Young adults are often faced with a lot of big decisions. Sometimes, these might involve whether you want to date, whom you want to date, or whether or not you want to have sex. Some of these choices can cause some anxiety. But when you make choices based on your values and when you've considered what you do and don't want, it's more likely that you'll feel good about your decisions.
When thinking about your options regarding sex, consider the following:
- Does the potential activity fit in with my values and beliefs? Does this decision make me feel happy and comfortable?
- Is my relationship status or style with the potential partner(s) how I want it to be?
- How might sex affect my relationship with my partner(s)? Am I OK with those possibilities?
- If I want to have sex, do I have the supplies I need to protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), and if applicable, pregnancy?
- How will I ask for consent? Do I have sober consent for an activity? When everyone involved is sober, your consent conversation will be much more likely to reflect everyone's true desires about a sexual encounter.
- What do I like and want (and not want) sexually? How will I ask my partners about what they like and want? Am I comfortable with communicating about likes and dislikes with my partner(s)?
Some people find it helpful to think about making a decision as a step-by-step process. You can try using these steps to help guide your decisions:
Step 1: Define the situation
Step 2: Consider all the options
Step 3: Consider the consequences (positive or negative) of each alternative
Step 4: Consider your values. What's important to you?
Step 5: Consider the impact of the options on other people involved.
Step 6: Make a choice!
Step 7: Reflect on your decision. What went well? What didn't? What can you learn from your experience?
The article Ready or Not from Scarleteen provides further information about making sexual decisions.