DEAR KELLY: My good friend, a junior, had sex with her boyfriend a few weeks ago and it was both their first times. My boyfriend and I have been going out longer than them, and we still haven’t had sex. It’s kind of been no biggie until my friend’s boyfriend started saying funny things and joking with my boyfriend, like, “Get with the program. What’s taking you guys so long?”
We went to the movies and out to food with them last weekend, and it was all they made jokes about and hinted that we should be doing it, too. We just kept saying that we weren’t ready yet, and they acted like it was no big deal and we were weird for not doing it yet, like they were old pros now. It wasn’t like they were putting pressure on us, more like they just talked about it all night. It was really awkward.
She’s invited us to go with them on another double date (bowling), and I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to keep having to explain all night that neither of us really wants to complicate everything and have sex. We both want to go to college and neither of us want to take any chances with things like me getting pregnant. I don’t care if they want to do it, but we don’t. I don’t know what to say.
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DEAR ERIN: Peer pressure can be very subtle and very uncomfortable. And you are a good example of how peer pressure isn’t just about drinking or partying, it can be about anything you don’t want to do and someone is trying to convince you to do.
Good for you and your boyfriend to know you aren’t ready to have sex. That shows a lot of maturity to know that you aren’t ready for taking the chance of becoming pregnant or deal with all of the emotional aspects that come with having sex.
The funny thing is that sex isn’t just about the act itself; there is so much more involved. Sex can complicate things, quickly. To be sensible enough to know you don’t want to complicate your relationship is wise. You both should be commended for being so cautious.
Call or talk with your friend in person. Yes, I know teenagers communicate with texting, but there are some things that are just better said than texted. Tell her you are going to pass on bowling because it was really awkward last time. When she asks why you felt that way, explain how uncomfortable you and your boyfriend were the last time you went out. If she tries to play the “We were just joking” card, let her know that you didn’t find it funny and it made for a weird night that you don’t wish to repeat.
Two things can come from this conversation with her: One is that she hears you and apologizes for saying things that made you uncomfortable. Maybe she didn’t realize how weird it was for you, and now that she knows, she will be more careful with her words around you and your boyfriend. If she chooses to respond with humility and genuine regret for how you felt that night at the movies, then perhaps you give them another try and go bowling. People make mistakes all the time, and learning to forgive is a good lesson.
The other is that she may get defensive and act like you are wrong for calling her out. If she does this, you have a very clear message – don’t go on double dates with them anymore. Clearly she will continue the behavior if she defends it.
One side note: It’s not a very classy thing to talk about sex when you do have it. Sex should be between two people and not something that is blabbed about or details shared freely. If they keep talking about their sexual relationship, they will continue to make people feel awkward and soon enough they may be out of friends to double date with. When you care about someone deeply, you don’t go around sharing all the particulars about your sex life.
Stay true to what you know is best for you and your boyfriend. No need to explain your feelings. Be teenagers and enjoy this time in your life. Don’t let others dictate what happens in your relationship. Sex is a personal decision between two people. Think for yourself and don’t let others change what you know is right and best for you.
Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.