Dating and having sex can be exciting, but it can also feel overwhelming at times.

It’s common to feel anxious about dating and sex when you’re a teenager. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.

This article hopes to give you some ideas about how to manage these sometimes tricky issues.

Lots of people feel nervous about starting to date. But dating can be a good way to find out about who you are, what you like to do and how you feel about relationships.

Most adolescents start dating at some point. However, most young people don’t start dating until they’re about 16 – 18.

Lots of people say that their first few dates weren’t very successful. This is normal. It’s a good idea to be patient with yourself and to try not to get down about it. You’re probably new to the idea of dating, and so you may need to do some practice dates first.

There are lots of ways you can find potential dates. You could:

  • ask a friend to introduce you to someone
  • ask people you know to go to an event you both like and see if you get along
  • ask a teacher or counselor to help you find a suitable partner for an activity, like joining a sports team.

It’s best not to give your telephone number or email address to someone you’ve just met. That way, you can take your time to get to know each other properly.

When you’ve decided that someone is someone you might like to meet again and be your boyfriend or girlfriend, you can ask for their phone number or email address.

How you feel about the person you’re dating will guide you about how far to go with them physically.

If you’re dating someone you really like, you probably won’t need to worry about them pressuring you to have sex. If you’re dating someone you like a little less, they might be more likely to pressure you into having sex when you really don’t want to.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can say something like ‘I don’t want to have sex yet; I want to wait until I feel ready.’ You might also want to say that you have some feelings for them, but you still need some time to get to know each other more.

There are lots of things that can affect your feelings around dating, sex and relationships. For example, you might feel different about a new relationship if:

  • your ex-partner has a new partner
  • you have some health or family issues to deal with.

Some young people find that their doubts and worries about sex and relationships are part of the normal worries that you might have about making a new start in a new school.

There’s no ‘right’ age to start dating. The main thing is to keep your options open. The only rule is that you have to be old enough to agree to have sex.

Giving and receiving pleasure

It can be scary to think about having sex for the first time. There can be questions like ‘Will it hurt?’, ‘Will I be good at it?’ and ‘Will I do the right thing?’ running through your mind.

These worries are normal

With people we really like, it can be scary to even think about having sex. Part of being a grown-up is feeling OK about having sex.

Having sex for the first time is a big deal, and so you might want to wait a while before you do it. You might also want to wait until you’re really sure you’re ready to have sex and to do the right thing.

Talking with your partner is important. You might feel:

  • ‘I really like this person, maybe I even love them.’
  • ‘I really like this person, but I don’t think I love them yet.’
  • ‘I don’t really like this person yet, but I want to see if I can love them.’
  • ‘I know I don’t really like this person, but I’ll give it a go anyway.’
  • If you don’t feel good about it or ready for it, then it’s probably not a good idea to have sex.

Having sex when you’re not ready doesn’t feel good. It can make you feel bad about yourself and you can feel like you’ve lost control of the situation.