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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

Autonomy
Autonomy posted in Family Issues:
"StarrChild" wrote: Two years ago my parents broke up. I was never really the same after that point. My mother she began to just not care about anything. She would go out clubbing every Friday and would yell at me for my attitude towards it. Why would I be okay with her doing that??? I didn't really realise it but I began feeling kind of depressed. Of course we didn't fight all the time but when we did I would always end up crying alone in my room. And it would be really painful. One time I cried every night for a week because of her. A week ago, I felt really sick at school so I went to the sick bay but my Mum refused to believe I was sick. She thought I was lying and being over dramatic as usual. I felt really horrible after that, that the teacher sent me to the guidance councellor and almost immediately I burst into tears. I didn't even know why I did but the councellor did a little test on me and came to the conclusion I was slightly depressed and had anxiety. It wasn't really surprising but hearing it out loud just felt really weird. Even after knowing that fact my mother doesn't really act any different. She's not a bad person I swear but she can just be really horrible at times. Anyways, that's technically whats been happening in my life lol. Nothing really interesting Oh dear, that sounds like a dreadful situation. I've lived through similar difficulties in my own life, and my heart goes out to you, truly. May I offer you some advice? I don't have the cure to your problems or a magic wand that can make them disappear, but I do believe that some good can come out of your living situation. The first thing I'd like to make note of, is that everyone makes mistakes. As human beings, we have to make mistakes. There's no way around it; it's how we learn and grow. And as we get older, we don't stop making mistakes. Your parents are no exception. Although we look to our parents for guidance, and direction, and support, we have to understand that they aren't perfect people, and they make mistakes. They may not always lead us in the right direction. They may not always set a good example. They may not always be there for us, to encourage us and support us when we need them most. And that's okay. Everyone makes mistakes, and we have to accept that. But we can't let allow other people's mistakes to hurt us, my dear. And I know it hurts. Your mum might not understand how her actions make you feel. You said you haven't been the same since your parents divorced, and I know how challenging that can be to go through. But you know, some of the brightest, wisest, and happiest people I've met, are people who have dealt with difficult problems in their lives, and used them to grow as people. You can let your parents' mistakes get to you, and make you upset and depressed; or, you can accept that they aren't perfect people, accept that they make mistakes, and accept that their mistakes don't have anything to do with you. So here's what you do, friend: you can't stop your mum from going clubbing, and that's okay. Don't try to. Don't fight with her about it. You can let her know how it makes you feel, but don't get into an argument. Accept the situation for what it is. Your mother is her own person, and she is accountable for what she does; you aren't. Next time you start to get in a fight or an argument with her, just step back, and withdraw yourself. Try it, see what happens. Once you decide not to let other peoples' failings affect you--and you do have the power to do this--then you'll find a sense of peace you probably haven't felt before. And you'll learn from your mistakes, and the mistakes of your parents, and everyone around you, and you'll be a better person. Press on.
reply 23 minutes
Dounuts
Dounuts posted in Family Issues:
Go to your neighbor's house and ask him/her to call to police.Everything will be just fine.
reply about 6 hours
RavenClawRaina
my ex is going through the same thing. Call the police now. Things will get out of hand. My brothers friend has been living with us for about 2 weeks becuz his dad punched him in the face. Call 911 now. They will help you. Just say you have been abused by your family member and they will take it from there. If you want, add me and we can talk
reply about 7 hours
XxRuby_PhoenixxX
If you are getting abused to the point where you bleed, call the police immediately. This isn't acceptable behavior.
reply about 7 hours
MRAP
MRAP posted in Family Issues:
Hey, Just wanted some advice to help me on what to do on this. Ever since I was 3 I've been both Verbally, Mentally, And Physically abused. To me, this is normal since it's been happening for so long. But I just can't take this thing anymore. When I get home I always get yelled at for no reason. I have been on Anti-Depressants for the past 1-2 years. Been going to counseling for 6-7 years for family. Nothing has changed yet. I just need help on how to handle this. Thanks.
reply about 7 hours