I haven't had sex yet. How can I tell if I'm ready?
I want to first say that I appreciate the consideration you are this decision. I hear too many times over about girls who make this choice based on external pressures from friends or a partner, rather than on an informed decision she herself has made. Let me be clear: I am not advocating abstinence or waiting for marriage or even "The One". The jury is still out on the "One," and I always have been a firm believer in test driving the car before purchasing it. However, there is a lot to consider before determining if you are ready, and whether you should do it with the partner you're currently with.
Here's the thing: When I was in high school, all of my friends had lost their virginity by the time they were 15. Except me. I had already been prone to being a target for severe dislike by others, and was used to not fitting in. By this point, I no longer cared about keeping up with others, and hadn't for several years. I waited. Not because of some religiosity, and not because I was waiting for my proverbial white knight to come and rescue me. I waited because I wanted to accomplish something in my life. Those people, even my friends, were not going to take care of me later on in life if something went wrong because of poor decision making in my youth. They weren't going to save me from whatever consequences I may encounter.
I lost my virginity at 18. I was one of the last. To this day I can say I am thankful I waited. I can also say that I spent time considering options regarding my own sexual health and safety. I went on birth control a year before I even considered being sexually active. I bought condoms, and wasn't even dating someone. I just wanted to be careful.
When it came time to choosing a partner, I must say I did what I could. No one tells you that you're young, and that this is not going to be it. Some people would like young girls to think that they can wait for marriage and live happily ever after. I am much more realistic than that. Waiting for love or for marriage is a grand idea, one that Disney tells you will happen ever since you are old enough to watch TV. And if you decide to wait for a man that you have love for, or plans for a future with, then good for you. I commend you, and not in a sarcastic or snide way.
However, my advice is this: If you want to have sex, at the very least respect your partner for who he or she is that time in your life. You're young. The first person you sleep with will probably not be your forever in the sense that you two will grow old together. But if you sleep with together, that person is going to forever be in your memory. There is no one I know who does not remember the first person they chose to have sex with. Can you look at this person and feel good about that later?
My first time was laughable, at best. He was awful. As a virgin, I probably shouldn't have been able to identify bad sex. But it was. Thankfully, throughout my 20s I developed a healthy sense of humor about sex. Thus, while I am stuck remembering his face and fumbled attempts at sex, I can sit back and be amused about how I lost my virginity. Even though it was terrible, I have never once regretted my decision. I do not wish I had waited. I was able to move on and seek out better sexual fulfillment as time wore on. To me, that is what this choice is all about. Can you respect you and your choices for making this person your first?
Oh, and if you do, please be sure to do it safely.