Prom comes with certain expectations. For you, it might be whether you’ll find the right dress. Or whether she’ll like the flowers you bought her. Maybe it hasn’t occurred to you that your date for the night may have expectations for you, too. For many students, prom comes loaded with questions about whether or not you’ll “do it.” One teen was direct when talking to other teens: “The truth is not everyone is thinking about or planning to have sex on prom night. If you feel pressured to have sex on your prom night, remember you don’t have to.”
Love is Respect nails it. Many teens, both guys and girls, face sexual coercion the night or weekend of prom. “Sexual coercion is the use of intimidation, alcohol, drugs, threats or force to have sexual contact with someone against their will. Your partner may expect you to deliver more than you’re willing to, and when you deny them, might attempt to convince you to ignore your discomfort.” (Read the whole article here.)
If what you’re looking forward to is a fun evening with good friends, a great dress or a cool tux and lots of dancing, here are three ways for prom to be pressure-proof:
Establish your boundaries. Use both your head and your heart to be assertive. Know your personal goals and values beforehand (using your head). If this isn’t the time or place when you want to have sex, you aren’t the only one. Setting your own boundaries now will help you to resist pressure from others. Respecting yourself (using your heart) will give you the confidence not to do something you may regret later.
Give a verbal response. If you say “no” clearly, you won’t be misunderstood. If you’re afraid of hurting a friend, using humor can help deflect a tense situation. You can also be ready to offer alternatives that you’re comfortable with: the after-prom party as part of a group or stopping for ice cream on the way home. Use your words to resist pressure.
Be assertive. Your body language (how you look, putting your hands in front of you, even how you stand) can help you to communicate how you feel. If someone won’t take “no” for answer, or makes you feel afraid or angry, use your feet to walk away from the situation. This doesn’t mean that you’re walking away from that person or abandoning the relationship; it just means that you’re staying safe in that moment.
Prom can be a night full of fun memories. Be pressure-proof so that you can enjoy the evening to the max! If having sex isn’t one of your expectations, be ready to set it, say it, and show it. Does this sound tough? Yeah, it can be. We’d be glad to hear from you if you have specific questions or need help addressing a specific situation.