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April 10, 2023

Stop Expecting Sex at Prom

By Aisha K.
, 18
, from Cherry Hill, NJ

My parents have always been very strict about dating, because in my parents’ culture, you basically didn’t date at all. Their parents found them a potential partner, they approved or not, and when my mom and dad both agreed they were a match, they got married. 

But I grew up in a different world than they did, and that created a lot of tension between us my whole life. Finally, last fall, as I started my senior year of high school, they realized I would be leaving for college in a year, and I might as well learn how to date than have no experience with relationships at all when I got to campus. 

So I dated, I made out with people, and it was fun but nothing clicked. Then four months ago, I met my boyfriend at a party, and we have so much together, but we’ve only gone so far physically. You might be surprised to hear that this wasn’t just my decision. There are so many assumptions people make about high school and sex, mainly that all guys are having it, especially if they have a girlfriend. But that’s not always true, and the more we talked about sex, the more we realized we weren’t ready yet.

Which brings me to prom. Many of my friends are feeling pressure to have sex with their dates, and I feel bad that they feel like they can’t have the conversations my boyfriend and I have.  They feel that there are certain expectations for what should happen at prom, that you can’t just go and dress up and have fun, and celebrate the end of high school, without hooking up afterward. 

I want to say that the best thing about my relationship is how openly we communicate, and if you aren’t comfortable communicating with your date, you shouldn’t be having sex with them. You don’t have to have sex because it’s prom and considered a tradition for the occasion. 

I know a lot of girls feel pressure to put out, and might be worried about how their date will react if they don’t want to. But it’s so much easier to have the conversation before, when you aren’t drinking, you’re not in the moment, and you don’t want to be embarrassed.

If your prom is coming up, talk to your date about how you both want the night to go. Do you want to go with a group or alone? Do you want to go to an after party? Do you want to clarify each other’s expectations for physical intimacy? It will be such a relief to have discussed it beforehand instead of having wildly different expectations and then one or both of you feeling like prom is ruined.

So listen to yourself. Figure out what you want. And then, along with all the pre- prep of figuring out what to wear, talk to your date about your expectations so you can relax and have fun at your one and only senior prom!

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