So almost all your friends have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. And many are bragging about their first kiss? And not only do you feel left out, but also under pressure to do the same? How to handle this pressure? TeenBook’s Guest Expert Niyatii Shah answers.
So you are facing peer pressure? How do you feel? Wait, but first, what really is
peer pressure? Let’s first understand peer pressure and then learn how to deal with it.
Peer pressure in simple terms can be defined as “doing something you don’t like, to impress your friends or to fit in with them.” These friends might be from your school/college, your neighbourhood, your social groups or even your cousins, who are of more or less the same
age as you.
Sometimes this might also happen during the process of making new friends. You might
try to do or behave in a manner they like, in order to fit in.
You know, this pressure is felt and dealt differently by different people. And while
some of us may be able to identify the risks and are able to resist peer pressure, some of us might give in. It also depends on the situation we may find ourselves in.
Also, don’t forget to check out this amazing video on intimacy in relationships:
To do or not to do?
In this context, let’s talk about the peer pressure that you are under – to have a relationship or a physical/sexual contact.
Teenagers can often assume, also perhaps an impression cultivated by movies, that
everyone their age is having sex and has to express their love by accepting a sexual request from their bf/gf.
So the first thing to know is both of these things are not true. Whatever the
perception everyone is not having sex and that one does not need to comply with a sexual request to express their love.
Another important point to note is that sexual contact before the age of 18 is illegal
in our country.
Furthermore, during teenage, sexual involvement is not advisable because it can have negative effects on one’s mental growth and development.
It is also a good idea to wait, until we feel that we have the emotional bandwidth and capability to handle consequences that such a contact may generate.
But the pressure…
That’s all fine, you may say. But what to do about all the pressure! For that,
let’s first understand why you feel this pressure. Here are some of the common reasons:
- Fear of rejection: “If I say no, s/he will leave me”. “My friends may think I am not cool, I am a chicken and will not let me hang out with them.” One of the common reasons to give in to peer pressure is the fear of being rejected by your romantic partner or friends.
- Social acceptance: “Everyone is doing it, I must too.” There is a natural want to fit in whatever you think is happening around you and seems cool to others. Often many of us know and believe we shouldn’t do something, but may give in just to fit in.
- To impress others: Occasionally we may try to change our behaviour, attire and hang out with peers who influence them negatively just to look cool.
- To maintain social status in the school: To be liked by others, we may tend to do things that we do not want to.
- Hormonal Impact: The hormone system is quite complex at this age and hormone level changes quite frequently. There is a sense of being sexual and curious which also might excite teens to try out things even if they might not be very convinced about it.
So how to deal with peer pressure about sexual contact? Here are a few practical tips:
- Be prepared: Always be prepared to deal with any sudden situation. Discuss a plan with your parents, your elder siblings or cousins and know how to respond or how to act. Like, always carry money so you can come back home or message your parents to come and fetch you if your date is not going well.
- Always keep someone in the loop: It’s very important to talk to your parents or someone you trust, which helps you to get out of risky situations.
- Don’t be apologetic: If you are not ready or interested in getting physically close with your
girl/boyfriend, it is ok to clearly say NO without any explanation or being apologetic.
- Be confident to break it up: If your bf/gf doesn’t respect your feelings and continues to pressure you, be the confident one and break up with them.
- Like-minded company: Choose those with similar values and beliefs to be your friends which makes it easy for you to express what you feel without any hesitation. Hang out with friends who also believe that it’s ok not to be ready for sexual activity yet.
- Don’t ignore your buddies: Spend time with other friends too, not just your girl/boyfriend.
- Support: Be there for those friends who are feeling pressure. Listen to them and be their support. Do not judge.
Niyatii N Shah is a sexuality educator, intimacy coach, author, TedX speaker based out of Mumbai. She can be found on Twitter here.
Have a query? Ask our experts! In this column, we take questions from adolescents and their parents on growing up, adolescence, puberty and everything in between; and put them to subject matter experts.