Making Decisions about Dating and Sex

At some point, many students make choices about whether to date or hang out with someone, or whether or not to have sex. When you decide based on your values, and when you've considered what you do and don't want, you're more likely to feel good about your decision. And remember, it's always OK to change your mind.


When thinking about your options regarding sex or dating, consider:

  • Values: What are my core values for how I live my life? Does the potential activity or relationship fit in with my values and beliefs? Does this decision make me feel happy and comfortable?
  • Motivation: What makes me interested in doing this? Am I seeking pleasure, connection, or to explore a curiosity? Or might I be feeling some pressure to "keep up" or fit in with others, or a need for validation? 
  • Relationship issues: Is my relationship status or style with the potential partner(s) how I want it to be? How might sex affect our relationship, and am I OK with those possibilities?
  • Health: If I want to have sex, do I have the supplies and knowledge I need to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), and if applicable, pregnancy? Do I know where to get health care? Do my partners support my health wishes and goals (like using condoms), and if not, can I advocate for myself? Am I supportive of others' health wishes and goals?
  • Ethics: How will I talk with my partners about what we do and don't want to do? How can I be sure everyone is excited to participate, and is fully able to make that choice? How will I treat other people so that I feel proud of my actions? Regardless of how casual or committed we are, how can I be kind to partners? 
  • Making it great: What do I like and want (and not want) sexually? How will I ask my partners about what they like? Am I comfortable communicating about likes and dislikes with my partner(s)? Can I handle some discomfort, vulnerability and/or disappointment that can happen with sex? 

Visit Ready or Not from Scarleteen for more information on making sexual decisions.