College life comes with many challenges. For many, it’s a time when they are confronted with certain choices that before now, were on the back burner. One of such is the decision to be sexually active or not. For others, being in an intimate or sexual relationship is not new. It does not matter where you belong. What’s important is how you can prevent hurting yourself if you decide to go into a relationship, date, and have sex while in college.
Physical, mental, or emotional damage may result from getting into an unwholesome intimate sexual relationship spanning from STDs, STIs, sexual assaults, and abuse. This guide will help you make conscious choices for an enjoyable healthy intimate relationship in college.
What is a healthy sexual relationship?
WHO defines sexual health beyond the absence of disease, and ailments. Your sexual health is all-encompassing and includes your physical, social, emotional, and mental wellbeing. A healthy relationship is founded on positivity, mutuality, and equality. It has the following characteristics.
Characteristics of a healthy intimate sexual relationship
Mutual respect: Each person understands boundaries and treats each other with courtesy and thoughtfulness.
Honesty: You are both open about things concerning yourselves that affect the other person. Things like your sexuality and health.
Individuality: You both have a life outside each other or independent of each other. You shouldn’t compromise who you are based on what your partner wants.
Good communication: You and your partner can talk about anything. How you both feel and what you both want without shame or blame.
Healthy sexual relation: No one is forced to engage in any sexual act.
How To Be in a Safe and Healthy Intimate Relationship
Make up your mind
While abstinence is the best way to stay safe and healthy, it gets to a point when you feel you are ready to explore sexual intimacy. Sex, before you are ready, can have emotional risks. Before getting into an intimate relationship, ask the following questions.
- Am I being pressured to do this?
- Does it align with my values?
- Am I ready for the emotional and physical risks involved?
Answering the question ‘are you ready for sex’? would help you choose the sort of relationship you should be in.
If you proceed to decide that you are ready to become sexually active, it’s important to get proper knowledge of the risks involved and how you can protect yourself from them. Sex education doesn’t just arm you for what lies ahead. It gives you a positive outlook toward sexual and reproductive health behaviors as you would see after reading this piece.
Choose the kind of relationship you want
What kind of relationship fits your lifestyle or personality? An answer to this question will help you define your relationship expectations going forward. Relationships are a spectrum and can be in any of these forms.
- Hookup: A detached kind of relationship devoid of emotions with casual flings and one-night stands.
- Friends with benefits: You have an understanding that you can get intimate occasionally, nothing else.
- Platonic relationship: You share a close bond without sexual innuendos? If you are not ready to have sex, this can be ideal for you.
- Loose polygamous: An open relationship where a third party is involved.
- Loose monogamous You do everything as a couple without future promises and commitment.
- All-in relationship: It is a serious affair where you are both committed and intimate with future plans?
Find the right person for you
Now that you know what you want in a relationship, ask the right questions to be certain that you and your prospective partner want the same thing. The following questions can help.
- What’s your sexual history?
- What’s your health status about STIs and STDs?
- How do you feel about sex?
- What’s your partner’s take on contraceptive and safe sex
- Are you polygamous?
Be careful on your first date
Now it’s time for a date. You are excited but don’t let that excitement cloud your judgments.
Statistics show that 57% of rapes occur with a partner on a first date. Date rape is a thing. Here’s how to protect yourself.
- Always have a plan for when things go south.
- Watch your drink and think twice about a free drink.
- Don’t drink something that you didn’t open/serve yourself.
- Don’t share drinks.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended. If you do, take another drink when you come back.
- Drink in moderation
- Go with a chaperon and look out for each other
- keep date public
6. Protect yourself
You have the responsibility to protect yourself from contracting STIs or STDs. For girls in heterosexual relationships, unwanted pregnancy is a concern and should be avoided.
How to do this?
- Know your health status by regularly testing for STDs and HIV.
- Get vaccinated for Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV affects both genders and can be prevented with a vaccination.
- Use a condom the right way. Use one at a time to avoid the risk of breakage. Do not have sex with a partner who refuses to wear protection and always have a stash of them in your possession.
- Use contraceptives. There are safe birth controls without side effects. Emergency contraceptives can also come in handy if the condom breaks, as they sometimes do or after unprotected sex. You need to consult a doctor to know if you should use a pill, an implant, or a patch. The good thing is, you can consult and get a prescription conveniently without an in-person visit to a doctor. A place like ofzoey.com helps you achieve this comfortably.
- Do not outdo yourself. Protecting yourself also entails that you don’t push yourself too far when it concerns experimenting with sex positions. Focus on maximizing your pleasure with sex positions you are good with so that you don’t end up with an injury.
7. Know your comfort zone
You shouldn’t be forced to do what you don’t want to. Even as a sexually active person, your boundaries should be respected, and only you can cross the line when you deem fit. Remember that a healthy relationship is built on mutual understanding. Agreeing on what is permissible during sex with your partner well ahead of time will help you get comfortable in the relationship.
8. Do hookups right
If you have decided to engage in hookups or detached relationships, you must be careful. Hookups mean that you would be around strangers a lot of the time. You haven’t gotten the chance to know them yet. Most times, you only have time to engage in small talks before agreeing to have sex with a hookup partner. Don’t forget to do the following.
- Use protection
- Let a friend know where you are
- Don’t expect anything after a hookup by getting emotionally invested. it helps to protect your heart.
- Follow your hunch. If you have a gut feeling like something is wrong, don’t hesitate to walk away.
9. End unhealthy relationships
Dating violence is a usual occurrence in college. A study reveals that 57% of college students admit to having experienced dating violence while in college. How do you know you are in an abusive relationship? Let’s delve into what unhealthy relationships look like.
What is an unhealthy relationship?
An unhealthy relationship is fraught with physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional violence. Anyone can find themselves in this sorry situation. If you have a partner who does any of these to gain control and power, you need to back out as it only gets worse and leads to abuse. Look out for the following.
Physical abuse: If your partner hits/harms you or destroys your things.
Control: If your partner constantly tells you what to do. And he always wants to know where you are and what you are doing at all times. If they threaten to harm you or harm themselves to make you do things.
Humiliation: Does your partner make you feel bad, put you down in the presence of others and call you names?
Unpredictability: If you live in fear that he may get angry over everything you do.
Pressure: Do you have a choice, or do you do things because your partner can’t take “NO” for an answer? Pressure to take alcohol, drugs, or have sex are all part of dating violence you must not condone.
If you experience any of the above, it’s a red flag that indicates that you are in a danger zone. The only option you have is to take a walk and do that fast.
Everyone has a right to enjoy a healthy intimate relationship devoid of bad drama. Even as a college student, you can have a full life and enjoy sexual relations that are safe and secure. If you read to this point, certainly, you are now fully aware of how to safely explore intimate relationships and sex. Remember, no pressure. Start when you are ready. One step at a time will get you there.
Article made possible by Amaka. Amaka is a content manager at ofzoey.com. She has been working in social media and content marketing for five years. She specializes in the health, tech, innovation, and travel niches. When she is not writing, you will find her teaching math, and trying new recipes and listening to the best sci-fi books.