Going out with someone is rarely stress-free, but how do you cope if the relationship doesn't exactly fit the norm?
Perhaps they're twice your age or from a different religion. They might be taken already. One thing is for sure, when you're involved with someone in a forbidden situation, the relationship can get intense very quickly.
It's good to talk
Communication is an essential part of any good relationship, but when you're under pressure because your circumstances are taboo it's crucial that you talk openly about your feelings.
"When I fell for one of my students our casual fling turned deadly serious within months. I guess I felt that because I was risking my career for her I wanted it to be the real thing much more quickly," confesses lecturer Pete, 32.
"We had to keep everything under wraps which meant we spent most of our time alone. I know it's a bit like that for everyone when they first fall for each other, but this wasn't like anything I'd ever encountered before," he explains.
"Talking about how we were dealing with the secrecy and the powerful feelings we had for each other wasn't a choice, it was a necessity. I think we would've both gone slightly crazy if we hadn't learned to talk stuff through right from the start. In a way, it set up a good relationship model for the future."
A friend in need
Leaning on your friends in a situation like this is a must. You may encounter disapproval, but your real mates will understand that if you're willing to overcome social boundaries then they should back you up too.
"My best mate Hannah, who's Jewish like me, found out I wasn't going out with a Jewish guy and she was at a loss. She knew my parents would freak out so she just blanked me," says Rachel, 20.
If your mates don't get why you're putting yourself in a socially dangerous situation, explain it to them. A lot of people are scared of the unknown and need to have things spelt out to them before they can get a handle on it.
"Eventually Hannah admitted she had trouble accepting our relationship, but when she realised I was serious she said she'd give him a go," continues Rachel. "I'd be lying if I said it was easy, but knowing she backed me up meant I was more confident about introducing Adrian to other people."
Coming clean to your parents - especially if you're seeing someone else's partner - might be a little trickier. But even if you can't spill all the beans, don't shut your family out.
"I got together with Dan at work and I didn't let on to my colleagues, but I also didn't tell anyone in my family. He had two small children and a wife. I began to feel more and more isolated. In the end my mum confronted me - she couldn't understand why I'd been freezing her out," remembers Eva, 21.
"I couldn't tell her the whole truth as she's pretty old-fashioned. So I invented a story about how I was in love with someone who didn't return my feelings. I told her the reason I'd been distant was because I was down."
But if you can't - or won't - discuss what's really going on in your life, your family can still be there for you. Don't forget they're the ones who are the most used to seeing you warts and all. It's always better to be as honest as you can, though. Your family - and your friends for that matter - will have your best interests at heart, so they may have some valid points.
There's no denying that falling for someone forbidden can be a buzz. But you need to make sure you're clear about what you're getting out of it. Maybe you enjoy the thrill of taking risks or you like the reaction you get for being controversial? Ask yourself whether you're in to the person because of who they are and not for what they represent. If you're not, chances are it won't be lasting the full distance, no matter how strong the initial high is.
Day in day out
With so many odds stacked against you, it can seem like there is no hope for a happy future where your friends and family accept you as a couple. But according to Relate's young people's counsellor, Paula Hall, how you deal these difficulties will shape your future relationship.
"Many couples that get together under what society or family might call 'forbidden' circumstances find that their relationship is stronger because of it," she says. "The hardship they suffer in the early days can bond them together in a special way and not having others to share their feelings with means that they lean on each other. In the longer term, there's also the knowledge that they put their love for each other first and a deep belief that love really can conquer all."
Written by Leslie Sinoway
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