Author: August Clarke
Our teen years are exciting partly because of all the new experiences that seem to be happening all the time. One of the experiences that holds a lot of excitement or anxiety for many teens is the prospect of having sex for the first time. Incidentally enough, it is also an experience that many people feel uncomfortable talking about. In many places, sex is a taboo subject, but I believe it shouldn’t be.
As we approach adulthood, we get to make more and more choices for ourselves and one of those choices is – yes – sex. It is important to think carefully about it and what you want for yourself (and your body). This can be pretty stressful for a lot of teens, for many different reasons. Whether you are someone who feels ready for sex or someone who doesn’t, it’s important to keep in mind a couple of things.
Having sex doesn’t define how mature or “grown-up” you are.
Losing your virginity is often played off as being this big, life-changing experience that will permanently change you. For teens who aren’t sexually active, it can sometimes feel like if you aren’t participating in this so called life-altering experience that you are somehow less mature than other teens or a “late bloomer”. This can create insecurity and a lot of negative feelings in teens who are virgins.
In reality, your level of maturity is not defined by whether you are intimate with someone or not. Having sex is not a prerequisite to being an emotionally and mentally secure individual. There are many perfectly functional adults who choose not to be sexually active for many different reasons, and they are considered no less mature than any of their peers for it.
Your level of maturity is not defined by whether you are intimate with someone or not.”
It may seem like everyone is doing it – trust me, they’re not.
I know a lot of people who feel bad about the fact that they are still a virgin because sometimes, in party settings and certain social gatherings, it can feel like the only thing people want to talk about is dating and sex. When you think about it, it’s kind of absurd that so many people feel bad about something like that.
The portrayal of sex in media sometimes promotes this idea that if you are a virgin, there must be something wrong with you. Which is ridiculous, because lots of teens are virgins, and that’s completely normal.
Let’s set the record straight:
Yes, many teens do choose to have sex, but there are also plenty of teens who don’t and that’s okay. It’s not a race to lose your virginity. We all move at our own pace. Some teens feel ready for that experience, and some don’t. And remember that no matter which category you fall into, there are a boatload of kids who feel the same as you.
If you do choose to be sexually active – that’s great! – but make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
In the right context, sex can be a fulfilling and pleasurable experience for both participants. Unfortunately, many people choose to partake in it for reasons that can promote insecurity and lead to poor self-esteem. It’s important that, if you choose to have sex, you are doing it because you want to, and not for anyone else or an exterior reason.
You should never feel pressured into sex in order to please another person. Likewise, if you are doing it in order to make yourself feel more validated or better about yourself, that might not be a good reason either. Make sure to check in with yourself and reflect on why you are making this choice, and whether it is a good choice mentally and emotionally for you in the long run. If it is – awesome! Sex can be a really positive experience that can build intimacy and/or be enjoyable for both people involved.
But if it’s not, remember that it is never too late to say “no”.
The following are some questions you might want to ask yourself when deciding if sex is a good choice for you:
- Why do I want to do this? Am I doing it for me, or for someone else?
- Do I trust the person I am with to respect me and my body (and my “no”, if I change my mind)?
- Sex can lead to a lot of unpredictable feelings and emotions – how do I think I will react emotionally to this experience in the long term (and am I prepared to handle those emotions)?
- Do I know enough about pregnancy and STD protection to be responsible?
At the end of the day, no one should be able to make you feel bad about what you choose for your body.
People are shamed for having too much sex and people are shamed for not having any at all. Sometimes it feels like you can’t win. It’s important to remember that most people don’t actually care what choice you make for yourself, and the people that matter will – in all likelihood – support you in your decisions.
Sharing your body with another person is a really scary experience for a lot of people! Whether you do or don’t (and the extent to which) is an incredibly personal choice, and there is no reason feel bad about what you decide for yourself. Whatever choice makes you feel happy, confident, and secure in your body is the choice that is probably right for you, whatever it may be.