17, they can’t legally consent in Colorado.
  • People who have developmental disabilities and can’t understand what is happening can’t legally consent.

Consent is about respect. Just because someone:

  • dressed sexy;
  • didn’t say no;
  • was drunk or high;
  • said yes to avoid something bad happening to them;
  • is in a relationship with the person;
  • isn’t pushing the other person away;
  • agreed to sex in the past;

…it doesn’t mean they are consenting!

Practicing consent

If someone is wondering whether someone is consenting to have sex or not, the best way to find out is by having a conversation. Sometimes it is awkward or hard to say the words to consent to sex but normalizing these conversations makes it so much easier. Maybe practicing helps. Give it a try! “No, I will pass, I don’t want to have sex”. Or “Yes, I want to have sex with you, I have condoms in my backpack”.

Respecting someone’s decision if they don’t consent is also important. Sure, it can feel hard to feel rejected, but it is their choice. Thinking ahead of time about how you might feel if someone doesn’t want to do something sexually with you can help you deal with those feelings. Having suggestions about something else you could do to have fun or make you feel close to each other also helps! Here you can find more tips.

What if there wasn’t consent?

If someone doesn’t respect the other person's boundaries and makes them have sex with them, that is called abuse - even if the manipulation is physical or psychological. It is an act of sexual violence and a crime, and the person abused is a victim that needs help ASAP. More information about this and resources are on the sexual violence page.

Sexual violence

Talk and ask for help

Hey there! We are making a pause to let you know that the info on this page is about topics like abuse and violence, which can cause a strong emotional reaction. If that happens, it can really help to talk to someone.

If you feel like something is wrong, trust that feeling and find someone you trust to talk with. Only about a third of young people who experience abuse talk about it. That means a lot of people who have been hurt are not getting support, and there can be long-term problems for people when they keep it to themselves.

Here are some good places to start

  • You can find support by calling the Pueblo Rape Crisis Services 24-hour hotline at 719-549-0549. The team offers case management among many other resources.
  • Love is Respect and call at 1-866-331-9474
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733
  • The Trevor Project: Call 1-866-488-7386 or text ‘START’ to 678-678


What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is when a person has power and control over another person through unwanted or harmful sexual actions. Rape, sexual assault, and sexually harassing comments are examples of sexual violence. Sexual violence is a criminal act, and the person that suffers the assault is a crime victim.


What is the difference between sexual assault and rape?

Sexual assault is defined as any sexual contact to which the other person didn’t consent.

This can include

  • undoing or removing someone's clothing without their permission;
  • forcing sex or oral sex with someone without their permission;
  • using a sex toy on someone without their permission;
  • any unwanted sexual, or physical touching of someone without their permission.

Rape is a legal term that refers specifically to penetrative sex without consent. This includes vaginal sex, anal sex, fingering, and oral sex. All rape is sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is legally considered rape.


You’ve been sexually assaulted?

If you have experienced a sexual assault, the first thing to do is find a safe place away from the abuser that hurt you. You can stay in your house, go to a friend or family member's house, find a police station, go to a hospital or call someone for support.

Suggested options if you are a crime victim

  • You can find support by calling the Pueblo Rape Crisis Services 24-hour hotline at 719-549-0549. The team offers case management among many other resources.
  • You can go to a hospital and be seen by a healthcare professional. Usually, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (AKA SANE) assists victims of abuse. They will take you to a quiet room and talk to you confidentially. At the hospital,
    • a social worker will help you understand your rights and options;
    • you will get checked for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI);
    • you can ask for an emergency contraception pill;
    • you can ask to be treated by a therapist.
    • you can report to the police what happened, without leaving the hospital.
  • If you feel comfortable, call the police. If that is not a good option, you can decide later if you want to report the crime.

Keep in mind that

  • The consequences of what you suffered are real and you will probably experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms for months or years after the assault. This means that your memory might not work well because it is protecting your mind from remembering what happened, you will probably have nightmares and anxiety, and you will be very vulnerable in the following months — which is why talking with a therapist will help you move on.
  • Know that what happened wasn’t your fault — most victims feel like it was. You are a victim of a crime, and most importantly, you are a survivor and you have the right to receive immediate healthcare to recover from this incident both physically and emotionally.
  • Know that what happened doesn’t define you as a person but the determination to recover from this probably will — which is why is so important to ask for help.


Need help?

You can find support by calling the Pueblo Rape Crisis Services 24-hour hotline at 719-549-0549. The team offers case management among many other resources.


Resources about sexual violence

Pueblo Rape Crisis Services

Love is Respect Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 or text 'LOVEIS' to 22522

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Deaf Services

Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 1-844-762-8483

National Human Trafficking Hotline: Call 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711), Text 233733

Colorado Human Trafficking Hotline: Call 866-455-5075, Text 720-999-9724

What is stealthing and why is it wrong?

Go Ask Tara

Go Ask Tara is on a mission to provide sex education and help the youth of Colorado prevent pregnancy and STIs.