First time woes...
June 21, 2015 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Short version: I had sex for the first time with someone I thought I really liked, but it didn't quite go the way I expected it to and now I'm completely panicking about it. Long version inside.

I am 18, just graduating high school, and a bisexual male. I got into a relationship with a boy -- my first relationship ever (or at least since 3rd grade) -- whom I didn't exactly have feelings for. I had planned to ask him to prom, he found out, meanwhile I got cold feet because I didn't think I was into him, I felt bad... and then we were dating.

Once we had our first date, though, I had no idea what I had been so worried about. (And I was super worried.) I loved talking to him, telling him about myself, hearing about his life, holding hands, kissing... This went on for a few weeks. One week after a date I was absolutely pining for him. We were texting constantly, I was thinking and fantasizing about him all the time, and I thought, you know, if he wants to have sex I would so be down for that.

Two days ago, we did, twice. I initiated it and was very enthusiastic, and I feel like I can remember (it's kind of a blur now) still being really into him and ready for more after the first time. After the second time, the date was over and we both went home. On the drive back, I started completely freaking out. Maybe it was just because I was so exhausted, but I wasn't happy that I had done it with him, and I couldn't seem to feel what I had been feeling for the duration of our relationship thus far.

What did I do wrong? I went into the relationship with the best intentions. I had very strong feelings for him, and felt like I really wanted to have sex with him. I tried to be mindful throughout, making sure we were both getting the most out of it and enjoying it fully.

The prevailing line of thought in my head right now is "oh my god what happened why don't you like him anymore and now you aren't a virgin and because of this negative experience you'll never be able to have feelings for or good sex with anyone what have you done what have you done" which I realize is not particularly helpful. But how should I deal with these thoughts, now as I try to continue the relationship and in the future as I go to college and try to have relationships?

But really, the most pressing and perplexing issue for me is why I don't feel the same way about him anymore. I really miss thinking about him all the time, enjoying holding hands, and all the warm fuzzies for him... is there any way to get that back? Maybe I just need to be patient and try not to expect anything?

Thank you for your help.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Here is my favourite page on limerence. Note that one of the ways to end a limerent state is consummation.
posted by kmennie at 7:03 AM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

You're not the first person to have this experience.

You're okay. You've been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster so give yourself some time to just sit with that and catch up to yourself. Don't guide your feelings, let them guide you. Your feelings are telling you something is up - maybe a boundary was violated, maybe this guy isn't right for you, maybe your libido got ahead of your heart, maybe a lot of things. So take a step back, breathe and be kind to yourself and this fellow.
posted by bunderful at 7:06 AM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

As Spock told his romantic rival in ST:TOS - sometimes wanting is better than having. It's possible you liked the fantasy of being with this guy better than the reality of being with him. Which happens to just about all of us at some point! Don't beat yourself up.

I think your obligation to him is to treat him decently and not lead him on or indulge in mean gossip or sexual boasting about him. Don't try to "let him down easy" (which never really works in reality!). Just be honest with him and with yourself, and treat him and yourself with kindness and respect.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:08 AM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

First off, don't panic. The first time you have sex in a relationship is always an emotional time. Everything is stirred up in your head right now, but it will calm down in time.

I noticed the phase "now you aren't a virgin" among your self-doubt. I don't see that as a negative thing, just a part of growing up and a choice that you made. You boyfriend is now a page of your personal history in a way that he wouldn't be if you hadn't had sex, but there was always going to be a page in your emotional scrapbook that said "first time I had sex", and a page for "first boyfriend". It just so happens this is now the same page.

More concerning is how you say you don't feel the excitement and enthusiasm for the relationship that you did before you had sex. I'm not sure how long it's been, but especially if we're talking hours or just a few days, I would really advocate faking it in the short term. For one, you're in an off-balance place, and you don't know where you'll land when you get back on track - maybe you'll find that affection and want the relationship to keep going (in which case you need to not undermine that), or maybe you won't (in which case you'll want the ability to break up carefully and mindfully, not while you're feeling emotional and reactive, so that you won't second-guess yourself later, or get dumped before you're sure what you want.)
For another thing, be kind. He was your first boyfriend, though you don't mention if you were his. He just had sex with you, for the first time in your relationship if not the first time ever, and is probably also feeling uncertain. Be kind. Give him the warmth that you had hoped you would want. Keep talking, keep texting, and even if you're not feeling swept off your feet and obsessed the way you were before, remember that he's your friend as well as your boyfriend. So treat him like a friend, even if you're not feeling romantic.

