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Relationships and Sexuality

Being away from home, possibly for the first time, may present you with opportunities to explore aspects of your life that you may never have before. One of those possible areas of exploration is sexuality and sexual behavior. As a college student, you may be faced with difficult decisions about when, and if, to engage in sexual behavior. We encourage you to make smart, educated decisions about sex. The information contained here is designed to help you in that process.

Sexuality can be an expression of love, or a way to give and receive pleasure. It can often be a deeply personal experience, and only you can decide when you are ready to have sex. No one ever has the right to pressure you into having sex, and we hope you can learn to be confident with expressing your needs and opinions. If you don’t feel comfortable, be sure to say so!

Sex can bring about intense feelings, some of which may be unexpected or difficult to manage. In addition, engaging in sexual behavior includes physical consequences, such as pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases. Learning about these issues may involve talking with the important people in your life, such as your family, friends, or partner. However, you may also wish to speak with a trained professional about how to manage sexual feelings or behaviors.

Relationships

As human beings, we strive to connect with others. The development of healthy relationships can bring about positive feelings about yourself and the world, can allow for personal growth, and can help to give our lives meaning. Shallow relationships can be more easily developed, but they tend to have little lasting effect on how we feel. Meaningful relationships require time and energy to flourish, and these may include relationships with your family, friends, or a romantic partner.

Healthy relationships often have the following characteristics:

  • Strong two-way communication
  • Honesty
  • Commitment to the relationship
  • Respect for individuality and allowing the other person to be themselves
  • Working together to resolve conflicts
  • Empathy for each other
  • Patience
  • Mutual respect for each other’s opinions
  • Trust
  • Willingness to compromise
  • Ability to laugh at oneself

Unhealthy relationships may involve distrust, an imbalance of focus on one partner, lying, disrespect, an inability to express your feelings, being pressured to change, or feeling trapped. More serious characteristics may include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. If you believe you are in an unhealthy relationship, please contact the Counseling Center or seek the appropriate services, such as a shelter or law enforcement.

Developing Meaningful Relationships

We encourage the open development of healthy, meaningful relationships. But how does one go about this?

Develop Your Self-Esteem

  • Learn to become comfortable with who you are.
  • Acknowledge your strengths and recognize your faults, and openly express what you value in life.
  • Have a sense of where you are going in the future, and your motivation for doing so.
  • Take responsibility for your own actions.
  • Become as healthy and happy as you can in your own life, and healthy people will be attracted to you.

Learn How To Communicate

  • Use “I” statements (“I am angry with you!” versus “You make me angry!”)
  • Make descriptive statements rather than evaluative ones
  • Describe your own reaction — by avoiding evaluative language, you reduce the need for the other person to react defensively
  • Make specific statements rather than general ones
  • Make statements based on observations rather than inferences
  • Focus on what you see or hear, not on interpretation and conclusions or assumptions
  • Take into account the needs of the receiver and the giver of feedback. Feedback can be destructive if it only suits your needs and isn’t constructive for the receiver
  • Direct statements toward behavior about which the receiver can do something
  • Feedback is most useful when spoken at the earliest opportunity after the given behavior or situation
  • Check to make sure that communication is clear
  • Pay attention to your non-verbal behavior, such as sitting with your arms crossed, inconsistent eye contact, or exhibiting poor posture

Choose Places to Go and Activities to Do Wisely

  • Spend time in places where you are likely to meet people with similar interests
  • Be active in choosing to engage in activities or meet with friends

Maintain a Positive Attitude

  • Be open and non-judgmental toward others, as well as yourself
  • Be tolerant and respectful of differences
  • Allow for humor in your relationship; don’t take yourself too seriously

Avoid Sabotaging Your Relationships

  • Have realistic expectations about the relationship, as well as the people involved (yourself included!)
  • Don’t rush into things too quickly
  • Don’t try to change the other person to match your beliefs or needs
  • Don’t be self-centered, or feel as if you always have to win disagreements
  • Don’t hold your feelings back; be sure to express them appropriately
  • Don’t be too negative about yourself or life in general

Be Yourself!

LGBTQIQ

LGBTQIQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Questioning individuals. Members of this community may have unique experiences and stressors that can contribute to a variety of problems. Perhaps you are in the process of coming out, or are discovering your own sexual/gender identity for the first time. You may be out and proud, and are experiencing discrimination. You might be going through relationship problems with your significant other.

Whatever you may be experiencing, we encourage you to contact the Counseling Center at 215.895.1415 or counseling@drexel.edu for assistance. The staff of the Counseling Center encourages inclusion, acceptance and support of members of the LGBTQIQ community and is available to assist with the development of a better understanding of yourself and of others.

For additional support on the Drexel University campus you can visit the LGBTQA Student Center, which is supported by the Student Center for Inclusion and Culture. The LGBTQA Center is located in Room 48-C in the lower level of Creese Student Center.

Tip Sheets

Online Resources

LGBTQIQ

Coming Out

Transgender Issues

Relationships

The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.