I'm 18 years-old and I've been sexually active for the past four years. I'm a white English girl and I'm dating a Bangladeshi Muslim who's 21 and still a virgin. I've been celibate for the past eight months and although I want to have sex with him, I'm afraid it will be awkward. Secondly, his religion doesn't believe in sex before marriage, but he seems keen. I'm not sure how to talk to him about it, can you help me?
Cross-cultural relationships can be extremely rewarding and enriching, but they can also come with their own set of issues and problems - including the one you have now regarding premarital sex.
It's understandable you are worried that if you ask him to have sex with you that you would be encouraging him to go against the teachings of his religion - something he might later regret.
Unless you and your boyfriend are able to communicate openly and honestly about your relationship, you may find it hard to find a solution to your problem. Communicating as a couple might bring you and your boyfriend closer and help you both decide if you're ready to start a sexual relationship.
It's not always an easy subject to bring up, but you could start by asking your boyfriend if he feels happy with the way things are going in your relationship. This could be the perfect time to mention that sex is something you've been thinking about, but you aren't sure how he feels about it or if he's ready for sex. Be prepared to listen to his feelings, compromise, and respect his opinion. It might be also useful to work through your issues via Relationship therapy.
Relate offers counselling for couples and individuals and can be contacted on 0300 100 1234. This would enable you to talk about the situation in a safe, therapeutic setting with a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. Not only will talking to a professional help clarify the situation; it could help you to see things from your boyfriend's perspective as well.
Youth Access provides a directory which you can use to search for free, confidential counsellors or therapists in your area. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can provide you with a list of accredited counsellors in your local area and can be contacted on 0870 443 5252.
Alternatively, a website like Intermix has a forum that brings together people with experience of mixed-race relationships.
For additional guidance, Supportline, a telephone helpline providing emotional support to any person on any issue, can be reached on 020 8554 9004.
Once you are able to start talking about your thoughts and feelings in a caring, non-judgemental environment, the chances are that you will begin to find a way to make sense out of this confusing situation.
If you and your boyfriend do decide to have sex, it's essential that you are armed with lots of information about contraception in order to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). You can visit your local Brook Advisory Centre for free and confidential advice and contraception, or you can speak to someone on 0800 0185 023. You could pass these contacts on to your boyfriend as well, in case he would prefer to receive some information on his own.
Question answered by Brook