Feeling good about yourself
Decisions about sex can be confusing. Sometimes you feel pressure to have sex and sometimes there's pressure not to have sex.
It is your right to decide what's best for you and what is important for you and think about how your decision might affect others. Think about what you want and what the consequences might be.
Remember, it's your body and your choice - it's OK to wait if you want to and it’s OK to say no.
Coping with new feelings and learning about yourself and others can be an exciting time. It is important to give yourself time to get used to these new feelings, emotions and behaviours. It’s OK to have feelings and to be uncertain about them. And it is OK to be different in your feelings, emotions and behaviours from your friends.
Some young people think that because they are not in a relationship, there is something wrong with them. But it takes time for relationships to develop. The right person for you might not be ready for a relationship until he/she is much older. Your priorities might be different. Some people want to finish study and get a job before they begin a relationship. Others want the experience of a relationship first and then get on with building a future.
Knowing what you want from a relationship might not be clear in your own mind. Some people just want friendship. Some look for romance while for others, a relationship is an opportunity to have sex. It might be that you want many things from a relationship. Think about what you want and what the consequences might be.
Working out what you want also takes time. Peer pressure exists and sometimes people may force what they want onto you and having to deal with that can be hard to deal with what other people want and that can be hard.
Your sexual identity
We all get a wide range of messages about sex and relationships from family, friends, magazines and other people around us like our parents, church groups or community leaders. Sometimes these messages are very different. You may have heard of the terms heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual.
- A heterosexual person is attracted to people of the opposite sex. Most people are heterosexual.
- A homosexual person is attracted to people of the same sex. Sometimes words like gay (for men) and lesbian (for women) are used. As these words are often used in a hurtful way, not everyone who is homosexual wants to be given these labels. About 10% of the population identifies as being either gay or a lesbian.
- A bisexual person is attracted to people from both sexes. It’s not clear what percentage of the population is bisexual.
Whatever your sexual orientation, whether you see yourself as straight, gay, a lesbian or bisexual, it is important to understand that no form of sexual orientation is unlawful. Some people have strong feelings about sexual orientation. Our society encourages, expects and conditions most people to be heterosexual. People who are different often experience discrimination. In Australia, anti-discrimination laws protect the rights of individuals and unlawful discrimination can be addressed through the legal system.
It's OK to be you. It's OK for others to be themselves too. Respecting others and accepting them is an important way of ensuring that our communities are safe places for everyone.