Dear Kelly: Recently, my boyfriend and I went to the movies with some friends. He told me to sit somewhere different than everyone else, so we sat near the back, just him and me. We started to kiss during the movie and then as the movie went on he kept taking my hand and putting it on him on places I wasn’t comfortable touching. I would pull my hand away and he laughed the first time but then when we started to kiss again, he started to do it again. I pulled it away again after a few minutes and then he started to put his hands on me and move them up my shirt, then down my pants.
I told him it felt weird doing this in a movie theater and he said that everyone does it and I shouldn’t worry. The whole movie went like this with me moving his hands or pulling my hands away. It was totally awkward after and he walked ahead of me with his friends and hardly said goodbye. Later that night he texted me and apologized for being a jerk and said that he was just frustrated and that after going out for more than three months he had hoped I would be ready to do more and that he thought we were on the same page.
I’m ready to do more, just not what he wants to do. I’m not sure now what to do. I apologized that I wasn’t ready to do more that night. I think we’re OK now but I don’t know where we go from here. I had sex twice with my old boyfriend but we had gone out for like almost nine months and after we broke up (right after the sex!) I told myself I didn’t want to do it again in case things went bad again. My boyfriend knows I’m not a virgin, so I think he’s expecting things to go faster than I’m ready to go.
How do I say, “Not this time” when he knows I already have had sex and will he think that I don’t care for him as much as my last boyfriend? I like him but I just know that we aren’t going to end up getting married or even going to the same college or anything like that. I don’t want to be the girl who has had sex with all different guys and regrets it all. Please help, I’m so torn and like this guy but I don’t know what to do.
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– So Unsure
Dear Unsure: You seem pretty sure of what you don’t want to do, so that’s a great start. The rest can follow.
You don’t want to have sex again because you know this relationships will end, probably sooner than later. Smart decision. There is no doubt that sex complicates relationships and can make the breakup so much more painful emotionally. Setting boundaries means saying no to sex because that feels right to you and sticking to it, regardless of how your boyfriend makes you feel when you do say no.
There is no time frame that says just because you have gone out for like three months or nine months you are expected to do anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s three months or three years, your partner should wait until you feel 100 percent ready to share yourself like that. Some people (yes, mainly teenage boys) use this tactic as a way to talk girls into having sex or doing things the girls might not be ready to do.
Somehow the “we’ve been together for so long” idea seems to make the other person feel guilty or wrong for not wanting to go as far as the other person want to go. Not only is this disrespectful, it is also manipulative and self-serving. Anyone who says this to you should be kicked to the curb, ASAP!
Simply put, no means no. You aren’t ready. You know how you felt last time. You want to save yourself for a relationship you know will last longer than just the end of high school. You aren’t comfortable doing what he wants to do. Beyond that, you owe no more explanations and no apologies.
Take a second look at this relationship and ask yourself what you are getting from it. Being in a kind and loving relationship means that you would never do anything that would make your partner feel uncomfortable or upset.
If he is going to pressure you or question your level of comfort, than he’s not the guy for you. If he has a timeline for what you are “supposed” to do, then he doesn’t really care about your feelings and is only thinking about what he wants.
Listen to yourself. Stick up for what you want. Don’t compromise your morals or values to please someone else. Trust me, he’s not worth it.
Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.