The first time you have sex is a big deal. It’s something that should be special and memorable; something you’ve spent a while thinking about, not something you’ve rushed into because of pressure from your friends or a guy.
If and when you feel like you’ve found a person who respects you, cares about you, and loves you, you might decide it’s time to talk about sex.
Of course, real life isn’t always like a scene from an Ed Sheeran music vid (as much as we all want it to be), and having this kind of conversation can make a whole bunch of emotions, and even concerns, appear.
It’s especially true when you find out that you’re the only virgin in the relationship.
First of all, let’s talk about how you’re feeling about your first time. Excited? Nervous? Heart eye emoji’d? All of the above? Awesome! All those emotions are completely normal.
But there are some trickier feels to navigate too. Think: anxiousness, confusion, fear. It’s important you dig a little deeper on those ones, to make sure that you really are ready to go all the way.
“Sex can mean different things for different people,” says Lisa Bogie, Senior Health Promotion Officer at Family Planning NSW. “For some people, it can be an extremely personal and intimate experience and for others it might be more about the physical experience. Your views on sex could also be influenced by your personal and/or family values, beliefs or religion.”
Here are some pretty important questions you should ask yourself before you consider having sex:
- Is having sex something you want to do for yourself (not just to make your partner happy)?
- Does your prospective sexual partner make you feel safe and protected?
- Are you emotionally mature enough to talk about and have sex? And deal with the feelings before and after it?
- Do you know how to protect yourself from sexually transmissible infections (STIs)?
- Do you know about proper methods of contraception?
If you can’t confidently answer all of those questions, slow down and take some time to make sure you can before you go any further.
TALK IT OUT
All right, here’s the kicker: you’re a virgin, and they’re not. You might discover this piece of information at the beginning of your romance, or only learn it when you two begin talking about sex. There’s no right or wrong time to find out. It’s completely up to you how you choose to take this information – their previous experience might mean you’re relieved that at least one of you knows what they’re doing, but it could also leave you feeling inadequate or singled-out as ‘the virgin’ in the relationship.
In reality, there shouldn’t be much difference between sharing your first time with someone who has had sex and someone who hasn’t, and you should treat either scenario with the same importance. More often than not, if your partner decided not to wait for someone special, they’re probably wishing they did so the two of you could share this moment together.
Either way, you’ll need to be open, honest and willing to have a real, adult conversation before you make any big decisions. “When contemplating having sex, it’s important to discuss safe sex with your partner,” says Lisa. “It might feel awkward having this conversation but, in most cases, your partner is probably wondering how to bring it up with you too!”
Yep, because having some sexual experience (however big or small) doesn’t mean you’re exempt from feeling nervous or excited about going all the way with someone you care about.
“It may feel weird or uncomfortable at first, but it will get easier. In a healthy relationship your partner will respect you for taking care of your health and theirs. You may be surprised by how much both the emotional and physical parts of your relationship will benefit.”
Get familiar with the three big ones: consent, safe sex and contraception. If you’re serious about being sexually active, consider them compulsory education. (In fact, for the rest of your sexually active life, you’ll need to make sure you’ve ticked all three boxes before you have sex, every single time).
“It’s important to remember that both of you have a responsibility to make sure that you each feel safe and comfortable every step along the way. Remember, your actions towards the person you’re with can greatly affect the way they feel about you, themselves, the relationship, and sex in general,” says Lisa.
“Safe sex means always using a condom or dam for any sexual activity involving vaginal, anal or oral sex. These barrier methods of protection minimise the amount of skin-to-skin contact and stop the transfer of bodily fluids,” says Lisa.
To be in control of your sex life – even before it officially starts – you need to trust yourself, and your partner, 100%. That means having awks conversations like whether they’ve had a sexual health check (something you won’t need to start having until you’ve had sex for the first time), and what methods of contraception you’ll use to prevent STIs and – if you’re in a guy/girl relationship –unintended pregnancy.
ON SECOND THOUGHT…
You might change your mind at any time, and decide now isn’t really the right time for you to have sex. You know what? That’s A-OK (and any prospective partner who doesn’t say the same thing is so not worth it).
There are plenty of different types of intimacy, like holding hands, writing love notes, hugging, kissing, and staying up on the phone to each other until 1am. Your relationship is entirely your own, and the opinions (and sexual experience) of your friends and peers shouldn’t influence what goes on between you and your other half.
“Kissing and getting intimate does not need to lead to sex,” adds Lisa. “That’s why it’s important to communicate how you are feeling. Every time you engage in intimate or sexual activity it is really important that you and the person you’re with is comfortable with what’s happening.”
You only get one first time, and there’s no point on wasting it on anyone, or any moment, that’s less than perfect.
A NOTE ABOUT CONSENT
“Consent means that both people want, agree, and feel comfortable with the type of sexual activity they are about to do together, as well as being comfortable saying no at any point if they want or need to. Non-consensual sexual activity is against the law and is classified as sexual assault. For example; in New South Wales, this age is 16. This means that anyone who has sex with a young person under the age of 16 is committing an offence, whether or not the under-16-year-old actually consents” – Lisa Bogie, Senior Health Promotion Officer at Family Planning NSW.
Everything else you need to know is right here.