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So When Are We Really Ready?

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M3ggy asks:

Me and my boyfriend have been going out for three months. We are 15 and for the past week we have been talking about having sex. I have thought about it so much. We both really want to, but I am scared because I don’t know how to do it, I don’t want to get pregnant, etc. My friends are telling me to do different things: some say follow your heart; others say I'm being irresponsible and immature. I really feel like I'm ready and I love, care, respect, and trust my boyfriend so much but I feel like I'm being influenced by my friends. I don’t know what to do, help?!

Stephanie replies:

I’m going to break your question down some so we can be sure to touch on everything here.

First, let’s talk a bit about readiness. Readiness for any type of sex happens for people at different ages, different points in the relationship, and even in some relationships and not others. One person may feel comfortable and ready for a particular type of sex at the age of thirteen, another fifteen or sixteen, some others eighteen, and others even later than that.

The same thing happens with the amount of time you’re together. Someone may find that they’re ready after three months in a relationship and another may find that they’re not ready until much later, or even at all with any particular person. All of this is very normal. The thing that you need to know mostly about readiness is that because it’s such an individual process you would know better than anyone else if you’re ready.

So take a moment to think … who do you want to do this for. If it’s you and you as well as your partner – great, that’s a step in the right direction. You’ll also want to consider what you expect from any type of sex. Keep in mind that often time what you hear about sex in a school hallway or at a party with friends is blown into a different proportion – and this is important to realize so that you’re not disappointed. Additionally, readiness is as much about being prepared for the moment as it is in being prepared for any consequences. You’ll want to check out the Readiness Checklist for a better idea of needs materially, physically, emotionally, and interpersonally for partnered sex.

Next lets touch on the very important aspect that you’ve mentioned about talking with your partner abut sex. I can well assume that because you have said you’ve talked about sex that you’ve both mentioned an interest in having your relationship become a sexual one at some point.

In these conversations you should also be talking to one another about the ways in which you will be protecting yourselves and each other. There should be talk about both protecting from Sexually Transmitted Infections (because remember even if you’ve never has sex with anyone before there is still a small chance of an infection having been passed through non-sexual contact) as well as what methods of birth control you’ll be using. Condoms are often one of the first forms of birth control used, and if that’s the way you’d like to go then you’ll want to be sure to have a good water-based lubricant around as well.

Being able to talk with a partner openly and honestly is an important first step to a sexual relationship – and unless you’re both comfortable talking about and setting limits – as well as expressing interests and any dislikes then readiness just isn’t happening yet. Sounds like you have a good start there – so why not try to bring in the other aspects such as protection etc. into your conversations.

Lastly, your friends really can’t tell you what’s right or wrong for you at this point. Everyone has their own views about sex and what’s right or wrong for them personally. In the end what it comes down to is the fact that there isn’t a right age to be ready any more than there is a wrong time to be ready.

Deciding that you’re ready for a sexual relationship and making the right decisions to protect yourself in that does not make you irresponsible and immature. Choosing to protect yourself is a mature decision about what’s best for you.

Really, knowing what you’re doing the first time isn’t so much the issue as communication is. Will you instinctively know what feels good for your partner? Probably not. A lot of the time in a sexual relationship it’s important for a partner to talk about what feels good to them so that it’s known. Another reason why being able to talk about sex with a partner or potential partner is so important.

written 04 Jun 2008 . updated 04 Jun 2008

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