I thought I wanted to wait, but this guy touched me, and now I think I want sex.

I'm a fourteen year old girl turning fifteen very soon. I've always loved to flirt, and am even somewhat of a romantic. I've always believed that I should maintain abstinence, not only to respect my parents' wishes, but also to live up to their expectations. However, a few months ago, I've been touched at a school dance by an older boy. It wasn't a violating touch, it seemed like the guy just wanted to see how much I would allow. He very polite (as much as possible in this situation) about it and would stop when I made it clear I did not want to be touched in that manner. But ever since, I think I've been horny! I'm starting to rethink my values of having sex. I know that the sole reason I've believed in abstinence was reflexive to obeying my parents, because I never really thought about having sex before. But now that I have thought about it, I want to try and experiment. Of course, I don't want to jump immediately at the first chance I have, but I definitely want to try when I find someone I'm comfortable with. I'm just worried whether I'm too young, or if going against my parents' expectations is acceptable. I would prefer it if I did not have to tell my parents, because I know they will not approve of this. If I go through with having sex, is it right or are there any better alternatives?
Heather Corinna replies:

You know, when we're just plain horny -- rather than interested in really sharing sex, emotionally and physically, with another person -- the best choice to make is to masturbate. That's not just best for us, it's also better for any potential partners: if often isn't so great to be someone's personal petrie dish.

Masturbation is all about satiating our sole sexual desires, for when we're just sexually hungry and not interested in emotional and physical intimacy with someone else in particular. It's also the best kind of sex to have when we're not 100% certain that we're ready for all that partnered sex entails, or for when we haven't resolved any conflicts we might have in having partnered sex. And it's certainly something that tends to result in people coming to partnered sex with better readiness than they might otherwise: the very best first sex partner for everyone is ourselves.

You're also going to need a lot more going on to be ready for sex with someone else than sexual desire. You'll need to be ready to assert yourself, to communicate and negotiate, even when it's awkward or emotionally uncomfortable and you're feeling really vulnerable. You'll need to be ready to manage your expectations, and be just as prepared for pleasure and closeness as you are for emotional distance and things not feeling good for you at all. You'll need to be ready to get and manage sexual healthcare, and that can be tricky when you're very young without the support -- or knowledge -- of any adults. You're going to want to have a pretty good bunch of sexuality and sexual health information under your belt before taking your sexuality on the road. In short, healthy partnered sex that's beneficial for us usually only happens with a whole lot more in place than the want to have sex because we feel that desire.

Ultimately, the best sexual choices to make are the ones that fit YOUR feelings, ethics and values, wants and needs best -- not those things for anyone who isn't you or the person you may be having sex with. By all means, it can be really hard when those choices are in sharp conflict with your family's values (and sex is always healthier when it doesn't have to be hidden or secret), but in the long term, for you, what's most important is that YOU are the one who is totally okay with and can stand behind your choices, even to your parents.

So, I'd suggest that you start with being your own sex partner, with masturbation. Not only is that something that'll give you a good start on getting to know and understand your own sexuality and sexual likes and dislikes -- which are important things to be able to share with a partner, but also important for the sexuality that's just yours and not about anyone else at all -- it'll also help quiet that strong desire you're feeling right now. That's important, because we do need a level head when we're making these choices, so if we're all kooky-lusty-crazy when we're trying to make them, it can really cloud our judgment. More to the point, you're much more likely to be able to learn to satisfy yourself more quickly than it usually happens with a new sexual partner, so choosing to try sex with a partner because we're looking to get off isn't usually the greatest choice, for a lot of reasons, but that includes because sex with a new partner is often much more clumsy and less physically satisfying than it is with ourselves or a partner we have spent a lot of time with, or had sex with, over time.

In the meantime, you can start your own sexual education by looking into some information that will inform your choices, and take all the time you need to figure out if sex with someone else is really what you want, now or later, and really right for you, by your own standards, not those of your parents or anyone else.

Here are a few links to get you started:

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