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We fool around, but then I feel bad. What should I do?

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Anonymous asks:

I'm totally confused about my relationship, where it's going, I mean. I'm 14 years old and I have a 16 year old boyfriend, he's turning 17 in a few months. Since he's older, I know he has more sexual feelings and things like that, but I don't think I understand completely. We always fool around...kind of sexually...but not completely. We haven't had sex yet, and I think he might want to. I really don't know if I'm ready, mentally. I think it might ruin the relationship, I don't know what to tell him, or what to do when we start fooling around again. I mean, I enjoy it, but don't know how far to go with it, or where to stop. I feel like I need to talk to him, but no words come out. Whenever we "fool around" he asks like, "Is this okay?" or "Do you want me to stop?" I always let him do whatever, I don't mind at the time. But later on I really regret it, and wish I would have said something. What should I do?

Sarah replies:

It sounds to me like it's time for you to think about what you really want right now in this relationship and then have a good ole' fashioned sit-down talk with your partner here, honey!

First off, what exactly is it that you want in this relationship?

Forget for a moment what he may or may not be wanting sexually. How do you feel about being sexually active? Do you want to be sexually active right now with this partner? Based on what you've written here, it doesn't sound like you probably do. If you're "letting" a partner do things to you and you're feeling bad about it later and wishing you hadn't done it, then it really seems like you probably aren't feeling so hot about it. And it's never a good idea to be doing things that you're not feeling good about. So it's really time to think about your own wants and boundaries.

What do you want to be doing? And what activities are making you uncomfortable?

Next, it's time for you and your boyfriend to sit down and have a good heart-to-heart here. These types of conversations are best had in a non-sexual setting. In other words, don't wait until you're engaged in anything sexual, because then there are often lots of other pressures at play. Instead, how about sitting down at the the breakfast table, or at a restaurant over dinner, or maybe even just sitting on the couch. Then just tell him what you've told us here...that you're not comfortable with what is going on right now and that you need to talk about it. You might say something like, "Hey, I've been thinking about this for a while and I really feel like there are some things that we need to talk about. It's been really hard for me to figure out how to bring this up, but it is really important to me that we talk about what is going on in our relationship sexually right now. I care about you a lot, but I'm not feeling very comfortable with this. We need to talk about where this is headed and what each of our boundaries are before we continue to have any type of physical relationship."

If you're really having trouble actually getting the words out, you could also give the same sort of introduction via email or a letter as well. You've really got to talk, face-to-face about this eventually, but if it's easier to begin the conversation in print, then by all means do that. But you really need to let your partner know what your boundaries are when it comes to sexual activity of all sorts. And if you don't feel ready for a given type of activity (or any activity period), then you shouldn't be engaging in it and your partner needs to respect that.

Check out the following articles for more helpful information:

(Just another note as well, before continuing to engage in any sort of sexual contact with your boyfriend, I'd encourage you to check out the laws regarding Age of Consent in your area. Depending upon the specific regulations in your area, you may be underage and thus him being sexually active with you could be considered statutory rape. This could get him in a great deal of trouble (such as jail time, having to register as a "sex offender," etc.) that can have long term consequences, like not being able to live in certain areas, having trouble getting a job, etc. Again, I'm not sure whether this is a problem in your particular case as I don't know where you live, but you and your partner should consider whether it is even legal for you to be engaging in any activities beyond things like hand-holding or hugging.)

written 01 Oct 2007 . updated 18 Jan 2009

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