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Dear Dish-It: Do I Have to Have Sex?

Dear Dish-it,

Do I have to have sex if I don’t want to?

nue'new

Just say No!Just say No!

Dear nue'new,

The short answer to your question is NO. You don’t have to have sex – or do anything – that you don’t want. It might seem like everyone in school is talking about who's a virgin, who isn't and who might be. The pressure can sometimes be intense. But deciding whether it's right for you to have sex is one of the most important decisions you'll ever have to make. Each person must use his or her own judgment and decide if it's the right time – and the right person. This means considering some very important factors, physical ones and emotional ones, too. Plus, for many teens, moral factors are very important as well. Family attitudes, personal values or religious beliefs provide them with an inner voice that guides them in resisting pressures to get sexually involved before the time is right.

Peer Pressure & Movie Madness

Nobody wants to feel left out of things; it's natural to want to be liked and feel as if you're part of a group of friends. Unfortunately, some teens feel that they have to lose their virginity to keep up with their friends or to be accepted. Maybe most of your friends have already had sex and act like it isn't a big deal. But sex isn't something that's only physical; it's emotional, too. And because everyone's emotions are different, it's hard to rely on your friends' opinions to decide if it's the right time for you to have sex.

What matters to you is the most important thing, and your values may not match those of your friends. That's OK, it's what makes people unique. Having sex to impress someone or to make your friends happy or feel like you have something in common with them won't make you feel very good about yourself in the long run. True friends don't really care whether a person is a virgin; they will respect your decisions, no matter what.

Even if your friends are cool with your decision, it's easy to be misled by TV shows and movies into thinking that every teen in America is having sex. Writers and producers may make a show or movie plot exciting by showing teens being sexually active, but these teens are actors, not real people with real concerns. They don't have to worry about being ready for sex, how they will feel later on, or what might happen as a result. In other words, these TV and movie plots are stories, not real life. In real life, every teen can, and should, make his or her own decision.

BF Blues & GF Gripes

Although some teens who are going out don't pressure each other about sex, the truth is that in many relationships, one person wants to have sex although the other one doesn't. Again, what matters most differs from person to person. Maybe one person in a relationship is more curious and has stronger sexual feelings than the other. Or another person has religious reasons why he or she doesn't want to have sex and the other person doesn't share those beliefs. Whatever the situation, it can place stress and strain on a relationship; you want to keep your boyfriend or girlfriend happy, but you don't want to compromise what you think is right.

As with almost every other major decision in life, you need to do what is right for you and not anyone else. If you think sex is a good idea because a boyfriend or girlfriend wants to begin a sexual relationship, think again. Anyone who tries to pressure you into having sex by saying, "If you truly cared, you wouldn't say no," or "If you loved me, you'd show it by having sex," isn't really looking out for you and what matters most to you. They're looking to satisfy their own feelings and urges about sex. If you feel that you should have sex because you're afraid of losing that person, it may be a good time to end the relationship. Sex should be an expression of love; not something a person feels that he or she must do. If a boyfriend or girlfriend truly loves you, he or she won't push or pressure you to do something you don't believe in or aren't ready for yet.

Feeling Curious

You might have a lot of new sexual feelings or thoughts. These feelings and thoughts are totally normal; it means that all of your hormones are working properly. But sometimes your curiosity or sexual feelings can make you feel like it's the right time to have sex, even though it may not be.

Though your body may have the ability to have sex and you may really want to satisfy your curiosity, it doesn't mean your mind is ready. Although some teens understand how sex can affect them emotionally, many don't, and this can lead to confusion and deeply hurt feelings later.

But at the same time, don't beat yourself up or be too hard on yourself if you do have sex and then wish you hadn't. Having sexual feelings is normal and handling them can sometimes seem difficult, even if you planned otherwise. Just because you had sex once doesn't mean you have to continue or say yes later on, no matter what anyone tells you. Making mistakes is not only human, it's a major part of being a teen and you can learn from mistakes.

Why Wait?

Some teens are waiting longer to have sex. They are thinking more carefully about what it means to lose their virginity and begin a sexual relationship. For these teens, there are many reasons for abstinence (not having sex). Some don't want to worry about unplanned pregnancy and all its consequences. Others see abstinence as a way to protect themselves completely from STDs. Some STDs (like AIDS) can literally make sex a life-or-death situation, and many teens take this very seriously.

