I'm glad that it seems the vast majority of readers appreciated yesterday's post. It seems certain people missed my point that BOTH men and women should take responsibility--but that anyone who is initiating the sex or pressuring someone else to have it should take MORE. A person should also take more if he knows (or suspects) that he is going to simply use a person for sex and disappoint her; if he knows (or suspects) he will cause suffering.
(Sexual pleasure should not be gained by someone who says to himself, "Eh, she should know better--and if she gonna get hurt, that's her problem for being so stupid." Uh, no, buddy. It's your problem too, and you're making the world a bad place with that attitude.)
Nonetheless, I do think we should all take responsibility for ourselves--that's the first line of defense in every matter, sexual and otherwise. And yet I know it's hard (in this post-Sex and the City era of friendships-with-benefits, Craigslist one-night-stands and no-strings-attached sex) to even know HOW to be responsible for yourself.
So I asked the people over at Planned Parenthood to help me come up with:
FIVE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF BEFORE HAVING SEX WITH SOMEONE.
1. Has this person given me the kind of commitment I want?
The "C" word--I know. (But the people who have made "commitment" into a "dirty" word are the ones who don't want to give it to you. Why should what you want be a bad thing?) Now, by commitment, I don't mean marriage. But maybe you want to know that a guy isn't going to sleep with other people or date other people before you have sex with him. Maybe you want him to agree to being your full-on boyfriend before you do the deed. If you'd prefer some level of commitment before you have sex--and you don't have it yet--it's fine, great, even stupendous to wait until you DO (or don't) get it. It's great to know exactly where you stand before you make a decision.
2. Are there too many emotional risks for me?
In the heat of the moment, you may be tempted to take emotional risks. But before you do--maybe even before you go out for the night--ask yourself: Do I feel too emotionally vulnerable to have sex now? Might I feel bad tomorrow--or next week--if I have sex with this person? Am I giving in to this guy even though I'd rather not? If you've answered YES to any of these, I'd skip the sex for now.
3. Do we have protection?
Always, always use it. You don't want STDs or a unplanned baby. If he doesn't have a condom, send him out to get one, or refuse. It's that simple. No excuses. And even if you're dating a guy exclusively, I'd wait until you've both had two STD tests--the second one six months after the first--until you try sex without a condom. (It can take as long as 6 months after exposure for certain STDs to show up.)
Think that sounds too strict? Well, consider this: Do you know that a guy who has 365 one-night-stands a year--and uses a condom every time--is less likely to have an STD than a guy who spends the year with only 3 different partners, whom he dates one at a time--but who stops using protection with them after the first month of the relationship?
4. Am I totally wasted, dude?
Skip the sex if you're drunk or on Ecstasy or whatever. (What do you kids take these days?) It's not that fun when you're loaded, anyway. And if you're taking a hallucinogen, heavy petting--simply stroking someone's hair or arms--is fun enough, no?
(Not that I'm encouraging you guys to trip on acid or anything. In fact, I did my fair share of psychotropic drugs back in the day, and after all that I've subsequently read about the permanent damage to your brain, your spinal cord fluid and all the rest, I SURE wish I hadn't. IT WASN'T WORTH IT. But if you're gonna do it anyway, don't have sex, too!)
5. Can I trust this person?
Don't just hope for the best. If a potential sexual partner has pressured you, embarrassed you, insulted you or hurt you, step back so I can get in there and punch him. Hee haw--only kidding. But seriously: Don't have sex with him if he has. Have sex with him only if you feel completely comfortable--and you can trust him 100%.
Sex is an emotional and psychological pleasure just as much--if not more so than--a physical pleasure. Make sure you're in the right headspace to enjoy it completely and regret it not a bit before you do it.