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Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone you like that you don’t want to have sex. But talking about what you do and don’t want to do in the sex department is an important part of your relationship.

How do I say “no” to sex?

Saying no to sex should be as simple as just, well, saying no. But in reality, you might feel pressured, guilty, manipulated, or coerced when you say no. Pressuring someone to have sex is never okay, and you deserve to have your boundaries respected.

It may seem like everyone is doin’ it, but the truth is the average age when people start having sex is 17, and many wait longer. You have the right to decide for yourself when you’re ready for sex, and to say “no” to sex at any time, with any person, for any reason (even if you’ve already had it). But saying “no” to sex can be hard, especially if you haven’t thought about how to say it before you need to.

Sex is all about consent. If you don’t want to have sex, let your partner know.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend pressures you or threatens to break up with you because you don’t want to have sex or do other sexual things, it’s a sign that you’re in an unhealthy relationship.

And if your boyfriend or girlfriend says no to sex, it’s really important to respect their decision. They’re saying no to sex, not to you. That’s what sexual consent is all about.

What are some tips for saying no to sex?

“No” is such a simple word. But saying no can be hard when you’re saying it to someone you care about. Here are some tips on turning down sex:

  • Be confident and know what you want. This means thinking through why you want to wait before you’re in a sex situation.

  • Say “no.” You don’t owe anyone — even someone you love — an explanation for why you don’t want to do what they want you to do. You can explain if you want, but you don’t have to.

  • Tell them what you do want to do: kissing, touching, watching a movie together, etc.

  • Be clear and direct. Look them in the eyes and use a serious tone of voice.

  • You can also let them know that you really do like or love them, but you’re just not ready for sex.
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