Hello! I'm Elsie, I'm a 20 year old student, and I'm from the UK.
My background is Christian; I am originally a Roman Catholic, but at the moment, I don't adhere to a particular denomination but my spirituality does influence my views on relationships.
My relationship history is not miles long, but the scenery is pretty varied.
My Attraction to my Female Friends
I never really did the teen dating thing; with hindsight, all through high school I was repressing attraction to my female friends. It took until I was 18 and at university for this to seriously dawn on me.
Although I was slow to start off, once I did my big realisation thing (and it was pretty dramatic, I can tell you) I dived into the great swimming pool of lurve with abandon. Among numerous relationship situations I've been in, I can include being both the recipient and the giver of unrequited love, and being in relationships with women, with men, with old friends from school, with people who lived miles away, with people I couldn't tell my parents about, with people into unorthdox sexual practices, with multiple people at once... Not all of these separately, you understand. Or at once. I'm not some kind of Superwoman!
I've had both good and bad experiences with all of these relationships. I made lots of mistakes; my partners made lots of mistakes too (in my opinion, anyway)!
Parent and Sexuality Issues
I can particularly empathise with people having parent problems, and people having sexuality issues.
Anyway, right now I'm going out with a very nice young man three and a half years my senior; we'll reach our first anniversary in a month's time (my longest relationship ever)! Things are going well for us - not constant perfection, of course, but what relationship is?
My philosophy of relationships? Goodness, that's not an easy question to answer.
It's a cliché, but people should communicate. No-one reads minds, and unless you tell someone what you want or what you need, you can't expect them to know.
However, communication isn't a universal panacea. Sometimes, even telling someone how you feel doesn't help a situation, and then difficult decisions have to be made.
I used to bottle things up too much; I once went out with someone who was very depressed, and I was afraid to burden her with my feelings about some of the things that were going on between us because I felt it would add to her problems. There's something to be said for being strong and silent to protect someone, if they really need it; but I took it too far, and failed to look after *myself*.
So I think there has to be balance in relationships. There's a balance between caring for your partner, and sacrificing things sometimes for their comfort or whatever; but also looking after yourself, and knowing when it's you that needs to be taken care of. Give and take.
Well, for a start, I'm openly bisexual. I'm struggling at the moment with issues surrounding this like how I'm still tangentially attracted to women despite having a great boyfriend, and what this means long-term. I also have experience (admittedly, negative experience) of being in a deliberately polyamorous relationship. It didn't work for me, but since it seems to for some people I know, I'm open to the concept.
Sooooo, to sum up, I'm young, friendly, very interested in people, and have a variety of let's just say 'quirky' relationship experience from which I shall impart gleaming pearls of wisdom. And, of course, I'm human, fallible and still learning from my own multiplicity of mistakes.
Female, age 20, Oxford, UK