by Linda Plenert
Dear Ate Anna,
My girlfriend wants to have a closer relationship with me and I feel pressured to have sex with her. She says, “Everybody’s doing it.” Ate Anna, I am not sure about this relationship and I really don’t know what to do.
It doesn’t matter how old someone is, most people find that having sex is an important step in a relationship. It’s a question that may come up repeatedly over the course of our lives.
Although popular culture seems to encourage moving quickly, it’s a good idea to slow down a bit and think about what sex means for you and the relationship you have with your partner. There is no rule about how long people should be together before getting sexually involved. As well, just because a person has been sexually active in the past doesn’t mean they have to be sexual at this time or with this person. So, the big question for you is: “How do I know if I’m ready to move to the next level in this relationship?”
People have sex for different reasons, so take some time to know what’s going on for you. You need to ask yourself why you would want to have sex with this person. Talk to your partner about why they want to have sex. Your bodies might be saying that sex is the next step, but what do your hearts and heads say?
Think carefully about what you believe. Which decision fits best with your personal moral, religious or cultural values? How would you feel about your decision the next day? If you find that your values conflict with your decision to have sex, then it’s probably not a good idea right now.
You mentioned that you are not sure about this relationship. Do you like this person? Do you feel safe and comfortable with them? Can you trust them? It might be tempting to think that “sex is no big deal,” and that might be true for some people, but if it is a big deal for you, consider that in your decision making. Do you and your partner want the same things from sex? Do either of you believe that sex should bring two people closer together – emotionally and physically?
Another thing to consider is protection against sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Can you and your partner talk about birth control and safer sex? What responsibilities will you take on? What if your partner doesn’t want to use condoms? Can you ask your partner to get tested for STI’s? Are you prepared to get tested? Are you ready to deal with an unplanned pregnancy if birth control fails? (It does happen.)
You say you feel pressured to have sex. Ate Anna has said many times in this column that vaginal intercourse is not the only real sex. So, you might be comfortable with certain sexual activities and not with others. How does your partner feel? No one should pressure another person into doing something sexually that they don’t want to do. When it comes to relationships, everyone has the right to set boundaries and have those boundaries respected.
Robert, you are the only one who can make the right decision for you. Having sex when you are feeling uncomfortable or unsure about it is never the right time – regardless of how long you’ve been with someone. It’s important to feel that you are making choices that enhance your life and your relationships.
Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, Suite 200- 226 Osborne St. N., Winnipeg, MB R3C 1V4 or e-mail: email@example.com. Please visit us at www.serc.mb.ca. You will find reliable information and links to many resources on the subject of sexuality.