How to talk about sex


The technical stuff you know. But here are some complicated questions you should be asking yourself long before you ever get near someone you fancy. If you don’t have answers, you’re not ready to have sex with anybody. Fact. Zip it up and walk away.

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1. How much do I know about sex?

Jimmy behind the bicycle shed ain’t a reliable source. Nor is any porn website ever. I promise you, it’s really not like that. ‘But I didn’t know!’ just doesn’t cut it in the digital age, I’m afraid. The  information is out there.  

2. How do I feel about intimacy, love and relationships?

Yes, you have to go all Oprah-ish. Sex and emotions are intrinsically linked and you can’t talk about one without the other.

3. Do I expect the same standards of behaviour of myself as of my partner? 

What does equality mean to me?  

4. How do I feel about unplanned pregnancy, abortion etc?

Do I know what I’d want to do in a situation like that, bearing in mind that my partner may not have the same idea?

5. How do I expect to feel about myself if I do it, and if I don’t?

Sex won’t change who you are; it might feel earth-shattering in the moment, but you’ll wake up the next morning and still be exactly the same person. Just with more complicated worries.

Health-related questions:

6. Are you both over the legal age of consent?

If not, it’s simply not worth the risk. If you don’t know what the legal age of consent is, see point 1.

7. Are you able to have a mature and frank conversation about all of the above with your partner?

Are you able to discuss contraceptive choices and your sexual histories? If either one of you is too shy for this discussion then go back to square 1. If you’re too embarrassed to visit a clinic together, you shouldn’t be getting naked together.

8. How well do you know them?

Having sex is supposed to be like showing them your soul, and trusting them to keep it safe. How sure are you that they will? What, just because they SAY so? And will you do the same for them? The familiarity and closeness required for this completely rules out any form of casual sex, ever.  

9. Have you both been tested for HIV together?

It’s not-negotiable. Again, casual sex becomes a non-option when you have to plan to be tested together first.
Refusing to be tested is a huge red flag; don’t fall for the ‘You don’t trust me’ argument. The only person you trust with your life is yourself. End of story.

10. Do you have any idea how you’d react if either one of you did test positive for HIV?

11. Will you use contraception correctly and consistently?

What’s the plan if it fails?

12. Condoms.

Not-negotiable whatsoever, for anybody.

13. Is your partner looking for something they won’t find with you?

If so, don’t go there. For your sake as well as theirs. Be honest.

14. If you said no, would that be okay with them?

Would it change anything? Does your entire relationship hinge on this decision? A person who doesn’t take no for an answer is trying to control you. Run.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Are there additional questions you think teens should ask themselves about sex?

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