10 Things To Know Before You Have Sex For The First Time

Olivia Hope
6 min readMay 6, 2020


All the things your momma never told you.

Two people in bed together with the sheets pulled up over their faces so that just their eyes are peeking out

If you’re from an army family you might have heard the phrase “7PS”. Everyone has their own variations but in my house, it stood for “Prior planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance.” It’s an adage that’s right for almost every situation, and sex is no exception. Having sex for the first time can be daunting, so it pays to do a little prep — mentally and practically. Here are the 10 pieces of advice I wish someone had given me before I had sex for the first time.

  1. LUBE!

If you take just one thing away from this list, please please let it be this. Go buy some lube, and use it, liberally. Use it when you touch yourself, when you touch a partner, when you have penetrative sex, just slather it on and go for it. Unless you start sliding off the bed and onto the floor, you’ve not overdone it. Everything feels better with less friction. It’s not embarrassing or awkward, just whip the lube out with confidence and own it. Any partner who judges you for giving them a headstart in getting you off is not someone you want to be having sex with.

2. Protection

I’m not going to spend too long talking about this because you’ve heard it a million times before. For god’s sake, just use protection. Condoms might not ‘feel good’ but neither does birthing a baby, so make the responsible choice. No-one is going to pay any notice if you buy some condoms in Boots, they’ve seen it all before. Also, just because your partner is of the same-sex doesn’t mean you don’t need protection. STIs can be transmitted orally, so get tested regularly and use protection unless you know you’re both clean.

3. You Don’t Have to be in Love

I know the movies and the lovesongs and your mum have all convinced you that sex is this big turning point, a way to ‘prove’ your love to someone, but that’s nonsense. The most important thing is not love, it’s trust and respect. You’d be miles better off sleeping with a friend who treats you well than a romantic partner who doesn’t care about your comfort and happiness. Your first time doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be a good time for both of you. Pick someone who you trust to respect your boundaries and listen to you. If you love that person, that’s a fun bonus, but it’s not the only thing that counts.

4. Your Body Isn’t Weird

No matter what you’ve seen in porn, your body is normal. Do yourself a favour and spend some time looking at normal everyday bits and pieces (http://www.labialibrary.org.au/ or https://thebookofman.com/mind/masculinity/the-penis-gallery/ are good places to start, but beware that they’re very NSFW). Unrealistic pressure about having a gigantic penis or a barbie vagina will only make you feel insecure and disappointed. Cut yourself some slack, and know that your partner is more focused on getting to touch you than critically analysing every single flaw you obsess over.

5. Laughter is Encouraged

Another weird takeaway from movies is that sex is about fireworks and rose petals and oddly intense eye contact. It’s okay to have a giggle, especially your first time. Everyone has those moments where you bang your head or try to unroll a condom only to realise it’s upside down. I’ve said it already but I’ll say it again, sex is about fun. It’s not a performance for an audience, just enjoy yourself and relax. Things go wrong, especially when you haven’t done something before, so have a little laugh and move on.

6. Warm-Up Is Essential

You wouldn’t launch into a marathon without at least doing some stretches beforehand. Foreplay should be a non-negotiable for your first time because it helps you prepare not only physically but emotionally. Nervousness make you tense up, which will make sex uncomfortable at best and really painful at worst. There’s no rush, so take your time doing a little bit of exploring before you jump right into it. It’s also fine to decide that actually you don’t want to progress to penetrative sex. You might get to that moment and realise you feel anxious or afraid, and that’s okay. Take a moment, talk to your partner about how you’re feeling, and only make that step when you feel comfortable.

7. Unlearn the shame

This was probably my biggest issue my first time around. Everyone gets into your head with confusing mixed messages about sex. You’re awkward and weird if you don’t do it, but a slut if you do. At the end of the day, someone will always have an issue with any choice you make in life, so you might as well just do what feels right to you. Sex isn’t shameful, or wrong, and you don’t “lose” any part of yourself by doing it. As long as you’re both consenting adults, it’s your choice what you do with your body, not anyone else’s. Try to let go of the guilt and the shame, whether it’s from your religion, or your parents, or all the ridiculous messages society at large has pushed on you. If you’re feeling confused or ashamed, talk things through with your partner or a friend who you trust.

8. Start Simple

Once again, porn has some explaining to do. You don’t have to be spinning around into 10 different positions, or setting up a sex swing on your first go. There’s so much pressure to make sex bigger and better and more exciting, that it’s important to remember to slow down and just enjoy it. Do what feels good, and spend some time learning the little things that make you and your partner tick. If you want to move on to worthing through the karma sutra then more power to you, but it’s okay to start simple.

9. A Post-Sex Debrief Never Hurt Anyone

I know I sound like a broken record but communication and trust really are key. Having sex for the first time can feel like a big deal, and you might have some pretty big feelings afterwards. It could be a ‘high-five wasn’t that great’ moment or a little bit of a disappointment that things didn’t go as smoothly as you’d planned. Instead of just lying there pretending it didn’t happen, embrace the pillow talk moment and have a chat. If they did something you really enjoyed, tell them; everyone loves an ego boost. If there are things that you’d like that you aren’t getting, it’s okay to tell them (just remember to be a bit tactful, harsh criticism and blame aren’t productive). Discussion is a normal part of sex, you can’t read each other’s minds so if you don’t ask for what you want you won’t get it. It’s much better to talk through any concerns you have than letting them grow and grow in your mind until they out you off sex altogether.

10. There is No One Set Way to Have Sex

There’s no ‘right’ time to have sex, or ‘right’ way to do it. You might decide you want to wait until marriage, or that you’re asexual and don’t fancy having sex at all. You might go on one date with someone and decide you want to have sex with them. Keep the lights on, or turn them off. Wear your most lacy lingerie, or put on some boyshorts. This is a private experience between you and your partner, and no-one else’s opinions on what sex should or shouldn’t look like matter.