How to Avoid Being Pressured Into Sex
Sex is a basic part of human existence, but it has its place. While many people are flippant about having sex, others are very particular, as they should be. In fact, there are times when you don’t want to have sex at all—and that's ok! Here are some ways to avoid being pressured to have sex, whether you’ve told the other person your decision to abstain from sex or not.
Recognizing Sexual Coercion
Remember that you have a right to say no.Your body belongs to you alone. You are in control of how it is treated, and if you decide you don't want to have sex with someone, you have the full right to say no. Sex is a very intimate act, and if you decide not to go through with it, stand up for what you feel is right for your body.
- Do not be afraid of rejection. It can be tempting to believe someone who is trying to get sex from you, that "they will never love you again" or "they will never talk to you again." This is manipulation and control, and no one should have to be subjected to it.
- Someone who would treat you this way does not deserve to be close to you anyway. No one who truly cares about you should ever pressure you like this.
- When you stand up for your right to say no, you are demanding to be respected. It is harder to take advantage of someone when they are demanding respect.
Understand the definition of rape.Rape can occur on the street and at parties, but it can also occur inside a relationship. The definition of rape is "having sex with an individual without his or her consent." Simply put, if you are forced to have sex when you don't want to, you have been raped.
- Reflect on whether or not physical force was used. If physical force of any kind was used to get you to have sex, then it is considered rape.
- Don’t disregard the possibility that you were raped because there was no physical violence. For example, you may have had sex with someone because you were fearful about what the person might have done if you said no. Or, you might have had sex while under the influence of a powerful drug and not even remember what happened. These situations are still considered rape.
- Consider the ages of both parties. If an adult has sex with someone under the age of consent, then it is still rape because the person under the age of consent does not have the legal right to consent to sex. For example, if a 15 year old has sex with a 21 year old, then the 21 year old would be guilty of rape.
Realize the way you should be treated.Basic human rights include the right to equality, the right to life, and the right to freedom from torture and degrading treatment.Someone's treatment of you should at least include these basic rights.
- Other basic human rights include a right to liberty and personal security. If someone is pressuring you to have sex when you don't want it, this threatens both.
- Sexual coercion is also rape. If someone is coercing you, or pushing you to have sex by using force or threats, this violates your basic human rights.
- You also have the right to not tolerate rape culture, which is when the severity of sexual violence is downplayed and even framed as acceptable. This can take many forms including sexually explicit jokes, glamorous depictions of violence against women, objectification of the female body, and blaming victims of rape for what happened to them.
Recognize common pressure tactics.You need to be able to tell when someone is attempting to pressure you into sex so that you can act. Some tactics can appeal to your insecurities and make you feel bad about yourself, such as by putting you down or using guilt to coerce you into sex. Other tactics may include the use of physical pressure, such as by restraining you in some way, or by changing your state of mind with drugs or alcohol.Common phrases you might hear include:
- "I can't help myself"
- "You shouldn't have worn that outfit"
- "This is the way I can show you my love"
- "I won't love you anymore if you don't let me"
- “Everyone is doing it!”
- “We have had sex already, so you can’t say no now.”
Be safe at parties or at bars.You are not to blame if you get raped, even if you are drunk or high. However, some people may use alcohol and drugs to take advantage of you.To protect yourself from people who might try to take advantage of you, don’t alter your state of mind around people you don't know well or trust. If you go out with friends, you can increase your safety by:
- Always going out with friends. Do not go to parties or bars by yourself.
- Pouring your own drinks (or watching them being poured).
- Never leaving your drink unattended.
- Not accepting drinks from strangers.
- Limiting yourself to only a few drinks.
- Having a trusted friend take you home if you start to get too drunk. Do not allow someone you just met to walk you home, even if he or she seems like a nice person.
Sticking to a Decision to Be Abstinent
Determine not to have sex.Before you’re ever in a situation where you need to think about not having sex, you need to make up your mind that not having sex is definitely what you want to do. It is very easy to blur the line between “yes” and “no” in the heat of the moment.
- Decide why you don’t want to have sex and keep that at the front of your mind. Is it because you want to wait until marriage? You don’t want to get pregnant? You don’t want to risk getting an STD? Having a specific goal in mind will keep you from giving into pressure.
Make a pledge not to have sex.There are groups of people who make abstinence their goal, and they provide materials and items that can help you stay motivated. Being part of a larger organization can help you remember your goal when you are tempted to give in to pressure.
- Organizations like True Love Waits even have rings you can purchase as a daily visual reminder, also called a “purity ring.”
Build a support network.When you determine that you aren’t going to have sex, it is important to have people you can look to for support. These people can be your family, close friends, mentors, teachers, coaches, anyone who has influence over you and whom you feel comfortable sharing this decision with.
- Support networks also have the benefit of helping you feel like you belong and feel secure, things that you need if you are going to maintain your decision to avoid pressure to have sex.
Tell others of your decision.Tell the person you are dating or might date before you get very close. This way you may avoid being pressured altogether. If you are ever pressured, you can back out of the situation without them feeling rejected.
- If you decide while dating someone that you don’t want to have sex, you should tell them right away.
Staying Out of Sexual Situations
Set firm boundaries.Once you have decided not to have sex, you will need to set clear boundaries with anyone who might try to pressure you. Setting clear boundaries can demonstrate your assertiveness and help you to avoid situations where you might be pressured into sex. If you do end up in a situation where you are being pressured, then your boundaries can help you to resist the pressure. Some things you can do to set your boundaries include:
- Identifying your reasons for wanting to abstain from sex. Why do you want to set boundaries about sex? For example, do you want to wait until you fall in love? Do you have concerns about getting pregnant or getting an STD? Or, do you simply not feel comfortable about being sexually active?
- Affirm your decision. You can increase your confidence in your decision by creating a self-affirmation and stating it out loud. For example, you might say something like, “It’s his decision if he is ready to be sexually active, but I have the right to decide what I do with my body. I do not want to have sex yet because of the risk of becoming pregnant or getting a disease. If that bothers him, then that is his problem, not mine.”
- Keep in mind that you may feel some discomfort or other negative emotions about setting this boundary and that is normal. These feelings are only temporary and they will pass.
Stay in groups of friends.One way to make sure you’re never alone with someone who might pressure you to have sex is to go out in groups of friends or on double dates. Pick some friends to hang out with on a regular basis so that you always have them available if someone wants to date you.
- For example, if someone asks you out and you are not sure if you want to be alone with him yet, then you might say something like, “That sounds fun, but I have plans with Sara on Friday night. Do you want to ask Rick to go to and make this a double date?”
Take a chaperone.If you don’t want to drag along all your friends on a date, in order to avoid being one on one you can bring just one person, called a chaperone. This person’s presence can keep your date from pressuring you to have sex.
- This could be a parent, a respected adult, even just a good friend.
Getting Out of Sexual Situations
Trust your instincts.You may have unexpectedly entered a situation where you are being pressured to have sex. Pay attention to your feel and keep in mind that you can always walk away if things seem to be moving too fast for you.
- Look for signs like clothes coming off, dry humping, hands under clothes, and kissing other parts of the body besides the mouth.
- You don’t have to offer any explanation. You can just say, “No,” and leave right away if you are uncomfortable. Pay attention to feelings of general discomfort or guilt to help you decide if you want to stop or not.
Listen for pressuring terminology.Listen to what the other person is saying to determine if they are trying to charm you into sex. Phrases like, “I’ll only love you if you do it,” and “Nothing bad will happen,” or even, if you’re a girl, “You won’t get pregnant,” are red flags that you need to get out of there.
Say no in a clear, firm way.Once you realize you are being pressured to have sex, don’t be afraid to speak up. Say “no” to the other person very clearly. Practice saying “no” out loud in the mirror so that you are ready to say “no” in a sexually compromising situation. Just saying “No” is fine, but you can also say:
- “No. I care about you and I want to get to know you better.”
- “No, and if you really care about me then you should be willing to wait.”
- “No. I am concerned about the risk of becoming pregnant or getting an infection.”
Push the other person away.When you sense that someone is trying to have sex with you by making physical motions, push them away. For example, if you’re kissing someone and they grab your private parts, gently push their chest away. They should understand this signal.
- If they don’t take the hint, push harder until their body is not touching yours and clearly say “stop!” in a loud, clear tone.
- Carry a rape whistle and pepper spray on your keychain in case the person you are pushing away does not respect your decision.
Get out.Once you have pushed the other person away from your physical body, it is time to get out of the situation. This is especially important to do if the other person insists on disrespecting your wishes.
- Don't feel bad about not wanting sex! Other people may make fun of your decision, but don’t let that get to you. Stand strong in your decision and others will have respect for you.
- Respect yourself by avoiding people who are going to pressure you. You don’t have to date men or women who don’t respect your decision not to have sex in order to feel good about yourself.
- Alwaystell someone when you are being sexually harassed or pressured to have sex on a daily basis. If your boss is pressuring you to have sex, for example, tell someone who is their boss about it, or quit your job.
Sources and Citations
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