Freshers’ Week Pressure
Bits and bobs of advice for students dealing with the pressure to get laid during Freshers’ Week
Freshers’ week is all about getting drunk and getting laid, right? All the articles written online about it (apologies). The students’ union giving you free condoms and, increasingly, offering talks on sexual consent. Suddenly you are surrounded by people of a similar age who (maybe for the first time) have their own independence and are excitedly talking about who they want to have sex with and when. This all might put pressure on you to feel like you really should be having sex.
Add all these extra expectations to those that you already have about sex and you may feel you aren’t being a ‘proper’ or a ‘normal’ student if you don’t want to do it. Or you might feel crap because you do want this but can’t get it. Or even if you do get laid you may or not feel so great about it if it was expected of you.
So let’s all slow down and try to think about what you actually might want from sex.
What do you think about sex?
- Do you want to have sex? If so, why? Is it about proving yourself in some way?
- What are your beliefs about sex and relationships? Do you think you can have sex outside of a commited relationship?
- What does sex mean to you? Is it just a physical thing? Is about connection? Is it about intimacy? Is it something you aren’t interested in?
Some of this you will figure out for yourself of course, but starting to think about this for you means that you are paying more attention to what you want rather than what you might feel pressured into. Maybe also think more about whether you are ready to have sex…
Just as it’s not cool to judge people because they have shagged some people, it’s also not cool to judge people who haven’t. Remember that they are trapped within all these pressures to have sex too – you don’t know what they’re actually feeling about stuff inside. Someone who hasn’t had very much sex could think about someone who has had lots “wow, they seem really sorted and confident about their sexuality” but someone could think exactly the same thing in reverse.
Don’t compare your insides to their outsides.
So try not to judge. You don’t really know them. You are likely to change so much in a short space of time so you don’t really even know you yet (you’ll be surprised who you end up being friends with). Also stereotypes about people relating to what they do sexually are often just plain wrong e.g. asexual people are usually not anti people who have sex, just anti people who say that everyone should have sex.
Depending on where in the country or which country you have come from, you may be experiencing some culture shock. Particularly when it comes to how people have sex and relationships. Much of this comes from the pressure and expectation to behave in a particular way. Because there are so many more people around you might find that there are more people who are more open about their sexuality and you might meet folk with more diverse genders than you’re used to.
Different people different values
If you are keen on having sex or going out on the pull remember that different people have these different views about sex. So if you ‘meet’ someone on a dance floor, or in a bar and have a snog, don’t immediately assume that they want the same thing as you do. Someone could have a casual snog with loads of people and it’s no big deal – for others a snog can be really meaningful. It’s worth paying attention to this so that you don’t hurt someone but also so you take care of yourself too.
To do this it’s good to be as clear as you can about what kind of relationship you want with someone – ideally before you do it. If something has happened with someone try to be really clear afterwards what it is you would like: ‘that was fun, would you like to go for a coffee sometime and maybe do it again?’ or ‘that was fun, but I’m not looking for a regular committed thing right now.’
Casual sex ethics
Even with casual sex, everyone deserves to be treated well: even if you aren’t going to spoon each other after sex and make fried egg sandwiches in the morning. You should be paying attention to whether you are both enjoying it – so check this about consent and this about how booze can make consent harder.
Also make sure that you are using condoms or having other kinds of safer sex. I reckon it’s always good to have more than one with you if you are new to sex, in case you mess up putting one one (or need to put one on more than once). Your student union will be able to provide information about sexual health services.
Not being on the pull
Student unions will be able to offer you support beyond just giving you a condom holder and a sperm key ring. They will have all the details of services there to support your physical and emotional health too. You will also be able to find different groups, societies and projects you can get involved in where you can meet people and make new friends. You might not feel that confident about pulling people (not that many people are) but you might make new friends or people to go out with this way.
Trying but not succeeding …
There’s some advice about trying to chat to people here, but it’s not easy to do. So if you’ve tried this and it’s not gone well, try not to get down about it, not everyone is great at pulling. Often meeting people is all about timing, so you may just have to be patient. If you’re not getting as much sex with a partner as you might want, try some solo sex for a bit.
© Justin Hancock, 2015
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