Losing your virginity comes with its fair share of misconceptions. Between condoms, positions, and knowing whether or not you’re ready, it’s normal to have a few questions that might not be easy to ask. They might not be the kind of questions you want to ask your parents or even your friends. Regardless of who you turn to, separating the myths from the truth is an important way to give you confidence before your first time.
Checking the Facts
You might be hearing plenty of school-yard rumours about losing your virginity, some of which won’t have a grain of truth to them. And while your parents might be a wealth of well-intended advice, talking sex with your folks can be understandably… challenging. These days there is a wealth of information to be found online, but even this can be misleading depending on the source. Make sure you do your research beforehand and be wary of ‘facts’ that you read on forums or scare-mongering articles.
Q: What’s the craziest myth you heard about first-time-sex when you were younger?
“I think most of the ridiculous myths you hear are about the various ways in which you can and can't get pregnant. That's probably the biggest fears teenagers have when it comes to sex so it's easy to get carried away. You get the ridiculous ones like getting pregnant just from touching or in swimming pools. Semen is obviously invincible!” – Female, 26
“I remember people saying how it was basically going to be like a scene from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre! I remember panicking about ever having sex because the thought of causing a bloody scene like that terrified me..” – Female, 21
Nerves are perfectly normal
Very few people go into their first time without a few butterflies, and you can be pretty sure that your partner is experiencing them too. While it might feel a little awkward, don’t be embarrassed to ask them how they are feeling and to be open about your feelings too.
Sometimes the best way to break the tension is to have a bit of a giggle. It will help you both to relax and let you know that you’re both on the same page. And if at any point you change your mind, just say “no”. It’s not up to anyone to dictate whether or not you are ready.
Q. How did you feel before your first time?
“Nervous, scared, anxious, worried - I don't think I was experiencing any positive emotions, apart from being a little bit excited because it was, I suppose, a sign of 'growing up'. Generally speaking though, a nervous wreck thanks to all the horror stories knocking about around my friends.” – Female, 21
“My first time was funny yet awkward. I didn't know what I was doing and I don't think my sexual partner did either. I assumed that that'd be the last time I'd ever allow anything to go up there! However, it wasn't, after a few more goes it got better and I felt more relaxed.” – Female, 26
“I knew I wanted my first time to be with someone I loved and cared about. I was happy to wait until I found the right person. Difficult to do when friends and schoolmates were waxing lyrical about not being a V-I-R-G-I-N anymore. The night it happened I wasn't nervous in the slightest. We'd dated for a few months and were ready. What was there to be nervous about when you felt it was with the right person? There wasn't any reason to be shy or scared, it was totally part of us and who we were.” – Female, 31
“Because it wasn't something we'd planned, it felt great when it happened. Both of us were ready. No pressure involved.” – Male, 19
“I was a bit older so I felt ready, but still super nervous. But I'd had years of looking things up online and doing my research while worrying about when it would finally happen. I also knew and trusted my boyfriend completely. So he put me at ease.” – Female, 26
Whether our parents intend it or not, many of us learn about sex through the big screen. Between flattering lighting, slow and sensuous music, and apparently immaculately-timed orgasms, this can certainly build up great expectations around sex. In truth, it’s very normal for your first time to be a little less than the firework display you might hope for.
You may feel some discomfort and you might not reach an orgasm the first time. But you will start to learn about what you enjoy, your confidence will build, and with it you’ll find out what makes you both breathless in the bedroom. Be honest with your partner: tell them what feels good and let them know if anything makes you uncomfortable. Sex is not about an Oscar-winning performance, but about enjoying and giving pleasure to one another.
Q. Do you think first time sex generally lives up to expectations?
“No, not really. I think a hell of a lot of pressure is put on first time sex and besides, you don't really know what you're doing when you first have sex so it's normally more of an awkward fumble than anything else! I think the main thing first time sex does is break your comfort zones!” - Female, 21
“I think so. But it depends how you get those expectations. It's best not to have any expectations - just have an open mind.” – Male, 19
“It definitely doesn't. Especially if it's the first time for both of you. Neither of you really have a clue what to do or what to expect so it's pretty likely to be clumsy and awkward. Sex definitely improves with experience and confidence. Your first time will never be your best time. But as long as you can enjoy it, it might not be the worst!” – Female, 26
“I really think it depends. I waited until I was 18, and it met my expectations. I knew it wasn't going to be all fireworks, it was going to be a natural progression of our relationship. It really hit home after having to console a few friends when they ended up feeling a bit used after their first times. One girl ended up with a really nasty nickname from the boy she slept with and it stuck with her for years. If someone feels like they just want to get it over with, I think it's more likely to be one of those 'meh' situations.” – Female, 31
So you’re ready for your first time! Finally knowing that you’re ready is a big moment. But there is one very important, practical thing to think about before you get down to business. That is protection. Don’t avoid this subject, or it might leave you both feeling a disappointed when the right moment comes.
Think practically: Do you know which one of you is bringing protection? Are you confident in how to put on a condom? Putting on a condom is not difficult, but there are a few cast-iron steps to follow: Never tear the packaging, always pinch the tip and be careful to put it on the right way up. There is no harm in doing a little research or even a practise-run before the big night.
Q:Is there any anything you would have differently in the situation?
“Yes - would have done it again straight away.” – Male, 19
“Not really, no regrets and all that. My first time was with my first boyfriend and we actually still speak now (in a platonic way) and look back and laugh!” – Female, 21
“I would have relaxed more. There's so many worries going through your head that really aren't important. I think there's so much hype about it that you end up expecting it to be this big thing. But really you just have to take it easy and have fun.” – Female, 26
“Not really.” – Female, 31
Learning From your First Time
Whether you felt a few bumps on the road, or it was smooth sailing from the start, the news is still good: Generally speaking, sex will only get better from here. Before long you’ll get to know the hidden ways to make you and your partner lost for words in the bedroom and what leaves you both blushing for days.
Q: What piece of advice would you give your younger self now if you could turn the clock back?
“Don't do anything unless you feel ready, and don't feel pressured by your pals. Everyone has first time sex at different stages and just because your friends are doing it, doesn't necessarily mean that you have to or need to - each to their own - explore at your own pace!” – Female, 21
“The advice I'd give to my younger self would be not to ever fake an orgasm! I'd also come fully equipped with lubricant and allow up to 20 minutes of foreplay, as it's incredibly important and saves you from clueless sex pauses between the sheets.” – Female, 26
“I think I'd reassure myself that I did it the right way for me, even with the pressure I had from friends and other boys to get it over with. Any other way would have changed me as a person. Advice? Perhaps not to feel envious when friends described their first times as this special, magical experience like Jack and Rose from the Titanic (it had just been released at the time), and maybe try and stop some of my pals doing it just to 'do it'. You can only have sex for the first time once!” – Female, 31
As you can see everybody experiences a few bumps along the way as you start to explore new areas of sex, but if you communicate honestly, it should be fun and pleasure-packed for you both! As you continue in your sexual relationship, the important thing is to keep an open dialogue going with your partner. By most accounts, sex will only get better after your first time.