Contrary to what you might think, many teens and young people are deciding NOT to have sex.
- Not everybody is doing it. The proportion of students who report ever having had sexual intercourse declined significantly from 1991 (54%) to 2001 (46%) and has remained stable from 2001 to 2005.1 In 2007, less than 48 percent of high school students reported ever having engaged in sexual intercourse, compared to 1991 when over 54 percent of students were no longer virgins. The same study also shows that African American students saw a decrease in sexual intercourse from 82 percent in 1991 to 66 percent in 2007 and white students saw a decrease from 50 percent to 44 percent.2
- Most teens who have had sex wish they had waited. Of those that have had sex, more than one-half of teen boys (55 percent) and the overwhelming majority of teen girls (72 percent) said they wish they had waited longer to have sex.3
Teens decide not to have sex for a variety of reasons. In one survey of teen girls, “values and morals” was the most common reason given. Others want to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Whatever the reason, you have the right to make this decision for yourself. And, even if you have had sex already, it is not too late to choose not to have sex from now on.
1 America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2007.
2 Nation′s High School Students Showing Overall Improvements in Health-Related Behaviors , 2007 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, May 2007
3 Teens talk about sex, regret, and the influence of their parents, Released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, June 30, 2000, accessed at www.teenpregnancy.org
What to Say When You’re Being Pressured
If your partner is pressuring you to have sex, he may make the following types of comments. Read through the possible responses and think about how you would respond.
Pressure comment: Come on, everybody’s doing it!
Response: I’m not everybody, and everybody is not doing it.
Pressure comment: If you really love me, you’ll have sex with me.
Response: If you loved me, you’d respect my feelings and beliefs and not push me into something I don’t want to do.
Pressure comment: If you don’t have sex with me then I’ll break up with you.
Response: I don’t think that we are in this relationship for the same reasons, and if that is how you really feel, maybe we should reconsider our relationship.
Pressure comment: It’s just a part of growing up.
Response: Sex is a part of growing up, but only when I’m ready for it to happen and I’m not ready right now.
Pressure comment: You say you want to wait until you are married, but I want to marry you.
Response: Being married to me and wanting to marry me are two different things and that is a long time from now.
Pressure comment: We had sex once before, what’s the problem now?
Response: I have the right to change my mind, and I’m just not comfortable with the idea of having a sexual relationship.
Pressure comment: Having sex will make you a real woman.
Response: Having sex doesn’t prove anything and I don’t need to have sex to feel like a woman.
Pressure comment: Don’t you want to see what it’s like?
Response: Sure, and I can’t wait to find out on my wedding night.
Pressure comment: Don’t you find me attractive?
Response: Yes, I find you attractive, but having sex with you is not going to prove that.
Pressure comment: You’ve got me all excited. If you love me, prove it.
Response: We’re both a little excited right now, I think we should slow down. And having sex with you is not going to prove that I love you.
Pressure comment: If you don’t do it, someone else will.
Response: If that’s how you feel then I think we need to talk about why we are in this relationship.
Pressure comment: But I need it.
Response: If I can wait, you can wait. It won’t kill you.
Abstinence means waiting until you are in a committed marriage relationship to have sexual intercourse. Here are some tips for practicing abstinence.
- Remember, sex is not a test of love. You can show someone special that you care deeply about them without having sex. You can hold hands, kiss and hug, listen to the other person.
- This is something you should talk to your partner about. If it is something you can not talk to them about, then that says a lot about your relationship.
- If your partner threatens to break up with you because you won’t have sex, don’t try to stop him or her. Say, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but that won’t make me change my mind.” A partner who won’t respect your wishes isn’t worthy of your affection.
- Have a plan for the evening. Fill up the whole evening and don’t leave time for parking or sitting on the couch in the dark. Hang out in public places rather than at home by yourselves.
- On a first date, don’t go out as a twosome. Go out with another couple or in a group.
- If you say “no,” say it so it is clear that you mean it. Don’t offer excuses.
- Try not to put yourself in a place that makes it hard to say “no.” Remember that when you drink or use drugs, it is harder to say “no.”
- Always think ahead and have a way out.
- Leave the situation if you feel uncomfortable.
- Remember, you are in control of your life and the decisions you make for yourself.