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All my partner wants is sex, and I consider myself a little too young. How can I tell him or her that I don’t want to have sex without embarrassing my partner or hurting the relationship?

It’s nice that you want to spare your partner’s feelings, but it’s also your feelings that matter in this situation. People have a right to set boundaries in their relationships and to have those boundaries respected. Being straightforward and honest about those boundaries is an example of healthy communication.

Let your partner know that you’re not out to embarrass or hurt him or her and you just want to open up the lines of communication regarding a boundary that you have. Remember that you can’t control your partner’s reaction, but your boundaries are still important and should be respected. Explain to your partner why you feel that having sex isn’t the best option for you. A partner who cares about and respects you won’t pressure you to have sex before you’re ready.

When talking about sexual boundaries with your partner, be honest and straightforward before things get sexual. Find a time to talk privately, preferably out of a sexual situation. Know what you want to say before you sit down to talk. You could start by telling your partner how you feel about your relationship. Discuss the things you like about your partner and the time you spend together. This will help your partner know that your decision to say no to certain sexual behaviors isn’t a rejection; it’s an important personal choice that you’ve chosen to communicate.

Then explain why you don’t want to do certain sexual things. Share your feelings so your partner understands why those sexual behaviors aren’t right for you right now. Know your sexual boundaries and communicate them clearly. Is kissing OK, but touching isn’t? Should clothes stay on? If so, which ones? What can your partner expect if you change your mind? It might help to let your partner know that it is OK for him or her to say no to you as well.

As far as your relationship goes, not having sex doesn’t mean you want to end the relationship. Be clear about this if you want to stay in the relationship. If you two are together because you really like and care for each other, then letting your partner know how you feel may help to bring you closer. There are a lot of ways to feel close to a partner besides having sex, and they’re not all physical. This could be a great time to talk with your partner about what you are comfortable doing that would help you feel closer to your partner.

An important part of being sexually healthy is knowing what your values and limits are when it comes to all kinds of sexual behavior. Values are the important things that matter to you and limits refer to how far you want a relationship or sexual situation to go. Once you know your values and limits, share them with your partner as part of a healthy relationship. People say no to a lot of things in relationships, not just sexual things. For example, you may not want to go to parties where there’s alcohol, or you may only want to hang out socially on the weekends. These are boundaries too, just as sexual boundaries are boundaries.

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