too inexperienced to gain experience??
December 20, 2011 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm a sexually inexperienced lady and sex scares the hell out of me! How can I calm down and have a good time?

I'm a 23-year-old lady and I have had sex exactly three times. When I lost my virginity I combatted my first-time anxieties with vodka and valium to the point that it was a complete haze. The second two times I was super nervous and scared of acting like an idiot to the point that I didn't do much of anything but lie there like a starfish. I feel pretty bad for the boy who had to go through that...

On top of that, I haven't had sex in two years. I've been starting to go on dates lately but I'm basically petrified of getting to the point of sex with any guy because I have No Idea what to do and don't want to be Doing It Wrong. Kissing/making out is fine but I have never given a handjob or blowjob and am scared to do it completely wrong and hurt the guy or something.

All of this is compounded by the fact that, as much as I hate to reinforce the dichotomy, I don't come across as a "good girl." I dress a little wild, swear a lot, smoke and drink, used to have a coke habit, and my social circles are pretty into sex & drugs...the reason I'm saying this is that basically no boy who dates me, with me being honest about who I am otherwise, is going to predict that I am shy and nervous in the bedroom. In fact feel like I attract men just because I act really confident.

I have no moral qualms about sex and zero history of abuse. My lack of sexual experience started due to personal preference (I just didn't want to sleep with anyone until I got past 20) but is now compounded by anxiety about my inexperience and I want to break the cycle. I don't think sex is wrong or gross or dirty, I just don't want to be terrible at it.

I suppose I should just tell this all to the guy but the way relationships work among people my age seems to be go on a date or two, have sex, then get to know each other. People always say that they want to sleep with someone first to see if it's any good. But if my past experience is any indication I know I'm going to be bad and boring!

I've read some past MeFi threads and they all seem to suggest alcohol or pot...but alcohol doesn't really seem to help much, and pot just makes me super anxious. How else can I - preferably through non-chemical means - break the cycle of nervousness and actually be decent in bed?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

I've read some past MeFi threads and they all seem to suggest alcohol or pot

Oh god, really? You seem super freaked out by not being a porn star by age 23. Relax. Seriously, relax. Take your time and if you find someone worth having sex with (and I don't say that lightly), ask him what he likes. "Should I go faster?" "Do you like it when I do this?" and then just go with how it makes you feel as well. If you enjoy yourself (as long as you're not making a weird spectacle of it) from my experience, he will too. Go slow. Ask questions. There shouldn't be a big rush. You're super worried and nervous but don't be. If you don't know how to do something sexually, ask the guy how he likes it. You saying "i've never given someone x, or done y" will likely excite him, not make him think you're boring. But most of all, take a few deep breaths and relax. You will be fine. You have plenty of time. If you were 46, okay, freak out. But you're just 23. Ask questions, be real. In my experience, guys respond well to that.
posted by cashman at 8:13 AM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

I've been starting to go on dates lately but I'm basically petrified of getting to the point of sex with any guy because I have No Idea what to do and don't want to be Doing It Wrong.

I can assure you that even if you just lie there, the vast majority of under-25 year old men will think you are doing it right. You don't need to do porn-star bullshit. The worst thing you can do is stress out about it though. Just relax and do what you feel comfortable with. And be honest. Don't pretend to be something you aren't. If sex makes you nervous, just say so. Most guys are nervous about it, too. Probably more than you.

Alternatively, you can just not have sex, if you aren't in the mood for it. Take care of your own needs first.
posted by empath at 8:15 AM on December 20, 2011

You don't have to sleep with someone until you're ready. And it'll be a lot easier to open up to a guy you've had a few dates with and can trust. I had my first sexual relationship with a man at around your age, and I told him I wanted to take it slow. He was fine with that, because he's not an asshole. When we did have sex, I would say "hey, not sure how to do this" and he would give me advice. It wasn't a big deal and we have great sex.
posted by chaiminda at 8:18 AM on December 20, 2011

Sometimes this can be a good scenario for a "good friend with benefits" scenario. Which is to say: a nice guy you can explain your situation to; who you are reasonably sure has decent skills in the sack; who will be sympathetic to your situation; who you can talk to, ask questions of and make requests to; who will be on board with a project of "getting you comfortable with sex"; and with whom you can schedule some "learning about sex" sessions with.

