Even though the media loves to sell us sexed up anything and everything, actually talking about the birds and the bees is still pretty taboo. Even though our culture has been shifting away from that, thanks in part to the younger generation, we still have a long way to go in the realm of sex ed. Plus, since sex means something different for everyone, it makes sense that each person’s experience with it will be unique as well.
Although there is no universal “right” time to have sex for the first time, most of us knew when we were ready to do it. You have every right to enjoy yourself with some steamy love-making, but you also have the right to do so under your own terms. Making sure you’re safe, and know what to expect from the relationship and the experience, can save you a lot of anxiety. If you’re ready to have sex, asking yourself these questions could help you be confident and comfortable with your decision.
1Do I trust this person?
Sex makes you vulnerable; you are allowing someone to see and feel you in a new way. Asking yourself if you actually trust them to take care of you, especially the first time you’re having sex, is vital. You want to feel comfortable enough in the moment to enjoy the experience, and the last thing you should be thinking of is if this person respects you and your boundaries.
Although you don’t need to have an emotional connection with the person, trust is still important. Not only will it make the experience that much better, but it will make it that much more important as well.
2Am I doing this for me?
The only person you should be having sex for is you. Period. It doesn’t matter if your friend or partner thinks you should — the only person whose opinion matters is yours. If you’re having sex because you feel ready, then absolutely go for it. But if you’re having sex because you think you should be, then you may want to think about why. After all, you’re the only person who’s going to live with the decision, so give yourself a break and think about what YOU want. Your needs and wants are valid.
3Do I have protection?
No glove, no love! Truly, condoms are a godsend. If you’re not trying to have a baby, and want to protect yourself from STDs, all you have to do is slide one on. In an interview with Bustle, Vanessa Marin, a licensed sex psychotherapist, says the key to using a condom is to buy the right ones.
In a political climate where women’s bodies and bodily autonomy are constantly being threatened, the least you can do when you have sex is make sure you do it safely. So whether you’re using dental dams or condoms, bring your own and don’t let your partner tell you that “it ruins the mood” or “doesn’t feel as good.” Even if you’re on birth control, you can still use protection. Better safe than sorry.
4Has this person been tested?
First off, if you’re sexually active at all, you should be tested. STDs can still be spread by oral sex, and you should know your status! The same applies to a partner. If you’re giving someone the honor (yes, honor!) of having sex with you for the first time, the least they can do is get tested. You can even go together! In an interview with Shape.com, Debby Herbenick, Ph.D. says, “The most common reason people don’t bring up STIs with a potential partner is because they haven’t been tested. They know the question is going to get turned back on them. Get tested yourself, and the conversation will be much easier.”
Local clinics, Planned Parenthood, some urgent cares, gynos, and university health centers offer STD testing. Very often, the anticipation of getting tested is worse than actually getting tested. Asking your partner if they’re clean may feel uncomfortable, but it is much less awkward than finding out after the fact. Having the awkward conversation up front also means it can only get easier the rest of the night.
5Have we both been clear about what we want out of this relationship?
Whether you’re friends with a mutual interest in sexing, partners completely in love, or maybe something else, you should know going into this experience where the relationship stands. This will take clear communication, which is why trusting your partner is so important.
Beyond that, you want to be on the same page as them before you make such a big decision. After all, even if sex doesn’t feel monumental, it will likely be something you remember. You may as well make sure it’s the best case scenario, right?
6Will I regret this?
The answer may be HELL NAH, or it may take a little longer to figure out. If it’s the case of the latter, just take a second to ask yourself if you’re doing this for you. There is no shame in waiting to have sex! The perfect moment for your BFF is probably not the perfect moment for you, and that’s okay!
Regret can be a useless emotion — if you learn something from an experience, you shouldn’t regret it. Maybe choose to work the experience out in a different way next time, yes. But regret? No. You’re so much better off without it.
7Am I REALLY ready?
Hopefully, by this point, the answer is a booming YES. And if it is, go for it! Enjoy, be safe, and have fun. If it’s not, take a deep breath and think about it some more. Your intuition (or that feeling deep in your gut that knows all) is really never wrong.
There’s no shame in waiting for the right time and there’s no shame if it is the right time. Either way, go get ’em tiger!