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Reasons Why Young People Have Sex.
In a survey of over 1,000 teens ages 13-16 commissioned by NBC and People Magazine, 68% of teens who have had sex reported sexual desire as a reason for choosing to do so. Having sex to enjoy physical pleasure isn’t in itself a good or a bad thing. By itself, it’s not the best reason. For one, there are many ways to experience the physical pleasure that do not involve having sex. However, if the desire for physical pleasure is not the sole reason – if it’s present, but alongside all the components of sexual readiness discussed in Part 1 – then it can be part of a healthy decision to have sex.
To be popular
Just about everyone would agree, here and now, that popularity is not a healthy reason to have sex. However, the social pressure young people face makes this reason very tempting. Eighteen percent of teens in the survey above reported the desire to be popular as a reason for choosing to have sex. In order to resist the temptation of popularity through sexual activity, it’s necessary to develop your values and think beforehand about your decision-making, which is what you’re doing right now.
Because everyone’s doing it
It’s easy to feel like the odd man or woman out when you haven’t had sex yet or in a long time; young people talk about sex constantly as if it’s happening to them nearly every day. First off, you should know that not everyone is doing it. In the NBC/People Magazine survey, only 13% of teens reported having sexual intercourse, while 12% reported oral sex experience. The Centers for Disease Control’s 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 34% of high school students had been sexually active within the past three months across the nation – far from a majority, and even farther from “everyone.” While you may feel like you’re surrounded by sexually active peers, in reality, there’s a lot more talk around sex than active participation.
Regardless of what others are doing, though, it actually has no bearing on your own emotional, physical and intellectual preparedness for sex. Remember: Good decision-making comes from within yourself and is not strictly determined by outside factors, such as what others are doing.
Curiosity is the desire to know something you don’t know already, and it’s a primary reason for doing anything new, including having sex for the first time or with a new person. A full 71% of teens in the NBC/People Magazine survey reported curiosity as a factor in their decision to have sex. Some may just wonder what it’s all about. Young women in particular may have heard that the first time is very painful, accompanied by the breaking of the hymen and a bunch of blood, making it seem like something best gotten over with. (Actually, that’s not at all what happens. Check out the article, The Hymen: A Membrane Widely Misunderstood, for clarification on the hymen myth.)
While curiosity is certainly an understandable reason why young people would want to have sex, it’s not a solid one on its own. Curiosity may be one motivating factor behind everybody’s first time, but it shouldn’t be the only one.
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