Young People and Relationships: January, 2022

Published on January 2022

New research from The Mix shows that 1 in 3 young people disagreed that their relationships are represented in mainstream media

The Mix are releasing data from a new YouGov survey of 2,000 16-25-year olds across the UK, which shows the variety of relationship types that young people are having, and the wide range of sexual identities, yet also shows that a third of young people disagree that the media represents their relationships.

What kinds of relationships are young people having?

  • 51% of young people are single
  • 11% are in non-romantic/non-monogamous relationships including:
  • 5% in casual relationships
  • 3% in open relationships
  • 3% in asexual relationships
  • 2% in polyamorous or other relationships

67% of young people want to see more honest representations of the complexity of relationships, rather than what they perceive to be idealised versions. Close to half of young people (44%) believe they would feel more confident if there were more varied representations of relationships shown in mainstream media.

Young LGBTQIA+ people are most impacted

Young gay and lesbian people are particularly impacted by lack of representation; this group were the most likely to agree that they would feel more confident if there were more varied representations of relationships shown in mainstream media (81%). 65% of young bisexual people also agreed with this.

With regards to relationship types, young people in open relationships, asexual relationships  and casual relationships are more likely to feel confident if there were a wider range of relationships shown in the media (65%, 57% and 51% respectively).

When it comes to family support and acceptance, 45% of young people in asexual relationships and 37% in casual relationships do not feel their families are a support system during challenges.

The Mix believes that improved representation may lead to better support from families, who may not currently understand or accept the identity or relationship choices of the young person they care for. Previous studies in the UK have shown that LGBTQ+ young people are often rejected by their family and community support networks and The Mix’s survey shows that 40% of young people who identified as gay or lesbian disagree that they feel comfortable being themselves around their families.

The most significant factors affecting relationships with family members among gays or lesbians are sexuality (60%) and gender identity (13%). In contrast, young heterosexual people are the least likely to feel uncomfortable being themselves around their families, with 85% claiming their families support their goals. They are also far more likely to feel comfortable with their own identity (84%) than young gay, lesbian or bisexual people.

The Mix believes this needs to change and that by representing more diverse and complex relationships in the media, it will improve awareness and allow families to gain and show more understanding and acceptance.

To find out more, please read our full report: