I'm Not Sure What Either of Us Wants

My boyfriend and I have been talking about having sex. We are both still virgins. Every time we talk the sex subject usually comes up and he wants to talk about what I want him to do to me ... but I’m not really sure exactly what I want. He’s a year older than me and knows a little bit more about sex than I do. He told me he wants to go down on me hard and do me real good. How do I find out what he wants without having to ask or having to wait until the time that we have sex?
Stephanie replies:

Let’s take a few minutes and break everything down into separate thoughts.

First and foremost, you need to consider readiness. How do you feel about sex becoming a part of your relationship right now and especially for you personally about starting to have sex? Do you feel that at this point in your life you’re ready and comfortable with the idea of beginning to have sex? These questions are an important part of readiness. Remember too that any partnered sex isn’t just about physical aspects, but about material, emotional, and interpersonal aspects as well.

Have you and your partner begun to talk about possible risks and especially how to reduce those risks? It’s extremely important that each of you not only understands possible risks of any sexual activity you feel comfortable and want to participate in, but also have discussed ways of reducing the risks that you both feel comfortable with. While one partner may feel comfortable with the effectiveness rates of condoms alone, doubling methods reduces pregnancy risk further and condoms reduce STI risk.

Even if you’ve never had and type of sex before there is a chance (though remote) that one of you could have an STI. Remember too that virginity is more of a social term than anything. People very often speak of virginity with different definitions. Some consider virginity having no sex of any kind; others consider virginity as never having had intercourse. These different definitions leave chance for STI risk from oral or manual sex out of the discussion. If you don’t feel comfortable with some risk of STI or pregnancy, and also be ready emotionally and materially for dealing with these risks then readiness isn’t there just yet.

Also, what expectations do you have for sex? Are they realistic expectations? Many times sex isn’t what we expect it to be, whether the difference between our expectations and reality is positive, negative, or just different than what we’ve thought. It can help you to take stock of what your expectations are, and give them a reality check. Talk to a friend, older sibling, or other family member who has had intercourse or other genital sex and is really honest with you about what you expect. Gather different perspectives as well, sex can vary greatly from one person to another.

For being able to tell your boyfriend what you like and what feels good to you, many women find that out first alone before moving on to partnered sex. Masturbation can assist you in becoming more acquainted with your own anatomy, finding what does and does not feel good to you, and especially how to tell when your really relaxed and aroused. Nobody can really know you better than you’ll know yourself.

In addition, having time to become comfortable with one another is a big part of mutually enjoyable sex of any kind. Intercourse is a big step in a sexual relationship, like diving from a high board. The first time you go to the pool, you wouldn’t immediately go off the high diving board, rather work your way up there. You may start on the side and jump in, then move to the low board and so on. Becoming comfortable with one another is an important step along the way to sexual intercourse. Trying other types of sex together (manual, oral, mutual masturbation) help you to become acquainted with one another better and learn the likes and dislikes of both you and your partner. Many times these are used as foreplay to increase arousal prior to intercourse, but are also activities that can be and are done alone. Many couples prefer one or more of these to intercourse as well.

Additionally, while it varies from person to person and experience to experience, pain and bleeding are possibilities with first intercourse for someone with a vagina. Not every person will experience these, and because we are all so different it won’t be the same for every person. What is known is that being fully aroused and also being comfortable and ready helps a great deal. It’s normal to be a bit nervous, but if you’re very nervous it will be difficult to relax and become aroused enough.

It should be up to you to say how deep to go, and how fast to move, because you’re the one that will be most likely to feel pain if things move long to quickly. Some women it feels best to move slowly with just an inch of entry while others it feels natural to move more rapidly or enter more deeply. Communication about what does and doesn’t feel good is the key here. His comment of going down hard and the implication of a fast pace really may not be a realistic view for how you’re feeling at the moment, and you both need to understand that patience and understanding about what each partner is feeling is extremely important.

Which brings us to the most important point – communication. One rule that stand out boldly about knowing when you’re ready to have sex is when you can talk with your partner about all of these things and more. So many times it’s said and it still stands true – sex isn’t a subject that lends itself to shyness and nervousness about communicating wants, needs, thoughts, and expectations. If you can’t talk openly and honestly about all of these aspects with your partner, it’s not realistic to presume you can act on them. The best way for you to find out what he wants and likes is to ask him

I’m going to toss some reading material your way that further discusses these topics.

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