10:38 08 April 2005
How will I know if I'm ready for sex?
Being pressurised into having sex at any age and whether you?re a boy or girl, man or woman, is a very uncomfortable and undesirable situation. I get plenty of messages from people whose partners want sex more, or more often, than they do and from teenagers whose partners or peers are trying to persuade them to become part of the sexually active world. And while the prevailing stereotype is of a male partner trying to pressurise a female one, it does happen the other way round - and within gay and lesbian partnerships too.
But the pressures are generally harder to deal with when we?re younger with less life experience. And if your first experience of sexual intercourse is before you?re ready, you may have a horrible time that you regret for a long time afterwards.
How can I tell if I?m ready?
One of the most important factors in knowing that you may be ready for sexual intercourse is that the decision is entirely yours and for your own reasons. If you decide to have sex because your friends or boyfriend persuade or pressurise you, or you think everyone except you is doing it, then you?re probably not ready.
Other important considerations before having sexual intercourse include:
How can I tell if I?m not ready?
Some major signs that you are not ready for your first sexual experience include:
And remember that sex under the age of 16 is illegal in the UK. See my article on teenage sex for more information.
What should I do if I?m ready?
If you think you are ready to take your relationship with your partner to a sexual level, then the first step is to discuss it with them and ensure that they feel ready too. Discuss contraception and take appropriate action to get it. Consider where and when you?re going to try sexual intercourse for the first time. Choose somewhere warm, comfortable, private and safe. Talk together about the various activities you might try - how does each of you feel about oral sex, anal sex, mutual masturbation, etc. If you have second thoughts at any time, stop immediately. And even if you?ve already tried sex, you don?t have to continue having it if you don?t want to.
What if I don?t feel ready?
Definitely do not agree to have sex with someone if you don?t feel ready. Everyone has the right to say "no" and to have their decision respected. Any partner who tries to make you feel guilty is behaving selfishly and is unlikely to be a good partner. Do you really want to have sex with someone who doesn?t care whether you feel ready and whether you enjoy it too? You won?t enjoy it if you don?t feel ready.
If they keep pressurising you, then give them this article to read! And remind them that it?s illegal if you?re under 16 years of age.
If you decide you?re not ready for full sexual intercourse, decide what your limits are and let your partner know. Are you OK with petting but not oral sex, for example? If so, that?s fine because it?s your decision but make sure your partner knows and respects your decision.
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