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Savage Love

I'm a 17-year-old girl and, in most aspects, I'm confident with myself, my identity and my body

I'm a 17-year-old girl and, in most aspects, I'm confident with myself, my identity and my body. Earlier this year, I met a girl. She had some serious drama at home and needed to get out of her house, so I let her stay at mine. Things went a LOT further than I was ready for. I had just had my first kiss the month before and I didn't feel like our relationship was ready for sex, but I went along with it because she never gave me a chance to slow things down or say no.

My feelings for her are gone; she is attractive, but we don't connect. But she has feelings for me. How can I get her to understand, or at least respect, how I feel if she doesn't understand why this was a big deal for me?

Growing Older Youth

There's a movement in sex-ed circles to replace the old opt-out consent mantra, “No means no,” with a new, improved opt-in consent mantra, “Yes means yes.” YMY says it's not good enough to wait for the other person to stop the action with a “no,” which many people – particularly young people, particularly young girl people – have a hard time doing. You have to get a “yes.”

But the kind of person who doesn't give you a chance to say “no,” GOY, is unlikely to solicit a “yes.” Which is why we all need to advocate for ourselves in the moment.

And you failed to do that, GOY – you failed to advocate for yourself in the moment.

I don't say that to make you feel bad or to shift the blame onto your shoulders; I say it because we've all been there. Most confident, sexually active adults can point to an early experience that went too far, too fast, a sexual encounter that left us feeling the way you did after you had sex with this girl. And it's possible to walk away from an experience like that – one that left you feeling shitty and powerless – feeling empowered to advocate for yourself in uncomfortable sexual situations in the future, GOY, provided you learn the right lesson.

Here's the wrong lesson: “I'm a total fuckup who can't speak up for myself when I'm having sex, so I'd better not have sex again. Ever.” That's bullshit, and what's worse, that kind of thinking can make a person more vulnerable the next time she winds up in bed with an insensitive jerk. Here's the right lesson: “I don't have to wait for someone to give me a ‘chance' to say no. I can and will say no whenever I want to. I'm not going to let this happen to me again because I never want to feel this way again. Ever.”

As for the girl, GOY, tell her straight up that you don't have feelings for her. And tell her why: Things went too far, too fast, and the sex ruined it for you. Don't sugarcoat things to avoid hurting her feelings, because she's got a lesson to learn, too. Hers goes like this: “I didn't ask the person I was with – someone I really liked – if she was cool with what we were doing, and I totally fucked myself out of what could've been a really great relationship. I'm not going to do that to anyone again. Ever.”

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