My “official” first time was pretty much by-the-book. It was with my partner of around five years. We were both virgins. Over the preceding years we had done a heck of a lot of exploring each other’s bodies and foreplay. And still, it went something like this:
Ok… let’s try this… Gently! Slower! I can’t go any slower, I’m already stationary!… Ow, that hurts! That really hurts… Okay, we have to stop… Alright, are you alright?… Yeah, I’m okay… How is there so much blood, I didn’t even get fully in? Do you want me to get a towel?… Maybe in a bit, just hold me for now… Hey, we just gave each other our virginities… Yeah, we did. *goofy grins*
Not exactly what you’d expect from your first time based on media representations. There was no thrusting, and nobody had an orgasm. The enjoyment was more cerebral than physical — the joy of knowing we were choosing to do this together, rather than the actual joy of doing it.
It got better with practice, but I wish someone had spoken with me more honestly about what to expect. If I could write a letter to my teenage self with some advice about how to go about sex, this is what I would say:
Sex is a big deal. Decide carefully what you want to do with your body, and who you want to do it with. Act so that you can always look back and say “whatever I did, even if I’m not sure now if it was the right choice, was the best decision I could have made at the time.”
If you’re having sex with a person of the opposite sex, no matter what birth control method you are using, there is a non-zero chance that you will conceive. If you’re not ready to face the consequences of that, whatever that means for you, then you’re not ready for sex.
You’ll find a lot of advice on the internet about how to have a healthy relationship, and a lot of advice about how to do sex well. If you find a community where you can get both of those things, stick around. These are the people worth knowing.
You’re a cis woman, which in some ways is a bit like drawing the short straw. Your body is not as easy to operate as a cis man’s. This is not your fault, and it is not his fault. It just is. Find a partner who is okay with this.
Your body is not simple to operate, but the person who most has a chance of learning how to do you is you. Your partner can be involved in this process, but especially if they are inexperienced, and not in possession of a vagina and clitoris themselves, they’ll have a really hard time figuring it out without the help of the feedback that your brain gets. Find a partner who wants you to enjoy your own body, and celebrates when you do. Experiment.
Talk to your partner. Talk about sex, talk during sex, talk after sex. Say what you want. Listen to what they want. Don’t lie or mislead. When it’s funny, laugh. When your emotions get so tangled up in each other that you can barely breathe, cry.
You can have great sex that makes you feel extraordinarily close to your partner without having an orgasm. You can have meaningless orgasms that are mostly physical relief and don’t engage your emotions at all. Both are okay, and fun.
Be open to exploration, but know your boundaries and don’t go beyond them. Make decisions about what those boundaries are with a clear head. That thing you didn’t want to try previously can still be tried next time if you don’t feel the same way.
Everyone involved always has power of veto on sex. That doesn’t mean there isn’t value in having sex sometimes when you’re not in the mood or too tired to get properly turned on, as an act of love for your partner. But that is your decision, not theirs. The same goes the other way around. Sometimes you’ll find that you were wrong about your tiredness levels. Intimacy does not always have to mean sex.
If you go to the toilet after sex, you’ll be less likely to contract a UTI. If at any point you start to feel even the vaguest of tingling sensations when you urinate, get a cystitis relief packet from the pharmacy. You dissolve a sachet of powder in water and drink it three times a day for a couple of days. Trust me, it’s a lot better than the alternative of leaving it untreated for a week.
Lube, lube, and more lube. Seriously, even in the middle of sex if you start to feel the tiniest bit dry, stop and apply more lube. Apply it to him, apply it to you. Lube, everywhere, all the time.
You’re going to have a lot of fun.
What sex advice would you have given your teenage self?