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Am I Ready for Sex?
Choosing to have sex
If you are thinking of having sex, or being intimate (doing any sexual stuff), it's up to you to decide when the time is right. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve had sex before, it’s perfectly natural to wonder whether you’re ready to have sex with somebody, or whether you want to continue having sex with him or her. You can ask yourself these questions to help you decide:
1) Am I doing this because I want to?
Is this your decision, or are you thinking about having sex because someone else wants you to? Maybe you’re not sure you’re ready, but your partner is keen? Or perhaps there's a bit of ‘peer pressure’ – all your friends seem to be having sex, so you feel you should be too?
Remember that if you do decide to have sex, it’s completely fine to stop at any point, or not to do it again if you don’t want to.
Do any of the following sound familiar? -
- “You would if you loved me!”
- "But you did it before with someone else!"
- “Everyone else is doing it!”
- "You were willing before, what changed?"
- “Don’t you want to make our relationship stronger?”
- “You’ll have to do it sometime – why not now, with me?”
- “I'll be gentle, and it'll be really great, I promise!”
- “I'll only put it in for a second...”
If you recognise any of these phrases, then you should think carefully! These are not the right reasons to have sex. A partner who says things like this is probably trying to put pressure on you and might not really care whether you’re ready or not – this person doesn’t respect your feelings, and they’re probably not the right person to have sex with.
Nor should you have sex just because your friends are saying things like :
- “You mean you’ve never done it?!?”
- “I lost it when I was twelve. . .”
- “Yeah, I’ve had sex loads of times. . .”
- “You’re a virgin, you wouldn’t understand. . .”
- “No-one’ll be interested in you if they hear you’re frigid.”
- “It's amazing - you don't know what you're missing!”
Many of your friends will only be saying this sort of thing because they think everyone will laugh at them if they admit they’ve never really done anything! Besides, being sexually experienced at a young age doesn’t necessarily make someone mature.
2) Do I really know and feel comfortable with my partner?
If you’ve only just met your partner, or don’t really know them, then sex may not be a good experience because there won't be much trust between you. Sex can leave you feeling vulnerable afterwards in a way you might not be prepared for. Usually, you’ll have better sex with someone you know really well, are comfortable with, and who you can talk to openly about relationships and feelings.
If you don’t trust your partner enough not to laugh at you or you don’t feel you can tell them whether you’ve had sex before, then it’s far better to wait until you can. And if you think you’ll have to drink a lot of alcohol before you do it, so you feel relaxed enough, or you only find yourself thinking about having sex when you’re drunk, then that suggests you’re not ready.
3) Can I talk to my partner about this easily?
Being honest about how you’re feeling will make it better for both of you, and will make sex better in the future. Sometimes talking about these things can take a little practice, but you need to talk about your worries and concerns and also what you want!
4) Do I know how to have sex safely?
It’s really important that you know how to protect against pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs/STDs). Again, this is something you need to talk to your partner about before the event, so you’re both okay about what you’re going to use. It’s important to get your facts straight as well, a girl can get pregnant the first time she has sex! Have a look on our STIs/STDs page and our contraception options page for more details.
5) Do we both want to do this?
You may decide that you are ready to have sex, or ready to do something sexual, but it might be that your partner isn’t, even if they have had sexual partners before. For sex to work, you both have to be willing to do it. Don’t ever pressure anyone to have sex if they’re not sure – this is very wrong, and it’ll cost you your partner’s respect and the respect of other people.
Also - there’s a fine line between pressuring someone to have sex and forcing someone to have sex – if you put too much pressure on someone, it can become force – and if you force someone into sex, you can be prosecuted for rape. Sex has to be consenting from beginning to end - if your partner changes their mind half way through and you keep having sex with them, this is assault.
6) Does sex fit in with my/their personal beliefs?
All over the world, and probably even just on the street that you live on, people have really different attitudes to sex. For some people sexual feelings are bound up with love and close relationships. Some people think sexual intercourse should only happen within marriage. For other people sex and love are two different things. Your views on sex could be informed by your faith, beliefs or religion.
You may have a different attitude to sex than that of your family. Even if everything goes well, keeping sex (and all the emotions that go with it) a secret can be very hard – so, if possible, you should make sure you have someone else to talk to that you trust. But remember, the decision to have sex should be an agreement between you and your partner, and while other people may help or influence your decision, they shouldn’t make it for you.
7) Is it legal?
The age of consent differs between countries. In most states of the USA, for instance, it ranges between 16 and 18. In the UK it's 16, in Spain it's 13 and in Bahrain, sex is illegal unless you're married. Have a look at our age of consent page to find out exactly what it is where you live.
So why do countries have a legal age for having sex? Because this is the age when the government believes young people are mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with having sex. All too often people think they are ready when they’re not. Age of consent laws are also designed to prevent older people from taking advantage of children and young teenagers who may not understand the consequences of having sex, or even what sex is.
8) Do I know enough about sex?
It’s natural to feel a little embarrassed and awkward both the first time, and afterwards, when you have sex. But it’s more important to feel good and trust your partner, than to know a lot about how to do it. Don’t worry if your first time doesn’t go completely smoothly, so long as you and your partner are comfortable with each other you can practice together.