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I think I'm ready...but what will he think of my body or tell his friends?

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Anonymous asks:

My boyfriend and I have talked about having sex, and I told him I wasn't ready to commit to something like that, but actually I am. I am just scared of what he'll think of me and my body during sex, also what do guys think of the girl's pubic hair, should I wax it off or wax it into a design? After sex, would the guys tell his friends about it how good I am or how bad I was?

Heather Corinna replies:

I'd say that one big part of being ready to have sex with a partner is either having some measure of trust in them or being okay with big risks of things like someone telling other people intimate things if you don't have that trust. But most of the time, most people are going to want to go with the former rather than the latter, and it's pretty safe to say that more times than not, really having, knowing and feeling that trust is going to improve both any sex you have and your relationship. And if your heart is in this, if you have strong emotional feelings for this person as well, I don't see not having that trust -- and really feeling it -- and going forward with sex as wise.

In other words, if you're really at the point in your relationship where you are thinking about becoming sexually active together, I'd hope that you two have been able to spend a good deal of time together to build and demonstrate trust, and also to openly talk about things exactly like this. You should be able to address concerns about your privacy, and let a partner know that you're feeling concerned about feelings about your body and sharing it, about your body hair, about if he'd be talking to his friends about sex between the two of you and what limits and boundaries you need with that.

People do tend to talk to their friends about their sex lives: you might have done so with your own friends already to know that. But a lot of folks still want some things to be private, and we can ask a partner for whatever boundaries we need in that respect. If they don't feel like they can respect those, they can tell us that, and we can make our choices accordingly. But I'd expect a partner with the measure of emotional maturity for sex with a partner to be able to apply that same maturity to keeping some things between you private. Obviously, too, even with things you feel okay about being shared -- like that you two have had sex, even if that's all that's shared -- what his friends do with that information is a bit out of your hands. Do you feel like they have a good measure of maturity? Do you feel like your boyfriend is sensitive enough that he'll be very selective with which friends he talks to, only choosing those he knows will respect the privacy of both of you? All of those issues are things you two should take the time to talk about together: he may have those same concerns himself, too. And when we can talk about these issues, that often helps to make talking about all the other things we'll need to with sex -- safer sex, sexual health, birth control, limits and boundaries, our desires -- a lot easier.

As far as your body image and your pubic hair goes, this is one of those things where the best answer I can give you is that the right partners for us are the partners who are going to be into us just as we are, and that's WHY they are into us.

We shouldn't have to change what we do with our body hair or worry too much about what a partner is going to think of our body: sex is supposed to be about personal expression, after all, not performance. What you should or shouldn't do with your pubic hair is whatever YOU like. You're going to drive yourself up a tree if you try and tailor aspects of how you look to any given partner's preferences in your life, and potentially lose who you really are and how you authentically express yourself with your appearance. One of the most enriching parts of sex with someone else when it's aces is being appreciated for exactly who we are and for the uniqueness of how we look. That's probably not something you want to miss out on. I know I sure wouldn't.

On "what guys think?" Guys aren't monolithic: they don't all think the same thing about anything, just like women don't. Men are more complex than that and have a dizzying array of diverse likes, dislikes and preferences and don't think any one way about pubic hair. But. As I was saying above, what a guy who is with you should like is you. However your pubic hair is or however you like to style it -- just like the hair on your head -- should be something he thinks is peachy-keen. Even if it's not his favorite part of you ever -- after all, we all will tend to have physical parts of a partner that make us weak in the knees, but others that are just fine, but just don't get as much of our attention -- so what? You're not a body someone orders based on some arbitrary list of all of their likes. You're a whole person in the body you're in, not a mail-order bride.

I'd have a look at how things have been with the two of you so far in whatever physical intimacy you've been having. Does he seem to be accepting of your body and is he respectful? Does he make you feel good about your body so far? You say you're scared of what he'll think about your body during sex. Why is that? Do you feel that way because you don't feel good about your body, or because he's given you the impression he'll be judgmental or immature about it? This is also something you get to talk about before sex. You can simply voice that one thing you're worried about is being seen and feeling vulnerable in that and see how he responds. But if you have the feeling that this is someone where you don't already have a pretty good idea that he's going to love your body and be accepting of your body, I'd take a pause until you do have a solid impression there. Even if that's in place, but you just feel overly vulnerable at this point, there's no reason not to wait until you're feeling more secure. Let's not forget too that it makes sense to come into a sexual relationship with someone in gradual stages so that we can see how things go with them with activities with less risk or with less vulnerability before delving more deeply into the more risky stuff.

I'll be frank: you don't sound quite ready to me just yet. Not only are you allowed not to be, but if you're really not, the experience may well seriously suck. Nobody wants that.

I think that when these kinds of worries seem like no-brainers, or at least pretty minor, that that's a lot more like what ready-to-be-intimate with someone looks like. Like I said right at the top, sometimes -- particularly when we're talking about more casual sex later in life if that happens -- we just might not care so much about any of this. If you don't run in the same social circles as someone else, won't see them again (or aren't running for political office), you might not always care if someone tells their friends. And casual or more serious, as you get a bit older, you're likely going to also feel more secure in your body and be better able to come to any sexual partnership giving less of a hoot about what someone else thinks of it.

But none of those places seem to be where you are in your life right now. Right now, you seem clearly in a place where these are big concerns, which is totally understandable, particularly when sexual partnership is new and you're young. So, there's no reason not to honor that place. It's always okay for us to be exactly where we are, and whether or not we're ready for sex doesn't make us better or worse people, or people who are more or less adult. In a lot of ways, readiness has less to do with age and more to do with what place we're in in life and our sexuality, and what the context of that sex is in: in other words, what that relationship is like. That's why someone who was ready for sex with one partner in a few months at 17 can be the same person who isn't ready for sex with another partner when they're forty until they've known someone for a year.

I'd suggest taking some more time to get to know this guy, seeing more of what he's made of, talking about these issues together (or if even talking about it feels scary, waiting until THAT feels comfortable) and also perhaps getting a little more comfortable in your own body image and esteem first by yourself before sex. That way, if and when you two do get there, you can come to it feeling a whole lot better about it which means you're more likely to have sex that's worth the kinds of risks we take for it and sex that you feel good about before, during and after.

And with that, a few links for the road:

written 26 Aug 2008 . updated 31 Jan 2014

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