It can be really difficult to get away from messages about sex, especially as a teenager. Everywhere you turn, there are messages about sex and most of them tell you different things! Some religions tell you it is best that you wait until marriage; advertising uses sex to interest you enough to sell you their products, and almost every TV show or movie that has young characters shows them having sex and lots of it! When was the last time you listened to Top 40 music without hearing someone sing about something sexy?
The most common message the media portray is that sex and the decisions about it are simple. Most times, sex is anything but that! It can be really confusing to figure out how you feel about sex with all of these messages.
The idea behind this section isn’t to tell you to have sex or not have sex but to give you some information that may help you if you’re in a place where you’re considering it!
One of the most common questions that we get asked is “how do I know if I am ready to have sex?” Our world is really good at telling youth when you should be ready to do things and when you are not.
When it comes to the decisions about sex, most of us don’t get a step by step guide given to us. That’s why we’ve written this section!
Deciding if, when and with whom you want to have sex are all tough decisions that you’re going to have to make on your own. Your parents may tell you it’s the wrong decision and your friends may encourage you to try it, but in the end it’s still your decision.
So how do you know if you’re ready to have sex? We use a model that we developed with a group of youth called the 7Rs of Sexual Decision Making. This model helps a person answer the question of “Am I ready?” by considering factors such as:
- The Results (negative and positive) of Sex
- The effects of being sexually active on the Relationships in our lives
- The Responsibilities involved in being sexually active
- The Rights of a sexually active young person
- The Reasons why a person would choose to have sex and the reasons why a young person would choose to wait to have sex
- The aspects of a person and their partner that needs to be Respected
Pressure to have sex, and pressure to wait, comes from everywhere. How you were brought up, your religious beliefs, peer pressure, what your friends or other people your age are doing, and your previous relationships and/or sexual experiences may all be things you want to think about. The decision to have sex, at any age or time in your life, can be a major decision. We believe that the best decisions about sex happen when you balance the messages from your head, heart, gut, and groin. This can be really hard and confusing to do that “in the moment” when things are feeling pretty intense and the messages from the groin may be the loudest!
Here’s a simple diagram to help breakdown all of the messages into something that easier to understand! It may also help to separate the messges you’re getting from everywhere else and those you’re getting from yourself.
Sex is a complicated issue. The most important part of the decision to have sex is that you are the person who is making the right decision for yourself at this time in your life. Because no matter what anyone else tells you, what you decide to do with your body is up to you.