All the things I wish I knew when I lost my virginity

By the time I lost my virginity, most of my friends had already reached that particular milestone. It was the first week of college, and I was determined to go into my new life as a for real away-from-home grown-up as someone unencumbered by the stigma of that big white V that seemed staples to my T-Shirt at all times. It was quick and nothing to write home about; afterwards, I saw the guy again just once, to get back a sweater I had left over. I don’t regret it, but looking back, there are some things I wish I had known.

No one’s first time is perfect

OK, maybe there are a couple people in the universe who can say that it was perfect. But for the vast majority of people, your first time isn’t going to be this amazing, candlelit seduction. As I got older and started talking more openly with my friends about their first time, I realized that absolutely everyone is a little bit nervous and unnerved, and that the first time, while an important benchmark, does not define the way your sex life is going to be the rest of your life. It’s going to be a little bit awkward or a lot awkward. That’s normal! That’s OK. The people whose losing-their-virginity experience is something out of a romance novel are the exception, not the rule.

Absolutely no one cares as much about virginity as you do

The idea that I just had to get rid of the burden of being a virgin is pretty silly, now that I think about it. The cultural focus on sexuality and sex means that it feels like you’re being left behind if you haven’t reached a certain base by a certain time. But honestly, your friends love you for who you are. Any partner anywhere on the gender spectrum worth caring about isn’t going to shame you for being inexperienced. And after you do lose your virginity, you’ll be the same person you were before.

It gets better

The first time might not be great. Neither might be times two through two dozen. But if you’re with a partner who cares about you, it’s only going to get more fun and interesting. It’s exciting and cool to get to explore your body in a new way. Don’t do anything you feel uncomfortable with, of course, but don’t worry if things aren’t all falling into place all at once. It takes time and practice and care.

Taking care of your sexual health is nothing to be ashamed of

Buying condoms or going in for that gyn appointment to get yourself checked out have more weight to them than they should. It’s not only nothing to be ashamed of, it’s really important to take care of yourself and ask smart questions about your sexual health.

Everyone’s body is different, and works differently

Just as one partner you’re with might like or need different things than another, you are a unique entity in terms of your sexuality. It’s OK not to like certain things, or to want some of the menu options but not all of them. Don’t be thrown off by those articles that tell you what should work for you, or what your should want. Focus on what does work for you, and treat the rest as so much noise.

Speak up for what you want

A partner isn’t going to magically know what you want unless you tell them. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. It seems a little bit awkward—everyone just knows how this works, intuitively, right?—but having clear lines of communication can do wonders. Trust.

It’s always OK to stop 

If the situation is uncomfortable or you’re feeling pressured or you’re just not into it for whatever reason, you absolutely have the right to stop and walk away. If you’re with someone who cares about you they’ll understand. And if they give you a hard time about it, the problem is theirs, and not yours. Your body is your own, and you decide what to do with it. Never doubt it.

The contributor of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

[Image via The CW]

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