A big part of my mission here on this blog is to talk more openly about the sticky situations in life, topics a lot of people deem as uncomfortable or embarrassing; One of those topics being sex.
A little fun fact about me: I am extremely passionate about sex education. This is primarily due to my mother, who is a primary school teacher. She sees it as her one of her biggest responsibilities as a teacher to lay the first stepping stone for children to eventually have a healthy relationship to sex. There’s so much more to sex than simply explaining “how babies are made” and my mother does her best to already convey that to her classrooms.
Unfortunately though, there are still a large number of parents who never talk to or educate their children properly about all aspects of sex which in the minds of their children, subconsciously translates into “sex is a taboo topic”. As a consequence, a lot of children and teenagers are left growing up without a safe space in which they can ask questions or simply learn more about sex through talking about it in an open and honest way.
As a teenager or young adult – especially when you are fairly new to being sexually active or at an age where you begin to feel ready (this age is different for everyone) – it becomes your own responsibility to educate yourself further on sex-based topics. Part of that education you will gain by doing your own research (f.e. on various birth control methods) and part of it you will gain with your growing experience. I decided to put together a few things that I have learnt over the years that traditional sex-ed hardly ever covers or that I think are important things to be aware of.
❥ Ps.: What would you personally add to this list? What are some things you have learnt are extremely important when it comes to sex, intimacy or body / sexual confidence?
Sex is messy
Ah, sex. Thumping hearts, heavy breathing, somewhat awkward eye contact (though it can be quite steamy as well), funny mishaps (yes they will happen), a lot of different body fluids coming together, weird noises (oh my god, was that ME? Did I seriously just make that noise?) and smells and the sometimes not so flattering orgasm faces. Sounds fun, right?
If you’re new to sex, chances are that you take it pretty seriously and that’s not wrong. In fact, sex and everything that comes along with it (f.e. sexual health, birth control) is something that should be taken seriously. However, when it comes to the act itself, there is a lot about it that is messy and a lot that can even be awkward (especially when having sex with each other for the first time). This is exactly why humor is a MUST during sex. Not everything will go according to plan, not every change in position will go over smoothly; There will certainly be some moments where being able to laugh it off together is required.
With sex also come a lot of expectations. We all want to be satisfied, we all have certain expectations of how things should go. Yet holding onto those expectations is pointless. Because every experience will be different. New partners can come with a completely different set of needs, techniques, likes and dislikes that you maybe aren’t used to. Sometimes we will find ourselves extremely turned on during foreplay and then suddenly, not at all. Or maybe things on his end just aren’t working on a given day. Be understanding about those things, they are completely normal (and therefore nothing to be embarrassed about!).
Also, nobody really talks about the part after the sex? For example the awkward (and not so sexy) “hey, so uh… do you have a tissue or something? …so I can wipe this off…?”
I cannot stress this point enough. It is so important to openly communicate about sex and it is equally as important that your partner does the same. This applies to every step of the way: have open and honest conversations about sex on a regular basis. It will benefit both sides, both you and your partner can learn about and adjust to each other’s needs and you will BOTH get more pleasure out of it.
To me, there’s nothing awkwarder than communication-less sex. I can’t tell if he’s enjoying this or if he’s bored out of his mind? Help? Give each other something to work with and communicate when your partner is doing something well. Don’t be afraid to lead the way or to steer them in the right direction if your partner is doing something that just isn’t doing the trick. Communication doesn’t always have to be verbal.
A study from 2019 found that communicating about sex leads to better sex. According to the study, it can have positive effects on sexual desire, sexual arousal, lubrication, orgasms and erectile function. The lesson learned: Opening up about these things benefits your sex life, so do it!
Sexual intimacy is so much more than the act itself. Talk to your partner about your likes and dislikes, things (positions, toys, etc.) you would like to try, and so on. These are all things you will learn about yourself over time but a lot can already be taken from self-pleasuring. Masturbation is normal, nothing to be ashamed of and can teach you a lot about your own body.
If he refuses to wear a condom, abort mission
Here’s some classic sex ed wisdom: While a lot of birth control methods like the pill or an IUD for example protect you from pregnancy, they won’t protect you from contracting STIs/STDs. Condoms will. If using a condom is something that is important to you (which it should be, especially with casual / non-monogamous partners), then that preference is valid. Excuses like “it doesn’t feel the same” or that it somehow makes sex much “less pleasurable” are (excuse my language) b.u.l.l.s.h.i.t. Never compromise on your sexual health.
Find what makes you feel confident in intimate situations
For some it may be certain positions during sex or dimmed lighting, for others it may be the right song to get you going or a sturdy pair of handcuffs that make you feel more in control / dominant. It’s all about figuring out what makes you feel good; What makes you feel confident, comfortable and sexy whilst being physically intimate with your partner.
My magic trick is some sexy lingerie. I love the way pretty underwear makes me feel, even in non-intimate situations. Sometimes, I will put on some nice lingerie for myself. I can be going grocery shopping and will put nice underwear on. It makes me feel confident in my body, especially on days where my confidence might need a little boost (we all have those days, let’s be honest here). To me, there’s nothing more sexually empowering than walking up to my partner wearing cute little lacy set and letting the lingerie speak for itself. Here I am! Now unwrap this heavenly gift I present to you…. slowly.
❤︎ On this specific topic I would love to hear the tipps and tricks you have for feeling like your most beautiful & confident self whilst being intimate! ❤︎
It’s not the guy’s “job” to supply the condoms
You both have equal responsibility to ensure that you are having safe sex. Never automatically assume that your partner will have condoms or think that it is his “responsibility as a man” to provide them. When I was younger, I felt super embarrassed about buying condoms, up to the point where I would be too scared to go into a shop and buy any.
