A teacher told my class that guys “won’t buy the cow if they can get the milk for free.” Is that really how boys think? Will a guy not want to be serious with me if I have sex with him?

We are so glad you asked this question!

We can’t really tell you “how boys think” because (just like any group of people) they don’t all think or act the same way. We CAN tell you that your teacher shouldn’t have told you this and that there are a number of things wrong with this idea.

For those of you lucky enough to have NOT encountered this phrase: It means that a guy won’t marry a girl if she has sex with him before marriage.

First, it emphasizes the idea that guys only want one thing: sex.

In the media, boys who are interested in a relationship or emotional connection are often portrayed as weak or “unmanly.” This is unfair and damaging to guys, who need these things just as much as girls do.

Second, this phrase puts a lot of pressure on girls to be the “gatekeepers” to sex.

While guys are expected to try to “get sex,” girls are expected to keep saying no. This ignores what girls want AND lets guys off the hook when it comes to enthusiastic consent! In reality, it’s NOT ok to keep asking for sex once someone has said no—that’s coercion and could potentially become sexual assault. Guys are NOT slaves to their desires. This is insulting and unfair to boys, who have control over their actions just as much as girls do. Everyone (no matter what their or their partner’s gender is) needs to respect their partner’s boundaries. Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. Plus, whether someone wants to or feels ready to have sex isn’t about their gender (In fact, we answered a question the other week from a guy who wasn’t ready for sex when his girlfriend was!).

Saying that a guy won’t want to get married to (or even just be in a serious relationship with) a woman who has sex with him shames girls for their sexuality. This is called slut-shaming, and it’s NOT ok! In fact, it causes many people deep and lasting pain.

This phrase also assumes that every woman wants to get married, and that everyone is straight! Newsflash: none of these things are true.

Under the right circumstances, sex can be a healthy, fun way to become closer and more intimate with your partner—and even to get to know yourself better.

Only you can decide when to have sex, and who to have sex with. If you’re worried that your expectations about sex are different from your partner’s, talk to them. Sex means different things to different people, and it’s good to check in with yourself and your partner about it.

In a perfect world, your teacher would be talking to you about safer sex, consent and healthy relationships instead of spouting off phrases that slut shame and spread gender stereotypes. If you hear anything else that you’re unsure about, talk to a health care provider or another adult you trust about it. They can answer any questions you have about sexual health and relationships. You can also check out the Sex section of our blog—we give medically-based answers to a lot of common sex questions.

If you’re 10-22 years old and live in NYC, you can make a free, confidential appointment at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. One of our adolescent medicine specialists or health educators can answer any other questions you have about sexual health and provide completely free birth control, STI testing and treatment and other comprehensive health services.