Let me get reallllly personal for a moment, because this has happened to me.
My high-school sweetheart followed me across the country to college. We were together for 9 years. This happened 3 years after college, when we were living together in our own apartment, shortly before we parted ways.
It had been a long, sweet, healing relationship. We had grown up together. You’d expect my partner, after so many years, to value me over a sex act, but I vividly remember one night when he all out pressured me to do something I didn’t want to do.
He wanted to try anal sex for the first time. At first, I reluctantly entertained the idea, but the more we discussed, the more I knew I didn’t want to.
You’d think that would be the end of the conversation, but he wouldn’t let it go.
He told me the story of a girl he knew who was really into anal, that I might be like her. He kept asking, “Why not?” and saying, “but I really want to…” and then it turned harsher, with, “you don’t trust me” and “you’re so uptight” and to do it “for him”.
I kept explaining myself. Then I was in tears, and he was still pressuring me, frustrated himself, mad that I wouldn’t demonstrate my devotion to him in this way, upset that I was so upset, because this clearly wasn’t getting us closer to his goal.
I remember feeling unseen and unsafe. I couldn’t get him to drop it and leave me alone. We were up all night, fighting this thing through. We went to sleep after dawn, and I slept in another room.
This was a totally different person from the man I’d explored sex with for the first time; then he was sweet and supportive, patient and concerned, waiting for it to be the right time for me, checking in to make sure I was ok the whole way through. This person was urgent and angry. It’s not who he really is. He’s a good man who had a bad night, and he’s not proud of this story.
What I learned was that urgency is a sign. That it had to happen right then, despite one person’s discomfort, that pressure indicates a weak relationship. 9 years? Whatever. The relationship was already too weak for that very intimate exploration, and he already knew it. There I was, trying to explain, when no explination was necessary. It’s self-evident. If he didn’t get what he wanted right then, he knew he wasn’t likely to get it at all, because our relationship had atrophied.
What’s worth saying to your tween or teen is this: If someone pressures you to do something sexual, it’s because they already know that you shouldn’t do it. Don’t waste your breath explaining. Just stand your ground, and if they can’t hear you, leave.
This happened for me post-college, but it is a very real example for your kids. In porn, anal sex is common as dirt. Teens are curious, talking about and experimenting with anal sex, and their relationships are often weak. Share my story and the lesson. Save your breath: if the pressure continues after you’ve shared your feelings, cut straight to goodbye. Everyone already knows why in their heart of hearts, no explanation needed.
Your child needs these stories about boundaries and consent, about when to talk and when to walk. If telling this story is hard to do, because you can’t get the words out, or because you and your child don’t talk about things like this, notice that. It shows that you’re not as free as you could be, that there’s work to be done inside yourself or in your relationship with your child – and I’d love to help you with that block. Jump on my calendar for a free consult, and we’ll get you unstuck.
In support of you,
Thank you for sharing your story, Anya! Although I don’t have kids of my own, I have been following your compassionate work for the past year or so as part of my own healing from decades of sexual abuse. I have been in situations similar to this more times than I can count… It is so validating to hear other strong women speaking openly about these issues that affect so many of us.
Thank you for teaching kids so they can make better informed and healthier choices – and for helping us adults heal our own wounds, too. Your messages of self-worth, respect, removing the shame and stigma around sex, and talking openly are so needed in this world. Thank you so much!!! I will continue sharing your work as I know it can help so many others as we heal and grow individually and as a society. <3
Thank you dearly Anya for your honesty and courage. It gives me more clarity so that I can help my daughters navigate through their intimate relationships. I wish you had not gone through that pressure from a loved one. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. My girls are reaping the benefits of your wisdom from the talks you put together about how to talk to your kids about sex and sexuality. I am so grateful for your work of supporting parents and kids. Hats off to you!