Q: The girl I’m dating has been insisting on unprotected sex while I insist on using a condom. She says she does not enjoy with a condom. I am not sure whether our relationship will culminate in marriage as we are still very young, we seem to be quarrelling a lot, and I’m unwilling to risk a pregnancy. When I mentioned ‘no condom no sex’, she threw a fit saying that even if she conceived she would not pressure me for marriage. Unprotected sex goes against all my principles and the sex education that I have received. How do I handle this situation?

A: You are well within your right to want to have sex only with a condom. Remember that this is specifically what you want. Her desire to have sex with without a condom is what she strongly wants. While there are merits to using a condom and while it is undoubtedly a safer practice, you may still feel the urge to attend to her needs as well. Therein lies your challenge! In the world of relationship counselling, when two people want very different things, this is called an ‘impasse’ – whereby two people cannot see eye to eye on a certain matter. At such times, certain hard questions need to be asked to the couple to break the ‘deadlock’:

– Do you want the relationship to succeed only on your terms?

– Do you think the relationship can succeed on mutually negotiated terms? Are you open to a dialogue?

A problem usually occurs when there is an insistence on things only going according to one’s wishes, because that is the ‘only way’ or the ‘right way’. A lot of people need to be taught that

their subjective renderings are not necessarily universally applicable.

For every action there is a consequence. Often, people want the freedom to act a certain way and then they get befuddled by the corresponding consequences. Relationships do not always benefit from ‘yes and no’ answers and a lot that gets decided is a function of creative thinking and finding a middle ground. This requires constant negotiation and there is no escaping this process even in the most mature and seasoned relationships, where couples may claim to know ‘everything’ about each other.

Such negotiations could take place under the caring supervision of a relationship counsellor. If she is so closed to the idea of a condom, perhaps she may be open to other methods of contraception that she should educate herself about. Would she be ok with those methods?

Several of those methods have been mentioned in earlier sections of this book. You have mentioned that you are ‘young’ and this may not culminate into a marriage. Since you are young and probably haven’t sampled life enough, you need to know that not all relationships that involve sexual experimentation between two consenting adults culminate into a marriage.

Certain sections in society may want you to believe as that sex before marriage is ‘culturally inappropriate’, but that is how modern society functions. People have become a lot more open about their sexual desires & contraception methods have improved over time. Having said that, the decision to marry someone should not be solely based on how much sex has been had. There are several other factors at play that make for happy companionships.

She seems to be alright with the idea of this not working out in the long term vis-a-vis marriage. This could mean that she doesn’t want to be in a serious relationship right now and is simply in a mood to have fun in bed and live in a fun and footloose way. There is nothing wrong with her wanting this for herself.

However, a relationship involves two people and if both of you want different things from life or this relationship, then it’s important to understand what aspects can be negotiated and that are simply ‘non-negotiable’… It would be worthwhile to ask yourself if you’re the one who is dreaming of building a family with her when she hasn’t even mentioned it to you (based on the information you’ve shared in your question). In fact, she is specifically saying that she will not pressurise you for marriage even if she conceives.

You also mentioned that you both quarrel a lot. Perhaps it would be a good idea to explore the ‘specific topics’ that you quarrel about to understand what is causing such a strong difference of opinion. You also need to face the fact that when two people want very different things from their lives, relationships may not work out as individual life journeys may take you on very different paths. This may be a bitter pill for many people in relationships to swallow – but it’s a universal truth.

For example – A man working a corporate job – who wants to see his wife at the end of a tiring day – everyday may never opt to marry a lady whose career is that of a flight attendant who has odd travel and waking hours. He has a need for physical companionship that her career will not allow due to the erratic timings. This doesn’t make any one individual wrong or right. It’s about what works and what doesn’t work.

In the world of chemistry – oil and water simply do not mix. To further understand if you’ll are having issue based problems or life journey based problems, you may want to consider visiting a psychotherapist to understand your own needs better.

(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)