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Pressure to have sex

Sex; pressure;

Young people can feel a lot of pressure to have sex. Friends may tell you they're all doing it (sometimes even if they're not), and you see it on the TV and in the movies. You might also feel pressured by a particular person, perhaps a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Or you might feel that it's expected of you by your girlfriend or boyfriend.

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You have probably been in a situation where you have felt pressure to do something that you didn't want to - maybe speak in front of a big crowd, or try something you didn't want to try, like drugs and alcohol. 

Having sex is also something that other people can try to pressure us into when we don't want to. It is important to not be 'bullied' into anything that you are not comfortable with.

Being intimate with someone

Intimacy is not just about sex and genitals. You can be intimate with someone in many other ways, such as by talking and sharing personal information about yourself, like your feelings.

Being sexually intimate with someone should be an enjoyable and comfortable experience that makes you feel pleasure and happiness. It is a way of expressing your feelings in a physical way.

If you feel good about sexual intimacy in your mind and emotionally, then your body will feel better also.

Being sexually intimate is not just about sexual intercourse, it can mean being close/sexual at many levels. Having a physical relationship or being sexually intimate can make you feel much closer to someone. There are many ways that you can become close with someone other than sex, like talking honestly about your feelings. Some sexual/physical intimate behaviour may include:

  • kissing
  • touching
  • stroking
  • hugging
  • massaging.

If you want to be sexually intimate with someone it is important that you think about what it is you are comfortable doing. You should only do what you want to do and feel "right" about; you do not have to commit to anything. If you say you want to have sexual intercourse (or participate in any other sexual activity) and then decide that you don't want to, you are allowed to change your mind - at any time, and that should be respected.

Being silent does not legally mean that you are consenting to sex - people can often become quiet or feel silenced when they feel anxious or scared. This is not the same as consent. It is an offence if someone forces you to have sex (or to participate in any sexual activity) against your will or without your consent. 

It is against the law in South Australia to have sexual intercourse with someone under 17 years of age, even if both young people are under 17. The law is the same for both heterosexual sex (sex between a man and a woman) and homosexual sex (sex between two people of the opposite sex).


Depending on where you live and your culture, males and females can feel some pressure about whether they are a virgin or not. Virgin refers to someone who has not had sexual intercourse. In many cultures it is seen as a bad thing by some groups if a guy has not 'lost' his virginity because it is seen as 'unmanly' or not masculine. For women it is the opposite, with young girls being pressured to not 'lose' their virginity until they are married or at least in a serious relationship. These expectations are often pushed on young people by society and may influence your decision making about your sexual behaviour.

Your decision about having sex (or being sexually intimate with someone) should be about how safe and comfortable you feel, whether it is safe sex, how in control you feel over your actions and whether your partner is respectful of your needs/wishes.

Doing what you want to do

You may have heard your friends talk about their sexual experiences and what sexually intimate things they have done - it does not mean that you have to do the same. You may not even be sure that they are telling the truth because many young people exaggerate this. Plus everybody is different and we all have different comfort levels. You may want to keep some things private and that is okay.

If you are with someone (in a sexually intimate way) and they ask you to do something you don't understand - say no! Either just say no or ask them what they mean (if you feel comfortable to do this). If you say no, you can then go and find out about it. It is a lot safer than saying yes to something that you don't understand - you may not like it at all and it may not be safe.

Just because you are attracted to someone and want to be sexually intimate with them, does not mean that you have to want to do 'everything' with them (sexually). What you do with someone is not a sign of how much you like/love him or her, despite what some people might say! In fact, it is a sign of their "love" for you that they respect your wishes.

