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Personal / Relationships / Men
Information for heterosexual men coming to the UK
Men (c)
  Going out
  Sex and contraception
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  Sexual health


This page gives some basic information about relationships for heterosexual men who are visiting the UK from another country.

Sex: a Man's Guide
Authors: Stefan Bechtel, Laurence R. Stains
Publisher: Rodale Books
Date: October 1998

Would Like to Meet
Author: Jay Hunt
Publisher: BBC Consumer Publishing (Books)
Date: August 2002
Click here for other books in the category: sex

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A heterosexual man is a man who is sexually attracted to women (sometimes known as a straight man). In Britain, if you describe a woman as your girlfriend it means that she is your partner. If you are talking about a general friend and want to make it clear that it is a man, you can say female friend. It is common for a man to refer to a woman as a girl even if her age is in the 20s or 30s. If you are attracted to a woman you fancy her. In Britain you go out with a girl, meaning that you start to socialise with her as your partner (in American English, you might date someone). If you call someone your lover, it implies that you are having sex with her but you are not married to her - you would not normally use this word except to a close friend. A love affair or affair is a romantic or sexual relationship with someone, often when one of you is already married or has a partner. If you say you sleep with a woman, it means you have sex with her (it doesn't mean you just sleep in the same house).

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Cupid (Roman god of love)

How should I greet a British woman?

Normally British men just say "hello" or talk about some general subject when they first meet a woman. Shaking hands is only common in more formal situations.

When talking to her, do not stand too close, and allow her to move away from you if she wants. You should only move your head or body close to her or touch her if there is a romantic atmosphere

When saying goodbye to a woman, in an informal situation it is quite common to give a woman a light kiss on one or both cheeks or a quick, gentle hug. The woman will usually understand this to be a sign of friendship, but not necessarily a sign of sexual interest. Kissing on the lips is usually only between a boyfriend and girlfriend.

Note that you should not follow a woman. Even if she already knows you this will probably make her feel scared, and if it is reported you may be arrested by the police.

How can I ask for her contact details?

It is more gentle and polite not to ask a woman directly for her contact details. Offer her your own address, telephone number or e-mail address. Tell her if you want to see her again or if you want to stay in contact with her by letter of e-mail. You might suggest a time and place to meet again. Don't force her to give you an answer immediately. If she offers you her own contact details, you can use these to contact her (remind her who you are and where you met), but otherwise you should wait for her to contact you if she wants, or just wait to meet her again at the same place.

I'm attracted to this girl, but does she like me?

British women do not always talk openly about their emotions, especially when they do not know you well already. However, even if she does not tell you directly, it should become clear whether she likes you, from her body language and the way she speaks to you. Some possible signs might be:
- She may start making more direct eye contact with you, and smile more often
- She may ask more personal questions, for example "Do you have a girlfriend?"
- She may complement you about your appearance, for example "You have lovely eyes"
- She may act in a jealous way when other women talk to you

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How can I ask her to go out with me?

Some English woman will wait for the man to ask her out, so don't wait too long for her to ask if this is what you want (if you keep meeting her, she will probably decide to think of you as a friend instead of as a partner). However, it is also perfectly normal for a woman to ask the man to go out with her, so don't be surprised if this happens.

In Britain it is more common to ask someone to go out with you informally. For example, you might ask "Would you like to come to the cinema with me next week?" instead of "Would you like to go out with me?" Don't ask her when she is surrounded by friends or if it is quiet and other people can hear your conversation.

A British woman will not normally say no directly if she doesn't want to go out with you: instead, she will usually make an excuse (for example: "I'm afraid I'm busy then"). She is trying to avoid making you (and herself) embarrassed, so don't keep listing other days. You could say something like "Well, maybe another time then".

How can I get close to her?

If you feel attracted to her and she feels the same, you should be able to tell. She may keep looking at you, or move closer or touch you. If you do these things and she doesn't look away, move away, or look uncomfortable, she may feel attracted to you too. If you feel it is appropriate, you can kiss her gently on the lips and see how she reacts to you (many women don't like to be asked, "Can I kiss you?")

If people kiss and touch, they normally prefer to move away into a private area where people cannot see them. Do not do too much in public, or you could be stopped by a policeman. You could invite her to come to your place if you are allowed to take a guest there. It is normal in Britain to say something indirect like, "Would you like to come up to my room?" If it is easier to visit her room, you could ask, "Could I come round to your place?" Always respect the girl's right to say no at any time or stop or leave if she wants.

I want to stop being her boyfriend. How can I tell her?

There is no pleasant way of telling someone that you don't want to go out with her any more.
Choose the right moment, and explain to her how you feel. Let her answer you, but be firm about your decision if you still want to leave her.
For example, you might say "I'm sorry, but I think we should stop seeing each other for a while", followed by a brief explanation of why you want to split up.
In Britain, men sometimes remain friends with former girlfriends; let her know if you still want to meet her as a friend, and let her decide if she wants to do that.

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Should I have sex with her?

In Britain, it is your own decision if you want to have sex with a consenting adult.
Most churches advise people not to have sex until you are married, but these days sex outside marriage is common in Britain.
Do not feel pressure to behave in a way that you do not feel comfortable about.
Try not to worry about what other people might think about you, or what other people do.
Respect your partner's decision if she doesn't want to have sex with you.
If you don't want to have sex with her, tell her clearly what limits you want to set.
If you want to have sex, think about if you want to take precautions against becoming pregnant or catching a sexual disease (see below for more details).

