The physical side of a relationship

If you are going out with someone, you will normally have some form of physical relationship with them. The details of your physical relationship are for you to agree with your boyfriend/girlfriendYou should both be happy with what you are doing, based on your

  • feelings about each other
  • personalities
  • ages
  • background/families/beliefs.

Don’t be swayed by what your friends tell you they are doing, or what you see in films or on TV. First, it might well not be true and, second, it is nothing to do with your relationship.

Different stages

You may well have seen American films with talk of ‘first base’ or ‘second base’ – comparing a physical relationship to a baseball game, with different stages to be achieved. UK teenagers don’t use the same language, but many have the same idea – gradual progression from kissing with full sex as the ultimate goal.

If you are in love and going out with someone for the first time, the simplest physical gesture like brushing against each other, or holding hands, can be magical. So can the first kiss. Enjoy these stages and don’t rush them. If you don’t want to move on beyond them, don’t. If you do want to move beyond them, but are not quite sure what all the different possibilities involve, you will find some useful advice on the BBC Radio 1 Advice Site – this marks clearly where there is ‘strong content’, so be warned.

Remember: different people like different things, and different people develop at different stages. The fact that you might not like something now does not necessarily mean that you will never like it; it might be different when you’re older or with a different partner. There are many years ahead of you, so don’t worry.


If one of you wants a particular physical thing and the other doesn’t, you have a choice to make – between that thing and each other. See more about issues that arise over the physical side here.

If you’re both at least 16 and are thinking about sex, see here.

If you’re already in a sexual relationship, see here.

Issues on the physical side of a relationship