Pressure to have sex

If someone wants to be intimate/sexual with you and wants you to do things that you are not comfortable doing, they may try to pressure you into it. There are many ways that a person could try and pressure you; some of them include the following:

  • telling you that if you really loved them, then you would do it.
  • telling you that they will 'break up' with you if you won't do what they want.
  • blaming you for getting them aroused, and saying that they have to continue or they will get 'blue balls'.
  • still doing what you have said you don't want to do, by gradually easing into it.
  • trying to get you drunk or under the influence of drugs so that you do not have the ability to say no.
    Adding alcohol to an unsuspecting person's drink
  • telling you that it is what other couples are doing and that you are not normal.
  • threatening to spread rumours that you are not "good in bed" or that you are frigid, or that you did it with them anyway.
  • offering a relationship to you if you will have sex with them.
  • saying that they won't enjoy sex if they are 'made' to wear a condom.
  • saying "you have had sex with me before, what is the problem now?"
  • by undressing themselves and undressing you anyway.
  • making you touch them when you don't want to.
  • saying that other forms of sexual activity are not 'real sex' anyway so they don't matter.

All of these are ways to try and manipulate you and they are not correct or healthy ways to relate. 

Being aroused but not having sexual intercourse DOES NOT do any damage to the body.

How to assert yourself

It is important to know how to handle these situations so that you do not get pressured into doing what you do not want to do. You will need to be assertive…here are some tips for what you could say.

What to say when he/she says…

"You would do it if you really loved me."

  • "If you really loved me you wouldn't try to make me do anything that I don't want to" .
  • "I guess we have different ideas about love".
  • "Good point, I guess I don't really love you".

"I will break up with you if you don't do that with me."

  • "You can't make me do something by using threats".
  • "I guess we just broke up".
  • "I've just realised that I do want to break up with you".
  • "You don't make me feel special and I am".

"You've just got me aroused and now you won't do it. You've given me blue balls - I need to have sex."

  • "You can't force me by making me feel bad. I still don't want to do it".
  • "There is nothing wrong with having blue balls, it can't hurt you. I will feel worse if I do something that I don't want to".
  • "It is not true that men have stronger sexual urges than women. That is just an excuse".

 "Other couples do it. It is normal. Aren't you normal?"

  • "There is no such thing as normal, and we are not other couples".
  • "How do you know other couples are doing it…do you believe everything you hear?"
  • "No I am not normal, and neither are you".
  • "Happy couples don't pressure each other into sex".

"I'll tell other people that you are no good in bed and that you are frigid."

  • "It was a good try attempting to pressure me into it, but it just won't work".
  • "That is very immature. Anyone can spread rumours. Anyone can spread stories".
  • "It's unfair and uncaring and illegal to try to threaten me."

"We can have a relationship if you have sex with me."

  • "No thanks, I am not that desperate for a relationship".
  • "That is not usually the way I like to be asked out. I think of myself as more than just a sexual being".
  • "You cannot force me to have sex with you by offering me things".
  • "No thank you, I am leaving now".

"It won't feel any good if you make me wear a condom."

  • "I am not going to make you wear a condom. We just won't be having sex".
  • "It won't feel any good if I get pregnant or if either of us gets a sexually transmitted disease like HIV/AIDS".
  • "Wearing a condom is not my responsibility. It is both of ours".
  • "I don't want to have sex with you if this is your attitude".

Some people may also try to get you drunk or under the influence of drugs so that you do not have as much control over what you are doing and saying. Be aware of what you are drinking. Try to have a trustworthy friend nearby looking out for you. Never leave your drink unattended, and pour your own from a can/bottle. Don't let anyone mix your drinks for you.

Sexual rights

You have sexual rights, which means you have the right to be in control of your body and to reject sexual exploitation. This means that you decide what happens with your body, not someone else! You have the right to change your mind at anytime!

Safe sex

Before you have intimate contact with someone it is really important to think about how to keep safe from infections and pregnancy.

Safe sex means sexual contact that:

  • shows respect
  • is pleasurable
  • is freely consented to by both partners
  • reduces the risk of passing on any infections
  • reduces the risk of an unwanted pregnancy
  • is safe emotionally.

Have a look at the topic Safer sex.


South Australia

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor or other health professional.
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