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Tips for Respectful Relationships

Friday, November 25, 2016


White Ribbon Day, 25 November, is a global movement to end violence against women. This year’s theme is ‘respectful relationships’, and White Ribbon is providing practical advice for men to take on board and to share with their friends and family.

At Family Planning we believe that good relationships are about sharing decisions, respect and feelings. We’re proud to support White Ribbon Day.

The White Ribbon Day campaign believes men are part of the solution and is challenging men to say “yes” to respect and “no” to violence towards women.

Three ways White Ribbon Day is doing this is building awareness that a respectful relationship requires equality, communication and consent. Here are some of their tips:


Having equal power in a relationship. This means no one has power over another person.

  • Let go of feeling you have to be in charge. Treat women as having equal power, especially over their own lives.
  • Treat women how you’d like to be treated. Treat everyone as individuals, whether they are male or female.
  • Let each person choose how they act. Having no power plays in a relationship is much healthier for everyone, including you.
  • Make fair decisions together. Share who makes the calls, and share the compromises evenly.


Conflict sometimes happens, but it’s how you deal with it that counts. Really listen and talk through the problem.

  • Be open and honest. Talk with women in the way that you want to be talked to.
  • Be fair. Resolve things and don’t just dump on her or chip away at her.
  • Manage yourself, especially when stressed. If you feel like you’re going to lose it, take time out to calm down until you’re ready to talk respectfully.
  • When you screw up, acknowledge it. Then do what you can immediately to put it right.
  • You don’t have to be perfect. But you do need to learn from experience.
  • Have compassion. We all make mistakes and no one has to be perfect.


Asking before doing anything sexual is part of a respectful relationship. Both people get to choose if something happens, and both can change their mind at any time. Consent needs to be clear, coherent, willing and ongoing.

  • Consent must be ongoing - check along the way. It’s a process of ongoing agreement where each person needs to give consent in each particular activity.
  • Consent must be clear - you need an enthusiastic ‘Yes’. Before doing anything different, check in again. If you don’t get it, then don’t put any pressure on.
  • Consent must be coherent - check each person is able to give consent. If your partner is out of it from alcohol or drugs, she can’t agree, so stop. It’s illegal to have sex in these circumstances. Children can’t consent and this is why it is illegal to have sexual connection with anyone under 16.  
  • Consent must be willing - avoid threats. If you threaten your partner in any way she is not able to freely agree, so stop. This is violence and it’s illegal.
  • Actively ask. It’s just like offering a cup of tea – you ask and if they say, ‘No thanks’ you don’t keep pressing them. And they can change their mind at any time.
  • Be respectful outside the bedroom too. Asking if she’s into it and not pressuring her is a good way to be respectful in all aspects of your relationship, such as planning a date or a holiday.

This information is from See their website for more tips for men, including taking responsibility and helping other men.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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