Some three million young people will head off to college next month for their freshman year. If one of them was my son or my daughter, here’s what I’d want them to know about sex.
Parents, feel free to copy and hand this to your teen of any age. Or print and leave it laying around the house.
To all incoming freshmen at the University of Anywhere:
* If you want to have sex, don’t get drunk. If that makes sex less appealing, wait until you can arrange a sexual situation that’s appealing when you’re sober.
* Even if you’re sober, do not have sex with someone who’s drunk. Not only will it be less enjoyable, you have no way of predicting what they’ll say the next day–or the next year. If the only way you can arrange to get sex is to get someone else drunk, that’s pathetic. Stay home.
* If you have penis-vagina intercourse, you need to be 100% responsible for birth control. This is true whether you’re drunk or sober, gay or straight, whether you climax or not, and even if the intercourse only lasts 10 seconds. There will be a million unintended pregnancies in the U.S. this year, and nothing—nothing—can destroy your life like having one.
* No matter what you do, if it involves a penis or vulva, use plenty of lube. Even more than you think is necessary. No one ever died from too much lube.
* Pee before you have sex, even if you don’t really need to. Trust me, you don’t want to stop to do it in the middle of sex.
* Very few heterosexuals actually enjoy vigorous penis-in-anus sex. These days it seems a lot of young men want to try it and a lot of young women are acquiescing. True, you get to violate taboos and play with erotic power, but there are far safer and more comfortable ways to do that. Unless you both find it easy and really enjoyable, leave it to the pros.
* I know that some people say “no” to sex when they really mean “I’m not sure, ask again,” or “I’d like to, but I’ll feel better about myself if I say no first.” Since you can’t tell a real “no” from a “maybe” no until it’s too late, you must assume that every “no” means “no.” If you do this you may miss out on some consensual sex you could have had, but you’re also less likely of being accused of non-consensual sex.
* Real sex is not like porn. It’s actually much better: when you do it right, it’s more relaxed, friendlier, funnier, it lasts longer, involves kissing and hugging, and then you get to hang out together when it’s over.
* The first few times you have sex with someone, do the simpler, more basic stuff. Save the complicated positions, games, and toys for when you’re already sexually compatible with someone and can easily talk to each other during sex.
* Before deciding to have sex with someone, find out if they’re kinda crazy. Obviously, you can’t do this if one or both of you are drunk, or if you don’t talk to each other first (and listen to what they say), or if you’re in a big hurry, or if you’re in a group situation where everybody is acting kinda crazy. Having sex with someone who’s kinda crazy can be fantastically enjoyable–but what they do afterwards can ruin your life for years. That’s what kinda crazy people do.
* Never use sex to hurt someone, either physically or emotionally. Don’t use sex to get revenge or to punish someone or to prove something. Most people who use sex in these ways end up hurting themselves.
* Take your body seriously. If sex hurts, STOP.
Young people sometimes act like there’s a scarcity of sex out there, making it essential to do it whenever there’s an opportunity—even if it’s a terribly unsatisfactory opportunity. Trust me—there will always be another chance to have sex. Passing up sex that could be unpleasant, dangerous, or the focus of legal action is one of the most adult things you’ll do at college—and possibly the most important.