Women's Center

Healthy Relationships and Sexuality

Healthy relationships (http://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics/healthy-relationships) are those that demonstrate respect: for people, for their likes, dislikes, dreams, hopes, fears, comfort, desires, and privacy, among so many other things. Healthy relationships include compromise, support, trust, and boundaries. Healthy relationships are balanced: there is an equal amount of give and take between parties. This is true for all types of relationships, including family, friend and partner relationships. You should feel safe, supported, and comfortable being yourself around your loved ones.

Healthy sexuality (http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/SAAM_2012_Healthy-sexuality-a-guide-for-advocates-counselors-and-prevention-educators.pdf) can be described as behaviors, attitudes and expressions that give an individual a sense of empowerment and contribute positively to self-esteem and relationships. Being informed about sexual health and reproduction, expressing one’s self in ways that are respectful to the rights and needs of one’s self and others, and an awareness of the impact of social messages related to sexuality are important components of healthy sexuality. 

Healthy sexual relationships (http://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics/healthy-relationships/sex-and-healthy-relationships) are respectful, non-exploitative, pleasurable, safe, and consensual. Consent means that partners actively agree to sexual activity: it means that both/all partners communicate their desires, needs, and boundaries. It means clearly saying “yes” to sexual activity. Giving consent is not permanent: it means that you would like to engage in a particular activity at a particular time. Giving consent does not obligate you to participate in any activity or behaviors, present or future: you can say no at any point and you are not obligated to give consent on any future occasion based on past or present activities. Consent requires that participants are legally old enough to provide consent (in Minnesota, the age of consent is 16) and that participants have the capacity to consent (intoxication, unconsciousness and some disabilities are legally defined as conditions in which consent cannot be given).

We live in a culture that poses challenges to living and loving in healthy ways. Fortunately, feminism offers models to living empowered and healthy lives.