Is Having Sex a Big Deal?

Why do adults discourage teens from being sexually active?

teens having sex

Sex is not a simple matter. Biologically speaking sex has one purpose, to continue the species, but the psychological impact of being sexually active is where things get complicated. Why is sex such a big deal? Culturally speaking why have we turned a biological necessity into a social conundrum? Sex is an essential part of the cycle of life and yet society teaches teens to avoid it for as long as possible.

We teach teens that sex is dangerous and shameful, that engaging in it requires extreme caution and that there is more harm than good to be found in doing it. Is this a fair portrayal of something that is a very basic part of being human? Yes and no.

Sex is natural and having sex for the first time is an important milestone on the road to adulthood. How, when, where, why and with whom you have sex for the first time will have lasting psychological implications and will shape your attitude towards sex for the rest of your life. Take sex too seriously and you may grow up repressed, take it too lightly and your adult lifestyle could become overly promiscuous. This is the core reason why adults make sex out to be such serious and risky business. The physiological risks of having sex are obvious (pregnancy, STDs, etc…) but having sex will affect your emotional and psychological development as well and this is why adults urge you to abstain.

We want you to wait until you are reasonably sure of how having sex will change your life and worldview and being able to understand how sex may affect you requires a degree of self-awareness and maturity that most teens don’t yet have.

So how can you know if you’re ready to have sex? There are no solid indicators that the time is right.

Your body will likely want to give it a try long before your psyche is truly ready. You have to know yourself, know your partner and understand both of your motivations very, very well before you can be ready to have sex. If you don’t have this essential level of understanding you will have regrets. Sex is portrayed as a big deal because it is a big deal. It is risky, physically and emotionally. It will change you every time you do it, not just the first time, and every sexual encounter you have, every new partner you have it with will usher in a new stage in your psycho-sexual development. Sex should never be entered in to lightly. It is serious business. That being said it should also be noted that sex is fun, feels good and when done for the right reasons and under the right circumstances it can be a positive part of growing up.

Why is sex such a big deal? Because how and why you do it can alter the course of your life. Having an unwanted pregnancy or contracting an STI will obviously change your life. Getting HIV or AIDS could prematurely end your life. Have sex too soon, with the wrong person or for the wrong reasons and you could end up with an unhealthy attitude toward sex that will last a lifetime.

It may seem ironic that developing a healthy attitude toward sex starts in your teens before you are even sexually active but this is the reality of the situation. This is why sex is portrayed as such a taboo, not to stop you from ever doing it but to encourage you to give it lots of thought beforehand. Sex will always be around, people will be having it for as long as humans walk the earth, but this does not mean it should be taken lightly. Be careful about sex, be smart about doing it, never treat it as mere recreation and always be aware of the risks both emotional and physiological.

No adults really expect you to abstain forever but what they hope is that you will practice safer sex and smart sex and only become sexually active for the right reasons and when you are truly ready. Sex is a big deal and when you are able to understand for yourself the many complex reasons why you just might be ready to do it, until then it is best to wait.

Article updated by Keisha Howard, Teen Advice Expert.