Episode 141: "What if my friend says, 'If you really love me, you'd have sex with me'?"Support the show
On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about when friends pressure someone to have sex.
This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.
So, today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, what if my friend says, ‘If you really love me, you’d have sex with me’?”
And today we’re joined again by Safe+Sound Somerset volunteer Ella Blank, who goes to the University of Maryland. Hi Ella, thanks for joining us!
Ella: Hi everyone! So, to answer the question, if THEY really loved YOU, they would respect your boundaries and decisions. So based off of your question, it sounds like you feel uncomfortable and this statement can make you feel uncomfortable. And here’s the thing: you don’t have to have sex with anyone if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to prove your love this way either. And if someone says this to you, it can be a form of guilt-tripping.
Jessica: Yes! Guilt tripping is when someone makes another person feel guilt or a sense of responsibility to change their behavior or take a specific action. But this can happen in any relationship, not only friendships, but romantic and otherwise. And remember, sex does not equal love.
E: Yeah definitely. There are many ways to show a person you love and care about them without having sex. You can love a friend in a platonic way too if they are just a friend. Um, but having sex is an intimate activity, and if partners are not excited and willing to participate then that is not full, free consent to have sex or do anything else that you are uncomfortable doing.
A person should never have to pressure, convince or guilt someone into doing anything sexual if they don’t want to. If your friend is attracted to you, there are other, safer ways to ask about becoming closer. But putting pressure to have sex is NOT that way.
J: Totally. It sounds like they are putting their own needs before yours. If they really loved YOU, they would not pressure YOU to do anything you don’t want to do or are unsure about, and that includes sex. Sometimes, we do hear from teens who have been pressured or forced into sexual activity with a friend.
Your friend is trying to make you prove their love or show that they are attracted to you, but in reality what they are doing, it sounds like, is pushing you away and making you uncomfortable. So, Ella, since this is a friend and someone they care about, what do you think they could do if they keep feeling pressured?
E: Well, you set your boundaries if you feel safe to do so. This means, say “no” – feel free to say “no.” You could tell them that what they’re saying makes you uncomfortable, and communicate that to them, and that you don’t want to do those things. And remember you always have a right to leave a friendship or a relationship for any reason, especially if they are making you feel uncomfortable. You don’t have to feel guilty or justify why you are leaving or how you feel, if you don’t want to.
J: Yeah, that’s good advice, I agree. Um, plus, keep in mind too, that consent or permission for sexual activity always has to be FRIES – F-R-I-E-S. This means: consent has to be F for freely given, so there is no pressure from either partner. It has to be R or reversible or changeable at any point, so you can change your mind. Consent has to be I for informed, which means that everyone knows what they’re agreeing to, and that there are no tricks. E is for “everyone agrees,” and S for specific. This means that consent is ongoing – partners only agree to one thing at a time, and keep in mind that everyone also has to be of age, so that changes depending what state you’re in.
E: Yeah. If you don’t feel safe to say anything, then you can remove yourself from the situation if it’s possible. So think about reaching out to a trusted adult, who can provide you with emotional support, or reach out to a supportive person that you trust, whether that’s a parent, guardian, family friend, coach, teacher, anyone that you feel comfortable talking to. Um, if they don’t believe you or they downplay the situation, then you can find another adult.
J: Yeah, and you can also call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset helpline for support also from a trained advocate. Remember, you are not the only one dealing with this, and there is help available. Thank you so much for being here again, Ella!
E: Thanks again for having me!
To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.