The first time I heard a friend talk about the sex was in 6th grade. A friend had supposedly lost his virginity the year before while hiding out from a youth group service with his girlfriend. His words which still remain in my mind to this day, carried a weight of confusion as I listened and I struggled to understand how the act was even possible, let alone possible for someone my age. From then on out, as the years went on and puberty began to set in and confound every boy my age, sex conversations amongst friends would grow increasingly commonplace.

It’s not so much that there was direct pressure to start experimenting sexually, it’s that it was talked about so much that if you didn’t have your own juicy story to throw in the pot, you felt left out, young, belittled, inexperienced and kind of dumb. I started to think that because I was 14 and hadn’t even yet kissed a girl, let alone done A LOT of other stuff with one, that I was such a loser, and that soon my newfound friends would discover my secret and I’d be ostracized. So it became inadvertent social pressure. No one was chirping in my ear, telling me that I needed to go get some action. All it took was their stories to make me feel the pressure.   

In 9th grade, one of my most “experienced” friends asked me, “You know that feeling you get after you make out with a girl?” I nodded, lying. He continued, “You know, that guilty feeling?” I should have paid more attention to this insight but instead I was too focused on appearing experienced. How ironic! There I was lying about my level of experience and the most experienced friend of mine was sharing how it’s normal to feel guilty after making out with a girl you hardly know! Again, I felt confused.

Shortly after this conversation, I recall this now close friend revealing that he had slept with a girl down his street, a girl I had introduced him to and who we all knew as extremely promiscuous. Being a bunch of 9th grade boys with very little wisdom, we took turns making him feel paranoid about having a disease or possibly getting the girl pregnant, not really realizing that these are serious, very real and potential outcomes. Even though this guy was out of his mind for doing this, let alone telling his friends about it, I knew that this type of behavior was becoming increasingly normal.

I wish I would have realized sooner that I could set standards for myself and how important actually following them would be, both at the time and now as an adult. You feel these pressures, you act on them to serve some ridiculous purpose of “being cool’ or having more life experience or to gain bragging rights amongst your idiot friends who are probably wishing they could take it all back at this point to. What I’m trying to say is that having the strength and mental fortitude to not allow yourself to be pushed one direction or the other by your peers is something that you will never regret and it sets an amazing precedent in behavior for your future wife or husband. They will appreciate it and they will appreciate you all the more for having the foresight to preserve your body and your heart for the person it is truly meant for.