A survey of college students in Minnesota found that 78 percent of college students were, or had been at some point, sexually active, according to the University of Minnesota website. Some students may feel the most responsible thing they can do is to choose abstinence, but those that choose to engage in sexual activity can also choose to do so in a responsible manner. An article on the Planned Parenthood website entitled “Relationship Responsibilities” explains that when you’re in a romantic or sexually intimate relationship, you have responsibilities to your partner and you also have responsibilities to yourself. Both have equal importance. Of course, your partner also has responsibilities to you and to himself.
You need to communicate openly and honestly with your partner. Responsible behavior includes talking about things like birth control, sexually transmitted infections, and whether or not you have other sexual partners. You might feel awkward talking about those things but it’s important to have those discussions before getting physically intimate with someone. If you feel too uncomfortable to talk about sex with your partner, then you’re probably not ready to have sex with her.
Remember that listening is an important part of good communication. Encourage your partner to share thoughts and feelings with you. Listen without interrupting. Keep things shared in confidence confidential.
Some things may be hard to share with your partner. You don’t have to share everything but you need to tell the truth about things you choose to share. You really do need to share some information, such as letting your partner know if you’ve ever been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, even if you feel uncomfortable talking about it.
Respect Yourself and Others
Respecting yourself means valuing yourself and honoring your needs. It means standing up for yourself and saying no when you don’t want to do something. Respecting others means caring about their needs. It means taking your partner’s feelings into consideration and respecting his choice when he says no to something.
Even if you took a sex education class in high school, you may not know a lot about sexually transmitted infections and how to prevent them. You may not know the best ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Make sure you know the facts so that you can make good decisions about sexual activities.
Practice Safer Sex
Protect yourself and your partner by practicing safer sex. Understand that even if you practice safer sex, it’s still possible to contract a sexually transmitted infection or for a woman to get pregnant. You can reduce the risk of those things happening but there is still some risk. Take responsibility for initiating a conversation about safer sex with your partner rather than waiting for her to bring up the subject. Take responsibility for making sure you have condoms when you need them rather than expecting your partner to take responsibility for that.
University of Minnesota. Relationships, Sexuality and Sexual Activity.
Planned Parenthood. Relationship Responsibilities.