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You probably already know that people from different cultures manage romantic relationships in many different ways, but there are always details that can surprise you! Some things that other international students have noticed about how Australian couples manage relationships are:

  • Lots of people greet or say goodbye to friends by giving them a hug, or even a kiss on the cheek. This doesn't imply attraction, just friendliness, even when the friend is of the opposite sex.
  • It's also not unusual for people to share a house with a friend of the opposite sex. Being someone's roommate doesn't imply that you're also their partner.
  • Couples are open with their affections - sometimes very much so! Kissing in public is common, and so are other public displays of affection (PDAs) such as hugging and walking hand in hand.
  • Women can ask men out on dates as well as the other way around. They also have have the same right to initiate sexual activity as men do.
  • Couples who are dating tend to share the cost of meals and activities such as going to the movies.
  • It's fine for people to talk to about sex with their friends and partner - though it's usually best to do it in private!
  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual people can be open about their orientations and affections, and public about their relationships. However, because there's still some social prejudice against them, many queer people are less open about their feelings and relationships than their straight peers are.
  • Many couples (though not all) will have sex before getting married, and this is considered quite okay.
  • Sex can occur at any point in a relationship. It may happen on the first date, weeks or months into a relationship, after the couple is married, or never. The only important thing is that it should happen when both partners feel ready for it and consent to it.
  • People can also have sex without being in an ongoing relationship. This is called a ‘one night stand’, and as long as both partners are consenting and careful of each other's health, it's okay.
  • Cheating on your partner - that is, starting a new relationship with one person while you're still in a committed relationship with another person - is not generally considered acceptable. However, what happens inside a relationship is not usually considered to be anyone's business but the couple's, so if you and your partner want to negotiate an open relationship, that's okay.
  • You can get information about sex, sexual health, sexuality etc. through a wide variety of organisations and on the internet, as well as via support services at the University
  • You can visit any doctor or clinic to have a free sexual health check-up or chat about sex, contraception etc. Women who feel more comfortable talking to another woman about their sexual health can ask for an appointment with a female doctor.

If you've noticed any other differences that you think we should share with students new to Australia, please get in touch!

Student Health & Relationships


International Student Support

Ph: +61 8 8313 4828
Fax: +61 8 8313 4352

Counselling Support

Ph: +61 8 8313 5663
Fax: +61 8 8313 6463

Need to reach someone urgently?