If you’re feeling nervous or timid about the first time you have sex, you’re not alone. At one point or another, I promise you that everyone has felt the way you do—and your feelings are completely normal, valid, and fair.
But let me clue you in on one tiny little secret that may be causing some of that anxiety: There’s no right or wrong way to have sex. Sure, you probably have an idea of how you’d like it to go based on sexy movie scenes, experiences or what you’ve heard from your friend’s experiences, but the truth is that it’s most likely not going to be like anything you’ve experienced before—and that’s okay.
just so you can make your first time as pleasurable as possible, here are some tips from sex therapist Vanessa Marin and psychotherapist Nicole Tammelleo.
- Communicate what you want.
Talking about sex with a new partner is a must. “In order to have good sex, you need to communicate your wants, needs, and desires to your partner,”
- Don’t fake an orgasm.
I know pop culture has ingrained in us all the need to moan and writhe with pleasure at every single touch, but do yourself a favor down the line and don’t set the bar for an orgasm via kiss immediately. Especially important the first time you have sex with a new partner. You don’t want to create any unrealistic standards, especially since many women don’t have orgasms the first time they have sex with a new partner.
- Be comfortable asking questions.
Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time having sex, the worst thing you can do is go into it with the assumption that you know everything about what your partner wants. No amount of slumber party gossip about blow jobs and giving massive hickeys can prepare you for what your partner is actually gonna be into. The only way to find out is to ask them.
- Know that sex should never hurt.
“Many women believe that the first time they have sex it will be painful,” says Tammelleo. “While it might be a little uncomfortable and awkward, it really should not be painful.”
- Remember not to compare your experience with anyone else’s.
Not only should you temper your expectations going into it, but also keep in mind that when you’re looking back on the experience later, not to beat yourself up about it. If you waited to have sex for the first time with a long term partner only to break up in the future, don’t feel bad for sharing that experience with that person as long as you had consensual, enthusiastic fun in the moment. It’s normal to cringe thinking about past sexual experiences, but that’s part of the fun.
- Being safe can actually relax you.
Nothing is more distracting than worrying about STIs and pregnancy during sex. Even if it feels awkward, it is so, so, so important to chat with your partner beforehand about what you’ll do to protect yourselves. Use a condom even if you’re on another form of birth control to protect you both from STIs unless you are both monogamous with each other and STI-free
- Consent is a prerequisite for everything you do.
“Make sure you enthusiastically consent to each and every thing the two of you do together,”Marin “‘Enthusiastic’ is a key part of that sentence. Don’t just go along with something—make sure you’re excited about it.”
- Remember to breathe.
A big part of enjoying sex is focusing on the sensations you’re feeling instead of, for example, your nervousness (which is totally common to feel your first time, even if you know you’re ready to have sex). “Deep breathing is a fantastic way to let go of distracting thoughts, as you’re taking those deep breaths, focus on how different parts of your body are feeling and how your partner’s body feels against yours—not just the obvious part, but their fingers in your hair, hands on your hips, whatever it is.
- Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay.
The more aroused you are, the better sex is likely to feel, so don’t neglect foreplay