A college friend of ours who wishes to remain nameless has a confession to make:
As a 21-year-old virgin I thought sex was going to be the most overwhelming, painful, awkward, terrible, awful experience ever. Why did I think this? Because friends, magazines, and blogs all over the place said so. Not so! Yes, cashing in your V-card is a big deal: your first experience can set the tone for how you approach and engage in sex for years to come. Which is exactly why you shouldn’t stress and fret about the impending deed for weeks or months (or even years!) beforehand like my boyfriend and I did. If you follow these 10 prep rules, then when you’re ready, you can relax and just do it:
- Make sure you’re with a partner that you trust completely. If you’re in love, great! But even more important than true wuv is trust. This comes from knowing your partner well and having a history of caring for and about one another.
- Admit it’s your first time. Because if you don’t, then you’ll be distracted with acting experienced, you’ll feel like you’re going through your first time alone (ironically), and you won’t give your partner the chance to make it special, memorable or comfortable (see #10).
- Share your expectations with each other. I sat down and told my boyfriend exactly what I wanted from the first night: Passion, Trust, Ability to Laugh at Ourselves/Not Take Ourselves too Seriously, Most of the Day Together Afterwards. Your list, your partner’s list — they might be totally different. The point is just to make a list and then share it.
- Get your protection lined up beforehand. You don’t want to find yourself in the moment without a safety net. There are TONS of options out there, but your go-to will probably be condoms since they provide some decent STD-protection and quite good pregnancy prevention. Even better if you double-up with a back-up form of birth-control (like the Pill). I highly recommend using a lubricated condom for your first time — since it makes everything much smoother and lovely-feeling! One thing that no-one warned me about: the rubbery smell of the condom will be noticeable. It bothered me a lot the first couple of times, and I still notice it, but now I just think of it as ‘The Smell of PROTECTION!’
- Speak up in the moment. When it comes to sex for the first time, there’s no such thing as oversharing. The night we did it, my boyfriend knew what was going on in my mind the entire time because I told him how I was feeling and asked him for exactly what I needed. This communicating made us feel connected and confident about the new things we were trying together.
- On that note: Even if you think it’s a stupid question – ask! I was wondering a bazillion things before I first had sex. For some reason I wanted to know how many girls my boyfriend had been with before me and if any of them had been virgins too; during sex I wanted to ask about what he was thinking, if I was angling my hips right, if he could feel the kegels I had been practicing, if he thought my waxing job was nice – all these crazy, random thoughts! Well, just ask. Wondering will only distract you.
- Be sensitive to your partner’s concerns. Whether they’re a virgin or not, they’ve got plenty too. I had thought only I, the naive virgin, would be nervous about sex – but it turns out that my boyfriend was even more nervous than I was! He was worried about everything from making the evening really nice for me, to his own (very unnecessary) worries about performance, to where to best place the condom for easy and fast access.
- It’s okay if you laugh! No one warns you about the fact that sweaty bodies in the act of sex can make a myriad of hilarious noises. My boobs, when pressed up against my boyfriend’s chest, can create a rather epic fart noise! The first time it happened I just stared up at my boyfriend in horror, but he started laughing so hard and was so totally un-phased that I realized that weird stuff can happen and it doesn’t have to lessen the awesomeness that is sex!
- Lower your expectations. It’s kinda like your 16th birthday, when you thought everything was going to drastically change and magically improve when you got your license and officially became a young adult. Didn’t happen, right? At least not overnight. Same thing here: I honestly thought that as soon as we had sex my relationship with my boyfriend would change in some drastic way, I would become more mature, the sky would be bluer and the flowers would smell sweeter. Nope! My boyfriend and I are much closer now because of how intimate we’ve become, but this change wasn’t drastic and it didn’t happen overnight.
- Help the sex feel great. I know, I know, every other personal essay you’ve encountered has been a horror story of pain and dissatisfaction. But I’m living proof it doesn’t have to be that way! In addition to adhering to all the above rules, Em & Lo recommend the following: make sure you are turned on and well lubed (purpose-made lubricant can help), engage in lots of foreplay, and go slowly (not like gangbusters!). Special considerations for the ladies: make sure you’ve had experience with penetration before (be it with fingers or toys), get some manual or oral sex immediately before the big event, even have an orgasm right before to help make sure you’re physically ready.