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Deciding when to have sex

Your choice, when you're ready. Don't ever feel pressured

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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As young people we all have to make decisions about important issues in our lives. Things like should you go out with someone, how far to go with someone, whether to let them touch you or when to have sex.

When you consent to have sex is your choice. You should never feel pressured into doing it before you're ready. If you feel you aren't ready, it is absolutely fine and normal to decide not to have sex. Even if you've had sex once or many times before, it is absolutely fine to decide not have have sex, whenever you chose.  

You should always feel confident and comfortable about your choices and never allow someone to pressure or bully you into an uncomfortable situation. Trust your instincts, your feelings and if you aren't sure what to do talk to a friend or adult that you trust.

Questions to ask yourself on whether you feel ready for sex

  • Do I feel ready and comfortable about having sex?
  • Does my partner respect me?
  • Do I respect my partner?
  • Am I using someone for sex?
  • Why do I want to have sex?
  • Have we talked about contraception?
  • Do I trust my partner and does my partner feel the same trust?

How far should I go?

This is a very personal decision and should be decided by how comfortable you feel with the other person, how comfortable the other person feels with you, and your own beliefs about relationships and sex. Everybody talks about kissing, pulling and sex but not everyone is doing it. When you are making the decision about having sex think about it very seriously:

  • You should feel ready to have sex and not feel pressured by friends or a partner.
  • You need to read up about safer sex and contraception. It's extremely important!
  • Wait until you feel safe in the company of your partner and be sure that you want to go further in your relationship.
  • Respect your own feelings and beliefs. If you’re not ready to have sex, that's absolutely fine.
  • Talk to an adult you trust or contact a helpline from our Help Section.

And remember:

  • Don’t have sex because your friends think it’s cool.
  • Don’t think that love and sex are the same thing.
  • Don’t get carried away with romance. Remember the risk of unwanted pregnancy and STIs.
  • If you've taken alcohol or drugs, your ability to give consent is impaired. Try to remember this - if you're drunk or on drugs, you're better off holding off on having sex. 
  • If you are pressured into sex that you didn't really want it is NOT your fault. Don’t feel guilty. If you need help contact a helpline or talk to someone you trust.

The WRONG reasons to have sex

  • Jumping into bed because everyone else says they are doing it. They're not!
  • Your boyfriend or girlfriend wants you to sleep with them. If they respect you they won't have a problem waiting until you're ready for sex.
  • You think it will make you more mature, cooler or changed for the better. Sex isn't going to make you look more sophisticated or cooler than before.

Some more tips on sexual respect & consent

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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Published January 22nd, 2013
Last updated March 30th, 2017
Tags sex sexual health relationships
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