Sleeping with someone is just about as intimate as it gets. If you’re considering having sex with a particular guy or girl, you want to make sure you aren’t going to get hurt. You also want to make sure you’re safe, comfortable and most of all that you enjoy yourself! We talked to experts and collegiettes, and got the scoop on signs you shouldn’t get into bed with a person.
1. They pressure you physically
No one should ever make you do anything you don’t want to do. If someone you’re interested in pursuing a sexual relationship with is pressuring you in any way, that’s a huge red flag. “Women should avoid sleeping with someone if they feel pressured to have sex,” says Kathleen Bogle, professor of sociology and criminal justice at La Salle University, and author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus. “Sex should never happen as a result of feeling pressured or coerced.” A potential partner should allow you to move at your own pace, and respect your boundaries without pushing you.
If you’re not in the mood, he or she should get that. “No means no. Period. Anything more and you’re being forced,” says Dr. Ish Major, board certified psychiatrist, author and host of Ex Isle with Carmen Electra on WeTV. If you’re hooking up and your partner asks for something you don’t feel comfortable with, you are under no obligation to say yes. “It has always been and will remain your right to change your mind,” says Dr. Major. “This is the very definition of consent and yes, you have the right at any time to reverse course or flat out drop that course and say ‘No!’”
So, how do you say no? Dr. Major breaks down the scenario for you.
Step one: Say, “Stop,” “I want you to stop.”
“After his lame protest,” Dr. Major says, “say very clearly and firmly again, ‘I want you to stop and I want to (or I want you) to leave.’” Hopefully this works, but if not, proceed to step two.
Step two: Move away.
“Actions speak louder than words,” says Dr. Major.
Step three: Get dressed.
“Whatever clothes are off or undone, redo them,” says Dr. Major.
Step four: Awareness and accountability.
“Let him hear you call your best friend and tell her that you are leaving and will be home soon and talk to her then,” says Dr. Major.
Step five: Leave.
“Leave by car, cab, Uber, train, bicycle, skis, rollerblades, hoverboard, personal plane… Whatever you have, use it and get out the hell out of there,” says Dr. Major.
If you feel pressured in any way, it is in your best interest to end it. Find someone who respects your limits!
2. You’re not on the same page emotionally
Before jumping into bed together, there are certain subjects you need to discuss with your potential partner. It’s important that the two of you want the same thing, whether that’s only sex, or something more. Regardless of what you decide, there is a certain emotional connection that can come with sex—especially for women. “There are plenty of women who crave and enjoy casual sex just as much as guys and handle it just fine, but the fact is that it is more difficult for women to separate the act from the emotion,” explains Dr. Major. “Most if not all guys, on the other hand, have no problem whatsoever separating emotions from any sexual encounter.” If you have feelings for him or her, and he or she doesn’t view your relationship the same way, you shouldn’t sleep together.
“I was thinking about sleeping with a guy I was hooking up with, but something just didn’t feel right,” says Emily*, a junior at James Madison University. “He was looking for something a lot more serious than I was, so it turned out better that I didn’t do it. Always go with your gut! If you aren’t 100 percent into it or something feels off, follow your instincts.” We totally agree.
3. They refuse to wear a condom (or get tested)
You need to be able to trust someone if you’re going to have sex with them. Protection is important, and they shouldn’t make excuses about wearing a condom or getting tested. If they’re willing to fight you on the topic, they’re clearly not worth the risk. “This is an uncomfortable conversation,” says Dr. Major, “but one that needs to be had. Pre-planning is everything. Once you’re in the moment it’s almost impossible to stop those hormones from raging. Hormones and desire have a bad habit of making what’s about to be a horrible decision seem perfectly logical at the time.”
