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Johanna Schorn replies:
I've been dating my boyfriend for about four months. I just found out yesterday that his ex-girlfriend, who I've never met, was his first sex. It made me feel a little bit awkward, since not only did I not know that about him, but I hadn't even considered having sex yet. Even though he told me he's not looking for that and he doesn't mind if I don't want to do it, I feel pressured to "outsex" her, since I've been rather jealous of her ever since I first heard about her. I'm pretty sure he would do it if I asked him, but my parents are very overprotective and they don't want me having sex this young (16), so I don't know where or when we'd do it. Since it would be my first time, I'm also a little worried that I wouldn't do it right, or that he would break up with me because I'm not experienced. I'm really not sure what to do in this situation, since I don't want to force our relationship too fast, but I really want to show that I love him just as much as she every did.
You and your partner have talked about your sexual and relationship history, and it sounds like you've also both tried to be honest in voicing your wants and needs when it comes to sex. That means that you two understand how important communication and honesty are when it comes to having a healthy relationship, and that's already an awesome start. Now let's see about your questions, okay?
First, it sounds to me a little like you are intimidated by the fact that your partner has not only had a previous relationship, but that he has also slept with his ex-girlfriend. And that's okay: It's pretty easy to feel intimidated by people who have had experiences you have not had yet. But there are a couple of things I'd like you to consider. For one thing, none of us has a finite amount of love to give. Most of us are going to fall in and out of love several times over the course of our lives, and have relationships with more than one person. And each of those relationships are going to be unique and special in their own right, and touch and change us in their own way. The relationships we have had do not take anything away from us, or make any subsequent relationships less valid. Quite the opposite: those experiences enrich us, help us grow, and shape our character.
Your boyfriend is the person that he is today – the person you care about so much – because of his past. And that past includes his relationship with his ex-girlfriend. But that relationship is over now, and he has chosen to be with you. And there are reason for why that past relationship has ended, and why he is with you now. So – there is no need for you to feel jealous or intimidated by her.
The fact that your boyfriend has had sex before also does not mean that he expects to have sex again in this relationship, either right away or at all. We all get to decide whether we want to be sexually active, over and over again over the course of our lives. If we have sex once, we do not enter the state of 'sexually active' once and for all. We can decide to take a break from sex for any number of reasons, and for any length of time. So, there is no need to assume that your boyfriend wants to have sex at this point, or to feel like he is expecting it of you. You are under no obligation at all.
You said that this is a topic that has only come up very recently, so you may not have had too many chances to talk about it yet. But it would probably be a good idea for the two of you to continue this open discussion about sex, and keep each other posted on how you feel. If you feel like he is expecting sex of you, let him know. You might also ask him how he feels about sex, and what his view is on introducing sex into your relationship.
I also want to add one very important thing about the last line of your letter: you wrote that you want to show your partner that you love him as much as his ex-girlfriend did. Now, that statement is pretty problematic, because it equates sex with love, and that's just not how it works. Sex and love do not need to be connected in that way. It is perfectly possible to have sex with someone you do not love, and it is just as possible to love a person and yet not have sex with them. The fact that your partner's ex-girlfriend slept with him says nothing at all about the way that she felt about him. And there are plenty of ways for you to show your boyfriend that you love him, without having to sleep with him.
So, what I am saying with all of this is: Please do not feel obligated to sleep with your boyfriend. If you are not ready for sex yet, then you're not ready yet, and that's that. You get to do this at your own pace and decide for yourself when you are comfortable with the idea of sex. Your partner's history, and whether or not he has had sex yet, doesn't need to concern you in this at all. This is YOUR decision, and no one else's.
Lastly, I also get the sense that, if and when you do feel ready for sex, you are worried about “measuring up” to your partner's previous experience. That is, again, an understandable and common worry, but it's also not one you need to have. No two sexual experiences are alike: sex feels different with each new partner, and even with a partner you know well and have been with for a while, sex feels different each time based on all sorts of factors. Too, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sex. Your partner may know what worked for his ex, but he certainly doesn't know yet what works for you. So if and when you do have sex, it will be just as new for him as it will for you. So there is no need for you to worry about being inexperienced. As long as you two communicate openly about what you want and need, and what works for you, as long as you are both committed to listening to each other, there is no way either of you could be 'bad' at sex.
Here are also some articles that I feel may be helpful for you: