I’m 15 and really love my boyfriend, but he’s recently started pushing my head down toward his crotch when we make out. I guess he’s asking for a blow job, which I don’t want to do. I really hate it. How can I get him to stop?

We’re so sorry that you’re dealing with this kind of pressure from someone you love. It’s completely understandable that you’re feeling upset about this situation.

First, let’s talk about your boyfriend’s actions.

Instead of using words to talk about what you were interested in doing together, your boyfriend physically moved your body, without permission, to get you to do what he wanted. He didn’t even give you the opportunity to say no, let alone get your enthusiastic consent. That’s not ok. It also sends the signal that he doesn’t care about what you want, only what he wants. It’s totally understandable that that would make you feel bad.

Just by not giving him oral sex, you sent a clear signal that you did not want to do it—and he kept trying. That puts a lot of pressure on you to say yes to oral sex, which (again) isn’t ok. When someone is pressured into saying yes to sex (of any kind), it is not true, freely-given consent.

Your boyfriend ignored your boundaries. That is, at a minimum, an unhealthy relationship behavior. Remember: healthy relationships are built on trust and respect.

Often, consent doesn’t get the attention that it needs and deserves.

Consent means actively agreeing to a sexual activity with someone else. It’s perhaps the most important part of sex (of any kind!). At its core, consent is about communication and making sure that everyone is enjoying themselves.

Consent has to be enthusiastic, which means that both partners should be excited about what’s happening. Silence is not consent. If one partner checks out, stops responding, becomes silent, goes stiff, pushes their partner away, moves their partner’s hand, or sends any other signal that they don’t like (or just aren’t sure about) what’s happening, the other partner needs to stop and check in with their partner. This can look like asking, “Hey, is everything alright?” “Do you want to take a break?” or “What do you want to do right now?”

Consent is also reversible. This means you can change your mind at any point (even if you’ve already said yes). It’s completely normal to be excited about something, only to realize in the moment that you’re not so sure. You have no reason to feel bad about changing your mind, and your partner must respect that.

Again, this all comes down to the basic idea that you want your partner to have a good time. If you’re ever uncertain if your partner is enthusiastic about what you’re doing together, ask.

Unfortunately, we live in a world with some harmful assumptions about sex and consent.

Gender roles play a large part in this script. Many people learn that it’s ok—and even expected—for people (especially boys) to try to convince their partners to do sexual activities their partners may not be comfortable with.

But trying to convince a partner (of any gender) to do something sexual that they don’t want to do is NOT ok. It seems like maybe your boyfriend has absorbed this idea. That does NOT mean that his behavior is ok. It DOES mean that he probably has a lot to learn and unlearn about sex, consent and respect.

It sounds like it’s time to have a serious conversation with your boyfriend about consent and communication.

Be open and direct. Tell him how his behavior has been making you feel, and why. Talk about the ways you’d prefer to communicate about sex. What does consent look like to you? If you find it hard to say “no”—and a lot of people do—tell your boyfriend. Maybe you can use a safe word instead, or just check in with each other more frequently. Just having had this conversation may make it easier to speak up if you feel uncomfortable with something in the future.

Hopefully, your boyfriend will listen, realize why his behavior was wrong and upsetting, apologize, and begin respecting your boundaries and communicating better.

If he reacts badly (or apologizes but keeps doing the head push), think hard about your relationship. Does your boyfriend respect your boundaries in other circumstances? Is he supportive and kind? Even if the answer is “yes,” do you want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t respect your boundaries in bed?

Only you can answer these questions, and what you do with that information is up to you. Just remember that you deserve respect and kindness. If you want to learn more about healthy relationships, click here or check out Love is Respect.

And, if/when you do decide you’re ready to give (or receive!) oral sex, make sure you understand how to do it safely. We talk more about consent in general here, healthy relationships here, and how to check in with yourself before sex here.

If you have more questions about healthy relationships, consent or sexual health and live in NYC, call (212) 423-3000 to make an appointment for free, confidential health care at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. You’ll be welcome here.