10 Things I Wish Someone Would’ve Told Me About Sex When I Was Growing Up

1. It’s Nothing Like The Movies

I grew up reading Nicholas Sparks and watching the movie adaptations and my God, did I swoon over every single one of those fictional men in all of their romantic, cliché good guy glory. And the one film that sticks in my mind, is of course, The Notebook– where Noah and Ally’s first time is in an abandoned house on the outskirts of town, lit up by the moonlight and candles, and they watch each other remove their clothes in this entirely beautiful and angsty silence- the house, I might add which he later re-builds for her in the hope she’ll come back to him (I mean, come on!). And then there’s the scene where they make-out in the pouring rain before a passionate dance-like sex scene. It’s very romantic and very beautiful, but it’s also very damaging for teenagers growing up watching those films and reading those books and really believing that sex or first love is like that. Where’s the awkwardness? The clumsiness? The guy fumbling around for a condom and not knowing where his penis even goes? Where’s the running to the bathroom after? Where’s the guy finishing in two minutes and the girl laying there feeling confused and disappointed?

2. No-One Actually Cares What Age You Lose Your Virginity

When I was 16 (the legal age you can have sex in the UK), I remember the intense amount of pressure to lose my virginity/to be having sex. It felt like everyone was doing it and talking about it. If you weren’t doing it, you were “frigid” and yes, a lot of immature boys thought it was funny to call me that because I was more interested in getting good grades than getting laid. But during puberty, when everyone- especially boys- have sex on the brain, when it’s what you talk about at sleepovers with your girlfriends (I mean, I’m 28 and we still do that), you feel an incredible amount of embarrassment if you haven’t ‘done it’. But the truth is, when you grow up and talk about how old you were- whether that’s with your partner or your friends, no one actually cares. So if you want to wait and do it with someone who loves you and who you love in return, do that. If you want to wait until marriage, that’s perfectly okay too. Whatever decision you make about when to have sex, it is your decision to make.

3. The Person You Lose Your Virginity To Doesn’t Need To Be Your Forever Person

Being the romantic I am, I had this belief that the person I lost my virginity to, should be my forever person so I waited until I was in a committed relationship with someone who respected me and loved me. And I don’t regret that because it was exactly what I wanted and he was special to me, but I also think the person you lose your virginity to doesn’t have to be the person you think you’ll marry. It’s like I put sex on this pedestal and I gave it so much value and importance, and I placed so many expectations on him because I always want things to feel like a fairy-tale, but sometimes they’re just not. I think if you like someone- not love them and I think if you trust someone and they respect you, that’s enough reason to share that moment with them.

4. The Things You’re Insecure About, He Won’t Even Notice

Before I had ever gotten naked with a man, I was convinced that he would take one look at my body and run a mile, and it played a huge part in who I decided to sleep with. I wanted the lights off, to be under the covers and he would preferably also have his eyes closed. But the truth is, and this is really important, the things you’re insecure about- whether that’s your stomach or your breasts or that birthmark on your thigh- he isn’t looking at them in the same critical way you do. He’s more than likely thinking ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be getting naked with this beautiful woman.’

5. Sex Can Mean A Lot Of Different Things To Different People And At Different Times

When I was growing up, I believed that everything intimate meant something, and that idealized way of thinking meant I never really just went out and had ‘fun’ because I wanted it to mean something. But physical intimacy can mean many different things to different people and at different times. Sure, you can have an earth-shattering first kiss with someone, sure, you can ‘make love’ and have incredible sex with someone you see marriage and babies with, and that’s great. But you can also just make out with that hot guy in the club because he’s hot and you want to just forget about the world for a few minutes. You can send and receive dirty texts and photos because it feels dangerous and exciting, and it gives you a bit of a thrill. You can have sex with someone because the chemistry between you is so intense, you feel like your skin on fire. You can sleep with someone and never see them again because the thought of no strings attached is exactly what you need right now. Sex doesn’t always have to be about love and commitment, and that also means you can be sleeping with someone for completely different reasons they’re sleeping with you, so always make sure you’re on the same page. Sex is fun, but it can also complicate things.

6. Sex Should Be About Mutual Pleasure, It Isn’t Over Just Because He’s Finished

For some stupid reason (hey, patriarchy), there’s this belief that a lot of men have, and that some women have been tricked into thinking, that sex is only for the man’s benefit and that once he’s finished, it’s over. I have had arguments with boyfriends about this fucked up double standard where they think sex is somehow only about their enjoyment. You should not be laying there once he’s collapsed on top of you, thinking ‘What about me?’ because let’s face it, many women cannot come from penetration, meaning he needs to devote some time to you before or after, and he definitely should not tell you that you ‘take too long’ or that he’s ‘tired’. Sex involves two people (or more, if that’s what you want), meaning that everyone who is involved should receive the same benefits from it. Sex is not purely for a man’s enjoyment.

7. You Can Absolutely Say When You Don’t Like Something

When it comes to sex (and most things in relationships), communication is key and that means you are allowed to say when you don’t like something or don’t want to do something. No matter what it is, no one should make you feel coerced into performing a sexual act. You can say when something isn’t working for you, when you aren’t enjoying something, when you feel uncomfortable and I’m not talking about afterward, I mean as it is happening, before it happens. There is no point during sex when you should feel you can’t express how you feel and if you do, you shouldn’t be having sex with that person.

8. The Older You Get, The Less You’ll Care About How You Look And More About Having Great sex

When I first started having sex, I thought I had to be perfectly made-up, that my hair had to be perfect and I had to be shaven from head to toe and if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t engage. But in reality, guys don’t really care about these things; they don’t care if your underwear doesn’t match or your face isn’t completely made -up – sure these things are appreciated- but they’re not the most important thing. Being able to completely let go, explore and have fun with someone is always going to be more important than looking perfect. Us women put so much pressure on ourselves, and let’s face it- the porn industry and men do too, but if you look like a Victoria Secret model and you spend the entire time worrying about how you look from different angles, how the lighting is making you look or if your make-up is still in-tact, they’re going to be having a shit time and so are you. It’s so much hotter (and fun!) to be completely comfortable in your skin and fully present, rather than just looking the part.

9. You Never Owe Anyone Sex

It doesn’t matter if a guy buys you a drink, he compliments you, you dance together or you have a steamy make-out sesh, you never owe him sex and you are absolutely allowed to change your mind if things are heading that way and you decide you don’t want to go any further. Similarly, if you’re in a committed relationship and he wants to but you’re not in the mood, you can damn well say so. You don’t owe anyone sex, in any situation and under any circumstances- only you get so make decisions about your body and who you share it with.

10. People Will Always Make Judgements About Your Sexual History And Choices But The Only Opinion Which Matters, Is Yours

Unfortunately, there is this double standard when it comes to sex (and hell, a lot of things) for women, where if we’ve slept with what society perceives as ‘a lot’ of people we are deemed a slut and if we have slept with very few people, we are deemed a prude. Everyone is going to have an opinion on your sex-life, some guys might be intimidated by it or weirded out by it, and they’ll make assumptions and judgments about who you are based on that, but it’s BS. No matter what choices you make about what you do with your body and who you share it with, it’s no one else’s business and no one else’s opinion matters. As long as you’re happy with your choices, as long as you’re having fun and enjoying yourself in a safe way, then fuck what everyone else thinks.

Your body, your rules.

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