But guess what? The lady at the till? She’s had sex. The people behind you? They’ve probably had sex. That Karen silently judging you and looking you up and down? She’s had sex. And you will likely never see those people again. Taking care of your sexual health is not something you should feel ashamed of. It is GOOD that you are taking preventative measures, good that you are having safe sex.
That being said, if you are on some kind of birth control and your country’s health care system doesn’t provide birth control for free, it is – in my opinion – okay to ask regular partners to cover condom costs.
Find a balance
Sometimes, people tend to have a certain rule set around reciprocation mapped out in their head. In their mind, you have to give some to get some. Oral sex is a classic example that is brought up in connection to this (just fyi: you can still contract an STI from oral). It’s not and shouldn’t be as black and white though. If you truly do not feel comfortable performing oral sex for example, then that is okay*. A lot of my female friends, especially when first beginning to be sexually active, were intimidated by oral sex and simply needed time to warm up to it. Do what you feel comfortable with, always respect each other’s boundaries (this applies to anything having to do with sex).
*There is however very much still a stigma around going down on women – an oral sex gap – if you want to read more about this topic specifically I recommend checking out this post.
Sex is all about balance. Taking the example of you not feeling comfortable to give oral: if your partner is, your partner can still go down on you (if this is something you both are comfortable with). There should be no rule that states that “if you’re not going to do it, then I’m not either”. Simply reciprocate by finding an alternative way for you to pleasure your partner that you feel comfortable with.
Both of you should feel as though you are getting enough, which means there has to be some sort of balance between giving and receiving. That doesn’t mean that every time you go down on your partner, they have to do the same. This also doesn’t translate into keeping count in the back of your mind and demanding your partner to do something “because I did the same for you last Thursday”. It’s about finding a balance where both of you feel equally satisfied and that your needs are taken care of.
If both of you are primarily focused on pleasing each other, then this shouldn’t be an issue. If your partner views sex as a means to satisfy their needs and their needs only, then that is a big problem. Sex should never be a selfish thing. It is always an act between two people, a responsibility shared by both to ensure that the other person is having a good time as well.
Be careful about having sex with friends
Coming from someone who has experienced this going both ways, I know that something like this can’t always be generalized. There are exceptions where sleeping with a friend can blossom into a wonderful relationship. All exceptions aside however, I generally perceive sex and friends to be a bad mix and something that you should consider very seriously before taking action. Because more often than not, having sex (especially casual sex) with good friends leads to extremely complicated situations that in hindsight, just weren’t worth it.
It doesn’t matter if you say you’re both mature enough to handle some casual sex between friends… it will change your friendship. It will. Not even the highest level of maturity in the world will be able to prevent that. Ask yourself if you’re willing to take that risk and what your reasons are behind it. Because if your reason is “I’m just horny”, maybe satisfy your needs somewhere else before irreversibly changing your friendship?
Lube is amazing! Lube is your friend!
Yet sadly, lube gets a bad rep in the minds of many. Wanting to use lube does not mean that you’re a shriveled up old lady or that you’re not turned on enough. A little squirt of lube (emphasis on little, we don’t want you turning into a slip and slide) can simply make sex so much more pleasurable for both a lot of men and women. Which is why I would highly recommend it to you ladies out there who are not yet or newly sexually active (but also of course to anybody and everybody who maybe hasn’t tried it yet. If so, what are you waiting for? Lube is amazing!).
Your first few times having sex probably won’t be full of the fireworks entertainment outlets make it out to be. For me, sex was something that became a lot more enjoyable over time and loosening up (both mentally and physically, the two are interdependent) was one of the reasons for this. Lube can do wonders in that area and can get rid of a lot of tension or uncomfortableness you may be experiencing. As a result, you will then start to relax mentally, thus making sex so much more enjoyable!
That being said, make sure to educate yourself on different kinds of lube. Certain kinds of lube + certain kinds of condoms can cause a higher chance of condom breakage. For example, oil-based lube doesn’t mix well with latex condoms. Be safe, kids.
Learn to let go: the trick to developing sexual confidence
I am no stranger to engaging in sexual activities while simultaneously thinking about assignment deadlines, dreaming of what to have for breakfast the next day and debating whether or not the sound I made a minute ago was weird. Letting go is an art, something a lot of us have difficulties achieving. Often, we simply find it hard to enjoy the moment, to quit overthinking and switch our brains off for a while.
Yet the inability to let go can also stem from insecurity; Wondering if your stomach rolls are showing in certain positions or if you “are doing this right”, asking yourself if your partner can see your stretch marks or being constantly aware of the fact that when lying on your back, your boobs can look like they’re suddenly non-existent (seriously, what’s up with that?).
If you struggle with body confidence during sex, just know: you look good naked. Trust me. There’s no point in wondering if your partner thinks you’re attractive during sex – they would hardly be having sex with you if they didn’t. Just own it! There’s nothing sexier than being confident in your body and acting like it. No, they won’t notice your stretch marks or criticize each and every little flaw in their head during sex. Your partner will be far more occupied with the sensations they are feeling (just as you should be!).
Sexual confidence is something that typically grows over time – and with that comes the ability to let yourself fall, to be present in the moment and to simply enjoy sex without worrying about anything else. Instead of being so caught up on the details of what’s happening, focus on how it makes you feel and on how it makes your partner feel.