By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.
A couple of months ago, I began blogging. Throughout, I’ve tried to provide pieces to make my readers chuckle, or to get them to think. I’ve written several opinion pieces, as this one will be. This is not intended as advice, but to provide food for thought.
This is inspired by an article published by a reputable British news organization based on a survey taken in London that suggested that about 30% of women polled and 25% of men claimed that they felt they became sexually active too early. The article had some good advice (in my humble opinion), but I think it missed a couple of points as well.
As a background, I became sexually active relatively late in my life with my first experience happening a couple of years after college. As I reflect on my sexual history, I realize that I have had few experiences considering how long I have been single, but I’ve been single for so long that I suppose I have had more encounters than I would care to admit. When I think back on them, I must admit that I actually regret most of the intimate encounters I have had. On the other hand, there have been opportunities that I did not take that I still regret.
I believe that there are reasons that people should become involved, but more importantly, there are reasons that they should not which is something that is often overlooked. So, some things that you should consider when becoming sexually active includes (but is not limited to):
Your feelings towards your partner. There is a lot of pressure to “be in love” with your partner, but that’s not realistic in today’s society. Too many people have had regretful sexual encounters because they tried to “prove their love” to somebody. And it is okay to become sexually active because you are curious or enjoy it, but you want to be sure that you at least trust and respect your partner. Do you trust them, entirely, to avoid bragging? Do you trust them, entirely, to stop if you change your mind mid way? Do you trust your partner, entirely, not to weaponize the experience (that is, use it against you later)? Do you trust your partner, entirely, to take share of responsibility if the encounter results in an unexpected pregnancy? If you cannot answer, firmly, “yes” to all of these questions, then you are with the wrong person.
Talk with your partner. I am a firm believer that there is not enough discussion between sexual partners in our society, and believe me, there is a lot to discuss. Yes, the protection discussion is important, but it is also important to ask if your partner has any known STD’s (remembering that they may be infected but unaware), and what will happen if a pregnancy occurs. It’s also important to discuss what is, and what is not, on the table, such as what locations of penetration and fetishes. By the way, this talk can be very arousing while it is also very serious if it is done correctly. If your partner is not willing to have such a discussion, it is a red flag.
Just as importantly, you should not allow to influence you decision on becoming sexually active includes (but is not limited to):
Coercion. Never let pressure from a potential partner or peer pressure influence your decision. If you are not ready, then wait. There is a bit of advice that seems a bit “Peter Pan”, but it’s true; if your partner really cares, they will wait.
Pressure to avoid sex. Common “naysayers” includes parents and religions. Please understand that I am not saying that you should not listen to them. Of course you should listen to their advice, but it is your choice, and your choice alone, to decide if that advice is right for you.
When you decide to become sexually active, consider:
What happens if something happens that you don’t expect. Pregnancy and STD’s are real, and need to be considered, and it will be far better if you think about it before it happens. This will also help you to plan to make it less likely (not impossible).
Will you be able to talk with somebody about the experience if necessary. This might seem like an odd question, but suppose, for the sake of argument, that you end up contracting a disease for which you will need treatment. This is not something that is easy to handle alone, so would you be able to speak with your family and/or friends, or would you be too ashamed to do so? If you feel like it would be shameful for you to discuss, then maybe it’s not the right partner or the right time.
Sex is fun. It should be fun, and doubt detracts from the joy of sex. Unfortunately, too many people use it as a weapon, or a form of control. Don’t let that happen. Your body/your choice. Have fun, but be sure that it is your choice, not somebody else’s.