Some teens don't have sex because their religion prohibits it or because they simply have a very strong belief system of their own. Other teens may recognize that they aren't ready emotionally and they want to wait until they're absolutely sure they can handle it. When it comes to sex, there are two very important things to remember: one, that you are ultimately the person in charge of your own happiness and your own body; and two, you have a lot of time to wait until you're totally sure about it. If you decide to put off sex, it's OK, no matter what anyone says. Being a virgin is one of the things that proves you are in charge, and it shows that you are powerful enough to make your own decisions about your mind and body.

If you find yourself feeling confused about decisions related to sex, you may be able to talk to an adult (like a parent, doctor, older sibling, aunt, or uncle) for advice. Keep in mind, though, that everyone's opinion about sex is different. Even though another person may be able to share useful advice, in the end, the decision is up to you.

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What Age Is the Right Age to Have Sex?

  • Anytime, as long as you are in love and are safe.
  • Older than 14.
  • Older than 18.
  • Not before you're married.

Dear Dish-It In The Forums

KayKayZ
KayKayZ posted in Friends:
Hmm, okay, well I'll try to give you the best advice that I can, Error. So you say you don't like your friend for a number of reasons: Liar, bad influence, uses swear words, too blunt, etc. I feel like some of these could be over-looked, such as the swearing and the 'bad influence' part. Really, all you have to do is just not copy her actions, and they won't be influential at all. If you disagree, it shouldn't be hard to just refuse to follow in her steps. However, lying isn't the best quality I would look for in a friend.  She doesn't seem like an enjoyable person to be around in general, which is why you are making this post, obviously. But I'm gonna ask you something here. Don't you think that, in a way, you're lying too? You're pretending to be her friend solely for purposes of monetary value because, I assume, your family cannot pay for or get you to gymnastic class themselves. If this is true, that's kind of bad, isn't it? It sounds like, to me, that your friendship isn't exactly a healthy relationship at all. But I'm gonna sympathize with you, since I know gymnastics must be important to you, and you wouldn't be doing this if you didn't have a good reason. So, what should you do about it? Well, personally I think there are a few things you could do. You could stop being her friend, therefore no longer having to deal with her; but in the process lose access to your gymnastics class and have to look for it in another way. On the flip side, you could continue to put up with her, which would probably not be in your best interests, but you'd still get to attend your class. Or, you could try talking to her about it. Ask her what she really thinks of your friendship, if she actually values you as her friend. Maybe you two can talk about problems that you're having with each other and work on fixing them. This option could have negative effects, since she might want to stop being your friend or things could become very awkward after that. But it's probably your best bet to be honest with her, as you'd hope she would be with you. How about if you tried being really nice to her? Kindness is contagious, and perhaps if you treat her well enough, she'll start doing the same to you. I feel like maybe if you complimented her, told her things that you really like about her, maybe even got her gifts or made her food once in a while, that she would come to appreciate you and all that you do for her. And in turn, she might start to respect you more herself, and become a good friend. That's about all I can say. If you're close enough with her mom, maybe you could even try asking her about her daughter and see if she can give you any advice. Hopefully that helped in some way, but if it didn't, maybe it at least made you think? I hope your problem gets resolved, Error, and you can be content with the outcome of it. :-)
reply 3 days
Error101
Error101 posted in Friends:
Okay so I have this friend and I don't like the type of person she is and I wouldn't be friends with her but her mom takes me to gymnastics every week.  I  had her over to spend the night and she lied about everything to me.  She kept telling me that she used to think I was weird and she didn't like me and it kind of hurt my feelings...  I would never tell someone that even if it was true.  She cusses and is a bad influence and she lies a ton.  There are a ton of bad qualities about her, and very few good ones.  I can't be mean to her because she is how I get to gymnastics but I don't really want to be her friend.  What should I do?  :(
reply 3 days
Wonderfulcalico
