Don’t feel awkward about saying no to sex (or kissing, touching or any other sexual activity). ‘No’ is an important word in sex and relationships. Find out how you can say no.
Nobody has the right to make you go further than you want to. You also have every right to say no, at any point, whoever you’re with. If you want to have sex but your boyfriend or girlfriend or friend doesn’t, you must respect their feelings.
First time or not
You might think from what you hear from friends that all young people are having sex. But the average age for having sex for the first time is 16, and not everyone does it at that age. Some people wait until they’re older.
So you’re not the only one saying no. Even if you’ve had sex before, this doesn’t mean you have to do it again. It’s up to you every time.
When you meet someone you like, it might take weeks, months or even years before you’re both ready for sex. Take it slow, and think about your feelings, as well as theirs. Never rush or push each other into it.
Try talking about the relationship. Communicating helps you to know when the time is right, and to know exactly how you both feel, rather than guessing.
How to say no
People who want to have sex might say things to try to get you into bed. Here are some ideas of what you can say in return:
They say: “Don’t you fancy me?”
You say: “Yes, but I respect you too,” or “You’re gorgeous but I want to know you better.”
They say: “My friends think we should have done it by now.”
You say: “They don’t know what’s best for us,” or “You should care more about what I think.”
They say: “We don’t need to use a condom.”
You say: “I’m not ready to be a parent and I don’t want to risk getting an infection.”
They say: “Let’s just get it over with.”
You say: “If we wait until we’re ready it’ll be much better.”
They say: “If you loved me you’d want to do it.”
You say: “It’s because I love you that I want to wait,” or “If you loved me you wouldn’t say that.”
They say: “If we don’t do it soon, I’ll explode!”
You say: “You need biology lessons…it’s not bad for you to wait.”
They say: “But you’re 16.”
You say: “Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean I have to. I’ll decide when I’m ready.”
If you both agree to have sex, make sure that:
- you use condoms to protect yourselves from STIs
- you use contraception to help prevent an unintended pregnancy – find out about the 15 methods of contraception
Practice saying no
It might sound strange, but try practising saying no:
- “No, I’m not ready.”
- “No, I don’t want to.”
- “No, it doesn’t feel right.”
If you don’t want to have sex, anyone who really likes you will respect your decision even if you’ve had sex with them before.
If your boyfriend or girlfriend says something like, “If you loved me you’d do it”, don’t fall for it. It’s emotional blackmail. However much you love or like them, you don’t have to have sex with them to prove it.
A sexual assault can range from inappropriate touching to a life-threatening attack. It’s a myth that victims of sexual assault always look battered and bruised. A sexual assault may not leave any outward signs, but it’s still a crime.
Victims are most likely to be young women aged 16 to 24. But men and women of any age, race, ability or sexuality can be assaulted. This could be by a stranger or, much more likely, someone you know. It could be a partner, former partner, husband, relative, friend or colleague. Don’t be afraid to get help.
Find out where to get help after a sexual assault.
You can read a leaflet called Coping with sexual assault: a guide for young people (PDF, 2.5MB).
Domestic violence is when one person in a relationship is abusive towards another. This could be emotional, physical or sexual abuse, including forcing you into sexual activity against your will.
If this has happened to you, help is available.