My 2 cents about sex: I think that physical intimacy is one of the most special things that 2 people can share, so I do think that sex is better when there is a close emotional connection between sexual partners. That said, having sex with someone that you are not emotionally involved with doesn’t make you a bad person, and that might be the right decision for both of you. And the flip side is true; there is nothing wrong with you if you have a close emotional connection with a partner, and can be vulnerable and share your darkest fears and craziest dreams and biggest ideas with that person without worrying what they will think, and you still do not want sex in that relationship. The first time a person has sex is not like in the movies (especially not like in porn) and it may or may not be something that “changes you forever”. Many people feel a stronger connection with their partner after they have shared this special part of themselves, but having sex with a partner does not mean that the relationship will be better or last longer or save a relationship in trouble.
To help you decide if you are ready for sex, ask yourself these questions:
What does virginity mean to you? Is it important and you will feel guilty when it is gone?
- I do not think virginity defines a person, and it means no more for females than males, but I know that not everyone feels that way. How you feel about it is an important thing to consider before you have sex.
What does sex mean to you with your partner? Are you sure if your partner feels the same way about sex in the relationship?
- Being on the same page can spare a lot of broken hearts and misunderstandings. You both can decide if this is a next step in your relationship, or if it is “just physical” or something in between. Both of you should view this the same way.
Do YOU want to have sex with your partner, or are they pressuring you?
- Having sex with someone pressuring you to have sex is not a sign that you are ready. And, teens, pressuring your partner to have sex is not cool. And having sexual contact with them against their will is assault. And having sex with them when they are too drunk to say yes or no is also assault. (more on sexual assault here)
Do you know your partner’s sexual history?
- Being able to have this open discussion with your partner is a good sign that both of you are mature enough, close enough and comfortable enough with the responsibilities that travel with a sexual relationship, to consider having sex. If either of you have had a sexual relationship, you should get tested for STDs before having sex together. Feel weird having that kind of conversation? That may be a sign you are not ready.
If we are talking about male / female sex, what birth control are you using? Condoms alone are not enough.
- The failure rate of condoms alone with teen couples is almost 1 in 5 over the course of a year of sex. Condoms are important to prevent infections, so yes condoms. But what else? Plan B – also not birth control. In advance of starting a sexual relationship, go to your Dr or to Planned Parenthood or a teen-focused clinic and explore birth control options and decide what is best for you and for your partner. (Guys this is not a job just for girls. You may not make the final decision with what type of birth control is added to that condom, but you can have the discussion and make sure your partner knows that pregnancy prevention is as important to you as it is to her and that you too can wait until that is sorted out. Most states allow teens older than 14 to get reproductive health care without needing parental consent (more here). Obviously involving your parent in these discussions is ideal, but I know that is not always reality for a whole bunch of reasons. So, you need to make sure you advocate for your own health.
Any sexual activity between partners of any gender or sexual orientation requires condoms or other barrier protection to prevent infections.
- Do you have them? Where are you going to get them? Do you know how to use them?
Now you will probably think about a few more things before you make your decision, but hopefully thinking about these questions and having open discussions with your partner and with your Doctor will help you make a decision that is right for you, and one for which you are prepared.