(Information obtained from Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood (PAYA), Handbook for Skill Development, Massachusetts Department of Social Services – click here to visit website)
Knowledge about yourself and your personal skills in regard to relationships and love form the foundation to develop a healthy sexuality. Unfortunately, the term "sexuality" is often misunderstood as "sleeping with someone." Like relationships in general, the issue of sexuality is not about having sex. Sexuality includes how we deal with our sexual feelings and the decisions and boundaries that we make. It involves respect, communication, and the many ways we can give and receive love. Sex is glorified through the media, through movies and television, and we encounter many messages about sex throughout the day whether we like it or not.
Following are some common myths and misconceptions about sex:
- Love equals sex. All too often people think that love and sex are interchangeable when they are really two vastly different notions. It is possible to have a healthy sexuality, love someone, and not sleep together. Contrary to popular belief, many teens are not sexually active.
- Everyone is having sex and it really isn't a big deal. A recent study shows that more and more teens decide to wait to have sex until they are older or get married. Sex is a complex and intimate step to take, one which requires not only physical maturity but emotional and mental maturity as well.
- Sex is always a wonderful and pleasurable experience. The truth is that often, particularly if you are not ready, it is not and you will end up getting hurt. Making the right decisions about sex is more important than ever, not only to protect you from negative experience or unwanted pregnancy but also from potentially deadly sexually transmitted diseases.
- Having sex will help to keep someone in a relationship. The reality is that if a relationship is not working without sex, it won't work with it. Sex has so many complex implications that it can be disastrous for a relationship that isn"t on solid ground.
- Some people can become closer and find love through sex. The act of sex itself will not provide anyone with the love they are looking for.
- People have to live up to their partner's expectations. Some people might believe that if their boyfriend or girlfriend is ready to have sex, they should be ready as well. The only expectation you have to live up to is your own!
- Kissing and fondling inevitably leads to sex. Sex is never inevitable. It is a choice. We all set our own boundaries as to how far we're willing to go and what we can handle emotionally. It is important that both partners respect those boundaries.