Heather Corinna replies:
im a girl, im 15 and im scared or any kind of sex. (fingerbang, hand job, blow job, or sex) the thing is all of my friends have gone farther than me or have even had sex,i live in a small town so we are always finding things to compete over and this happens to be something all the girls are doing. when i think about being sexually active with my boy friend im okay with it, i actually want to, but when i have the chance to i back out... i think the main reason is i dont know how to do it..
i would really like to plessure my boyfriend and be plessured by him, but i get scared. if you have any ideas or anything i should try to overcome this fear of not doing it right or to loosen up and just relax it would be really appreciated !!!! thanks soo much ! (:
You know, our gut feelings are usually very trustworthy. When we find we feel very scared and nervous, it's usually because we have good reason to be. Those kinds of feelings are usually excellent cues for making our best choices.
I'm not 15. I'm in my 40s. I've been engaging in sex for a very long time now. But when I feel like you're feeling about sex, rather than trying to push those feelings away, I pay a lot of attention to them. I figure they're trying to tell me something isn't right for me with the sexual situation I was considering. Instead of trying to engage in that sex, I step back, look at those feelings and try and sort out what they're about. I think of feelings like that as things that help me to get what I really want and will really feel good about, not feeling that stand in my way.
I hear you saying that you're experiencing an awful lot of pressure from and around your peers. I hear you saying that you feel like the odd girl out when it comes to sex, and hear you expressing -- very clearly -- that engaging in sex kind of feels like a competition in your peer group and community right now.
Doing something sexual because other people are, or to compete with others, tend to be motivations that don't result in awesome sexual experiences, but in crummy ones, and sometimes even emotionally or physically dangerous experiences. It sounds like you know that's an iffy motive already. So, the very first thing I'd suggest you do is to take some time, at least a few weeks, to try and figure out how you feel about those pressures and get a handle on how much they might be playing a part in you feeling like now is the right time for you to be sexual with your boyfriend even though your guts are telling you something else. If you think these pressures are playing some part, the very next thing I'd suggest you do is then take some more time to try and let that go. Peer pressure doesn't have to be a bad thing, but when the pressure is for everyone to do something that carries some big risks of outcomes that can be very tough to deal with, and to do something that isn't going to be right for everyone, it's big time bad news.
I don't know your friends. But I know a lot about young people, sexuality, and how these things tend to go among friends. Chances are good that at least some of them aren't even being honest about engaging in sex in the first place. Knowing what I know about how many young people are dishonest with friends about their sexual lives, I think we can say it's likely as many as half of them are probably being dishonest. Teenagers are often dishonest with their friends about their sexual lives and histories: some will say that have engaged in sex when they haven't, others will say they haven't when they have. You obviously know that all of this can get and feel really loaded with friends, and that it can feel really crappy to feel like the odd one out. That's one of the big reasons young people -- and people of any age -- can say they have a sexual history they don't, because they want their friends to back off with pressures and they don't want to feel like an outsider. You can probably understand that, given how you're feeling.
Let's talk about your friends who are engaging in sex, since some of them probably are telling the truth. I don't know what all of their motives are, or how their sex lives are going. Some of them may be engaging in sex because they very much want to and feel comfortable with being sexual right now, not because of peer pressure, and some of them may be having great experiences that feel just right to them. Some of them might be having a very different experience, where some of why they're engaging in sex is because of feeling pressured. Some of them might even be engaging in sex they feel as uncomfortable with as you express feeling. I'm sure we can agree that that sounds pretty scary and sad: if and when we engage in sex it should be something we really want, really feel ready for, and feel comfortable doing, not something we do while feeling strong fear or discomfort.
Another thing you brought up was a worry that you won't know what you're doing, and that's one of the things that's making you feel scared of engaging in sex.
Here's the thing: you won't know what you're doing. But in a sexual situation that feels right for you, that'll be okay and will also feel okay. Any time we have a new sexual partner -- even if we have had sexual partners before -- we kind of have to "learn" sex all over again, because people can be very different sexually. Finding out what feels good for a partner and with a partner is very unique, and it's always a learning process. Let's say Jill learned how to give a blow job to Billy that they both really enjoyed. That doesn't mean that if she breaks up with Billy and hooks up with Joe, she'll have any idea about what feels good to Joe or with Joe: that she's "know what she's doing." What worked for her and Billy might work with her and Joe, but it also might not. She might have learned some things to try, and some ways to communicate with a partner about oral sex, but she still has a whole new partner with a sexuality and body unique to them, so just because she had that kind of sex with someone else with similar parts doesn't mean she'll know what she's doing with someone else. Sex is always a learning process, as a whole, throughout our whole lives, but also in every partnership.
