All of our relationships - with friends, family, sexual partners, and our community - should be based on mutual respect. Respect is about treating people well and showing them that they are important and valued for who they are. Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect that is built on trust, support, companionship, affection, and intimacy.

You deserve a partner who respects what you say and how you feel at all times. That doesn’t mean you always have to agree with your partner, but it does mean that if you and your partner have different opinions, one person won’t always get their way.

The same goes for sexual relationships. Sex can include oral sex, anal or vaginal sex, or intimate touching. Sex is also expressed with words; for example, sexting, written notes, or sexual comments. Respect is an important part of all of these sexual activities; if someone respects you, it means they will have respect for you and your decisions. 

One very important decision that only you can make is whether or not you want to have sex with someone. Whether you are in a relationship or not, you have the right to make decisions about what you do with your body and those decisions need to be respected. And you as a partner must show the same attitude. Remember: only YES means yes. You know your partner is saying yes only when they can give you enthusiastic consent. If someone is forced to have sex or do any other sexual activity, it is sexual assault, and that is a crime, even if it is with their spouse or partner. If you or someone you know may have been sexually assaulted, you can get help and more information from the Unwanted Sex part of this website.