Before you have sex for the first time, it can seem like this big, mysterious thing. But it doesn’t have to be shrouded in secrecy. Eleven girls talked to Seventeen.com about what they wish they had known before having sex, so whenever the time is right for you, you can feel that much more prepared.
1. Sex is best when you really feel comfortable.
« You’ll know you’re ready to have sex with someone for the first time when the thought of them seeing you naked in full light doesn’t scare you or make you nervous. » — Isabel, 20
2. Sex should be fun for both of you.
« I wish I knew that it should be equally about both partners’ pleasure. If your partner doesn’t care about making you feel good, then they are the wrong partner. » — June, 18
3. Orgasms aren’t weird.
« I wish I’d known I was ‘allowed’ to enjoy it. When my ex-girlfriend and I first started having sex, I was almost scared to have my first orgasm because I thought she would judge me. She said it was weird to make noises during sex and stuff like that. She made me feel bad for wanting to have fun. » — Allie, 18
4. You don’t need to have sex to be cool.
« I lost my virginity when I was 14 to a guy who was four years older and not a virgin. Part of me thought the older I was when I lost my virginity, the lamer I’d be. I trusted my boyfriend, but I also felt manipulated, and now I regret it. The relationship eventually turned abusive. I wish I had waited until I was really happy to be with a person — not just settling for them out of fear that no one else would be able to love me. » — Meg, 17
5. Your first time might be painful…
« I wish I had known that even when the guy’s penis is only 30 percent in, your first time can still hurt a lot, and it might hurt for the few times after. (But it gets better eventually.) A lot of girls stress out about it, but the more you stress, the more your body tenses up, and that makes sex less enjoyable. » — Jess, 20
6. … or not painful at all.
« It doesn’t always hurt the first time! I was so scared of the pain, but ultimately, the first time really didn’t hurt. By the third time, though, I was a little sore. » — Caroline, 22
7. « Right » moments come and go.
« I thought I was ‘supposed’ to have sex for the first time with my high school boyfriend. He was my first real relationship, first ‘I love you,’ the whole nine yards. He was a year older and about to leave for college, and I finally felt ready — but right then, I got my period. I was so upset. That crushed me at the time, but turned out to be a blessing in disguise: he left for school, we broke up, and he became a real jerk. I’m so thankful we didn’t have sex, because that would’ve made the breakup harder. The summer after my freshman year of college, I fell in love with a more compassionate guy. He made my first time the exact perfect movie moment I always wanted it to be, candles and all. Just know there’s no ‘missing the boat.’ It’ll come; it just might be a different boat than you expected. » — Lauren, 22
8. Sex can change your relationship quickly.
« I wish I knew that having sex with someone doesn’t mean you’ll be with them forever. I was dating a guy for four months before we both were completely comfortable with taking the next step. I expected that we’d grow even closer after having sex, but a few days after it happened, he decided he wanted to break up. I was shocked. » — Kaylie, 17
9. Your own feelings can be hard to predict.
« The first time I had sex was with this cute, muscular guy at school who drives a Mustang. He started Snapchatting me and constantly asked to hang out. Eventually, I gave in to having sex with him. I thought it would be just one night — I didn’t realize that I would get really attached to him. Now I can’t shake my attraction to him. » — Paris, 16
10. Sex doesn’t change who you are on the inside.
« Virginity doesn’t make you a better or worse person — it’s not a decree on your moral standing. Guys used to congratulate me for waiting, which is wrong, because it’s not like I had taken some high ground. I just hadn’t yet found the situation that felt right to me. » — Simone, 22
11. It’s messier than you might think.
« At first, I didn’t know what to do with all the jizz. There’s more than you think, and you need to throw away the condom carefully so that it doesn’t spill (hold it upright and pinch the top). Also, it’s not weird to use lube. » — Rose, 23