The meaning of relationship:
1. connection: a significant connection or similarity between two or more things, or the state of being related to something else
2. behaviour or feelings towards somebody else: the connection between two or more people or groups and their involvement with one another, especially as regards the way they behave towards and feel about one another
3. friendship: an emotionally close friendship, especially one involving sexual activity
4. connection by family: the way in which two or more people are related by birth, adoption, or marriage, or the fact of being related by birth, adoption, or marriage (msn encarta)
Relationship is a heavy duty word and very often misused. When one says that one is in a relationship, I believe it is as defined in definition (3); having an emotionally close friendship usually sparked by sexual attraction which as the definition suggests may eventually lead to sexual activity.
How I cringe when I hear a young teen says that he/she is in a relationship. Maybe what is meant is he/she has committed to get to know the other person better.
I believe there are many steps to take before one plunges into a relationship:
1. being friends....just hanging around and getting to know each other. This can be done in a group or individually.
2. dating... the friendship between the two goes to another level; when there is mutual agreement to regard each other in a special way and not just as common friends.
3. courting....a more serious version of dating where the couple is now ready for marriage. So the whole dating friendship turns into a courting relationship.
4. marriage.....the beginning of a relationship between husband and wife.
Therefore if a 15year old confesses to a relationship; I would scratch my head and try to think which level does she/he mean? At the tender age of 15; one is still a child (no matter how you protest, you are) and I think the friendship is still too early to take off to a higher level.
Now how would one know if one is ready for which level....not that I am a Tok Guru in this field but I think I have read and seen enough to give my opinion. I'll leave this to part 2.