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Weighing Answers: Am I Ready Now?

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babygurl asks:

My boyfriend and I hang out a lot at his house and every time we make out he lays me down and tries to get me to have sex but I'm not sure if I'm ready. I always stop him saying I have to leave. How do I know when I'm ready to have sex with him.

Stephanie replies:

As always with a question such as this, I find myself wishing that I could throw out the cliché phrase “You just know.” The problem with cliché’s of course being that they don’t often really answer anything. So let’s take a minute to break things down together.

Readiness is a very loaded term, and it comes with a list of involved issues. First, it’s important to understand that sex involves more than just physical aspects. So ask yourself if you’re prepared to handle all aspects of sex – materially, physically, emotionally, and interpersonally.

Materially, do you understand how to protect from STIs and Pregnancy, and do you have money or sources for these items? Primary health care or clinics in your area where you can have a routine STI test run? There is no sex, save masturbation, that doesn’t carry some risks and reducing and managing those risks often does costs money.

Physically are you and your partner comfortable with one another, and are you comfortable with displaying pleasure in front of one another? Are you able to relax and be comfortable with sex together – which is an important factor with arousal?

Emotionally, keep in mind that sex is an experience that brings a lot of emotions. Are you prepared to deal with these emotions and comfortable talking with your partner to communicate your needs emotionally before, during, and after sex? Also you need to be ready to assess your needs and deal with them in a way that’s best for yourself.

Interpersonally, you need to be able to assess what you want for yourself, and what boundaries you want to set. Do you feel you can communicate openly with your boyfriend? How do you feel about being unclothed in front of your partner, and right now are you comfortable with that idea?

All of these aspects come together to formulate readiness. Readiness happens at different times for different people. It’s perfectly normal for one person to feel ready at eighteen, someone to feel ready earlier, and someone to feel that readiness won’t happen until much later.

In the same, readiness is a factor with each new person, so you may feel ready after a few months with one partner but later find that you are not until a year into a relationship with someone else. Because readiness does vary so much from person you person, you have to ask yourself a lot of questions and assess your own feeling, then work with your partner to find the common feelings.

Let’s look at communication then. Communicating with a partner is a major part of a healthy relationship and sexual relationship. Have you spoken to your partner about your feelings outside of the there and then? Communicating honestly and openly with one another is the best way to ensure that you both understand how the other feels, and can really tell you a lot about your own feelings as well. If you constantly find yourself having to leave to set boundaries, the lines of communication may not be open well.

During this conversation you need to set boundaries for what each of you is and is not comfortable with. These boundaries should be listened to and respected. Explain to him what you are and are not comfortable with at this time, and ask him to do the same with you. Being able to talk openly and honestly will also allow you to discuss any thoughts or worries that each of you may have and how to address these.

Before sex you’ll want to be sure to discuss how you plan to make sex safer for both of you, and what you each feel is the best way of doing so. Understand too that being ready to communicate with your partner about sex falls under each of the readiness areas as well.

He really needs to know and understand that you leave because you’re uncomfortable and unsure if you’re ready. Right now that’s your best indication – if you find yourself pushing away you really should assess why for yourself. Often times the first indication that we’re not ready comes when we make a physical move away.

Below I’ve attached some links that give further information on these topics.

written 28 Sep 2008 . updated 28 Jan 2014

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