Navigating teenage years and becoming an adult can be astounding especially when it comes to relationships: love, sex, and contraceptives. As a 24-year-old, a post-teen, and a newly-minted adult here’s my perspective or advice on how to navigate this topic. You’ll make a lot of mistakes along the way but out of them, you will learn invaluable lessons.
Relationships are special friendships one has with a person that they are physically or emotionally attracted to. In primal terms, a probable mate who one chooses to explore the world of sex with is a person one is in a relationship with. Depending on your orientation and likes, then the one you are in a relationship with becomes your girlfriend or boyfriend. As you grow older then this person can morph and become a partner, husband, or wife. The term ‘partner’ is used for either a husband or wife but inculcates the sensitivity of blocking out traditional views of marriage and marital roles.
Getting into a Relationship
Getting into a relationship isn’t something that you can script or fully control step by step. In my experience, you just spend a lot of time with someone and share sweet moments and experiences that you find yourself in a relationship with them. It’s like being an astronaut, you never really become an astronaut until you have been to space. Therefore, when you get to space (or love in this case), despite the training or lack thereof, you are inherently an astronaut. Relationships can be likened to that. As such, don’t be too keen to label things or formalize everything. Just ease into it and learn as you go.
The Possessive Mistake
On liking someone or entering a relationship, most of us are likely to make the mistake of being overly possessive of that person. Most times this is expressed as jealousy but there is more to it. The possessive mistake is when you treat someone as ‘yours’ i.e. your person and possession. That is a huge mistake and to be honest, the relationship won’t go that far. Instead, let someone be with you without you becoming overly possessive or jealous.
The Merger of Love
Think of it this way, a relationship or a partnership of love can be likened to a merger and not an acquisition. A merger of love is where two people come together as equal partners in the same way two companies would merge. The individuals each retain their personal lives, activities, friends, etc in the same way two companies in a merger would retain their brands, employees, and assets.
The only difference, however, is that only the parent company has changed and for a relationship, the ‘parent company’ is choosing to and deciding to be together. The opposite would be a corporate takeover and having or requiring someone to change and to me, it’s not right to change who you are for love.
The Choice of Who to Love
Love is beautiful because it gives you the freedom to choose. Take a moment to appreciate the power in that. Choosing who to love is powerful. You get to decide who to be with and you can choose any kind of person you want with any number of characteristics. That’s amazing. Getting into a relationship is, therefore, first and foremost, a choice. Remember that and as easy and powerful as it is to choose to be with someone, the same can be said for choosing not to be with someone at all or any longer.
The Sex Equation
On getting into a relationship and assuming you are over 18 and consent to having sex with your partner, in comes the sex equation. Sex is a lot of things to a lot of people. To some it’s fun, others work, others relief, and so on. As such, there isn’t a blanket translation or perspective on sex. The way I see it is as a shoe that you get to design for yourself and fit into your life the way you want to. When in a relationship, however, both of you decide what it becomes and what it represents.
How to Go About Sex
In my humble view, do not engage yourself in sexual activities without being of age or consenting to it. Even when you do, then be very careful as your sex life is a very sensitive and integral part of you and the experiences you have in life. If you’re reckless, you not only risk your health and life but could also put yourself in the confines of circumstances that will change the rest of your life completely.
One such situation is a pregnancy that is unwanted or unintended. As a teenager, having a baby can be quite taxing. You get dealt with the question of whether to keep the baby or abort it. If you choose to keep the baby, then you choose responsibility for the rest of your life and the obligation of raising a child. If you choose to undergo an abortion, however, you risk losing your ability to have children and living with life-long guilt wondering who the baby you could have had could have become.
Contraceptives come into the sex equation as a way to avoid pregnancy. They act as a shield against unwanted fertilization and allow you to control your reproductive health. Contraceptives come in numerous kinds and alternatives but represent a fundamental tool to cushion off any unwanted surprises. They vary in form of execution and the longevity of effect but with the right advice from a reproductive health specialist or gynecologist, can be an effective way to stay healthy while partaking in a sex life.
For instance, a simple condom can be lifesaving. I know most people prefer not to use them but if you do, you prevent a horde of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDs. As such, as uncomfortable or unsweet using a condom is, it is still an essential part of protecting yourself while engaging in sexual activity.
The Equation of Sex Illustrated
Sex - Contraception = Pregnancy+/ STDs
Sex + Contraception = Protection
Sex + Love + Contraception = Happiness + Protection (Protected Happiness)
Love and Sex
What you’ll learn over time is that sex without love isn’t anything to rave about. It is bland and feels overly transactional. The beauty of sex is love and when you love someone enough, sex becomes part of the beauty of love. Therefore, instead of exploring too early while you’re still a teenager, get to adulthood and fall in love with someone first. By coupling this love with a healthy relationship, healthy sex, and contraception, then you enter the world of ‘protected happiness.’
Some will say that they are in love while still teens but that is only puppy love. It’s meant to set the stage and the expectations of adult love. It feels like the sweetest kind of love and also the most painful when one is heartbroken. As such, before giving up your chastity, first love someone, and truly love them by waiting to be an adult.
In the post-era, you must always seek consent. Boy or girl, ask your partner if they want to have sex with you or to engage in any form of sexual activity. It is so important that I would advise that you literally ask. Of course, the time and setting are important, and please take that extra second to actively seek consent. That time could also be the time that you are strapping up and wearing protection. Active consent is consent that is given in a sober, safe, and cajole-free state. Please ensure that you get it before and during sexual activity.
Protected Happiness: Wait and Be Careful and you will be Happy
To close it up, be very careful, wait, and you will be very happy. If you can just wait and take things slowly, then you’ll avoid making a lot of mistakes that you will regret. A good example is... if you rush into your first time having sex, then it may not be as special as you’d hoped. However, if you take your time and wait till you are an adult and can better decide who to love, then you will have a much better and more satisfying experience. Otherwise, it will be a messy roller coaster where the internet is your sex teacher and you’re getting fringe passionless expressions of sex and intimacy. Beware.