Sometimes, it can seem like you’re the only one who isn’t having sex, but you’re not alone! Did you know half of teens in high school haven’t had sex? Surprised?? Don’t be, there are tons of girls and guys out there who have decided they just aren’t ready yet.

So whether you’ve decided you are not ready or you have had sex but want to hold off in your next relationship, it’s YOUR decision to make. Taking control of your sex life means waiting until you are ready.  The bottom line is you have the right to decide for yourself and have those decisions respected! If you decide you aren’t ready, it’s totally ok. Listen to yourself, no matter what anyone else says or does.

There are so many smart reasons to wait: Maybe it’s to find that someone special, or you just don’t want to stress about getting a STD or pregnancy. A lot of people just have too much going on to even deal with adding new responsibilities to their lives. Because having sex DOES mean taking on a lot of risks. Sex also comes with a lot of emotional baggage. It’s hard to keep emotions in check when you get involved with someone so if you do decide to have sex, make sure it’s someone you trust and respect and who feels the same about you.

Even if you’ve had sex before, you can change your mind at any time and decide you want to wait. You get to choose each and every time whether sex is what you are ready for and really want.

It isn’t always easy—or comfortable—to talk about sex, but nothing is more awkward than silence. So here are some talking tips to help you get the conversation started with your bf/gf about wanting to wait to have sex:

•FIND THE RIGHT TIME: Find a time and place to talk privately without other things going on. Trying to talk before a final exam or when you already have your clothes off probably aren’t the best times to try to talk.

• USE “I” STATEMENTS: Sounds pretty basic, but starting your thoughts with “I feel that…”, rather than, “You make me feel like…” can help you avoid a lot of confrontation or defensiveness.

• EXPECT THE BEST: What you have to say is important. If you’re feeling positive about the conversation, it will be easier to be honest about how you’re feeling.

• TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: If you feel unsafe or coerced into doing or saying something, stop and remove yourself from the situation. And if you have said yes to sex before but don’t want to again  and want to wait, know that you always have the option to say no, so be strong about speaking up.

• ACKNOWLEDGE THE AWKWARDNESS: It’s only awkward if you make it awkward, so if you are having a hard time talking openly about having sex, just say that it’s not the easiest thing for you to talk about, but you’ve been thinking a lot about it. Your gf/bf is probably thinking the same thing and will be relieved that you’re taking the lead.

• BE HONEST: Describe your expectations, desires, limits and boundaries around the relationship and sex. Be clear about what you do feel comfortable with, and try to work with those options. The only way he or she can know what you are thinking is if you tell him or her.

• BE RESPECTFUL: Give your bf/gf a chance to let you know how he or she feels and listen. You may find that you are closer to the same place than you thought. Respect the other person’s attitudes, values, and feelings about sex even though they may be different from yours.

In the end, what you decide about sex is completely up to you. If you are not ready, then say so. When someone really cares about you, that person won’t want you to do anything you’re not up for.