The deal isn't about walking into sex and everyone knowing what to do. People can think they do, but again, with a partner they have never been sexual with before? They really won't (and sex with a partner who thinks they're the expert and who doesn't see themselves as learning anew each time tends to be a lousy experience for everyone). Being comfortable with starting a sexual relationship with someone involves feeling comfortable not knowing what to do: being okay with sex being a learning process. That also means feeling okay about things being more awkward or even funny or clumsy when we're new to sex and new to a sexual partner. In fact, when sex is the right thing for us, not knowing what we or a partner like, and exploring and experimenting to find out, tends to feel exciting and fun instead of scary.
Sometimes we will be totally okay with that not-knowing, and sometimes we won't: it's going to depend on the situation, the relationship, and where we're at with all of this. But often, especially when we're younger and sex is brand new to us, we need more time than we might later on down the road to do things like build trust with a partner so we don't feel so terrified being vulnerable in those inevitable clumsy and awkward moments, but feel safe and okay with the awkwardness.
I can't just tell you how to "loosen up and relax." I also wouldn't tell you that: I'd suggest you honor the feelings you're having rather than trying to push them away. What seems most likely is that you're feeling scared because you might be rushing into things or feeling like you need to move things faster because of your friends.
How about if, instead, you take things in smaller steps over more time with your boyfriend? You listed a bunch of sexual activities up there that involved direct contact with his or your genitals. But maybe you're not there yet. Maybe, for instance, you need to spend some more time with everyone's clothes on, making out, engaging in what we call outercourse. Experiencing pleasure, sharing pleasure, isn't just about genitals or genital sex. There is a wide world of ways we can explore sharing pleasure, be it through other ways of being sexual together or other parts of life and ways of being together, period. All the word pleasure means is a state or experience of enjoyment or delight. We can find that lots of places, right? I think it's great you are thinking about pleasure, as that can probably help you make these choices well. After all, feeling scared and tense probably isn't pleasurable, right? So, knowing that, find and explore the things together -- sexual or otherwise -- that don't make you feel so scared or anxious. When the time is right for you -- not your friends -- to be sexual in these ways, it'll feel more pleasurable in your head and less scary.
You probably also need to spend some time talking with your boyfriend about what you're thinking and feeling. For example, you can talk together about feeling worried about not knowing what to do: that can feel a lot less scary when we just voice that fear and talk it out. He may feel the same way himself, so talking together might make you both feel a lot better about that, whether you decide to try some of those kinds of sex or not. You can also talk together about some of the things you each already know, like from your own masturbation, you find pleasurable before you explore genital sex of any kind together. When you have talks like that before any kind of sex, it can not only help you both make your own best choices, it can create a better foundation if and when you do have those kinds of sex, one that makes it more likely for those kinds of sex to feel their best physically and emotionally for both of you. Bonus!
But I think the most important thing for you right now is to try and think more about the pressures you're feeling from your friends. I think your insight about how living where you do can result in people competing about things a smart one, and you can take that further to think about what kinds of competition can be healthy, and what kinds aren't. Our sexual lives and choices are very different things than a 4-H contest.
You're not "all the other girls." You're your own girl, your own young woman, your own person starting to move towards becoming an adult. What's right for you, and feels right for you, is about you, not what might or might not feel right for someone else. Some of growing up, a big part of it, is learning how to choose what's best for us, even when it means standing out from the crowd. A big part of maturity is being able to be okay if and when we're different, and to just own that, rather than to cave and conform to external pressures. A big part of sexual relationships going well, especially when they include kinds of sex which carry risks of big stuff that can change our lives forever, like pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, involves that kind of maturity, even if we're not all the way there yet. Again, I don't know if the choices other girls are making are or aren't right for them. But you don't have to live with their choices. You will need to live with your own choices, including years later when all of these girls may not be any part of your life, so you'll always want to do what you can to make choices you feel like you can live with and will feel good about living with.
I'm sure you'd rather your first sexual experiences are about you and who you have them with than about people who aren't even part of any of that sex. We know that when it comes to sexual choices people feel crummy about, one common factor is when those choices are made based on other people, not on what really feels right for you. If any of these girls are engaging in sex because of peer pressure, it might feel okay in some ways for them now, but in other ways, it probably feels pretty crap, and later on down the road, they're more likely to look back and not feel so great about it.
There are no perfect sexual choices. So, whatever we do, we might still have regrets. However, there are certainly things we can do and can avoid doing to make it far more likely for our sexual choices, whatever they are, to feel good for us, before, during and afterward. And one of the biggest factors in a feel-great-about-it choice is making sure it really seems and feels like OUR best choice, the one WE really want and also really feel ready for, not someone's else's choice.
I'm going to leave you with some links to give you some more help and information in figuring out what your own best choices are right now, and in owning them gladly, even if they're different choices than your friends are making or are saying they're making. I feel confident that whatever you feel -- in your head, your heart, and in your guts -- is the best set of choices for you, uniquely, you can make those choices and own them. And if you find that your friends can't respect that, it might be time to make some new friends who will.