I don't know how long I should wait till I have sex with a boyfriend/girlfriend: help me please!

I'm 13 and bisexual. I'd really like to have sex, but I've always been told to wait. Problem is I feel like I'll break down, if I don't have an experience soon. Am I too young? I also don't know how long I should wait till I have sex with a boyfriend/girlfriend help me please!
Heather Corinna replies:

Not having sex shouldn't cause anyone to have a nervous breakdown. And if you feel like your mental health hinges on being sexually active with a partner, that's not a good thing -- or healthy for you or a relationship -- and something you'd want to address with a mental health professional.

Mind, sometimes y'all get a bit melodramatic with us, so if you didn't mean that literally, feel free to ignore that advice.

It is perfectly normal for someone your age to start some sexual exploration with yourself or with partners, but it's also perfectly normal at your age not to be sexually active in any way yet. Everyone is different, everyone has a different timetable, and everyone has different opportunities -- and feelings about what they want to do with those -- when it comes to relationships and partners. But when it comes to partners, sex with just anyone probably isn't going to do very much for you, or fill that gap you're feeling. It tends to matter WHO a person is having sex with when it comes to sexual experiences which are physically and emotionally satisfying. If there isn't a person who you have a strong sexual and emotional interest right now, and who doesn't feel the same way about you.

If there is that person or people, then before you go to sex with them, you're going to want to...well, talk to them. Spend some time together. Get to know each other on a bunch of levels, not just sexually. See how the two of you mesh to see if you're even a good fit when it comes to pursuing any kind of sex. Sometimes we find people really sexually attractive, but once we get to know them better, find out that we don't like them very much, even if we like the way they look.

Someone who you feel really comfortable with (even if feelings for them make you feel giddy or dizzy), who you communicate with easily, who you feel safe around, who you know you could be honest with both about your desires and about limits and boundaries, who you feel some sexual chemistry with, who you feel is trustworthy, and who just plain makes you feel good about yourself, who you like and respect as a person, and who appears to share an interest in a sexual relationship with you is probably a good choice for a potential partner. Someone where most or none of those things are the case usually is not.

Can 13 be too young? Yes. But so can 18. Mind, at 13 you are more likely to be legally under the age of consent, which in some areas can make an older partner -- and now and then a same-age partner -- having any kind of sex with you unlawful, but let's leave the law out of this for now, since even at an age where you are "legal," it still matters whether or not you and yours feel ready. Emotional maturity isn't something we can easily base on age alone: some 13-year-olds may have an emotional maturity and the skills to manage a sex life of some sort while others may not. We can say the same thing for people of many ages.

Here's a link to the Sex Readiness Checklist millions of users have found useful here over the years: Ready or Not? The Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist. Take a look at some of the items on it when we're talking about genital sex, which can absolutely have benefits, but which also creates risks, particularly when you're talking about male partners, as pregnancy risks will also be in the mix there. Do a lot of the things on that checklist apply to you yet? They don't all have to, but based on what we know about what tends to result in healthy, happy sex for any two people, a good deal of them should be in play. If so, and they also apply to any partners -- remember, sex with someone else is about both of you -- then it may well be okay for you at your age now to pursue a sexual relationship. If not, then it might be a good idea, in the interest of your health as well as in the interest of having sex be enjoyable and positive, to keep things slow until you've got more of that stuff going on. Once you're aware of what the positive and negative risks are, and what sex with someone else basically entails, the best person to know if you're ready is always going to be you.

It's also important to realize that sex tends to be something gradual with people, especially young people, not something we dive into head-first, doing all at once. In other words, you'll probably want to kiss someone first before having any idea if that's someone you want to be sexually active with and vice-versa. You'll probably want to see how some non-genital sexual activity feels and goes with them before taking your pants off. How long you wait to engage in any kind of sexual activity with someone else or a given kind of sexual activity with someone else is something that you and that other person will work out together, talking as you go to find out what feels right for both of you and what you're both ready for. Usually, when the time is right to have any kind of sex with someone, and it's what you both want, it's not that hard to know, especially since it's likely something you two will be talking about.

Lastly, if what you are just feeling is intense sexual desire you need to quell that's all about you and not about someone else, too, very specifically, then what you probably need to do is just to masturbate. When we feel that strong physical hunger for sex, and it's not combined with, and equally about, any sort of emotional desire and feeling, then that's something that's really about just us, not other people, and what's both appropriate and will leave you feeling better is taking care of yourself sexually with your own two hands. It's totally normal to have sexual desires and a sexual drive, and it's totally normal to want to meet that desire. Most people feel that, and many feel it only about themselves, which is one reason most people masturbate, even those who do have sexual partners.

I'm going to toss a bunch of additional links at you which should help give you some more information with which to make sound choices for yourself, as well as filling you in on some sexual realities.

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