How does this conversation go down? Start by offering your own information. This should make your partner feel more comfortable disclosing the truth. Dr. Major suggests saying something along the lines of, “I’m very careful about who I have sex with and don’t take chances. I have my clearance papers from my doctor to prove it, do you?” While this may be easier said than done, try to keep the future in mind. “Some diseases are for life, and you will need to disclose this info to your future partners in the name of honesty,” says Dr. Major. “If he does not or is not willing to offer you some type of proof then maybe he doesn’t care enough about you to move forward.” Again, no matter how casual the sex, mutual respect is paramount. Even if you’re purely hooking up, your partner should treat you well.
Related: 7 Myths About Safe Sex, Debunked
4. You don’t have the same expectations
Neither of you should be sleeping together for the wrong reasons. It’s important to recognize the situation for what it is. If it’s evident that he or she isn’t over someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t get involved. And if you’re using this person as a rebound, that can be okay, too. According to Dr. Major, 63 percent of people report having rebound sex.
“It’s that old saying, ‘The best way to get over someone is to get under someone new,’” says Dr. Major. “Just understand it for what it is. If you’re the rebound, understand that this very likely may not go anywhere. It takes guys up to nine months to get over a serious breakup. If you’re the one rebounding, cut yourself some slack. It’s okay to be honest and say, ‘I’m just getting out of a serious relationship so I’m really not looking for anything serious.’ Now you can move forward and take it where you like with a clear conscience, because you were honest up front.” Sounds doable to us!
5. You’re feeling tipsy
Whether you’re a little buzzed or flat out hammered, be careful about deciding to sleep with someone if either one of you has been drinking. “Most decisions made under the influence typically don’t end well,” says Dr. Major. Consent becomes a tricky thing when alcohol is involved. It’s better to avoid hooking up altogether while one or both of you is drunk.
“It’s never okay to blame the victim and you shouldn’t blame yourself for not wanting to become one,” says Dr. Major. Making a conscious decision to not engage in drunken sex is a smart choice, but obviously alcohol has a way of changing minds. If you do end up hooking up while under the influence, just make sure you feel safe and comfortable. If you change your mind at any time, refer back to Dr. Major’s step-by-step guidelines for saying no.
6. They’re self-absorbed
The sex won’t be enjoyable if the other person isn’t interested in taking care of you. If he or she is self-absorbed, you shouldn’t want any part of that. Plus, it can lead to even more unhealthy behavior down the road. “You can never build a healthy relationship based only on what one person wants,” says Bogle. This is the bottom line.
“I recently got involved with a guy who would treat me poorly over text and even harass me sometimes, but was super sweet in person,” says Jaclyn, a junior at the University of Michigan. “It didn’t help that I was extremely attracted to him. I ended up sleeping with him and despite the fact he promised he would be nicer after we hooked up, the harassment and rude texts have continued.” You deserve the best. Don’t settle for sex with anyone who treats you poorly.
7. You have the slightest doubt
Above all, trust your instincts. You know yourself better than anyone. If you have any doubts at all, why risk it? “Women have the best gift ever and that’s your intuition,” says Dr. Major. “It’s there to guide you, to protect you. Don’t let the distractions get in the way of you hearing what it’s saying to you…trust it and it will never steer you wrong.” Uncertainty and hesitation about a partner or situation are clear signifiers that you shouldn’t get involved.
“For me, it was very important that I felt on the same page…with my now-boyfriend before we slept together,” says Alyssa*, a sophomore at Indiana University. “He never pressured me physically, so therefore I was able to wait and we both were able to decide when the time was right. I felt 100 percent comfortable, which I know is a big part of the reason why I don’t regret any part of it now.” Listen to yourself and your partner, and you’ll know whether or not to go for it.
Sex can be confusing, so don’t further complicate it by sleeping with someone you shouldn’t. Set clear boundaries at the start, and if your partner isn’t getting it, don’t get it on. If you ever feel uncomfortable, you know you don’t want the same things or you aren’t being treated right—move on. Above all, be safe and have fun, collegiettes!
*Name has been changed