Got a question?

Use the Ask Brook 24/7 tool to answer your query or search FAQs

Find a service

Search for your nearest Brook sexual health service here

Dealing with sexual pressure

Some people think they have to have sex if they've said or shown someone they want sex. But that's not the case and it's normal and OK for people to change their minds. It happens all the time.

So no matter how far you've gone with someone, you always have the right to change your mind and decide not to have sex or stop what you're doing at any time. It's up to you whether you have sex or not and up to the other person to respect that. Read our page on consent for more detail about this.

But if you're under pressure to have sex, it can be hard to know how to deal with these situations, so here are some tips and ideas that might help:

  • Know what's right for you. Knowing what you're happy doing can help you to be confident about it. Maybe oral is OK, but full sex definitely isn't. Or maybe you're happy to go all the way, but only if the situation is right. Things change, but having a bit of an idea in advance can help
  • Talk to your partner. Talking is probably the best way of making things clear. Maybe try having a chat about what you're happy doing and what you're not happy doing. Have a look at the communication section for more advice on this
  • Getting things clear early on. If you can, try letting your partner know early on what you're up for, as it can save any confusion later down the line
  • Stopping things before they get too tricky. It's not always possible to know in advance what might happen or how things might change. If you do find yourself in a situation where someone is putting pressure on you to have sex or do something you don't want to do, and you want to get out, then you might have to take things into your own hands

Here's what you told us:

At first I wasn't ready. He asked me and I said I'm not ready. A couple months later he started pressuring me saying 'I'll make you ready, etc. la la la…'. He didn't force me but he was verbally pressuring me. It made me feel like he wanted to use me, so we ended up breaking up. In my relationship now I felt like I was ready when we did it and he didn't mind waiting until I was. Jessica, 17 

I was in a relationship with someone and I wanted sex but she didn't. We spoke about it but in the end we ended up waiting because if you like the girl, trust her and believe in her then it's worth it to wait. Nathan, 18

How to make your excuses and leave

There are lots of things you could say to get out of a situation. It can help to plan in advance what you might do if things get tricky. Some ideas are:

  • Say something like, “I like you, but I just want us to have fun tonight and not have sex” or “I'm not feeling well”
  • Before you go home with someone, set your phone to ring itself in an hour or so or get a mate to call you
  • Say you need time to think. It's OK to need time to decide on something, so tell them you need some time before going further
  • Go to the toilet and get a friend to ring you in 5 mins
  • Say you've just had an urgent phone call and need to go home

If they're not taking the hint

Sometimes someone might just not be getting the hint, no matter how nice you've been or how much you've tried to let them down gently. At this point you might have to be firmer to get your message across.

Showing you're upset with your tone of voice and body language will make your message stronger. Saying the word "no" can also help get the message across, as can saying why you want them to stop. Repeating this if they're not listening can also help.

It's not always easy to show that you're upset or angry and you may worry about hurting their feelings. Remember you have the right to say no if you don't want to do something. Sex must involve consent (agreement). Sex without it, is rape. People should respect you and your wishes and if they don't then they are the one with the problem. You are not doing anything wrong refusing something.

Practice saying no

It can help to practise doing the above on your own, practising what you might say or running through it in your head. It may feel a bit stupid, but that way you're more prepared for if the situation does ever come about. Here are some tips:

  • Talk it through with a friend you trust
  • Imagine what you would do if someone was putting pressure on you. Imagine how you would look and what you would say
  • Practice what you would say to refuse sex in front of a mirror

What to do afterwards

Generally, if someone is putting pressure on you or not listening to what you want, it's unlikely that they're respecting you. If something like this happens, it can help to talk to people you trust about it.

If you have been in a situation where you were forced into sex you didn't want then you can find more information here.


If you feel in danger in any way or feel that you might be forced to do something you don't want to do, then you need to get away from the situation as soon as possible.

Content reproduced with kind permission from University College London's Sexunzipped website.

Page last reviewed: August 2015
Next review due: August 2016