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Talking to Your Boyfriend: Practice Makes Perfect

By Jennifer Ashton, M.D., Ob-Gyn with Christine Larson
WebMD Feature by “The Body Scoop for Girls”

One of the best tips I give my patients who want to delay sexual activity— but aren’t sure how to resist temptation—is to be prepared. Anticipate the obstacles that may pop up in your path and make a firm plan to deal with them. Preparation is key.

Your plan might be as simple as figuring out how to say no when asked out on a date (“That’s so nice of you, but I just don’t have any time right now”) to the trickier logistics of cooling things down when you and your boyfriend are making out. Think about what you’ll say and practice saying it.

What should you say and how should you say it? I believe honesty is the best policy. Firmly and honestly tell him you’re not planning to have sex until later in life, for lots of good reasons. But while I want you to be honest, I also live in the real world, and I know that sometimes it’s easier to have some extra reasons, excuses, or even white lies up your sleeve. Some patients find it’s helpful to offer a concrete reason: One of my patients told her steady boyfriend that her parents would buy her a car for graduation if she was still a virgin when she got her diploma. Her little white lie wasn’t actually true—but it helped her to have something specific to say. After he got over the fact that he was less important to her than a car, he respected her wishes.

Thinking about situations in advance will help you handle them in a swift, confident, decisive way if they come up. If you have responses or excuses ready in your mind, you can avoid feeling flustered or wishy-washy in the heat of the moment. Remember, put yourself first!

Another tip I share with my patients is this: Write down your goals and values. Knowing your values and setting specific goals that support them is critically important. These values and goals may have nothing to do with sex—maybe you want to save the world from climate change by discovering a green fuel or to become a novelist or a doctor or the first woman president. Whatever your big goals are, when you write them down and outline the steps to get there, you may realize that having sex at a young age (and therefore risking pregnancy or a life-changing sexually transmitted infection) doesn’t fit in with your grand scheme.

I also recommend making a pros and cons list about the potential good and bad consequences of losing your virginity. Seeing that list in black and white might clarify some issues for you. If the negatives outweigh the positives, you probably shouldn’t do it.

Finally, realize that your success or failure rests largely with you—and only you. This is true for love, for life goals, and for your choices about sexualactivity. Even though you might not be a legal adult, as a teenager you havequite a bit of power and autonomy. Your parents may still call a lot of theshots, but your life is largely in your hands. You have the freedom to decidehow to behave, what you’ll do, and what you won’t do. In almost all cases, noone can really force you to do something you don’t want to do. The downsideof all this power is that you’re responsible for your own successes or failures.Making mistakes is part of growing up, and many can become powerfullearning experiences. Just try not to make the same mistakes over and overagain. This is part of what determines a person’s ultimate success: It’s not just where you finish that matters, it’s also how far you’ve come!

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