Should I have sex? BISH

Should I Have Sex?

‘Should I have sex’ is for you to answer. Here’s some stuff to think about so that you are less likely to regret it if you do do it.

Deciding when to have sex with someone, either for the first time ever, or the first time with someone can be a big decision. Or not, it totally depends. If you’ve had really good sex ed, good people around you, parents or carers you can talk to, and access to health services then it might be quite easy. Of course a lot depends on the relationship with the person you might want to have sex with.

It’s okay to not fully know

How did you know whether you wanted to go on a theme park ride for the first time? Or to play football for the first time? Just like anything we do for the first time, we don’t know till we try it. We kind of figure out as we go along and see how ‘into it’ we are. Our wants and desires just become depending on what we’re doing, how our body feels, what the relationship is like, and how safe we feel.

It’s actually easier to do this for sexy times because there are lots of different things that count as sex. Everything from kissing, fully naked wrestling, and knee stroking. So you can pick something you might be interested in and see how the other person feels about doing it. There’s more on working out what sex you like here.

The law in the UK is that you can’t do sexy stuff with someone under 16, even if you’re under 16 too. It’s to protect young people from abuse and isn’t intended for people who really want to do it and are in relationships. There’s more about sex and the law here. You’re not likely to be prosecuted if you are around the same age, the relationship was equal and you both clearly consented – but it’s still against the law if you’re under 16.

Is this for you or them or both?

If you’ve ever done anything with anyone else (watching TV, eating a pizza, played snooker), you’ll probably know that we all have different levels of enthusiasm for doing something. Think of a scale of enthusiasm from -5 (really don’t want to), to zero (meh), to +5 (really want to). Where do you reckon you are? What about them?

enthusiasm scale

Does your number change based on what their number is? If you were to come up with a number for both of you, what would it be?

If one of you has a lower number than the other, are there ways that you can think about how you’ll do it? What kinds of reasons for doing it might help? For example: let’s say you are a +3 on having your knee stroked and they are a -2 on this being done to them. They might be more up for doing something for you. Perhaps they want to please you?

It’s okay to want to please someone. It can be really nice. We can get a lot from giving something to someone. But be careful about doing this if they are also not willing to do that for you.


Because you live in society, you may have hear the idea that men are supposed to love sex and women aren’t. Or that men are interested in sex and women are interested in love. This is a really great example of sexism. Thanks, I hate it! Many men are interested in love, and many women are interested in just sex. (Obviously men and women can enjoy having sex with people of the same gender or different too).

So this ‘should story’ is one that comes up when you are first deciding to have sex with someone. There are also stories that apply to who is more experienced, or more confident, or the top or bottom. It’s these stories that make deciding to have sex tricky. The best way to overcome that is to say what the story is out loud. “I know this is what I’m supposed to think / want, but I think I might actually want …”

Sidenote: women are also told that the first time is rubbish or painful. That’s a load of old bollocks. Pardon my French. Read this about how to have really good first time sex.


You might want to both think about what you want to get out of sex. This will give you more of an idea of whether it’s a good idea or not. If you’re both on the same page about why you’re doing it and what you want to get out of it, then it’s more likely to be better. This might also help you work out how you’re going to do it and what kinds of sex you might want to try. First time sex should be great. Aim high!

Are you trying to prove something?

Some people have sex because they think it’s something they should do rather than something they want to do. Sometimes this is about people ‘proving’ their sexuality, or doing it because it’s expected of their gender – for instance, someone doing the ‘big man thing.’ So really this is just doing it for other people and not because you might actually enjoy it.

Also, you’d be kind of using the other person. Not everyone loves the person they have sex with, but you do need to treat them with respect and like they’re a human – not some sex robot.

It won’t make someone love you

Bad news. You can’t make someone fall in love with you. Even if you have really really enjoyable sex with someone and have a great time. Love is much more complicated and it’s not the same as having good sex. Good sexual experiences can help a relationship in the same ways that doing anything nice with someone can make a relationship better. But sex doesn’t act as a drug which makes someone fall in love with you. Also it’s not a good strategy to try and guilt trip someone into being a relationship with you because you had sex.

You could say no

You should be able to feel like you could say no to anything and they’d respect that. If you’re being pestered into having sex it’s a sign that you’re not totally up for it (and that they might not be the right person). If something feels uncomfortable or you’ve gone off the idea then the other person should make it easy for you to slow down or stop. You need to do this with them too. Here’s how to ask and here’s how to say no.

Right person right time

Not everyone is in a serious relationship with someone they have sex with – even if it’s for the first time. But make sure you like each other, that you trust each other about safety and saying no, that you can communicate enough and that you fancy them.

Safety first

Depending on the kind of sex you’re having, you might want to get some condoms or another form of contraception. Have a read of the safer sex section here. If you find yourself being responsible for safer sex and the other person isn’t, they might not be a great person to have sex with at the moment. I’ve written more about how partners put people at risk.

You’re really horny

The thought of sexy time might make you feel really nervous but you’re excited about it. When you think about it you might feel throbbing and tingling in your pants area. Maybe you might feel excited but also relaxed enough. This is why it’s important to take your time so that you can make it as good as possible. Here’s more about how to have sex for the first time or any time.

It’s always okay to keep asking ‘Should I Have Sex?’

Even if you’ve had sex before, even with the same person, it’s okay to keep asking yourself if you want to have sex. One of the ‘should stories’ about sex is that once you’ve done it, you’ll always want to do it. That really isn’t true. Should stories are really not very helpful. It’s really important with sex and relationships that we are kind to ourselves and try to listen to our bodies. If it’s not feeling right, or isn’t sitting well with our values, then it’s okay to just not. If you want to do a bit of work on yourself try the About You section. I would recommend this Big Up Yourself article or this one about How You Feel About Yourself.

Please leave a (nice) comment below if you like or ask me a question here.

© Justin Hancock, 2024 Find out more about me and BISH here.

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I’ve been a sex and relationships educator since 1999 (with a background in youth and community work). In that time I’ve taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. I’ve worked with many charities, local governments, schools and youth organisations facilitating training and workshops. My two books, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and If You Want To) and Can We Talk About Consent? are widely available around the world. I’ve been on the telly and the radio and have written articles for newspapers and magazines. I’m also a member of the World Association for Sexual Health. Read more about me and BISH here. Find out about my other work here Justin Hancock

If you’re over 18 and would like an advanced version of BISH check out my podcast Culture Sex Relationships. Also I’ve written a sex advice book for adults with Meg-John Barker called A Practical Guide to Sex available wherever you get books. We also did some zines to help you to figure out what you want from sex and relationships. They are at our website.

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