Feeling pressured to have sex in a dating relationship is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

In a recent survey, 40 percent of all teenage girls say they are being pressured to have sex. And it’s not just girls who feel this way — guys are being pressured, too.

Love never demands someone to do something that would violate another person. Many people who feel pressured into having sex give in to it mostly because of the overwhelming fear of losing the person they really care about. In the end, some bargain away their bodies in an attempt to keep the relationship going. But in the process they lose their self-respect and gain the very real possibility of unwanted pregnancy, diseases, rape, a bad reputation, and of course, a broken heart.

What can you do if you’re feeling pressured to have sex?

1. Know where you stand in your convictions.

Most people with strong values have a clear understanding of what they believe and are far less susceptible to giving in to things they don’t want to do.

Do you want to be a person who waits until they are married to have sex? It’s important to define for yourself why this is important to you.

Are you aware of the power sex has to arouse deep emotions? Are you willing and able to bear the responsibility of a child?

Without strong convictions, the person you date could push their value system — or lack thereof — onto you. Before you even start talking to a guy or girl, make sure you know what you believe and why. This will be extremely helpful when you’re being pressured.

2. Talk about your decision to wait to have sex.

Explain your desire to not have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Tell them that it has nothing to do with a lack of feelings or your level of commitment. In fact, you like your boyfriend or girlfriend so much you don’t want to ruin a great relationship by having sex. This conversation takes a lot of courage because your pressuring partner may refuse to understand what you are saying. They may take it personally or get mad and walk away.

Nonetheless, the person who can talk things out is far happier than someone who keeps things deeply hidden.

3. While you’re waiting, learn what real love is.

The term “love” is one of the most misunderstood and abused words in the dictionary. Love never demands someone to do something that would violate another person. Love does not trash someone else’s deeply held values. Love is patient, and is willing to wait for the right time and the right person. Love always looks after the other person first. Love is never selfish. When a guy really loves a girl, he will do everything he can to protect her.

A lot of guys will say they love their girlfriend and think that if she really loved him, she would have sex with him. Either he doesn’t know what love is, or he’s lying about loving her. It’s easy to believe a lie when you want to. It is not easy to face the consequences of believing that lie.

4. Know when to move on.

If the pressure for sex does not let up, get rid of him or her. If you are being pressured to have sex, realize that something isn’t right in your relationship. It is far better for you to lose your relationship than to do something you will later regret.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend really is “a keeper,” he or she will understand and respect your decision. Remember, most pressured relationships are not based on love, but rather on uncovered needs, fantasy, confusion, and selfishness.

Some people won’t get into a relationship unless they know they will be able to have sex. Be prepared to be rejected. Just remember you won’t die, and in the end the respect you will have for yourself, and the pain avoided, will be well worth it.

The bottom line: it’s your body. And you don’t ever have to do anything with your body you don’t want to do. Sex is not an indicator of love, or even of your level of commitment in a relationship. Sex is not an obligation. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Are you feeling pressured to have sex? We have free, confidential mentors who would love to talk with you and support you. Just click on the “Connect” button below.

This article was originally published on TheHopeLine®.

This article was written by: Dawson McAllister

Photo Credit: Ryan Jacobson