The trick (for both of you, but probably moreso with you) will be to avoid bringing in too much emotional attachment along with the sexual exploration. A good technique for this will be to make these appointments be just that: appointments. Get together for sex, have sex, everyone goes home. If you get together in other contexts, it has to be nonromantic.

I was involved in two situations like this way back in my early 1980s high school days. One of them was with the first love of my life. We were both relatively inexperienced -- to the point that she had never had an orgasm with anyone. So it was like a project for both of us to figure out how to make it happen. That, of course, was a romantic situation. A few years later (first love of life having moved away) a good friend of mine who was just starting to become sexually active but found it physically uncomfortable asked if we could do it together sometimes in a non-romantic context so she could figure out how to make it feel good. Figuring out all these things in a trusting atmosphere of experimentation and learning, I think, was really valuable for all of us.
posted by slkinsey at 8:19 AM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

OK, first of all, let me just say that this is totally normal, especially in your early twenties. Many (most?) people - especially if they haven't had long-term relationships - don't get over that adolescent awkwardness about sex until later. It may seem like everyone else is so much more confident, etc. but a lot of them are putting on. Not all, but a lot.

Here's what I wish someone had told me when I was in my early 20s and similarly anxious about sex: it's totally ok to be anxious and relatively inexperienced, and you can actually make things better by being honest with yourself and your partner(s) about what you want and what you're afraid of.

So for instance, just because everyone you know hops into bed right away doesn't mean you have to. If you're getting to know a guy, maybe making out, it's totally ok to be like "hey, I dig you, but I'd like us to get to know each other a bit more before we have sex." If he's not ok with that, he's probably not the right partner for you right now.

And when you do get down to it, it's also ok to be totally honest about your inexperience and nervousness. Actually, that can be very attractive. It sounds like you have a pretty kickass exterior and it can be really gratifying for someone to feel like they're getting to see your soft underbelly. That might be scary to you, letting someone see your vulnerability, but again - that's ok! This way lies intimacy.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 8:20 AM on December 20, 2011

...and am scared to do it completely wrong and hurt the guy or something.

We have all inadvertently injured our partner at some point or another. Seriously, fumbling around in the dark, probably after a few drinks, an elbow to the teeth or something a little more personal, while surprising, isn't exactly unexpected. Plus, everyone has wildly different sensitivities, so something that one person likes a whole hell of a lot can be deeply unpleasant to another person. Ask any couple that has been together for a while and I can guarantee there's an injury story of varying degrees of pain and hilarity.

Ask for feedback during the act and don't go from 0 to 60 in a half-second and you'll be okay.
posted by griphus at 8:22 AM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Basically you are just naked together. This in itself is delightful and beautiful.
I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment—what is this, then?
I do not ask any more delight—I swim in it, as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women, and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;
All things please the soul—but these please the soul well.

(Walt Whitman, I Sing the Body Electric)
Even your nervousness is perfectly fine and adds a bit of its own kind of spark.
posted by mbrock at 8:26 AM on December 20, 2011 [9 favorites]

Just because other people choose to sleep together before getting to know each other doesn't mean that's the right approach for you. There's nothing wrong with getting to know someone well first if that's what feels more natural to you. So why not seek out a relationship/friendship/partnership first and save the sex until it's something that feels more like a shared experience and less like an audition?
posted by headnsouth at 8:28 AM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

but is now compounded by anxiety about my inexperience

You're not inexperienced, you're 23. Being 23 is supposed to be about getting experience.

I just don't want to be terrible at it. I know I'm going to be bad and boring!

What? I'm curious what you think real sex between real people is like. It is not, I assure you, The Porn Star Experience. There is no "completely wrong" and the risk of injury is both minimal and hilarious. I think you're really putting INTERCOURSE into a special box outside of the rest of the human sexual experience. It isn't. It's exactly like fooling around but with less clothing and more friction.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2011 [10 favorites]

I have never given a handjob or blowjob and am scared to do it completely wrong and hurt the guy or something.

If you're nervous about technique, watch some porn. Reasonable porn, obviously, but just get/rent/stream several videos and pay attention to how the bits you're not sure of are executed and how they differ from actor to actress in each film. I find gay male porn to be good at showing technique. Home video porn sites abound, and they might also take the intimidation factor down a bit.

And read some sex positive blogs/literature. There are some step-by-step instructions out there if you're more of a written word and less of a visuals person.

For both porn and blogs, if you've nowhere to start, Violet Blue has a nice links page with descriptions so you can see if any seem right for you.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:43 AM on December 20, 2011

It sounds like you are getting hung up on the need to show someone you are "good" in bed. Sex isn't about achievement! It doesn't have to be a performance! (I mean it can be, if you're into that, but it is not intrinsically about performing well for someone else).

I think you need to fundamentally reorient the experience to be about figuring out what you like and how you express yourself. When you're having a conversation, you're not constantly worried mute about whether or not everything you say is a perfectly witty bon mot, are you? Sex is a physical conversation, if you will. You each "say" a little something, you say a little more and see how that goes, it's a give and take.

When people say that it's "good" they don't mean they were in bed with the sexual equivalent of devastating Oscar Wilde quips. They mean that the connection was good and it feels like you're having a REALLY GOOD CONVERSATION and you wanted to keep talking all night.
posted by sestaaak at 8:43 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah--note DarlingBri's word "hilarious"--because it's an important one. Just be honest with your partner, be prepared to laugh at yourselves, and have some fun exploring each others bodies. There's no "right" way to do sex--there's just figuring out what works and doesn't work for each particular couple. In that sense you actually have an advantage over a more "experienced" lover--you don't bring preconceptions to the bedroom about what "should" be pleasurable.

Also, the biggest turn on for most men is feeling that their partner is getting turned on. Help your partner figure out what *you* enjoy and you'll be doing 90% of what's needed to make this a pleasurable experience for him.
posted by yoink at 8:44 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

So... I'm a straight boy, in his mid-late 20s, who's spent plenty of time in social circles similar to what you've described. So I'm coming at this from the perspective of "Okay, what if I found myself dating/sleeping with anonymous?"

I've had sex with a whole bunch of women. And honestly, I've had really bad sex with women with lots of experience. I've been injured by women with tons of sexual experience, just because sex is not a time that bodies are necessarily doing exactly what you want and some awfully sensitive body parts are involved. And it pretty much only ever leads to "ow! No, I'm fine, that was just a crazy angle. How about this instead? Yeeah okay that's good."

I don't mean that as a scary thing; I just mean that, in the end, we're honestly all just figuring stuff out, all the time. I've had sex with *mumble* women, and the first time with someone new is still almost always really awkward and it takes a few times to figure out how things are going to fit together and work out and make everyone happy.

I suppose I should just tell this all to the guy but the way relationships work among people my age seems to be go on a date or two, have sex, then get to know each other.

So: Yes, this is totally true. But on the other hand, it's not a rule. When I date someone, and it's going well, usually after a couple of dates I'm open to the idea of sleeping with them. But it's not mandatory and if, during some furious makeouts I'm sliding my hands under her shirt and she says "Hmm, no, let's take this a bit slower," that is totally fine. Any guy worth dating is not going to mind this, and "awkwardness/desire to take it slow because of inexperience" is, in fact, almost impossible to distinguish from "awkwardness because sex is really awkward, and some people like to take it slow."

basically no boy who dates me, with me being honest about who I am otherwise, is going to predict that I am shy and nervous in the bedroom. In fact feel like I attract men just because I act really confident.

I totally get this. And you're probably right. But... so what? This is true of lots of women. One of my past partners is brash and loud and bold and confident in 99% of her life, but when we were in bed, she was very shy and very nervous and that was fine, it was just a part of who she was, and the sex we had. Now, in her case this is more due to her being very submissive, rather than inexperience per se, but my point is that it's actually really common to have a "sex personality" that is, for whatever reason, very different from how a person is the rest of the time. The fact that yours may derive from inexperience-nervousness is really just a detail.

All of which is just a very drawn-out way of saying "As a sexually experienced straight dude in roughly your age bracket, and therefore sort-of your hypothetical potential sex partner, I want to assure you that you're going to be fine."
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:48 AM on December 20, 2011 [12 favorites]

Everyone is awkward at sex at first. It is universal and wonderful.

I can sum up what I've learned about sex over the years: don't feel like you have to pretend to be something you are not or to feel things you're not. Good sexual chemistry is like other kinds of personal chemistry, it's either there or it isn't. Faking things to pretend that it's there just wastes everyone's time.

Oh, and there's a big difference between a few glasses of wine to relax and getting totally hammered. Go with the first kind of drinking for this.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2011

You have 2 choices, both with their own dangers:

Slash and Burn - nothing gets you past the anxiety faster than to have a series of casual sexual encounters with guys that you do not really feel deeply for. Like job intereviews and fear factor food challenges: if you go through a few quickly, the initial jitters go away and you do much better on the later ones. Important that you don't overly qualify each guy you meet (except for safety and basic levels of decency, of course). Be careful, don't fall in love here.


Soulmate - find the right guy, the one you connect with on all the important levels outside of sex, and then fuck. He'll be your greatest source of guidance, a teacher and a lover. Plus, you'll get a long-term relationship out of it.

And, stop calling yourself a 'lady.'

Always good luck.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2011

As a somewhat more experienced lady who got a late start -- try owning your lack of knowledge.

But not like, "um...I don't know what I"m doing so I'm sorry if I'm boring so please don't kick me out of bed". That's going to freak the guy out a little -- but not because "oh, she doesn't know what she's doing", but because "wow, SHE'S not got any confidence at ALL."

Instead -- okay, you say you don't know how to give a hand job. But the thing is, every guy likes something a little DIFFERENT when it comes to hand jobs, so it makes total sense for you to ask him like you're asking how he PERSONALLY likes them: "I really really want you to like this, can you tell me what you like specifically?...or, how about you show me?" Try having him sort of start you off by him guiding your hand while you're holding on to him, and then he lets go when you've gotten the hang of it. A lot of guys can really get into that. That way-- you get a lesson on hand jobs in GENERAL, while making it look like you're asking about SPECIFICALLY FOR HIM. You come across as confident, but also considerate at the same time. And, you've learned a little more for the next guy (or if you really hit it off you're with that same guy for good). It's a win-win!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2011 [7 favorites]

Seconding everything up top. but to your question;

Regardless of your 'image,' don't let that force you into trying to behave, sexually, to re-enforce your image. You ahve obviously put a lot of thought and care into deciding to have sex or not. So when it comes time for you, continue that thinking. Have sex with someone because you want to, not because you think it's expected.

Also, if you start considering a particular mate to perform with, rely on your self confidence to open up the subject with them. "Look, I'm not all that experienced, and I want to take it slow." Starting with that, if the guy isn't receptive to your needs, then he's not the one for you, anyway.

Start slow, do what feels good, talk, and don't feel like you need to pretend to be anything that you aren't. Sex is for both of you, not just for him to get off, and it's much better for both of you when you both are working together at it.
posted by rich at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2011

When in doubt, do the nerd thing: turn to books.

I'm completely serious: I learned everything I know about good sex from sex manuals (joy of sex etc) and explicit novels by women - I know the novels aren't that realistic, but they taught me that a) women can and should enjoy sex, and b) gave me and my equally inexperienced partner ideas about how to have better sex for both of us. And they helped me to get over most of the anxiety that I had.

Also, I spent a while getting comfortable with my own sexuality before I had a partner; I wouldn't have been ready for a relationship without that self-knowledge.
posted by jb at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

also, I would strongly argue against alcohol or marijuana - I'm like you, and both just increase my own anxiety.
posted by jb at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2011

You're 23. Nobody's "good in bed" at 23. Don't sweat it.

Nthing slkinsey: get a nice FWB going with a boy who is comfortable, implausible for a real relationship, but cute enough, and have some "sex appointments" on weekends when there's no time pressure and you can part ways afterwards (which you should). Read up before hand. Do it in broad daylight so you can tell what on earth you're even looking at. Bring a lot of lube and condoms, and a towel, and laugh a lot. It's hilarious. You're doing crazy science with your body and it will do things that surprise you. Surprise is the sign of learning.

You'll probably need to just lie there for a while at first, or cuddle. Body heat, touch, pressure, breathing, relaxation, play; the body-at-rest (especially "anxious rest") isn't really in sexed-up mood and takes time and focus to transition. Maybe even make the first few times "no intercourse" appointments to just learn your way around each other's bodies. If don't want to be a starfish, then move around! Be silly. Wrestle. Pin him down. Of all the motions you can make, see which feels good.

Remember that there is no proper way to get turned on, to make out, to have sex, to come. There are a billion ways. Your task with a partner is to feel around each other's minds, looking for something that works for both of you in that particular moment, and follow what your guts are telling you.
posted by ead at 9:22 AM on December 20, 2011

How else can I - preferably through non-chemical means - break the cycle of nervousness and actually be decent in bed?

Find someone you really want to spend some intimate time with, seduce him, and let him know up front that you don't know what you're doing but you're an eager learner.

If he's experienced, there's a good chance that he'll be happy to show you exactly how to make him happy and he'll love showing you what a sex machine he is. If he's inexperienced, it might be hard for you to get him to do what you want, but he'll have the same problem and you'll be able to share your awkwardness rather than be embarrassed by it. Either way, you'll enjoy it.
posted by pracowity at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're nervous about technique, watch some porn.

Oh god please don't do this. Inexperienced women trying to do stuff they saw in a porn one time have lead to more awkwardness and hurt feelings than anything else... Real sex is as close to porn as real fighting is to a jackie chan movie...
posted by empath at 9:36 AM on December 20, 2011 [6 favorites]

You should take a look at the blog sex is not the enemy (NSFW). I think it's easier to freak out about sex when all you have in your head are images from porn and the movies, and that blog is a good antidote to those images. The text can be interesting too, but the pictures are the real point I think.

Because, frankly, sex in the American media doesn't have very many iterations, and if those portrayals don't look like fun to you (or don't jibe with what you know about your own body and preferences) then sex can seem like a scary overwhelming thing. Because in movies, women moan and arch attractively when they come but they don't shake or tremble or do nothing at all, deep passion = the woman getting slammed against a wall/hard surface and the man sticking his tongue all of the way down her throat, no one just lies around naked and noodles around with their partner's body, people never laugh in the middle of sex or fumble with a condom, and the sexual progression almost always goes: kissing, maybe a bit of suggested oral sex for the lady, missionary position sex where they both climax simultaneously, done. And sex in porn is this weird acrobatic thing that often involves the woman stretching her feet up over her head or something, and it usually (to me as a woman) looks very uncomfortable what with all the rabbit-like humping/pounding that goes on.

Anyway, sex doesn't have to be like that. And until you have accumulated some experience of your own that proves that to you, I think it can be helpful to search out other images of it in the media.
posted by colfax at 9:36 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sex tends to get better with practice. In particular, it seems to get better the more often you do it with the same person, because you each learn what makes the other tick (both sexually and mentally).

As for your fears about hurting the guy: (a) that is less likely than you seem to think, and (b) he will let you know if you hurt him and will (hopefully) tell you what would feel better.

Good sex is all about communication. And, while drunk sex can be fun, I would not use alcohol as a coping mechanism. When you do eventually get back in the sack, make sure that you are stone cold sober for at least the first few times (and that your partner is, too). Having a drink or two at dinner won't hurt, but being drunk out of your mind will.
posted by asnider at 9:44 AM on December 20, 2011

It's an experience, not a performance. The only way you can "do it wrong" is to be absolutely contemptuous of your partner's needs. I'm 36, I've had a lot of partners and a lot of sex, most of it great, some of it enh, some of it totally miserable, but I was never doing it wrong --sometimes it just doesn't come together.

In terms of awkwardness and hilarity, I have the most awkward, hilarious sex story EVER, which I will tell you (or anyone else) in MeMail if you want to hear it. It really sets a bar, trust me.
posted by KathrynT at 10:07 AM on December 20, 2011

I think you're worrying about the wrong thing - instead of focusing on whether you're going to be "good", you should be more worried about whether the guy is going to satisfy you! This is not universally true, but guys are typically a lot easier to get off than girls are. The approach is usually a little more standard. Think about what it must be like for your partner, knowing that so few women can orgasm with vaginal intercourse - now that must be a little anxiety inducing. I think realizing that this guy might be just as nervous as you are or more would help you.

For example, you say that one of the times you had sex you just "laid there like a starfish" and that you "feel pretty bad for the boy who had to go through that" - what?! seriously, he got to have sex with you, and you feel bad for him? He probably was high fiving himself all the way home! Do not feel bad for people for having sex with you, as they are actually extremely lucky to have a partner who cares so much about their enjoyment. It sounds like you were so busy feeling bad for him, you forgot to have a good time yourself. And if you're not enjoying it, and he's a really good (GGG) guy, he won't be enjoying it either. If you're enjoying the hell out of it, he's going to love it too, regardless. Ask any guy - being enthusiastic is one of the most important, sexiest things a woman can do in bed.

And btw now that I mention being "GGG" - read Savage Love. I think you'll like it, great sex-positive column that will help remind you that there are many kinds of people out there who like many kinds of things in bed, so you have to approach each situation differently and communicate with your partner.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:14 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Why don't you just wait until you really, really want to go to bed with someone? You don't have to have sex with guys you just think are attractive. Maybe you need to wait until a relationship develops that leads into sex.
posted by anniecat at 10:15 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

One of the nice things about that Sex Is Not The Enemy blog is that you can click through on a photo you like and there's a good chance (not 100%) that it'll lead to more just like it. Skip over the ones that ick you out and click through the ones you like.

I also learned a lot from sex manuals. Some of it turned out to be bullshit but it made me feel confident enough to tell my partner what I didn't know and to try out different things. Every sex manual has different advice which should let you know that there's no one-right-way to do anything, so long as everyone's enjoying it, or at least not hating it.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:27 AM on December 20, 2011

Nthing that what other people are doing is irrelevant and the thought to take a look at some books.

I went to college and lived near a huge Half Price Books and heard more than a couple stories about women in their early 20s going there to get books of this nature... and later reporting that their boyfriends were delighted.

With anything, there is the basic learning of technique and the confidence that comes from having that knowledge.
posted by ambient2 at 10:35 AM on December 20, 2011

As Dale Earnhardt Jr once said "In endeavors of knowledge, seek first to know thyself."

Think about what you want, get used to your body, masturbate a lot, fantasize a lot, figure out what you want to get out of the bizness. Do blowjobs gross you out? Fine, you don't have to do them. Do blowjobs seem awesome, but you're just worried about hurting someone? Try putting a thick carrot in your mouth. Did it break in half/shatter into a million pieces/get any tooth marks on it? No? Then you're probably not going to hurt someone. Are you anxious about your body? Have sex in the dark. Are you anxious that he will have warts or something? Have sex in the bright light and wrap it up.

