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Woe Is Me! “I Want To Get Physical With My Boyfriend, but I’m Scared of Being Slut Shamed”

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May 9, 2021

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Image Credit: Amber (1952)

Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.


I am 20. I would like to have a physical relationship with my boyfriend, but I am afraid of moral policing. What to do?

— Madonna or Virgin?

KB: This is entirely a personal decision, and if you are ready, and you trust your boyfriend to be sensitive to your concerns, those are the main considerations. Your concern is valid, because slut shaming and moral policing are rampant in our society. But remember that your sex life is your business, and you don’t owe anyone (except sometimes your sexual partners) an explanation for anything.

My advice is to be discreet, and not talk too openly about your choices; it might be better to keep all details about your sex life to yourself unless you are completely sure you’re in a judgment-free zone. And please be very careful about using protection — both for your own health, and because an unintended pregnancy and an STI would obviously bring unwanted additional attention to your sex life.

AS: Your sexual life is entirely your business, and it shouldn’t matter what others say about what goes on between you and your significant other. But you probably already know that, don’t you? In theory, we can all be totally immune to any judgment and shaming that society throws our way. But, in practicality, it need not be that simple. The fear of judgment can haunt us even if we know we’re doing nothing wrong.

One way, of course, to try and shed this fear is to simply work on building that immunity, on developing tough skin. Because if it’s slut-shaming now, it might be another kind of shaming later — people might always have something to say, and if we can’t shut them up, at least we can just master the art of tuning them out. Maybe try building a positive affirmation that you can repeat to yourself, to remind yourself that you’re correct, confident, and in control. It might also help to talk to other like-minded people around you or on the internet, who can inject some of that ‘so-what-who-cares’ spirit in you.

SK: As long as it’s consensual and it’s something you want — go for it! If your friends judge you or make you feel bad about it, it’s definitely time to reevaluate those friendships. People will always think something — it could be nice, it could be mean, it could be outright vicious. Life will be impossible to live this way!

I think what could, or should, determine your choice is how you feel about a physical relationship. Do you think you’re ready for it? And by being ready I mean do you feel comfortable with your partner, do they understand your apprehensions, are they gentle about you taking your time with the decision? (Of course, it’s a red sign if your partner is forcing you!) Either way, I’m sorry you feel shamed for wanting to take the next step with your partner; being intimate must feel like a big step, so you would want all the love and support you can get. I hope you find it!

DR: Quick solution: do it secretly, tell no one — so no one can slut-shame you because they don’t know what you’ve been up to! Jokes apart, I do understand your dilemma — I faced it too at your age. But, look, you can’t change society’s views. The only thing you can do is try to care about it less, perhaps? You’re 20 — and if you want to have a physical relationship with a consenting partner, society really doesn’t have a say in it. I know you’ve heard that a billion times probably, but believe it. And use it to exorcise the virtues of chastity you’ve been conditioned to believe in otherwise.

The only thing you have to care about it is if you want to do it. If yes, focus on the aspects of it your partner and you want to explore, the boundaries you’d like to set, and other important things like that — instead of worrying about society’s unimportant views, which you’ll learn to care about less and less as you grow up. And if people in your circles are the potential slut-shamers, it might be time to rethink your circle — or, better still, convert them. Jaa, Simran (or whatever your name is), jee le apni zindagi!    

LG: Whose moral policing are you afraid of? If it’s your boyfriend’s — if you’re worried he’ll think you’re a slut for wanting to have sex with him — then that might be a sign he’s not, perhaps, the best person to get physical with. If it’s your friends whose opinions you worry about, that also might be a sign they are not, perhaps, the most supportive friends. If it’s random older adults/parents/acquaintances/other people/society — well, at some point in life, you are going to take a decision they won’t agree with. The whole thing about being a responsible adult is thinking through your decisions, taking them based on what’s right for you and any relevant loved ones, and then owning them, regardless of what other people may think. Owning doesn’t necessarily mean flaunting your decision — it simply means being comfortable that you’ve made the right one for the right reasons.

Be safe, make sure you and your boyfriend (and any partners in the future) are on the same page by discussing things ahead of time — and enjoy, you luminous firefly, you.

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Written By The Swaddle Team

  1. Meharpreet

    It was a great article… Helped clear lots of things in my head

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