Social and legal issues to think about before you have sex

Whether to have sex or not is a decision for you and your partner to make together. But you’re not free to act exactly as you would like: as well as the law on age of consent, don’t forget that other people may also be affected by your decision, and that other people may have an impact on your relationship (not always a good one).

Families
Whether or not you discuss your relationship with your family, and in how much detail,  will depend on you and your family; but don’t forget that your family will be affected by what you do – particularly if you do not take precautions against unwanted pregnancy.

Some families have very strict views about sex outside marriage. If your family is one of them, think carefully about the impact on them if you go against their views.

Families generally want their daughters to be safe and happy. They may worry about you being hurt emotionally by a sexual relationship, or distracted from your schoolwork or other plans, or not being ready emotionally or practically, or being gossiped about by friends and acquaintances. These are all important issues which you should consider as well.

Friends and wider social circles
Sex is a very intimate matter and the details of sexual relationships should ideally be kept private, between the two partners. This isn’t always the case, though. Think about the people you both know and how they might react if they find out. Work out whether their reaction matters to you and what you can do to manage their reaction.

  • Would friends be hurt? Could that be helped if you explain to them?
  • Will you be gossiped about at school? Will you get a bad reputation? How can you minimise the risk?
  • Are you confident that your partner won’t tell anyone you don’t want to know? (If not, you should think again!)

You might also be interested in our other pages on issues to think about before you have sex:

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Thinking about sex

You may also be interested in our other relationships pages (covering families and friends as well as sex and love)

Relationships
Have good relationships