Promoting Healthy Teen Relationships

Part of growing up well is to not only develop a strong, healthy identity, but also to connect well with other people. Unfortunately, the media often gives the impression that the best way to connect is through sexual activity or “hooking up.” In reality, strong relationships require a lot of talking, give-and-take, and working through issues together.

Teen Relationships and Sexual Activity

  • Emphasize the excitement of getting to know someone well. It’s important to become attracted to a person’s ideas and personality in addition to feeling physically attracted. Point out how both adult and teen relationships deepen by talking about hopes and dreams and getting to know each other. For teenagers, sexual activity often gets in the way and complicates relationships.^1^
  • Talk about how sexual intercourse is not something that everyone is doing all the time. Explain that even married couples that deeply love each other abstain from sex for periods of time. Why? Because one may have a job that involves travel. One may get sick. One may not feel sexual. They may not want children. Adolescence is a stage in life when it’s smart to abstain from sex.
  • Model positive ways to show your love to your partner or spouse. Hold hands. Kiss. Snuggle. Spend time together. Show how your relationship is built on mutual trust, love, and respect, not solely on sexual activity.
  • Remind your teenager to have fun with relationships. It’s fun to get to know someone and to spend time together. Emphasize the fun and silly parts of seeing someone, and how sexually active teens can sometimes miss out on these things. Talk about how the best relationships move slowly.
  • Talk about how teens need to have many different kinds of relationships. If your child is seeing someone, it’s also important that he spends time with his friends and family—in addition to whom he is dating. Too many teenage relationships become serious too quickly, and kids end up cutting off relationships with everyone else in favor of the one they’re dating.
  • Emphasize the romance of relationships. It can be exciting to hold hands or to kiss passionately. Teenagers—like adults—don’t need to have sexual intercourse to express their love for someone else.
  • There are many ways that kids can connect with others without having sex, and pointing this out to your child is a good way to help her decide not to engage in early sexual activity. Pressures, expectations, and perceptions can make teens think that having sex is the best way to show affection, but you can help them understand the truth of the situation by talking with them about this tough issue.


    1. John Forliti and others, Values & Choices: Human Sexuality, A Guide for Parents of Young Adolescents, revised edition (Minneapolis: Search Institute, 1991): 35-36.



    This Is So True

    my teen has her first dating relationship only been about six months. she came to me to have a frank talk about birthcontrol and sex with this 18 year old she ask about a gynologise first app would a gynologist warn about having sex and all that it involves I don’t want to encourage her she is brought up in church she and boy have had a lot of deep conservations sshe told me he is going away to college in fall I need help with this


    jeez :)

    I like this. I will use this in my Parent Support Workshops!

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