Sexual Relationships

Most people at some stage in a relationship make the decision to have sex. Often this strengthens the relationship and love between two people. Unfortunately deciding when and with whom to have sex can be extremely difficult for many young people. The complexities of sexual relationships don’t end there – what about sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.

So when does a relationship become sexual?
Only you and your partner can decide, but it is important that it is carefully thought through, and a mutual decision. It is also important that you feel comfortable and relaxed with the other person – if not, don’t do it! Something else you may also wish to consider is how the relationship could change once you have had sex, is this what you want?

What does a sexual relationship mean?
You may decide to have non-penetrative sex, for example caressing, masturbation or oral sex. It may be you decide to have sexual intercourse. Whatever you decide both penetrative sex and non-penetrative sex can have both good and bad outcomes. You need to consider how you will protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections, a number of which can be transmitted from one person to the other even by non-penetrative sex, for example, Chlamydia and Herpes. You may also need to plan against unwanted pregnancies. Did you know England has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe? At Y2Y we ask everyone to consider using both the contraceptive pill and the condom together – that way you will be protected against both unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

What else need I consider?
In this country the legal age for heterosexuals to have sex is 16. If you are a gay young man then the legal age is 16. If you are underage it is against the law and in certain circumstances you could find either you and/or your partner may be prosecuted. Of course this does not happen often. What is more common is the concern about what your parents may say. If you decide not to tell your parents, is this because they would not approve or you consider it none of their business? You may also wish to consider pressure from friends and the media. Sometimes you may be thinking you are the only teenager not doing it – your friends talk about it all the time and every magazine you pick up gives the impression that it should be sex, sex, sex.

From our experience at Y2Y (and also national studies) you can be assured this is greatly exaggerated. Many young people confide to us about their fears, concerns and their own, carefully thought through, personal reasons for not having, in particular, sexual intercourse.

What do you think? When could a relationship become sexual? When should a relationship not become sexual?