Sex, sex and more sex

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Navigating the sex act isn't always easy, as unrealistic expectations abound within the media and can distort our perceptions. 

Hookup culture is a large part of navigating relationships for young people today. While studies have shown that the majority of young people hope that a hookup will eventually lead to a more romantic connection, this is often not what occurs. Social expectations, inexperience, lack of communication and a desire to be accepted can sometimes lead to people feeling uncomfortable with the arrangement they have entered into. It is important to always be open and honest with our intentions and desires in order to avoid regret and harm for everyone involved. It’s never ok to be dishonest and use someone else for your own pleasure. It is ok to set boundaries for yourself, and to decide to end an encounter at any point if you are feeling uncomfortable.

For information on contraception, sexually transmitted infections, getting sexual health checks and dealing with pregnancy, check out our Sexual Health page. You might also want to take a look at the links at the bottom of the page for additional information.

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Below you will find three common blocks (barriers and misconceptions) that can interfere with how we conduct our sexual relationships.

  • Pornography

    A concern about pornography is that much of it distorts and projects an unrealistic picture of sexual connections between people. Some estimates suggest that 88% of porn scenes contain physical aggression and another 49% contain verbal aggression. Unfortunately this aggression is often inflicted on women and creates the idea that this is how women want to be treated. It also creates the idea that to attract a sexual partner you have to present like the people in pornographic videos.

    To learn a bit more about pornography usage refer to our page on digital addiction.

  • Don't assume you have permission

    In any sexual experience, the enthusiastic consent of all parties is the most important element. If you’re not sure if the other person is into it, check in with them. Don’t assume just because they didn’t say the word “no”, that they mean “yes”. Sometimes people might not feel comfortable saying no – so it’s on you to make sure they are happy with what is happening.

    On the other side, if at any point you decide you’re not into it, you’re allowed to stop. Don’t worry about “leading them on” – they aren’t entitled to do anything with you that you don’t want them to do. You’re allowed to decide for yourself what you want, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for it.

    Power imbalances can also contribute to poor or damaging sexual experiences. For example, if one person has consumed a lot of alcohol and the other hasn’t, there is the potential for their vulnerability to be exploited. Alcohol is now considered the number one ‘date rape drug’. It's important you familiarise yourself with information about alcohol and consent on the Safer Campus Community website. We may also be at an increased risk of exploitation or discrimination due to our sex, sexuality or gender identity.

  • I will lose my partner if I practice safe sex

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    If your partner is not concerned about your protection then you might consider what that says about their interest and care for you. Whilst you might want to maintain the relationship, if they aren't showing you respect and consideration, then you are also denying them the chance to learn about what values you hold.


Below are three things you can do to boost success.

  • Get your information from a good source

    Become sexual health ‘literate’ and practiced in sexual communication. Arm yourself with correct information and challenge jokes or comments that stigmatise, or are shaming of sex and sexuality. Become empowered to communicate needs appropriately and to check in with others so everyone is feeling comfortable. In this way we can all play a part to shape culture whether this is online or in real life social settings. 

  • Negotiate your protection

    Let's face it, if condoms are for you, their use is sometimes tricky to negotiate. It can be even harder to have these conversations in a committed relationship. This can be for a number of reasons including how empowered you feel within the sexual encounter, a fear of rejection or that it may be interpreted as a lack of trust in your partner. If you want to protect your self-esteem, allow yourself to take this challenge on as a sign of respect for yourself. Get some ideas  on how to have these conversations. If condoms aren't the choice for you, it can be good to talk through the situation and explore how to handle it in a way that feels right.

    Remember to check out the Sexual Health page for more information. Head to the links at the bottom of the page for a wealth of information on using condoms and other forms of contraception. 

  • Enhance the experience

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    One of the best ways of enhancing a sexual experience is to make an emotional connection.

    Consider the following:

    • Be honest.
    • Be clear on what you are willing, or unwilling, to do for the other person.
    • Let them know what you want from the experience.
    • Find out what they want and determine if you have similar or divergent interests.
    • Protect your partner from harm.
    • Don't forget about touch and affection.
    • Be in the moment and attuned to your partner.
    • Practice empathy, which can strengthen a relationship and also relieve your own stress.  

    The more you do these things, the more you can feel pride in your own behavior, protect your self-esteem and enjoy your sexual experiences.

Need more info?

Related topics

  • For concerns about your sexual organ health, see our sexual health page.
  • Learn about your sexuality on our sexuality page.
  • Understand gender variance on our gender identity page.
  • To learn more about pornography and pornography addiction, see our digital addiction page.

Safe sex

  • Review our page on sexual health to remind yourself of about the various aspects of safe sex.

Issues with sex

Improving sex

Services dealing with sex, sexuality and gender identity