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He's older, I'm intimidated and unsure

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Anonymous asks:

I am a 15 year old girl and I have a boyfriend who is 20 we are going out for about two months we both love each other and till now we have had only one private moment were we smooched and he touched my breasts after asking and he tried to touch my privates like he just placed his finger there but he didn't go inside I told him that I didn't like it so he withdrew when we smooched again he took my hand to his penis but I jerked it off . We both are true to each other he has got a blowjob once from a girl n he has also fingered her and I too have given a blowjob to my ex but I am scared if I get pregnant and I also can't tell him to use condoms because he doesn't like it he also tells about having sex with me but I am just fifteen so what do I do? I also want to and don't want to give him a blowjob because I am scared that I will get pregnant and will he think wrong of me if I give him one? Because I don't want this relation to break.

Heather Corinna replies:

You know, while five years isn't a big age difference between people who are, say 35 and 40, it can be a lot bigger between people who are 15 and 20. Think abut it like this: at 20, your boyfriend has literally already lived 25% longer than you have, just a little less than you've outlived someone who is ten years old.

There are a lot of ways a gap like that can make a difference, and one big one is assertiveness when it comes to the younger partner. When we don't really feel like someone's equal, or they have more agency than we do (and as an adult and a male, he's got that over you), it can be a lot harder to set limits and boundaries, or to even feel like it's okay to voice them. It can also be easier for that older person to get what they want from the younger: chances are good that with a woman his age or older, or someone who felt like his equal, who insisted on condoms, he'd put one on with no problem or argument whatsoever.

Another arena where we can see an imbalance is when someone feels like a person who isn't where they're at yet should be ready for the things they are. With a younger partner, it's up to the older person to take that into account and make room for those differences, like when you're not feeling ready for intercourse, especially when he's not ready to do his part to make it safe for you in terms of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections by putting on a condom. Fellatio -- a blowjob -- doesn't present a pregnancy risk, but it does present risks of sexually transmitted infections. Even if blowjobs were physically-risk free, that doesn't mean everyone wants to give them or feels like they're at a place in their relationship where they're ready for that. It's sounding like you're feeling a bit rushed in this at the moment, and like he's not able to be the adult that he is and pace things in a way that works out for you.

A partner who cares for you isn't going to rush you. Sure, if they're ready and you are not, they may voice frustration with that, but they won't keep plopping your hands where you aren't putting them yourself, they'll be talking to you to find out what you really feel ready for and taking YOUR lead there, and making clear that even if they're frustrated, they still only want you to do things YOU also want to do as much as they do, for the same reasons: not just because you're afraid they'll dump you. A partner who cares for you not only will be okay with your limits and boundaries, they will very much want to know what they are and will want to invest themselves in making sure they act in accordance with them. We aren't showing someone love if we don't treat them with that kind of respect.

You can tell a partner to use condoms, and any partner they'll have who is invested in their own health and safety will do that. If he really doesn't want to use condoms that much, he'll take responsibility for that and choose not to be sexually active right now, knowing that his preferences shouldn't make a partner feel like she has to risk her safety.

Like I said, I assure you that someone who feels more assertive would ask this of him, and he'd very likely buck up and just use one if it meant he couldn't have sex otherwise. You can also tell someone who earnestly cares for you that they're moving too fast, that you need to be given more time to figure out what's right for you, and that since they've made clear what they want, when you know you want the same things, you'll initiate: they don't need to keep pushing. Lastly, no one should have to worry about getting ditched because they aren't giving a partner everything they want sexually exactly when they want it. If you don't feel like you can both have a relationship AND only engage in sexual activities you really want and are ready for, then again, this just isn't the right relationship for you or the right time for you to be in one.

If you really don't feel able to ask for very reasonable limits like this from him -- and fully expect he will abide by them -- then this probably is not a good partner for you. Heck, even though he's older than you, it's possible he doesn't have the maturity yet to handle sex with a partner if he can't handle a little piece of latex. If you just feel like you're not yet in a place in your life where you could be assertive with ANY partner, then it's just probably not time yet for you to have sexual partners. You may need to get your footing a bit better, work on your own self-confidence, and feel more assured about your own boundaries before you jump into partnered sex.

What I'd suggest is that you start by getting a little more knowledgeable about the risks of sexual activities -- physical and emotional -- so that you have the information you need to get a better idea of what you are and are not okay with. I'll give you some links below so that you can do that. Then, armed with that knowledge, if you do think this really is a healthy relationship for you, and you both can handle a sexual relationship -- which includes respecting each other's boundaries and pacing -- it's time to have a chat with this guy: about safer sex and how it's non-negotiable, about what you are and are not ready for, and about how you've been feeling about all of this. If he handles that discussion with at least the maturity you bring to it, maybe things can start working a bit better. But if he doesn't, or if you still don't feel able to have it, then it's time to take a bunch of steps back and really care for yourself by waiting until you're in a space and a relationship that is exactly the right one for you, and exactly your speed.

Here are those links so that you can know more to help you figure out where you're really at in terms of readiness, and a few to help you with that discussion:

(One final reminder: in many areas, a 15-year-old is under the age of consent, that is, the legal age you need to be to consent to have partnered sex of any kind with someone older than that age, or who is a legal adult. In many areas, someone having any kind of sex with someone under that age is breaking the law, and in some, that is considered a very serious crime which can even result in lifelong sex offender status on the part of the adult. Ultimately, since he'd be the one committing that crime if you're under the AOC, that's really on him, but it would behoove you both, if you're going to continue this relationship, to do a little research and find out if sex between you is even lawful.)

written 08 Mar 2008 . updated 31 Jan 2014

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