ROMANTIC AND SEXUAL FEELINGS: I’D LIKE TO HAVE A GIRL-FRIEND, BUT IS SOMEONE MY AGE (11) OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE SEX? I’M 12 AND THERE’S A CERTAIN BOY IN MY CLASS THAT I LIKE AND HE LIKES ME TOO. I’M SCARED OF HAVING SEX THOUGH. WHAT SHOULD I DO? WE KISSED GOODNIGHT AFTER OUR FIRST DATE. I WANT TO GO OUT WITH HIM AGAIN, BUT WHAT IF I GET PREGNANT?

It’s usually younger boys and girls who ask these sorts of question. When we first heard questions like these, we have to admit that we were a bit shocked that boys and girls who were so young seemed to be asking questions about whether they were ready for sex. However, when we talked further with the very young boys and girls who asked these sorts of question, we realized that the reason they were asking them was often because they had very mistaken ideas about physical intimacy. Some of them seemed to think that kissing or being physically close in other ways happens almost as soon as you get involved with someone, or at least very

quickly — perhaps even before you’ve had a chance to get to know each other. Some seem to think that going on a date means you have to, at the very least, kiss the person goodnight or perhaps go further. Some even seem to think that having a boy-friend or girl-friend automatically means that you’re going to have sexual intercourse with that person.

These things just aren’t true, but it’s easy to see how a young person could get these mistaken ideas. In the books we read, it often seems as if two people no sooner meet than we turn the page and find them madly kissing each other. In the films it sometimes seems as if two perfect strangers no sooner look at each other than the next thing we know they’re having sex. Or on television programmes two people will be going out on their first date in one scene and in bed together in the next!

In real life things don’t usually happen quite like this. In real life a romantic relationship usually goes through several steps or stages of physical closeness before things get to the point of having sexual intercourse, if indeed the relationship ever goes that far. In real life it usually takes at least some time before a relationship ever gets to the point where two people are having intercourse. Moreover, in real life many romantic relationships, especially the ones we have when we’re young, never do get to the point of having sex. In fact, many relationships never go beyond the holding hands or goodnight kiss stage, if they go even that far.

So please don’t be confused by what you read in books or see on TV or in films. Going out or having boy-friends or girl-friends doesn’t mean that you have to have sex or kiss or even hold hands. Above all, remember that when it comes to romance and sex, you’re in charge and you don’t have to do anything that doesn’t feel right for you.

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