I will join the chorus in saying that I, as a guy, was assuredly having bad sex since the first time, but wasn't able to distinguish it from good sex until I was 24-25. Also, the girls who were the worst were not the ones who had less experience, but ones who weren't having sex because they enjoyed it, but because they had something to prove, did because they thought they had to to please a man, derived their self esteem from sex. Don't be those girls.

Be careful of porn. Some people have suggested watching porn in an effort of self knowledge. That can often be a bad idea. Instead, ask some cute, safe guy if he has any suggestions of good porn for a relatively inexperienced person would want to watch to get more comfortable with sex. Ask if he'll show you. If this goes well he will (a) know you're inexperienced (b) but know you're not sex-adverse (c) be in a position to talk honestly and caring-ly about sex in a non-threatening manner (d) turned on. Okay, it may not turn out with sex, but maybe it will.

Avoid drugs. Have fun~!
posted by sharkbot1957 at 10:42 AM on December 20, 2011

I think that, at least at first, good sex isn't about what you do, but about simply enjoying yourself. Your anxiety is getting in front of you enjoyment, so stop trying to be knowledgeable or "good in bed", instead, just focus on what you feel and what you like. I've never had casual sex, but I guess for me that would not work, because sex for me is about the emotional connection, to the point where you just NEED to kiss and touch and explore the other person's body, and have them do the same to you.

If you get stuck in an "am I enjoying this, what do I do, what is he doing, should I rethink my position, etc etc" vicious cycle, try taking a semi-active role by doing something you're more comfortable with, like kissing, on the mouth, on the neck or chest, smelling his hair or whatever you're into. Remember, actual enjoyable sex is most times less about the intercourse and more about turning each other on. If the thought of a handjob or blowjob makes you terrified, don't think about them as as handjob or a blowjob. They can be part of a whole process. For example, everyone likes a good neck and shoulder massage. Start massaging the backside of the neck, play a little with his ears, do a little shoulder rub, then move down to his chest, the sides of his waist. Touch his nipples, maybe ask if he's enjoying himself (I'm guessing he will) then move down to the stomach and waist, then the legs. Don't go for the genitals just yet, continue exploring and rubbing his thighs and general crotch area, but without actually touching any of the good parts (this will probably turn him on from the expectation, and possibly even you too). When you're good and ready, gently explore his balls and penis, as if you've never seen or touched one before. Don't go directly to the up and down motion of porn....the expectation and arousal created by the gentle exploration and playing is, I believe, much more enjoyable. From then what you feel like doing. If he's being passive, go on and let him enjoy it. If he wants to reciprocate, let him. Don't be scared of saying "that feels good, I like it when you touch me there" or whatever.

Phew, that was a long paragraph. I hope you got the idea: neither intercourse, oral sex or mutual masturbation are just those things in themselves, they are natural progressions of making out, foreplay or mutual exploration, at least when you're in your "beginner" stage of being sexually active.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:25 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah and: The Guide to Getting it On might be a helpful thing to look at. Start with the chapter on first-time sex.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Potentially emotionally-risky suggestion: Ask a buddy if they're interesting in being a fuck-buddy. If yes, then ask if they're interested in being a patient fuck-buddy, because what you're really asking for is a chance to learn to relax and enjoy sex, to get past a hang-up.

I'd be surprised if the additional info changes the "yes".

Then you have a (hopefully) safe place to relax, play, and find what you like, as often as suits you both.
Plus, your buddy totally gets laid.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:57 AM on December 20, 2011

Oh my gosh girl, I am you. Down to the swearing and the acting confident and everything. I lost my virginity exactly one month and a half ago (at the age of 23) after being freaked out about it forever. I was in the same cycle: attracting fun, confident guys because I could "act" confident, then totally losing it when it came to bedroom stuff. (My experience is/was complicated by the fact that I have vaginismus, which makes me tense up unconsciously during sex.)