My parents have always been aggressive and abusive and I only just noticed it a couple months ago. Over time they've gotten worse (specifically my mother). Whenever she gets mad she'll yell at us and if she gets mad enough she'll hit and push us around. Whoever we get into arguments it's always one- sided and she always wins, even if she knows she is wrong. An argument we had not to long ago was about me not taking care of myself. She looked at my hair and started to touch it and told me "Your hair isn't soft why is it so dry, it's probably because you aren't taking care of your hair." Then she goes on to tell me that she's going to cut it and all of this other stuff when she knows I'm conscious about me looking like a boy ( Used to get called a boy for having short hair). As the argument goes on, I start to tell her things that she knows she is wrong about. She proceeds to yell at me then grabs me by the face and say "If you don't lower your tone and listen to what I'm saying I'm going to knock you in the head." Then she goes on to tell me she remembers nothing I was saying and that it's a lie. She also hit me when I didn't clean the laundry room correctly and whenever she gets fed up. I'm constantly having to watch what I say and do, because I'm scared that I'm going to end up hurt. She also likes to degrade me and tell how bad I'm doing. She's said plenty of thing like when I didn't have my bed covers tucked in she yelled at me and hit me and I said "Do you expect me to just stand here and take this", and she replied saying "That's what you are supposed to do you are the child and I am the adult, you take whatever I do until I'm done." Another time is when I had my band concert and I had to pick out the right attire. When we went shopping to get the clothing I chose slacks when she liked a skirt better, we went on to fight in the store and she bought the slacks. When we got home she said to me that real girls wear skirts and dresses and boys wear slacks and pants. This hurt me because she knows I have a past with people telling me I look like a boy etc. Another time I started to sleep on the floor, because I was practicing a minimalist life. When I left my pillows on the floor she found it and questioned me on why they were there. I told her it fell of my bed when really I left it there. Later when I told my dad, he told her and she got mad because I was getting cat hair on my pillows. She then proceeded to ask why I lied and I told her sometimes lying is better then the truth (I knew she would get mad that I was sleeping on the floor so I lied) then she told me that I was never going to have a relationship, a job, or friends ( This hurt me because I don't have friends now). She's also said that I don't take care of my body because I ate two sweets in one day which lead her to banning me from Doritos and now I have to ask to get chips and any other snack. She's told me I don't take care of my teeth because I have yellow spots from using whitening toothpaste with braces on. She's told me I don't take care of my hair so I can't wash it or do any hair style or then a bun. She had lead me to starving myself (Unless she makes me eat) and cutting myself. I've just stopped caring, because what ever I do is always wrong. I never get a choice in my activities, she controls my life in fact she me just in a different body. But what is even worse is that she's turning my dad into her. Now I have a scheduled time to eat breakfast and lunch, and to go onto my electronics. I feel like I'm in a prison with my parents constantly watching over me, in fact yesterday when I was pouring my milk my mom got out a measuring cup and poured my milk into the measuring cup and said "Why isn't this a full cup" and I replied saying "Because I don't measure my milk." Then she got angry at me. There's so much I could say about her, but I'll stop. Anyways my father is always sarcastic and he doesn't realize how much it hurts me. Today I was cleaning out my bag for next school year and my dad came in and said, "Wow, you aren't even dress yet and I had to come up here to tell you how sad." Just little things like that hurt me. My little sister got mad at me last week for sitting in a certain area and she said " Why are you sitting there," and I didn't reply because I didn't want to speak to her and she then said, "Probably because you are too stupid to answer." I wanted to break down crying then and there, but I kept it in. I've limited my talking to her, because all she does is break me down. Like when there was a Proactive commercial and she said, "Ha, you need that." That hurt me because just the other my mom was telling me how I don't take care of my face and that's why I have acne. My older sister and I barely talk, because whenever I try to talk to her she's mad for what ever reason and when my parents were talking about hitting my sister she was in the corner laughing. My cat Preston is very young and I got hi,abo a year ago. I get very sad and often cry, because I've seen him turn out scared and aggressive just like me because he's been through what I have. One time he pooped in a clothes basket (It's right next to his litter box) my mom grabbed him by the neck and hit him while she smothered his face in his poop, all while yelling at him. I was going to call the Animal Protective Services, but I got too scared and I realized how lonely I would be. Please help me I'm not sure what to do anymore. Also sorry for the very long post!
reply 6 days
Error101
Error101 posted in Family Issues:
Dear Kkmr324, I hope you get to feeling better as time goes on.  It does get better but like you said you can't actually get over it.  Losing someone to cancer is awful and I have never lost a friend and I hope I never will and I am so sorry that you did, but I have lost family to cancer and it is horrible.  I hope your okay. :(
reply 8 days
Kkrmr324
Kkrmr324 posted in Family Issues:
A few months ago,my friend Kendall died of cancer. It was really hard to "get over it"; because really you dont just get over it. One thing i did was find a bunch of pictures of me and Kendall and remembered all the fun we had together. And it helped! I still miss her, but good friends and family helped with that.
reply 10 days