Intimate relationships become more significant when you are a teen or young adult, and young adults are building a shared future in their relationships. Sharing your life, intimacy and safety are meaningful things in a relationship. In this section, we deal with the foundations of a functional relationship, your role in a relationship and the challenging sides of relationships.

In addition to this page, you should also see the website of the Family Federation of Finland, which includes various materials on relationships. The website offers articles, tests and information in case you want to think about your relationship or history with relationships.

A functional relationship

It is essential that you feel accepted and safe in a relationship. Respecting and appreciating the other person are the foundation for a functional relationship. These qualities help build mutual trust, which is a key part of a functional relationship. Building trust may take time, since our previous experiences of relationships affect our ability to trust others. Similar values and shared plans for the future build a foundation and trust in a functional relationship.

Discussing and sharing things is also essential in a functional relationship. Just asking the other person how they are doing shows that you care about and are interested in them. In addition to sharing your own feelings, truly listening to the other person is also essential.

Equality is also important in a relationship so that the partners feel they are being equally recognised and seen in the relationship. An equal relationship means a relationship where the partners are in a similar place in terms of development and situation in life. As a young person, you may need to think about equality in terms of age difference, for example. It is hard to say what kind of an age difference is appropriate, so you should look at the relationship through your situation in life and your feelings. The statutory age limits related to sex, for example, also provide good guidance regarding age differences. You can read more about the age limits below under the title ‘Intimacy and sex’. You can also think about the equality in the relationship through the following questions:

  • Do I feel safe and good around the other person? Can I talk about my feelings and thoughts honestly?
  • Are our situations in life similar? Are we expecting similar things from our relationship?
  • Do I have to keep something about my relationship secret from my guardians or loved ones, for example? How do the people close to me feel about my relationship?
  • Does my partner respect me and my boundaries? Do I feel pressured? Do I have to act older or younger than my real age?

If these questions raise concerns about your relationship, you should talk about this with a reliable person. This person may be an adult close to you or someone from school staff or social or health care services.