No More Sex

Friday, March 27, 2015

Question

Dear Patrick: My boyfriend talked me into going to Planned Parenthood and getting on the pill. I was afraid of getting pregnant, and he wanted us to have sex. I thought we were ready, partly because I believed he really loved me. But once we started having sex, the relationship changed in ways I did not like, and I realized that I am not mature enough to handle sex. (Neither is he.) I don’t want that to be the primary focus of what we do together. Now my boyfriend says if we stop having sex he will look for somebody else who will “spread her legs,” as he put it. This hurt me a lot, but I don’t want to see him if the only reason he sees me is to go to bed. Despite my warnings, every time we see each other, we wind up having sex. How can I get my point across so he will stop getting me to go all the way when I would rather go back to the way things were before I started taking birth control pills? We never go dancing any more or see a movie or just sit and talk

Answer

Dear No More Sex: Unfortunately, your boyfriend is behaving like a typical young man, and putting his own access to pleasure above your wishes. Guys get taught that women will always say no to sex. And this is often true, because young women have been told they should never agree to have sex. The nice boys try to figure out when “no” actually means “maybe” or even “yes.” The selfish ones just figure that if they are ever going to enjoy sex, they are going to have to find a girl they can pressure or manipulate into letting them have intercourse without consequences. So when a girl refuses, they just keep going. Your boyfriend sounds like he was at least smart enough to understand that heterosexual activity has consequences, and he cooperated in getting you access to birth control. I’m really glad to know that you aren’t going to be at risk of pregnancy, especially from a troubled relationship. Please don’t stop taking the birth control pills unless you are really sure that you are able to maintain a lifestyle that doesn’t include sexual activity. As you have learned, that can be pretty difficult. He is bigger and stronger than you are, and he is probably not above using body language to pressure you. Rather than risk a physical fight that you might lose, you give in. Being in the same place with him will always put you in a position of less power because he believes you are either lying about what you really want or that what you want is less important than his need for a sexual outlet. Men often look at sex as a right, not a privilege. It doesn’t have the same feeling or consequences for them, and they feel great uneasiness about trying to empathize with women. This is creepy behavior on their part, of course. But if you show this column to your boyfriend, I want him to know that we are onto his tricks. He doesn’t have to take somebody else’s body into his body in order to have sex. That requires so much trust on the part of a woman. He doesn’t have to risk conception and childbirth. All his friends congratulate him and he gets to strut around and feel like a big man instead of worrying about his reputation being in jeopardy. It just sucks all the way around, because there is still a double standard that means men who have sex are studs and women who have sex (of any age) are sluts, in some people’s narrow minds. So you are confronted with trying to make your entitled and somewhat arrogant partner understand: (a) that you have a right to say no, and (b) that you really mean it. You have tried to say no in the past, I take it, while still agreeing to date him. And that hasn’t worked. He still expects the time that you spend with him to include sexual gratification, at least for him. So he maneuvers you into it, somehow, and you wind up in a situation where you feel you can’t enforce your policy of no more sex. So the only option you have is to just quit seeing him. I think this is the only way to get yourself off the proverbial hook. Now that he has had sex with you, it’s pretty clear that he believes you have given up your right to refuse to “go all the way.” The truth is that whether a girl is a virgin or not, sex is not okay unless she freely consents to it. And that means without anybody telling her, “If you don’t give in, I won’t love you any more” or looming over her in a threatening manner. I don’t care if you are in the middle of having intercourse—if she says, “Stop, I don’t want to do this any more,” you have to stop. Instead of waiting for him to replace you with a more compliant girl, call him on his threat and stop taking his calls. Don‘t go out with him. If the only reason he is seeing you is to get off, then let him find another outlet. In the meantime, get yourself a sympathetic ear. Find a counselor at school you can trust or a friend who will keep your confidence. If you are depressed enough to feel that you might commit suicide, you have a right to see a counselor in most American states without your parents’ permission. You can also go to Planned Parenthood for referrals to mental health services. I’m suggesting this because I think you need an ally who will understand why you want to stop having sex, and why you want to make a fresh start. It sounds to me like this relationship has not been very good for your image of yourself. Being pressured to engage in sex before you are ready is a drain on your energy. Constantly having to resist or argue, or feel that you are about to lose somebody if you don’t do what he wants, is really painful. But you have enormous worth apart from sex. That shouldn’t be the first thing a guy wants to know about you. No should mean no, always, and with others to support you in that point of view, you can get strong enough to make that be true in all aspects of your life. I hope you are interested in other things, like your education, so you can create a rich life—one with career possibilities and a lot of people around you who care about you. You may not be able to have the freedom to live the way you want until you get out of high school, but you still need that diploma to get a job or go on to college. So don’t give up. The worst years of your life will make the best stories later on, as long as you don’t go insane in the process of surviving them. And staying sane often requires having somebody sympathetic to talk to, provided they can zip their lip and keep your secrets as well as they want other people to keep their secrets.

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