Sexual Health Expert Responses

Below are responses from some sexual health experts to common questions we received from college students about sexual consent and communication.

"How do I tell someone I'm dating that I'm not ready to have sex?"

Just tell them. Be gentle but tell them. If you don’t or you try to put it off it will only lead to more confusion. If you keep denying their advances but don’t tell them why, they are going to think something is wrong with them. It’s always better to be upfront with what you are comfortable with. If they are okay with it, cool! If they aren’t, then you two probably have different goals in the relationship and should probably discuss what you both want.
— Dana Weiser, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Human Development & Family Studies

"Why don't MEN (OR WOMEN) just straight UP ask if they want to have sex?"

The main reason [someone] might not just ask is a fear of rejection. It can be embarrassing if you’re told “no” or awkward even if you are told, “yes,” but it doesn’t have to be. But risking a little awkwardness is always better than risking the shame or guilt of having sex with someone who does not want it. And certainly better than a sexual assault charge. So take your time. Ask. You may be surprised by what happens next.
— Andrew Friedman, Ph.D., Staff Psychologist at the Texas Tech Student Counseling Center

"How often do men AND women think about sex?"

It is perfectly normal to think about sex, no matter what gender you are, as it is a natural desire to have. The frequency of those thoughts may often others think about sex may not actually be as often as you may think. Feel comfortable in your thoughts and the frequency of them, as it can really depend on each person.
— Katie Ericson, Academic Advisor for the TTU Pre-Professional Health Career Office

"How do you know when someone is too drunk to have sex?"

Popular culture often glamorizes the use of alcohol and/or drugs as a necessary part of sex, but often times, these substances make it hard to clearly give and get consent. If someone is having a hard time speaking or walking, then they are definitely too drunk or drugged to give consent. Better to be safe and wait until the person is more sober. The sex will typically be better that way anyway!
— Rebecca R. Ortiz, Ph.D., Faculty Advisor for the Define Your Line campaign

"How can you tell if a MAN wants to have sex?"

For males, an erection does NOT necessarily mean that an individual is wanting or consenting to sex. Erections are a physical response and happen when stimulation occurs. The body responds to stimulation, even unwanted stimulation. The best way to tell if someone wants to have sex is to ask!
— Ty Stafford, M.Ed., Staff Psychologist at the Texas Tech Student Counseling Center

"How can you tell if a WomAn wants to have sex?"

Unfortunately, there is no one magic signal that says “I want to have sex.” Relying on looks or behaviors (e.g., touching a guy’s leg; asking for a condom; hugging and kissing; flirting) is not a good approach because each person may have different intentions and meanings for their looks/behaviors. The only real way to be sure is to ask.
— Breanna Harris, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences