Are you ready for sex? – part 2

This is the second part of my series about being ready for sex. The first part is here.

Are you in a healthy sexual relationship?  Or are you thinking about having sex for the first time?

When it comes to sex no one is looking out for you, it is not something you want to bring your parents or friends along for and your partner will have their own motivations, so you must make sure you are looking out for yourself.  Sex can be one of the best experiences in the world, or one of the worst.  It is natural to feel a bit apprehensive before having sex for the first time, or with someone new but how do you know if it it just nerves, or a warning that it shouldn’t be happening yet?  Here is a list of questions to ask yourself to make sure that you are about to have good and healthy sex.

Some questions to ask yourself

  • Do I feel sexually aroused?  Let your body lead you and then follow with your head.  If your head is thinking “I think I might like to have sex, I wonder what it would be like…it would make a lot of sense to have sex with this person because…” I would say you are not quite ready.  If your body is aroused and you feel strong desire to have sex, then you follow that with the head “am I emotionally ready?… Is this the right relationship to make this move?…How will I do this safely?…”  that is the best way round for the most enjoyable experience.  If you are not turned on by your partner for whatever reason then sex will certainly be an uncomfortable experience.
  • Does it feel right?  Do you have any nagging doubts or funny feelings that you are suppressing because they don’t make sense to your rational mind?  Sex is not always totally rational and if you ignore what your instincts are telling you it is quite likely to be an experience that you will regret.  Having spoken to many women on the subject of sex the consensus is that if it feels right and is something you really want then you are unlikely to have regrets.  If it is something you are talking yourself into you are likely to regret going through with it.
  • Why do I want to have sex?  Could I have regrets afterwards?  There are many reasons people have sex (keeping up with friends, to impress, to keep someone, for control, to make yourself feel attractive, because you can, for a good story, to make someone feel better, afraid to say ‘no’, too drunk to say ‘no’, the list goes on…) but it is only good for your health and well-being if that reason is because you really want to.
  • Do I feel able to say ‘no’ at any point if I change my mind and will we both be ok with that?  This applies at any stage of a relationship – even if you’ve been together for years you reserve the right to stop at any time.
  • Do you love or at least trust your partner?  In my discussions with men and women they would agree that the more deeply you feel for a person the more remarkable sex is.
  • Do you care for each other equally?  If it’s a fling it’s important you both know this.  And some people take relationships more seriously than others.  When I was younger I didn’t take relationships that seriously but the feeling was not always mutual.  At least one of my relationships broke up because I didn’t necessarily see it as “forever” but “for now” and the other person wasn’t happy with that.
  • Is your partner keen to spend time with you?  If you are going to be close you need to be a priority.  Do you enjoy spending time together that is not reliant on sexual tension or having sex?  I once had a boyfriend who said to me “Can we just talk, we’re always having sex” (guess what happened after that comment, yes, more sex!)  He was joking but it was true, our relationship was based almost completely on sexual chemistry and we had nothing in common.
  • Do you respect your partner as a person and admire what he/she stands for and do you feel respected in return? 
  • Are you free to be yourself?  One woman I spoke to said she finally felt what it was like to be herself in a relationship in her third marriage in her fifties!
  • Are you proud to be seen with them?  Are they someone you could introduce to your family and/or friends?  I often had “boyfriends” who would never have fit in with my family or social circle and if I was honest I was proud to be seen with them for all the wrong reasons, for example, the shock factor…
  • Are you comfortable telling him/her what is on your mind?  Communication is crucial in a relationship.  As a rule, if you can’t bring yourself to discuss contraception with them, it is not a great idea to be having sex with them. Are you comfortable enough with this person to at least have a conversation about staying safe during sex?  Have you both talked about using condoms and was the talk ok?  Have you both got contraception organised to protect against pregnancy?
  • Am I filling a gap?  Do I know myself well and do I have my own interests and hobbies?  Having sex because we have nothing better to do is not healthy for our self-esteem or mental health.  If you are feeling generally needy or unloved there are far better and more healthy ways to feel good about yourself.
  • Lastly but most importantly are you happy with the idea?…I’d be happy if (fill in the blank) doesn’t count!  Happy does not include: You think it’s all that you deserve.  You think it’s all that you can get.  You are afraid of commitment.  You are lonely.  You want a confidence boost.

It is important to decide what you want from a relationship.  If sexual experience is all you are after and are happy to find that with no strings attached then as long as you are truly happy with that (check with yourself, then check again) it is your choice.  In this case you may want to stop reading after the first six points but for anyone who is keen to have a more committed relationship please think about all of the above.  These are the basics of what you deserve.  Anything other than this and it can affect you mentally and emotionally.

