You can watch as much porn as your data allowance will permit, read as many Cosmo articles as your eyes can handle, but until you’ve been there, done it and scampered to the loo wearing their T-shirt, you will never be truly prepared. 14 things I wish I’d known before losing my virginity No two ‘first times’ are exactly the same; for every gentle, loving, planned dalliance, there’s a three-minute fumble in the Co-op car park and even then the whole shebang can take on mythic status in the mind where it is subsequently filed under ‘Things I’ll Never Share’. But, when it comes to first-time sex, there is more that unites than divides us; many of us will have had the same thoughts, feelings and apprehensions. Such as…
1. ‘My word, this is awkward’
For anyone who thought their first time would be like that iconic scene from Cruel Intentions – soft lighting, singular beads of perfumed sweat, Counting Crows playing in the background – the discovery that sex is a sequence of jerky, jarring thrusts can be something of a revelation. If the condom doesn’t roll on, then your leg’s in the way. If your leg isn’t in the way then his hand gets trapped between you when he’s guiding it in. And if his hand doesn’t get trapped then your face gets smooshed into his/her shoulder. Don’t get me started on the post-coital tissues.
2. ‘I’m having sex, I’m having sex, oh wow I’m having sex’
Full disclosure: this was the main thought running through my head when I was losing my virginity. I was 17 and a fully paid-up member of the ‘everything but’ club; I was desperate to have sex and, frankly, a bit gutted that I was one of the last of my friends to do so. My virginity was the only thing that stood between me and the casual, rampant, wild sex I felt I deserved to have, and I was delighted to be rid of the darn thing.
3. ‘I hope my parents don’t come home’
Not everyone loses their virginity in the comfort of their own bed. I have a friend who may or may not have been de-flowered in her driving instructor’s car. If you did though, then you will know the erection-shrivelling fear that your parents might unexpectedly appear, proffering cups of tea from the other side of your bedroom door.
4. ‘Do I look OK?’
Think Bridget Jones: the big pants and blow dry were only a pretext to lure your prey; now here you are with your legs akimbo and your hair turned to thatch, worrying that we don’t look as advertised. This extends to the nether regions: is my penis big enough? Does he care that one of my outer labia is longer than the other? The answer is no; generally we are all too preoccupied with trying to keep it up/in/going, and so thrilled to be doing it all, that you could have turned into a swamp monster.
5. ‘Hey, this doesn’t hurt that much’
This can be quite a surprise, especially for women who have been brought up to believe that the pain of first-time sex is equivocal to having your arm gnawed off by rats. This is because most of us are woefully uninformed about the hymen, and what happens when, and if, it breaks. I was firmly in this bracket until I watched an illuminating Ted Talk called The Virginity Fraud and I highly recommend you watch it, too.
6. ‘Do I smell?’
You can shower three times and subsist on nothing but Tic Tacs for a week, and yet you will still worry that your breath/armpits/genitals/feet reek. Firstly, everyone smells a bit but it’s a natural odour and you probably don’t smell worse than anyone else. Secondly, we all eventually come to appreciate sex as the smorgasbord of unusual smells, sounds, tastes and sensations that it truly is.
7. ‘Am I doing it right?’
Look, as long as something has penetrated something else, it’s consensual, neither of you are writhing in pain, and you’re not actually humping their ear, then you are doing it right. You can’t really do sex wrong, can you? I mean, you can do sex badly, but that’s another feature.
8. ‘Don’t come, don’t come, don’t come…’
Aimed at the lads, this one, although if you are lady who humped away to this refrain then please, get in touch and tell me your secret.
9. ‘Huh, so sex is a bit rubbish, then’
In your head, you build sex up. Then you finally get the opportunity, you rip open that condom packet in rabid anticipation, only to find out the whole thing is a bit of a damp squib. The great thing about sex is that it gets better and better, especially as you get to know your own body, learn what your partner likes and stop having sex at home.
10. ‘We’re not making a baby, are we?’
They say the only certain form of contraception is abstinence, and they are absolutely right. This does not mean you shouldn’t have sex, but it does mean that you’ll spend much of your first time worried that the condom has split, or fallen off, or that the pill has failed, or that your penis is an impregnation stick that is liable to inseminate anything it touches.
11. ‘I hope they don’t tell everyone’
It’s an odd paradox of adolescence that everyone wants to have sex, but the one person that does is outcast, deemed a sexual deviant and gossiped about incessantly. And for ‘person’, I mean ‘woman’.
12. ‘I cannot wait to tell everyone’
In the interests of gender equality, I know both men and women who thought this.
13. ‘I feel like an adult’
Whether your first time produced physical fireworks or a limp finish, the mental shift from ‘virgin’ to ‘sexually active’ can be genuinely affecting. There is a tangible sense of having shrugged off childhood and embraced the vicissitudes of adulthood. It is almost as if you perceive the world in a different way and you may wonder if the people around you can tell. This was definitely what happened in my case, although I don’t think it was very difficult: I was grinning from ear to ear for days.