Problems tend to arise in a relationship when we don’t realize that people have different ways of giving love. Some people prefer to talk about their feelings, while others prefer the “love language” of touch.
Current research shows that physical touch can provide many health benefits, like improved attitude and feelings of connection—but this doesn’t exclusively apply to sex. Sometimes, holding your partner’s hand, rubbing their shoulders, or ending an argument with a hug is all it takes to say, “I love you.” Just keep one thing in mind: no matter how long you’ve been in a relationship, both you and your partner should know each other’s wants, goals, fears and limits. You both should always feel comfortable communicating your honest needs, without fear of your partner’s response.
Establishing Physical Boundaries
Getting physical with your partner should never happen if you’re not ready. A healthy relationship involves both partners knowing each other’s limits, and they communicate to each other if something changes.
It’s also important to understand that you don’t owe your partner anything in a relationship, and sex isn’t currency. It’s never fair for your partner to claim you don’t care about them if you’re not ready to have sex. Even if you’ve done it before, pressure is completely unacceptable.
Below are some thoughtful responses to unwanted pressure:
Talk about your decision to refrain from sex
It’s important to explain your desire not to have sex as soon as things become romantic. You can reassure your partner that it has nothing to do with a lack of feelings, or your level of commitment. You can also remind them that you don’t want to ruin a great relationship by doing something you’re not ready to do. This conversation takes a lot of courage, however, talking things out is much healthier than keeping things deeply hidden.
Know where you stand in your convictions
Are you willing and able to bear the responsibility of having sex? Do you want to be a person who waits until they are married? If so, why? It’s important to let your partner know what you believe in so you are not pressured to give in. Most people with a clear understanding of what they believe in are less susceptible to do things they don’t want to do.
Learn what real love is while you wait
The term love is one of the most used and abused words in the dictionary. Here’s the catch; love never demands someone to do something that would violate the other, or trash his or her deeply held values. Real love is patient, and always looks after the other person.
Sometimes, a man will say that if a girlfriend really loves him, she will be willing to have sex. This means two things—either he doesn’t know what love is, or he’s lying about loving her. It’s easy to believe a lie when you have strong feelings for someone, but it’s certainly not easy to face the consequence of believing in that lie.
If the pressure continues
It’s best to get rid of any partner that is pressuring you to have sex. Pressure is a big red flag that something isn’t right in your relationship, and it’s never worth any future regret. Sex is not an indicator of love, or even your level of commitment.
Beyond Sexual Relationships
Abusive physical touch can also be nonsexual. Any force during an argument, whether it involves the abuser holding down their partner, physically restraining their partner from leaving, or pushing or shoving are crucial warning signs. Holding someone back in order to make demands is also a show of force.
If you are worried about the physical boundaries of your relationship, talk to someone. You should never feel anything but 100% comfortable with your partner’s physical touch.
Remember, domestic violence is “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another,” (NCADV). For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.
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