Where can I have sex?

If you are sharing accommodation with other people, remember that they probably will not like to hear you having sex.
If you are staying with a host family, your landlord or landlady may not want their children to be aware of your sexual behaviour.
You should ask your landlord/landlady for permission before letting someone else stay overnight in your room. If this starts to happen regularly, he/she may ask you to move or to pay more rent.
There are no love hotels in the UK. You cannot usually rent a room for a short time: one night is usually the minimum period.
In Britain, it is illegal to have sex in a public place, although it is rare for the police to take action if nobody can see or hear you. Kissing and fondling in public are accepted provided that you keep private parts of your body covered and try to be discreet.


Visit your doctor or local Family Planning Clinic for advice on contraception or if your partner wants a pregnancy test. The Family Planning Association's website is at:
Brook Advisory Services provide information on sexual matters to people under 25:

Contraception: A User's Handbook
Author: Anne Szarewski, John Guillebaud
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date: September 2000

Companies making condoms include:
Durex ; Mates
Various makes are available from:
Condom Company

If you think you may have sex, carry condoms with you and offer to use one. This may reduce the chance of her becoming pregnant or of one of you catching a sexually transmitted disease. Do not be surprised if she says she is on the pill (this is quite a common form of contraception in the UK) or carries some form of female contraceptive or condoms.

You can buy condoms from chemists / pharmacies, or from vending machines in pub toilets, or you can buy them online (see below). You can also obtain some free from your doctor or from a family planning clinic. Check the "use by" date on the packet before using a condom. To reduce the risk of the condom breaking, squeeze the air out of the top part before putting it on your erection. Roll it down as far as possible to reduce the chance of it coming off during sex. Don't stay inside her for too long after you have ejaculated, because it is possible that the condom will come off or sperm will come out when you get soft. Hold the rim at the bottom when you withdraw from her. If there is sperm on your or her body, wash it off afterwards and avoid touching her vagina if you may have some on your hands.

In Britain, contraceptive pills for women can be obtained free from her doctor, but let your partner decide if she wants to take these (there can be some health risks, and it can be easy to forget to take them).

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My girlfriend is worried that I might have made her pregnant. What can I do?

Show support and understanding to your partner - try not to be selfish, and consider how she might be feeling.

If she visits her doctor or pharmacy as soon as possible (and certainly within 3 days) after having unprotected sex, she can obtain the "morning after pill" to avoid possible pregnancy. For more details:

Encourage your girlfriend to visit her doctor or the local Family Planning Clinic for a pregnancy test. Offer to go with her if she wants you there.

If she is pregnant, talk with her about what you both want to do. You may also wish to contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service:

Abortions are legal in the UK, but they are usually only carried out less than 20 weeks after the last period. Make sure that she contacts her doctor if she is thinking about having an abortion, and make sure that you provide any emotional or financial support that she needs. Consider the consequences carefully - as well as stopping the development of a baby, an abortion may have physical and emotional effects.

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In the UK, erotic magazines (pornography) can be bought from the top shelf of most newsagents or from sex shops or can be ordered by mail order. If you buy these you should not look at them in public places. In Britain, most people consider it perfectly acceptable and normal for a man to look at sexy pictures or to masturbate, provided that it is done in private. You should not look at pornography on a computer in a public place such as an internet café, and you should not send such pictures by e-mail.

Sex shops

A licensed sex shop is a place where erotic magazines, films, clothes and sex toys are sold. Despite the name, sexual services cannot be sold in a sex shop. You have to be over 18 (male or female) to enter such a shop.

Prostitution / sex industry

In the UK it is illegal to offer or to receive sexual services for money. However, these services do exist, often described as massage or escort services. If you have sex with a prostitute, you can reduce the risk of catching a sexual disease by wearing a condom. Be careful about "sex shows" with low entrance charges: once you are inside they may charge you very high prices for drinks or even force money from you. It is better to avoid the sex industry, as the cost will be high and you may be taking a risk with your health and safety.

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How can I stop myself from getting AIDS?

* AIDS is not a problem which only affects homosexual men. In Britain in 2002, more people were infected with HIV through heterosexual sex than through homosexual sex:

HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus) is a virus which weakens the immune system (which defends the body against disease). Your partner may catch this virus from your semen or blood, and you can catch it from her vaginal fluids, breast milk or blood. It can cause AIDS (Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome), which may lead to death due to the body's inability to fight illnesses.

HIV infection is increasingly common among young heterosexual women in the UK. You have a higher risk of getting HIV if you have sex with a bisexual woman or which a drug-taker who shares needles. The risk can be reduced if you use a condom during sex. You can also reduce the risk by having sex with fewer women, by avoiding anal sex, and by not sharing a needle or syringe with another person. The disease is not passed on by everyday social contact

If you are worried that you may have HIV, confidential HIV tests can be obtained from any STD ("sexually transmitted disease") clinic or GUM ("genito-urinary medicine") clinic or VD ("veneral disease") clinic. For information about how to find a clinic, see: Personal/Health.

The Health Protection Agency provides information about HIV and AIDS in the UK:

The National AIDS Helpline is a free telephone service for people worried about HIV or AIDS. The telephone number is 0800 567 123 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

The Terrence Higgins Trust is a UK charity providing help and advice about HIV and AIDS:

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Health: Personal/Health
Getting help or advice: Personal/Advice
Information for gay men: Personal/Relationships/Gay

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