Signs it’s too soon

  • You’re not entirely comfortable with each other
  • You’re dreading the morning after
  • You’re not sure the other person wants it too
  • You’re not ready for the relationship that might follow
  • You don’t feel turned on
  • You don’t want to

If you have already had sex, how did you make your decision?  Do you have any regrets?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Are you ready for sex? – Part 1

I am doing a series of blogs entitled, Are you ready for sex? designed to help you make that all important decision. Here in Part One I want to share my answer to a letter I received from a 14-year-old girl (who will remain anonymous). She was asking for help in deciding whether she was ready to have sex with her boyfriend:

Dear Sally,

I’m 14 but please don’t judge me on this. I’ve made out with a few boys, but only in my recent relationship did I really feel like I’m ready for sex. I’m quite mature about it, and I would definitely make sure I was safe. My boyfriend is a year older than me and wants it too. My very close friend says that they think I’ve already lost my virginity, and they’re older, but I don’t think I have. It was in and out and only half. What kind of precautions should I take and what would you say about all of this? I just need some advice. Thanks x

My Answer

I would not judge you on age; people find themselves ready at different ages. It is to your credit that you are thinking this through and not rushing into anything you might live to regret. Here is my advice:

Let it be with someone whose reasons align with yours

I would imagine that you would want this experience to be something you enjoy, so look carefully at your reasons for wanting to have sex. Do not feel pressured or even persuaded into anything by anybody else. It is your body and it is for you to decide who to share it with. Let it be with someone who appreciates you and is doing it for reasons that align with yours.

Be sure to follow your instincts.

It sounds obvious, but the people I have spoken to have found that if they went into a situation willingly and for their own reasons, they had no regrets. If they ignored their own doubts or instincts it turned out to be a bad experience, or one that they would look back on and wish they could change.

At 14 you have age on your side and there is no rush. If your boyfriend cares about you he will wait until you are sure, so that it’s a positive experience for you both.

I have some quotes from women who have been in your position, which may interest you. One lady did regret her decision to have sex at a young age: I feel sad with myself now at 31, that I didn’t have more self respect to hold onto it longer. I lost it around the age of 12/13, very young, too young. But once lost, there was no going back.

The longer you leave it, the better it will be

Curiosity is a reason many people will end up having sex young, and in hindsight, many feel this was not a good enough reason. Another lady says: I don’t know about KNOW it, I’d have liked to have UNDERSTOOD that life’s a lot longer than your teenage years.

Almost everyone I have spoken to agrees with this lady: Just make sure you’re ready and the more you wait… it’s not a bad thing. The longer you leave it, the better it will be.

Another woman agreed, saying: Don’t be scared of saying no. You are very unlikely to regret saying now, whereas obviously saying yes is irreversible… put it off. That’s what I do when I’m thinking about buying something. I just put it off for a day or two, see how I feel about it a bit later. Maybe it does seem like the right person but maybe the timing is wrong, so don’t be scared of delaying things and waiting. You don’t think about that when you’re young; it’s tonight or never.

Get to know your body

I don’t know how well you know your body already, but many people recommend finding out what you enjoy sexually on your own first: You don’t know what is going to satisfy you until you know yourself. And no one else can ever tell you what you’ll like until you know physically.

Getting to know how to pleasure yourself could drastically improve the chances of sex with someone else being a pleasant experience.

Let your body lead, and head follow close behind

My advice would be to let your body lead you, and then follow closely with your head. For example, if your head is thinking, I think I might like to have sex; I wonder what it would be like… I would say you’re not quite ready.

If your body is aroused and you feel a strong desire to have sex, then follow this with your head: Am I emotionally ready? Is this the right relationship to make this move? How will I do this safely? – This is the best way around for the most enjoyable experience. If you’re not 100% sure then wait; there will come a time when you will feel sure, and nobody will be able to stop you.

The law

In the UK the legal age of consent is 16. The law is there to protect children from abuse, rather than to prosecute under-16s who participate in mutually consenting sexual activity. The law states that anyone under the age of 13 can never legally give consent.

Stay safe

If you do decide to go for it then please remember to stay safe and use contraception. One lady said: It can happen to me; I just wish I’d understood that… I’ll never fall pregnant; I’ll never get an STD… She ended up having a baby at 16.

You can choose and then choose again

Don’t forget that if you do have sex and don’t enjoy it, you don’t need to do it again in a hurry. Just because you have had sex, it doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it if it’s not fun. You are allowed to make a different choice – even with the same person.

Sally x

This is the first in a two-part series about being ready for sex. You can find the second part here.

Have you already had sex? How did you make your decision? Do you have any regrets? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next instalment in my “are you ready for sex” series.