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What kinds of relationships are there?

Friends, family, whānau; as you go through life, there are lots of different relationships you could have with people. These also include a wide range of romantic and/or sexual relationships.

Regardless of what kind you’re in, the most important thing is that it is healthy. This requires effort and respect from both yourself and the other person/people involved, but it’s worth it when it contributes to a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship.

If you’re searching for more information on queer, trans and takatāpui relationships, the You, Me, Us booklet linked to below is a great resource to check out.

Useful links:

How can I make sure my relationship is healthy?

A relationship is healthy if everyone involved feels safe, comfortable and respected. If one person is suffering and not being listened to, that's a sign that it almost certainly isn't healthy.

A few things that contribute to a healthy relationship include:

  • shared responsibility
  • effective and respectful communication
  • equality – shared power.

If it’s a relationship with a partner, it’s also particularly important that there is consent, especially when it comes to sexual activity. You should never pressure anyone, or be pressured yourself, into doing something you don’t want to.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the legal age at which you can have sex is 16. Both you and your partner should be at least 16, and clearly consent, before you decide to have sex.

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Who can I contact if I'm worried about abuse?

If your relationship isn't healthy and you're concerned about abuse, there are a number of places you can contact for help or advice. These include:

  • Women's Refuge - An organisation offering help to women and their children. Call on 0800 REFUGE (733 843).
  • Shakti Youth - Focuses on supporting women and children from Asian, African and Middle Eastern communities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Call on 0800 SHAKTI (0800 742 584).
  • Shine - Shine's aim is to prevent all forms of domestic abuse throughout the country. Call on 0508 744 633.

If you feel like you're at immediate risk of harm, always call the Police on 111.

Online dating

Many people now meet online to develop personal, romantic or sexual relationships.

Is it safe?

Some things to think about when online dating include:

  • When you are meeting someone new for the first time, tell a good friend or family member who you are meeting, at what time and where.
  • For a first meeting, meet in public.
  • Keep your identity safe.
  • Be aware of scammers and predators.

For more information on staying safe in online relationships see Netsafe – Safe-relationships.

Sending nudes

It is not OK to feel pressured or to pressure others into sending nude photos of anyone.

Once you’ve shared an image, it’s difficult to control where and how it may be shared.

For more information see:


What is pornography?

Pornography (or porn) usually refers to sexually explicit material (videos, photographs, books, magazines) for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal.

Is it OK to watch?

Some people watch porn for sexual arousal and to get ideas and information about sex. However, porn can have negative effects.

People may search specifically for pornography. Some are shown porn by their peers or come across it when looking for other things online. Seeing porn can result in different feelings including uncomfortable, offended, excited, fascinated and disgusted.

Is it normal?

Being curious about sex is normal. However, pornography often does not demonstrate safe behaviours and is not always portrayed as consensual.

Porn can involve actors with surgically altered bodies, and may show sexual behaviours that includes objectification, aggression, non-consensual acts and violence.

Porn can often be unrealistic and often does not reflect safe and healthy relationships. Condoms are not often used in porn.

How can it affect me?

Body image – Porn actors can have surgically altered bodies. Making comparisons with porn actors can mean that people have unrealistic ideas about bodies and may make people feel insecure.

Impact on relationships and sex – Watching porn can create unrealistic expectations and reduce satisfaction of real-life sex.

Porn may create feelings of inadequacy when comparing what is onscreen with real life.

It may also lead to situations where sex becomes coercive, aggressive and unsafe.

Attitudes – Porn can contribute to an attitude that it’s ok for sex to be violent or aggressive. Because a lot of porn focuses on men’s pleasure and dominance of others, women may be viewed as sexual objects.

Watching porn can lead to unrealistic ideas and expectations around sex.

Healthy (sexual) relationships involve consent, respect and safety.

Is it addictive?

Some people can become distracted by porn which impacts other parts of their lives.

There are people who can’t go without seeing it, or want to stop but can’t.

Where can I go for help?

If you are concerned about the amount of porn you are seeing, you can take a self-check test.

If you need help support is available online through The Light Project.

Useful links:

Key websites

  • Netsafe - Netsafe is full of advice, for everyone from parents to young people, on how to stay safe online.
  • YouthLaw Aotearoa - YouthLaw Aotearoa is a community law centre which provides free legal help to children and young people under 25. Their website contains useful information in relation to your rights.