THE INTIMACY REPORT You may think you've got a grip on the facts of life, but the fact is, deciding whether or not you're ready to get serious about sex is a lot more serious than you think.
THE INTIMACY REPORT
You may think you've got a grip on the facts of life, but the
fact is, deciding whether or not you're ready to get serious
about sex is a lot more serious than you think. How can you tell
if he's responsible or reckless? What if he dumps you the day
after? And what about the diseases you can get? To help you
know what you're doing before you do it, we got seriously into
the pros and cons of having sex. We talked to doctors, shrinks
and those of you who've done it. So don't do a thing until you
When is the right time for the first time?
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
He's the one for you. You're sure of it. Then he wants to go to
bed; suddenly you're not so sure after all. Now that you've
driven yourself and all your friends crazy trying to decide what
to do, we figured we'd turn the question over to a panel of
experts and see what they had to say when we asked them: When is
the right time to have sex?
DR. RUTH WESTHEIMER, Ed.D., psychosexual therapist:
"There is no way of telling any couple when the right time
is. It all depends on their values, beliefs, upbringing and
if they want to wait until after the wedding ceremony. The
first time is very important - it's an experience they will
never forget and can never have again. When they do make
the decision to engage in sexual intercourse, they should do
so without rushing, they should use contraceptives and enjoy
this tremendous experience."
ELAINE LEADER, Ph.D., executive director, Teen Line, Cedars Sinai
Hospital, Los Angeles, CA:
"Having sex is a very individual decision. If you have a
certain maturity level and the ability to handle intimate
relationships and assume responsibility - taking birth
control, etcetera - and you're in a long-term relationship,
then you may be ready. But young people are usually looking
for something other than sex - touching, holding and
friendship - and they're acting it out in a sexual arena."
^LFAYE WATTLETON, president, Planned Parenthood Association of
"Becoming sexually active is not like harvesting wheat---
there's no 'right time' for it. And remember, you're under
no deadline - many women wait until they're in their
twenties before they have sexual intercourse. If you think
you're not ready for sex, putting it off until you are ready
will probably be one of the best decisions you will ever
JOYCELYN ELDERS, M.D., director, Arkansas Department of Health:
"The right time to have sex is when you're sure that this is
the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and
you can handle the consequences of your intimacy."
LONNIE BARBACH, Ph.D., coauthor, Going the Distance: Secrets to
"A first sexual relationship makes you very vulnerable to
being hurt. Think - How do I feel about this guy? Is he
somebody I really love and cherish, and feel cherished by?
If it's not going to be right - or with the right person -
don't do it."
CAROL WESTON, author, Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never
"No one can really give you the green light on when to have
sex. Put on the brakes if: a) you're feeling pressured (by
your boyfriend or your friends); b) you and your boyfriend
haven't been going out for a long, long time (three months
is not a long, long time); and c) you two haven't discussed
sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and what you
would do if you wound up pregnant."
JUDITH SEIFER, R.N., Ph.D., chairman of the public relations and
media division of the American Association of Sex Educators,
Counselors and Therapists (AASECT):
"You don't really know if it's the right time until the next
morning. You have to think beforehand about how you are
going to feel if you have sex and the relationship doesn't
last. I firmly believe in 'oral' sex - that is, being clear
about what you want and talking it over with your partner.
But if he refuses to talk to you about it, why in the world
would you still want to have sex with him?"
DAVID BLANKENHORN, president, Inst. for American Values, New
"Wait until you're married - this is a 'moral' rule that ought
to be taken seriously. If you decide not to wait, you
should have a compelling reason - like being with a partner
you plan to spend the rest of your life with - not just to
follow the crowd or to experiment. The teenage years are
filled with enough difficult challenges already."
JUDITH KURIANSKY: Ph.D., author, How to Love a Nice Guy:
"Not until you really know the guy and his character. And
not until you know that he's been tested for AIDS - insist
that he be tested, then wait six months and have him be
tested again (and be sure he doesn't sleep with anyone else
in the meantime). Take this time to find out if he's really
a nice guy, and to learn the difference between the rats who
will dump all over you and the guys who are willing to wait
and who really love you."
JUDE COTTER, Ph.D., prof. of psychology at Oakland Community
"A lot of girls have sex because they think they have to
prove that they're okay, that everything 'down there' works.
It's too bad to have sex because you feel something's wrong
with you. If you don't really want to have sex, it's not a
big concern. The time for wanting it will come later."
MICHELE MARTIN CHARLTON, C.S.E., president, Teaching Sex
Education, Osceola, IN:
"Find out all about yourself before getting into a
relationship with anybody else. Then you can truly say to
someone else, 'This is what I want to share with you.' If
you don't feel good about yourself, trying to make yourself
feel good through a relationship will never work."
ROBERT BLUM, M.D., Ph.D., director of general pediatrics and
adolescent health, the University of Minnesota Medical School:
"It's not the right time to have sex when: a) someone else
wants you to; b) you think it'll help you keep a boyfriend;
c) you can't talk about having sex with the person you're
thinking about having sex with; d) you can't get
contraception; e) you do it because you think all your
friends are doing it (they're not); or f) you think you're
going to feel guilty about it."
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