My solution was finding a good, nice, patient guy to do the deed with. (And boy, was he patient.) It didn't exactly start off romantic (he's my boyfriend, now) but he was willing to work with my (pretty serious) anxiety. The good thing about it being low-stakes at the beginning was that I wasn't afraid to ask him the most ridiculous questions possible, tell him I didn't feel like trying it today, stopping him when I felt pain, etc. Seriously, the right guy (whether this is a friend or potential boyfriend) will not give a shit. To echo what others have said above, they'll be ecstatic/honored/quite pleased/whatever that you're even offering the opportunity :)

That's the most important thing to remember. Before him, I dated a guy that seemed into me, but then, when he found out I was a virgin, promptly dumped me. After 3 weeks. I was pretty devastated over that at the time, but I realized that that guy wouldn't have stuck around much longer even if we were having sex from day one. Also, he is an immature asshole. Ahem.

My therapist has suggested to me that I nerd out and read lots of books on the topic, which is what I'm planning to do. I am still working out the nuts and bolts of this thing and getting more used to having a penis inside of me, which is interesting, haha. Please feel free to memail me if you want! I know how awkward it can be trying to talk to girlfriends about this kind of stuff when it all seems like they've been having tons of sex since high school.

But yeah: you'll be fine. I'll be fine, too!
posted by themaskedwonder at 12:26 PM on December 20, 2011

Make your own way, make your own rules, explain slowly and gently and happily to the one you choose.
posted by amtho at 1:54 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Read everything you can find that looks halfway legitimate (that means actual books like Guide to Getting it On, and be very discriminating about what you look at online) just to get a survey of what sex can be like. No one book will have THE answer or THE moves but reading alot of other people's questions about sex and sex tips will give you fodder and a reassuring sense of how large and inclusive "normal" is when it comes to sex.

Also, look at a particular kind of porn called an "instructional"- this is usually a real person, not a porn star, talking through the mechanics of a blow job, for example, demonstrating on an actual penis but mostly just talking. It's not particularly sexy, but the point is how-to, not to make it all porny. They can be surprisingly helpful. Other porn will typically not be.
posted by slow graffiti at 4:10 PM on December 20, 2011

I would suggest spending some time having sex with yourself until you get completely comfortable with that. Much of the mystery of two-person sex will be eliminated when you get to feeling hot and bothered yourself. Once you learn what pleases you, and then what really, really pleases you, you'll find it's not difficult to turn those same techniques toward another person, especially when he/she's all hot and bothered, too.

The only thing you're lacking is confidence and that comes with experience - you have all the equipment and all the interest you need, so practice by yourself. I think you're feeling a little panicky because you're worried about trying to uphold the bad-girl image, but you'll find that the guys will be delighted to find you warm and a bit vulnerable after all. As for technique, watching a little bit of porn to give you the general idea would be fine, but only for the general idea - the real guys you're going to be with don't even want that kind of experience from a real woman anyway. You'll find the intensity and rhythm and other stuff with yourself and then, when you're with someone else and feeling more sure of yourself, all these fears will vanish.

Just one word - "getting to know yourself" and porn are just stepping stones to the real thing; I think most people are happiest if they don't let either of them take over.

Have fun.
posted by aryma at 6:36 PM on December 20, 2011

Yes. Agree with the part about books, especially those designed for first-timers. I would just be reading stuff with a view to getting comfortable, getting used to sex as an idea, rather than focusing on specific techniques. Basically good sex is about doing what feels comfortable and good to you (see above on "getting to know yourself") and to your partner (see above on communicating with them).

Don't worry what other people are doing because what you are hearing is probably not representative anyway - those who talk a lot about sex tend to be the most advanced and the noisy braggards - there are a lot of quiet, nervous, misguided, anxious or virginal people out there as well - you just don't hear them talk about it!

Finally, don't be afraid to admit you're anxious and ask to take things slowly. The next guy you're with might be just as worried as you, and might be quite relieved to hear that you're a bit anxious too.
posted by EatMyHat at 2:55 PM on January 23, 2012

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