It is no secret that sexual education in the US, especially for young women, is rubbish. We are taught that sex is saved for marriage and that we should not “awaken desire before we are ready”. As a Christian person, I agree that this is ideal, but I also realized recently that this can have a huge negative impact on sexual relationships later in life. I am also a realist and know that nearly 95% (!!!) of people have sex before marriage (Source). We are subtly taught that: sex is dirty, that we are less desirable if we do it, that we need to wait to figure things out with our married partners, that if we are with the right person it will come naturally. None of these things are true.
Now I know some of you will think that I am sexually promiscuous and that I am trying to encourage premarital sex. This is NOT the case. I am merely trying to educate young women on what to expect their first time with intercourse in order to avoid some of the common side effects of losing your virginity: shame, disappointment, disconnection, physical pain, etc.
- You don’t have to do ANYTHING you don’t feel comfortable with. I had added this advice in later but moved it to the #1 position because if you don’t read anything else in this post you need to know this. NOBODY’S sexual satisfaction is more important than your comfort. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to say no if the time or action is not right. Even if you have been in a relationship for a million years, you might want to say no. You definitely don’t need any excuses, but if you do feel bad about hurting feelings when it is someone you care about, you can always say “maybe we can talk more about it” or “I would love to try that (next week/tomorrow/when I am feeling less tired/etc) but not right now”.
- All of the positive stories you hear about sex are NOT about the first time. The biggest disappointments from sexual experiences come when women have high expectations. And how could we not with movies/books like The Notebook or 50 Shades of Grey? Even our girlfriends have slews of stories that make sex sound like pure bliss. However, these mind-blowing experiences are very rarely an accurate picture of a deflowering. Maybe someone out there has been a pro from the beginning, but generally it is awkward and QUICK and physically uncomfortable. This is very normal.
- Have a sex-positive attitude. Sex is a natural, normal, pleasurable experience. It is just another part of life and growing up. Many Christian women, myself included, have so much shame wrapped up in their sexuality. We don’t want to do anything too weird, too promiscuous, too kinky, too pleasurable, too dirty. If you don’t believe me, I bet you could think in your head of things that “God would not approve of” when it comes to monogamous sexual acts. But I want to encourage you to try and retrain how your brain thinks of sex. It is awesome! Allow yourself to think of it as a good and pure thing that you love and enjoy.
- Sex is a physical skill, just like a sport. Give yourself time to practice and get better. Going back to #2, it is most likely not going to be great at the beginning, and it might take a while to orgasm. Allow yourself some time to get used to your partner and for the two of you to figure things out together.
- Sex should be mutually pleasurable. This is the big one. The “Big O” if you will. Women can have orgasms too! And they not only can, but should! Let me ask you this: why is it that we have just accepted that men can orgasm every time we have sex, but it is totally fine if a women doesn’t? I say NO. Don’t be afraid to demand pleasure where pleasure is due. Now, I will be totally honest, sometimes I will have quickies with my husband and don’t expect an orgasm. I am totally fine with that though, because I want to make him happy and I know he will pay me back later. But you should definitely expect your partner to want to please you just as much as you please them.
- Take time to learn your own likes and dislikes. Guess what, women can also masterbate! Even if you are not comfortable with a full on love-fest with yourself, you should try and figure out some of your pleasure spots and turn ons. If you don’t know, how is your partner supposed to know?
- Communicate with your partner. A LOT. Your partner can not read your mind. As unsexy as it is to spell it out for them, they might need some guidance from time to time. Don’t be afraid to show them how you like something or ask if you can change a position if it is not working for you. If you don’t feel comfortable asserting your desires and needs, you probably should not be engaging in something so intimate.
- USE LUBE. Just… take my word for it. If you can imagine a slightly moist hand going into a too-tight rubber glove, you can understand why this would be necessary.
- Be prepared for the emotional aftermath. Sex is a big step into adulthood. It is a very intimate and personal experience with another person. You might be struck with the feelings that I mentioned above of guilt or loss of innocence. This also is perfectly normal. You are taking a huge step, and opening up a whole world of experiences! But you need to talk and work through those feelings with people you trust. Talk with your partner. Experienced girlfriends are also a good support system. Don’t let it bottle up, or you could start to develop a negative association with sexuality.
- Remember that you are still the same person, just with more experiences. I am not sure if this is a normal reaction, but when I lost my virginity I felt like an entirely different person. I felt like people were looking at me differently, treating me differently, like I was looking at other people differently, and like I knew more about the world. It took me a long time to realize that I was the exact same person as before, and sex is in the big picture such a small part of our lives. Yes, you know more now, but it does not make you any less or more of the same person you were before.
- Women are complicated and men are optimistic. Sexual pleasure is much more straight forward for men. If they are inexperienced as well, they are going to need some guidance and education to understand what is going on with your body. Even if they have had sex with another person before, every woman is different and they might have to relearn everything all over again. Going back to #6 and #7, know yourself and being open to communicating with your partner is extremely important for your pleasure.
- DO NOT go from 0 to 100. This is an easy way to crash and burn. There is a reason why you always hear about the “four bases”, and going straight from 1st base to home base is not a very great idea. Being entirely open and vulnerable with someone- even someone you love with your whole heart- is something that you have to build over time and ease into. If you are waiting for marriage to engage in a sexual relationship, which is great, I would advise you not to have intercourse on your first night. WHAT?! Crazy talk! But I am serious. A really bad first experience can leave everyone feeling negative and reluctant to keep trying, and the more negative experiences you have the more it is going to enforce the idea that sex is not a positive thing. I would really encourage you to just not have expectations and let yourselves kiss, touch, and just be naked together for a while. Let yourselves work up to it naturally, and don’t be afraid to take the lead on when things should progress.
If you have any other questions or need any personal advice, I am no expert, but I am totally willing to be the “experienced girlfriend” if you don’t feel comfortable talking with the people in your life. I also really recommend this book if you need any help with discovering your body or educating a loved one. Best of luck!
*This is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, and the dynamics explained here might be different for LGBTQ women or different relationship dynamics (polyamorous, etc). However, I think many of the ideas are pretty universal.*