Why Do Teens Have Sex?
Sexually active teens have a lot of reasons for having sex and some of these are perfectly healthy. There is nothing wrong with expressing yourself sexually with another person if that is something you feel comfortable and ready to do, and if both people are on the same page, respect each other and are practicing safer sex.
But sometimes people have sex for less positive reasons. Some of these include:
- Having sex as a way to get someone to like you,
- Having sex to try to hold on to a relationship that might end.
- Having sex because you feel pressure from another person.
- Having sex because you think it is the only think you have to offer, or feel as if sex is the only way you are validated.
Often these reasons for having sex related to having of low self esteem.
So What is Self Esteem?
About's Guide to Psychology explains that:
"The term self-esteem is used to describe a person's overall sense of self-worth or personal value. Self-esteem is often seen as a personality trait, which means that it tends to be stable and enduring. Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs about the self, such as the appraisal of one's own appearance, beliefs, emotions and behaviors."
When your overall sense of self-worth is poor, then it is not surprising that you don't always make the healthiest choices.
Self Esteem and Sex
Not making the safest sexual choices has been a problem for one gay teen who writes:
"I have sex for no particular reason. I don't really know why, besides the fact that when I know a guy wants to have sex with me, it makes me feel like I am attractive and desirable...I actually know I'm not bad looking. I don't know, I guess I don't really believe it unless there is a guy that wants my body."
This guy's experience is pretty common. But it can also be risky. Having sex as a way to feel attractive can backfire and actually make you feel worse about yourself if you end up regretting what you have done.
Safe Sex and Self Esteem
Not only might you have regretted sex if you don't feel good about yourself, but people with low self esteem are less likely to practice safe sex than are those who have a higher sense of self. You can know all there is to know about condoms and dams, but if you don't think you are worth protecting, it is less likely that you will ask a partner to use these barriers.
When it comes to self esteem and safe sex, something else to keep in mind is the role your relationship with your parents plays. According to About's Guide to STD's:
"Many studies have shown that teens who can talk to their parents about sex are more likely to use condoms or other contraceptives, have fewer sexual partners, and even delay their sexual debut. How does this translate into actual condom use? It may well be that the self confidence teenagers gain by being able to speak openly about sex with their parents helps them to have similar conversations with their partners."
Unfortunately, many GLBT teens are simply not able to be open with their parents about their sexuality.
In case that is where you are coming from, let me take a minute to remind you, you are worth protecting!
GLBT Teens and Low Self Esteem
It is sadly common for GLBT teens to experience low self esteem. This can happen for a whole host of reasons, including growing up in homophobic communities or families, and having difficult accepting one's sexual orientation.
If you are feeling really bad about yourself and taking risks, both sexual and otherwise, because of this, please consider talking to someone about how you are feeling! You can also check out these tips for feeling good about yourself...