Peer pressure is when people you know put pressure on you to do something you either don't want to do, or don't feel ready for. 

It is normal to want to fit in, but we should never feel pressured to take things further than we want to or do something just because we are worried about what other people will think.

Here is the NHS Choices definition of peer pressure:

  • obvious peer pressure – "Everyone's doing it, so should you."
  • underhand peer pressure – "You're a virgin, you wouldn't understand."
  • controlling peer pressure – "You would do it if you loved me."

But despite what friends might say, where sex is concerned, there really is no 'correct' time to start doing it - and it is different for everyone. It might help to remember that most people don't start having sex until they are 16 or over so people who brag about it might not be telling the truth or could be at least exaggerating.

It is important that we make our own decisions in life. When we do things because we feel pressured, or rush things because we want to fit in, we have not really done it because we want to. This can make it feel worse if we regret it later on - because we did something we weren't really happy about.

If you think a partner is using controlling peer pressure on you, see our page It's fine to say 'NO' for advice.

For more from NHS Choices about sex and peer pressure, including how to resist pressure and what you can say to someone who is trying to pressure you, click here.

Related pages:

It's fine to say 'NO'

Safer sexual activity

Getting a pregnancy test