by Advikaa Anand

Sex is an important part of many romantic relationships–intimacy adds a feeling of closeness with your partner. While the average age of initiating sex in the US is 17, there are no hard and fast rules for this. The most important thing is to be frank and honest with your partner about your comfort level. 

However, having conversations about your unwillingness to have sex can be uncomfortable. It’s easy to take a rejection of sexual intimacy as a rejection of one’s self. That’s why it’s important to have some guidance before you embark on this difficult conversation. 

  1. First, tell your partner “no.” Your “no” should be firm and steady. But there is also no need to be judgmental. Take their feelings into account–desiring to have sex is totally normal, and your partner should be sexually attracted to you.
  2. Be kind when you say no. Say something like, “I am sorry. I love you, but I am just not ready yet. I hope you can respect that.”

Next, ease the pain of rejection. Understand that your partner’s feelings and ego might have been damaged by your saying no. Be sensitive to their feelings without yielding. Use words of affirmation to ensure that they do not believe that your love for them has changed or that you are not attracted to them at all. 

For example, you could say, “I really love you, and I am attracted to you. My saying no doesn’t change that. I am tempted to say yes to make you happy. But I also know that I am not ready, and I am scared that having sex before I am ready will damage our relationship.” 

  1. You can also share with your partner what you are comfortable doing. Perhaps you don’t want to go all the way, but you don’t mind foreplay. Or maybe you only want to kiss. Whatever intimate contact is within your comfort zone, your feelings are valid, and your partner should respect that. If they remain obstinate or challenge your convictions, then perhaps it is time to reconsider the legitimacy of your relationship.
  1. Talk about your expectations and visions of sex. Let them know your opinions. You should be comfortable sharing with them whether you wish to wait until you two have gotten to know each other a bit better or whether you have a specific timeline in mind for when you will be ready to have sex (a year? Six months? Marriage?). Further substantiate this with reasons for why you are not yet ready. But remember, your not being comfortable with having sex yet is a perfectly valid reason. 

Communication is an essential part of any healthy relationship. Talking about sex is hard, but it is also important. And do not forget that communication is a two-way street. Listen to your partner and empathize with their desires without wavering from your own resolve. It may be helpful to have these conversations before a passionate moment so that you are not pressured into doing anything you don’t want to do. Finally, remember that talking about sex is not a one-time conversation; it’s an ongoing process that demands commitment and courage. But it is also an essential step to protect the mental, physical, and emotional well-being not only of yourself but also of your partner.

*The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of Teen Health Mississippi.

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