Is losing your virginity going to end up a precious time to be cherished forever? Or more like that first attempt at riding a bike – wobbly, weird and probably all over in a few seconds?
There are plenty of people who'll tell you 'the first time is the worst time', and others again who say they'll always remember that 'magical moment'.
There are also heaps of people in the middle: ‘yeah it was a thing, but not a massive deal’. And we need to think about what ‘losing your virginity’ even means, right? What are you ‘losing’, and how do different people, of different genders or sexualities ‘lose’ their virginity? We have this idea that when a man and woman engage in sexual intercourse one (or both) of them ‘lose something’...
What’s often called ‘losing your virginity’ is really a social, gendered, and often harmful construct that says -
a) there’s a loss of something (umm… what?)
b) it only happens as a result of one very specific sex act performed by heterosexual people.
When considering having any kind of sex we should also be thinking about stuff like lubrication, pain, STIs, pregnancy, orgasm and pleasure!
Remember that ‘sex’ can mean different things to different people – apart from vaginal sex, for some people ‘sex’ means anal sex or oral sex or… whatever. And that ‘first time’ can happen in so many different ways, different times and different places…
- Katy Perry was 16 and in the front seat of a Volvo.
- Daniel Radcliff said of losing his v-card, ‘I'm happy to say I've had a lot better sex since then, but it wasn't as horrendously embarrassing as a lot of other people's were’.
- When Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was asked what he’d change about his first time he said he wouldn't have done it in a park!
So, to wait or not to wait, THAT is the (or one) question...
Two reasons to have sex now
- Because you both feel ready and safe, you’re both into it and have equal say in the situation. For example, if you decided to stop halfway, would you feel completely comfortable saying so? If not, then give yourself some time until you do feel confident about what’s happening and how much control you have in the situation.
- Well, sex can be brilliant (or good, or... just... fine) And if you want that in your life now, well, maybe now is your time.
Two reasons to wait
1. Age of consent
Before you say, 'Yeah, yeah, I'm legal...' this is not just about your age. It's about both your ages, what state/territory you're in, and also about the power dynamic between you and the other person – for example, someone may feel pressured into giving consent because the other person has more ‘power’ or is in a position of authority. Check the Youth Law Australia website for the details on this.
2. If there's any pressure
This goes two ways.
First up, if you've begged someone, niggled at them, or asked over and over until they've said yes, then you’ve pressured them. And that's not consensual, even if they eventually say ‘fine, ok then’. If you've done this, or if you're unsure, take a step back. No sex today (or ever, until you get the hang of asking for consent). Take our pressure test to help you suss it.
Second, if someone has put the pressure on you then know you're 100% allowed to say no at any time. In fact, if there's any pressure it's not even sex – it’s assault.
Speaking of circumstances, make sure you're mentally in a good place when having sex. If you're feeling good about yourself and others you're more likely to make good choices about sex.
So... in summary?
At the end of the day (or the night) it's up to you to figure out when the right time is for you. Talk to trusted people about their experiences, read up on other content (like this resource from ReachOut). The best advice is don't do anything unless you feel really keen and really safe. And don't expect it to be the most precious moment of your life (or even your sex life) – if it is great, great! If it isn't, no biggie – there’s plenty of time for improvement.
Find out what advice other young people would give themselves before their first sexual experience in the video below.
[On screen disclaimer] disclaimer: all volunteers in this episode are over 18 years of age. These are the personal experiences and opinions of some young people and should not be taken as advice.
[On screen titles]: if you could go back to your younger self and give them one piece of advice before your first sexual experience, what would it be?
Person 1: Not yet.
Person 2: Really?
Person 1: Really.
Person 3: There won’t be fireworks. There won’t be celebrations. Like no one really cares that you had sex.
Person 4: Just wait a little bit until you’re fully comfortable.
Person 5: Don’t have really massive expectations of experiences. Just sort of take them as they come.
Person 2: Try not to build it up too much in your head. That’s certainly what I did.
Person 6: Don’t do it if it doesn’t feel right.
Person 7: Just realise, like I guess like it’s fine. It’s completely normal to do that.
Person 8: It’s not all about the climax. It’s about the actual, like the process and that’s like a life lesson, but I'm not going to go into that.
[On screen titles] JOIN THE CONVO
#asking for a mate