Let me get the sad part out of the way: remember the weedy
sea dragon who was going to be a daddy? I'm sorry to report that our favorite
egg-bearing dad just couldn't pull through -- though thankfully, he did leave
some hatchlings to carry on his winsome (yet masculine) name. Ah, if only he
could have held on until this past Saturday's Mermaid
If you ask me, our filmy friend is the Mr. Hooper of the year 2000. How do
you tell kids where he went? How do you explain he won't be back?
That said, explaining death to the novice is a walk in the marine park compared
to explaining its Freudian cousin: sex. (Don't recommend using the WSD as an
example, though: just when the kids think they've got this stork thing all figured
out, along comes a pregnant...guy!?)
Explaining why not to have sex is equally challenging. Just when the
kids think they have this waiting thing all figured out, along comes ... Our
Entire Culture. Not to mention Their Entire Class (saying, "Oh yeah, I've
done it. Hurry up!).
BG tried to do it here. But I also -- through
the magic of the Do Tell -- asked for your help.
So here -- in the spirit of last week's roundup
on interracial dating -- is your column on
Teen Sex (or Not): Talking The Talk
Here's what I asked:
Do Tell: If you had sex earlier than you meant to, what, looking back, do you
think would have stopped you? OR: If you were on the fence and then said no,
what caused your decision? Either way, was it something that someone said? A
new way of thinking about it? In other words: what can BG pass on from you
that could help others?
And here's what you Do Told, with your pearliest pearls in purple.
Virgin: "I'm a college student in a long distance relationship.
No matter how much birth control I use, sex is not going to be worth the potential
pregnancy amd all the stresses that come with it. Neither of us wants to put
our college careers in jeopardy for a little physical pleasure -- especially
when we have so many other ways to enjoy each other without the risk of pregnancy.
It's also something I've always told my boyfriend: 'If you aren't ready to
talk about what would happen if I got pregnant [This
doesn't count. -- BG], you aren't ready to have sex.'"
Calpurnia: "There's also such a thing as waiting too long. Truly.
I was brought up in a very inhibited household (to this day I don't use tampons
I was brought up to believe they were wrong, and though I know
that's crap, I can't get past it). When I was 19 I was going out with a truly
lovely man of 28. After months of dating he made it clear that he would like
to take things to another level. I was afraid to. I thought it was wrong.
I truly cared about this man and he cared about me. He was absolutely respectful
of my feelings on the subject, but eventually we broke up because I felt he
was looking for someone who could give him what he wanted and bailed on him.
15 years later he is married with two kids and one of my best friends in the
BG, the stupidest thing I ever did was say no to this man.
He would have been kind and considerate nad he never would have hurt me or
broken my heart. I did -- and do -- love him very much. But instead, I clung
to my "precious virginity" until
I was date-raped when I was 24. I was too naive to understand that not all
men would respect my wishes when I said no. I am sure that if I had slept
with my now-friend I would have understood what was happening before it happened.
I wonder if I had slept with my firend when I was nineteen, if none of this
would have happened -- or if I could have coped with it better. My first time
would have been something I could look back on with fondness, my heart would
not have been broken, and eventually I would have moved on with a few more
sexual survival skills.
Teens: Your first time should ideally
be special, but realize that it may not be with your last partner. If you
put so much emphasis on THE ONE, you might be shattered if/when it ends. Just
wait -- as long as it takes -- for someone truly kind who respects you. Then
you'll have some perspective when you really do meet the one you lose your
head over. "
Kurzon ("mom of a four-year old, hoping he has a better sense of
himself at 18 than I did): "I was raised to wait for marriage. I wanted
to. I was dating this guy for quite a while (probably four months until we
got to 'it') and he had had sex before. I told him I wanted to wait, expressed
my concern that this would make him take off on me, and he reassured me that
he respected my decision and it was fine by him.
Well... things just progressed gradually until we were
having sex and I couldn't argue myself out of believing what was going on.
So I never really said, 'Yup, tonight's the night,' I never agreed -- I never
really felt like I was even consulted. Once I realized what was happening,
I cried and cried. I wasn't ready, it wasn't what I wanted. Then I went with
the 'Oh well, I'm used and dirty now, I might as well enjoy it' and did my
best to be an active participant from then on.
So, tell those young people that
they know what they want to do and that they have every right to say
NOT TONIGHT. And tell them that just 'cause someone wonderful says 'OK, I
believe you' ... well, I was a university biology major and I missed him sneaking
past me. 'If you don't know what to do yet, the time to decide hasn't come.
When the time comes to choose, you will know what to do. The trick is in listening
to yourself when the time arrives.'"
Mike: "Don't lose your virginity just because
you can. I was painfully shy in high school, and when I got into my
first serious relationship in college (with a young woman much more experienced
than I), I got caught up in the feeling of 'Wow! I'm doing all this stuff
I never did before!' While that's a nice feeling, it also meant that I never
asked myself 'Wait -- do I want to do this stuff?' Would I have waited
longer if I'd asked myself that question? Maybe, maybe not. But I do know
that I regret not stepping back for a moment and taking stock."
Lindsey: "I had sex just after I turned sixteen -- with my first
boyfriend, who was one of the popular jocks in high school. I was sure I wasn't
ready to have sex, and didn't want to, but I wanted to let my boyfriend know
that it wasn't that I didnt find him attractive. But I didn't articulate that
very well, and he got the impression that I did want to have sex, immediately.
I stopped him and told him in not so many words that I wasn't ready. He spent
the next hour making me feel very small, and very very guilty, until I eventually
gave in. I cried the entire time. After that I felt that since I did it once
I couldn't say no. But not one time did I enjoy it. And you know, I was an
intelligent person, a classic overachiever -- and yet I did not see the obvious
until after we broke up. I would stress to teens that
if someone makes you feel anything like guilt for not having sex, DO NOT HAVE
SEX. It's a total red flag that they don't care enough about you, and -- please
learn from my mistake -- you should wait for someone who does."
Liz: "At age 21, I almost started having sex with my then-boyfriend,
but decided not to. I didn't feel secure enough in myself or my relationship
to make that kind of change in my life. What made me decide to say no at the
time? We went home to our respective cities over the holidays. I was going
to start taking the pill, which would have necessitated that I stop taking
antibiotics for my skin. I realized that I wasn't willing
to give up clear skin for sex with him."
And here's one for the grownups (oh, and here's
another) about taking your time:
Ellen: "I had sex too soon in my past three relationships. All
ended in disaster, one quickly, two slooooowly. I drew lovely scribbly erotic
pictures in my mind, mostly from their come-hither looks, their overliterate
talk, and their voracious emails. Don't get me wrong, I loved them all --
but each one was looking for a panacea, not a real relationship. And so was
I. Now I'm getting to know a new guy, extremely carefully. If
he makes a poor friend, he ain't going anywhere below my waist. Period.
Oh, and I'm 35. It takes some of us longer than others..."
* factoid from the BG newswire: this conservative
student advocate organization reports that while more than half of college
students say they're sexually active, 72% were monogamous at press time.
PREDICAMENT OF THE WEEK >