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Sexual Activity

Making decisions and sticking to them is challenging especially when they involve sexual activity. There are often pressures to have sex or to hold off. At times, it may be tempting to ignore your feelings and let your partner decide. Sexual activity is something that you and your partner need to discuss.

How will I know I am ready for sexual activity?

How much sexual activity you involve yourself in is your own decision. Before you talk about sexual activity with your partner, you should work out your own beliefs and values on the subject. That will make it easier to discuss, and make you feel more comfortable.
In thinking about sexual activity ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do you expect of your partner in the way of love and caring?
  2. What does your partner expect from you?
  3. Does your decision have anything to do with your parents? (Do you want to prove that you can make big decisions for yourself?)
  4. Are you ready to accept the possible negative consequences such as  sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy ?
  5. Are you able to discuss  birth control with your partner?
  6. If you decide to share your involvement in sexual activity with others how much deceit will be involved? Are you going to have to lie to your parents and friends? How does this make you feel?
  7. Have you compared your decision to your value system? The value system of your parents, school, peers, partner?

You are not ready until...

  • You can talk openly and honestly with your partner about sexual activity.
  • You can buy  condoms without embarrassment.
  • You are prepared with birth control .
  • You want to please your partner as much as you want to please yourself.

Remember - having sex does not:

  • Fix a bad situation.
  • Make you popular.
  • Mean that your partner will love you forever and will not necessarily bring you closer together.

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How do I talk about sex with my partner?

  • After you have decided what your views and comfort level are with sexual activity, you need to discuss them with your partner.
  • The first thing you need to do is set aside a time to talk about sexual activity.
  • Pick a calm time and a comfortable environment to share your feelings.
  • The middle of a hot-and-heavy situation is not the ideal time; in the moment, it is hard to separate what feels right at the moment and what is the right thing to do.

Here are some ideas about how to make the conversation easier:

  • Write down what you want to say before you talk with your partner.
  • Little starters like "I'm not sure I can explain this perfectly, but…" will help you say the things you need to say.
  • Discuss what you want out of the relationship.
  • Be honest and clear with your partner if sex is not an option.
  • Discussing your expectations, decisions and values lets your partner know what can and cannot be expected in the relationship.
  • Be clear. When you say "maybe" your partner may hear it as "yes".

During your discussion you may start talking about what you want to do.

  • Set your limits together.
  • Ask your partner's opinion about what they feel comfortable with.
  • Don't assume things. Make your opinions clear and clarify theirs if you feel confused.
  • You are having the conversation to feel good about your relationship and you should both feel free to say what you need in terms of support.
  • After you have discussed your limits of sexual activity and committed to them with your partner, you need to follow through.
  • You have to stick with your decisions; you may find that later on down the road you need to talk about sexual activity again; that’s okay.

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I don't want to have sex. What do I say?

  • It is your choice whether or not you want to have sex or limit sexual activity.
  • Sometimes it may be difficult to stick to your decision.
  • It will help if you think about it and discuss it with your partner before you are in a situation that may get out of hand.
  • For more information, visit our web page on abstinence , which includes tips on how to say No and take charge!.

There are many things that can help you stick to your decision:

  • Be fair - If you say "No," mean it.
  • Do not be persuaded by lines that attempt to coax you into sex, like "Our relationship will grow stronger" or "If you loved me, you would." These lines may seem ridiculous or at times may seem believable. Be assertive and stand up for your own wants and needs.
  • Being  assertive takes practice. Practice what you will say before you are faced with a difficult situation. You will feel more confident.
  • Avoid situations that get too private or situations where drugs and alcohol can lead you to make choices you would not make otherwise. This avoidance is not always possible, so know what you are going to say and do beforehand.
  • Most importantly, trust in your beliefs, values and decisions - they are right for you.

Remember that you are not abnormal because you have chosen not to have sex or placed limits on sexual activity. Every day more people are choosing to say "No." It is your body. Respect your decision. You have the right to say "No."

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How can I stay safe if I choose to have sex?

  • Abstinence is the best protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) , HIV/AIDS , and unplanned pregnancy.
  • The use of condoms provides the next-best level of protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS. Each partner shares the responsibility of buying, having and using condoms .

Negotiating for safer sex will be one of the most difficult topics to bring up in your relationship, so here are some important points to help make the conversation easier:

  • Practice what you will say before you talk to your partner.
  • Talk about safer sex in a place that is private and when neither one of you is feeling "turned on".
  • Make sure you are alone, feeling comfortable and free of tension.
  • Make it easier by talking in general terms about using condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancy and  sexually transmitted infections (STIs) .
  • Be open about your concerns and remember to state them as your concerns.
  • Whatever you say, try to phrase it so that you leave the door open for discussion. Adding the question "what do you think?" works well.
  • Reassure your partner that you are not accusing him/her of having a disease but that you just want to practice safer sex.
  • Whatever your approach, be firm in your commitment to always practise safer sex.
  • Don't let sex just happen; use  contraception the first time and every time you have sex.
  • Remember that without protection you run the risk unplanned pregnancy and  sexually transmitted infections (STIs) . Using contraception shows respect and responsibility – remember it is not just one person's responsibility; share it.

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