Thinking about having sex for the first time can be both exciting and confusing. You’ve probably discussed it with your friends, watched first-time sex scenes in movies or on TV, and searched for information online. But what will it really be like?
While media often portrays first-time sex as being universally awkward, short-lived, and often less than pleasurable—if not outright painful—in reality, the experience is different for everyone. It may or may not hurt. There may or may not be some blood. And it does not always have to be initiated by “the dude.”
Here are some other common myths about first-time sex:
1. You Should Have Sex By The Time You’re 18
The idea that you should have partnered sex for the first time by a certain age is born out of societal pressure and has absolutely no basis. The Durex Face of Global Sex (2012) survey shows just how much the average age at first sex varies between cultures, with the average age in Austria being around 15, versus 23 in Malaysia. But none of that matters, because when you have sex for the first time, it should only be based on your needs and feelings—rather than societal expectations or pressures.
2. First-Time Sex Should Be With Someone You Love
You do not necessarily have to be in love with someone to enjoy sex with them. In fact, the belief that sex only goes together with love often restricts people from listening and choosing what to do with their own bodies. As long as you are comfortable and want to have sex with someone who feels the same way, you’re good to go!
3. First-time Sex Has To Involve A Penis And A Vagina
Penis-in-vagina sex is only one way to define sex. It excludes the many ways different people have sex, such as oral sex, anal sex, hand sex, and “outercourse” (bumpin’ and grindin’). All of these count as sex, as there is not just one, universal definition of the word. It’s up to you to decide what “having sex” means to you.
4. The Hymen Tells You Whether Someone Has Had Penetration Before Or Not
The hymen is a thin tissue located at the opening of the vagina that can be stretched or torn the first time you have vaginal sex—but that’s not the only activity that can stretch it. Riding a bike, doing sports, or inserting a tampon can have the same effect. Plus, hymens come in all shapes and sizes. Some people are born with so little hymen tissue that it’s hardly noticeable, which means it’s hardly a reliable way to tell whether someone has had penetrative intercourse.
5. You Should Already Know What To Do And How To Pleasure Your Partner
There is no right or wrong way to have sex, nor is there a standard set of instructions you can follow to give your partner pleasure. So relax: sex is a process of discovery. Try different things, pay attention to your partner’s reactions, and ask them if they like what you are doing. And remember, they are probably just as anxious about pleasing you, so help them out by being honest and communicating how you feel.