Sex as a responsibility – Part 3

Last week I wrote the first and the second parts of this series. I apologize for the longer-than-planned interlude before this, the third part!

Here is my position: Having sex with another person is a privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility. Hence, having sex with another person necessitates a level of responsibility both to that person and to yourself.

One commenter mentioned surprise that I used the word privilege to refer to sexuality – which she understands to be something inherent to our humanness, not a privilege. I agree. However, what I am talking about is the group of activities loosely categorized as “sex” as they happen between two or more people. And I do strongly believe that engaging with another person is a privilege, and that it requires responsibility.

In my first post, I outlined three levels of responsibility that sex requires: physical, relational, and social. In my second post, I described the physical responsibilities that come with sex. Today I’ll describe the relational, and tomorrow the social.

So what relational responsibilities come with having sex with someone? It means tending to the emotional relationship as well as the physical relationship. Here are some critical points:

  1. Everyone involved has to actively want the sexual experience.
  2. Everyone involved has to be on the same page about the meaning behind the sexual experience.
  3. If someone is not in a state where they are able to make clear decisions because of drugs, alcohol, or emotional turmoil, don’t ask them to make sexual decisions.
  4. If you have an STD/STI of any sort, you must disclose that before you get close enough that there is any chance of transmission.
  5. If in doubt about someone’s desire, motives, or emotional or physical wellness, don’t have sex with them at that time.

I’ll be honest: I think this is fairly straight-forward stuff. But if these things were always self-evident to everyone, much would be different in this world. What that means is that teenagers need to learn these things as part of their sex education. There are lots of ways for teenagers to learn how to be relationally responsible sex partners, but probably the most common is through trial-and-error over time. But this method ends up with lots of people getting hurt until everyone has learned how to be sexually kind. I hope that you take the initiative, when you are talking about sex with teenagers, to provide guidance on how these teenagers can bring responsibility to their sexual relationships.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I’ve done a lot of thinking about #1. I wonder if there’s anything that could have been said to me when I was a teenager that could have helped me decide not to have sex when I didn’t actively want to as a young adult. I also wonder if there’s anything that could have been said to him when he was a teenager that could have helped him decide not to have sex with me.

  2. how exactly can you find out what others sexual experience means? (or any kind of experience for that matter)

    as in “Everyone involved has to be on the same page about the meaning behind the sexual experience.”

    Same with emotional , desires and physical motivations. You shouldnt have sex if you doubt about having sex, period. Same for the other person, but starting questioning someone elses´s motivations seems a tad forced, who are we to judge others needs and best interests?

    Can you give me an example of different sex exp pages or overly wrong emotional desires etc?

Comments are closed.