I wonder how women are deciding about when and how to be sexual when they are dating. It seems to run the gambit from no physical contact and “just friends” until you feel you know the person well, to intercourse at the first date or at a party. Here are a few dating for women guidelines that might help you decide what feels right to you:
1. Consider how you think and feel about your sexuality. Are you able to enjoy yourself or do you feel inhibited, shy, or ashamed? Do you find yourself worrying about how your body looks so that you are self conscious and not able to let go and relax?
Sexuality combined with anxiety is usually not very satisfying. Sometimes women who feel anxious about sex use alcohol or drugs to help calm down and let go. Although it can seem to be helpful, there are risks associated with using substances to relieve anxiety. It is important to recognize what you are doing and think honestly about whether it is working well for you.
2. Consider how far you want to go in a sexual encounter. You may feel pressure from your date or more generally from our culture to have intercourse or oral sex. However, there is something to be said for kissing and cuddling. Sex is not only about the “end result” but also the sharing of intimacy and emotional connection. If you feel pressure to go further and you are not sure you want to, I believe it is perfectly legitimate to want a partner who will accept and respect your decisions especially when you are dating and getting to know each other.
3. In high school and college these days there are risks that are important to understand and protect yourself from. Kelci Lynn in her article, “College Dating, 10 tips for dating safety” has some great ideas for taking care of yourself. Her main point is to have contingency plans in case you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Some of these include letting someone else know where you are going and when you plan to return, going out with a group, being careful not to drink too much, watching your drink to make sure it doesn’t get spiked, and having cell phone contact with a friend who can rescue you from a bad situation.
It is unfortunate that women are thinking more and more about strong protections in the world of dating. It’s important not to feel too discouraged.
If you do want to be sexual and don’t have a steady boyfriend, how do you feel after sex with people you don’t know well? It is important to be able to distinguish between the need to have sexual encounters because you feel lonely, insecure, or social pressure to act a certain way, and engaging in sexual activities because you enjoy it and can make sure you are safe and respected. Remember, it is perfectly okay to say “no” at any point. If you find that you are unable to stop yourself from having sex with people when you really don’t want to, then it is very helpful to get some help, possibly therapy, about this.
Many women prefer to know the person they are being intimate with. This adds to the safety and mutual respect of the experience. I would also recommend some discussion about history, physical and sexual. This can feel extremely uncomfortable, but not impossible! Remember that all sexually transmitted diseases cannot be prevented by using condoms!
It may feel like dating has become a minefield of danger and complication these days. It is important not to give up on figuring out what you want for yourself to stay safe and have positive experiences. It is also very important to learn how to forgive yourself if you had a bad experience or an STD scare and to learn from that experience. And of course, it is also important to have a trusted method of birth control in place.