Be honest with yourself about what you feel - I'm not advocating pretending to feel something when you don't, or keeping the relationship going because you "owe him" after sex - but be aware that feelings can take time to settle down, and don't take any major steps (breaking up, having more sex) until you're sure.
posted by aimedwander at 7:11 AM on June 21, 2015 [11 favorites]

Often events we can't "un-do" produce feelings like this. There's a lot in the mix: reacting to elements of the event, to your assessment of your previous feelings, to hormones, to your current feelings, to your future fears, to the other person's reaction, to society's prevailing messages, etc. There's A LOT going on. Try to just breathe and notice - "Gee, there's that panicky feeling again. It'll pass. This is a big deal but what I'm feeling is normal."

You sound like a thoughtful, clear-headed person who is experiencing the 'two steps forward, one step back' of learning what it means to be in relationship with someone and what it means to be sexual. I'm 46 and *still* have moments like the one you describe, but with history and self-awareness you get better at watching them go by without disruption.

Anyway, I think you created a really great First Time--you were a full participant in the timing, the company, the acts. The anticipation of that event can be HUGE and the other person shows up not just as an individual but also as a role. Your feelings for him in his role may be overshadowing your feelings for him as an individual. Maybe that will pass. Maybe they're merging. Maybe it won't pass. Go slow. Be kind to yourself and to him. I wouldn't make any big decisions. Also, this doesn't mean you have to have sex again, or right away. You can take time to cultivate again the romantic feelings you're missing.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:17 AM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think there may be any of a c couple of things going on here:

1/ People often feel huge let-down after major events, even if they were great. This is super common after for example weddings, and yes, first-time sex.

2/ Your mention of "not a virgin anymore" indicates that you may have some feelings of shame or guilt associated with sexuality, so you need to unpack that.

3/ People sometimes see sex as crossing a threshold and it seems like you have a lot of thresholds you're crossing all at once -- boyfriend, sex, graduation, impending adulthood, college, etc. When all of these things combine, any single one of them can cause panic.

What I mostly want you to know though is that sex is not a road of no return. You can say to him "I had a great time Saturday night but I've realised I'm not ready to handle a sexual relationship at that level right now. Can we do some low-key stuff like (going to the movies, hiking, going to a market, whatever) for awhile?"

The above is a hugely important skill that you will call upon through your whole sexual life. Sex is not an on/off switch that once tripped cannot be reset. Sometimes people in sexual relationships need to step back from aspects or even all of the shared sexuality for a myriad of reasons, and that is a normal and healthy thing to be able to do.

Treat your boyfriend with kindness and compassion while looking after yourself, and however this plays out, know that first-time sex in no way dictates the sexual roadmap for your entire life.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:45 AM on June 21, 2015 [25 favorites]

The prevailing line of thought in my head right now is "oh my god what happened why don't you like him anymore and now you aren't a virgin and because of this negative experience you'll never be able to have feelings for or good sex with anyone what have you done what have you done" which I realize is not particularly helpful.

Hello, younger me! This is pretty much the exact thought process I had after I had sex for the first time. I was your age, too. Listen, feelings are complicated, emotions are complicated, you're young and you're trying to sort this out for yourself for the first time.

I promise you--promise you--that what you're feeling is in absolutely no way predictive of any future relationship you may have. I have gone on to have plenty of emotionally and physically fulfilling relationships of all sorts with all sorts of people, and I was feeling just as confused and detached after my first time as well. There's nothing wrong with you.

The first time you do anything is going to be weird, and exponentially so when it's sex and you've got fluttery feelings all in the mix. The only thing you need to do here is to calm down, be kind to yourself, and be kind to this guy. If you want to keep seeing him, do that. If you don't want to keep seeing him, that's ok, too, just be up front and honest about it and be mindful of his feelings.
posted by phunniemee at 7:47 AM on June 21, 2015

I crossed the line from virginity to non-virginity in my mid teens. I say "the line" but in reality my cosmos admitted several versions of virginity. Anyhow, this is a time of firsts. That's one of the things I miss about being young. It's also one of the conditions I'm happy to have behind me. I wonder if anyone ever really is satisfied with what they got when they spent their virginity.

Maybe you will benefit from knowing that the pursuit of a romantic encounter is always a separate element in the evolution of the relationship. Enjoy one's partner is another part, and the aftermath is yet another element. Then, when you get to be an old fart like me, certain relationships, certain events, stand out from the rest--pivotal events, even if I hadn't realized it at the time. Please excuse me if I'm being tedious.

You have experienced the emotional difference between the pursuit and the encounter. Your perspective is shifting more rapidly now (because you are a young man) than it will in later years, when you have accumulated a much more detailed bank of experiences upon which you may draw. Experiences inform (romantic) expectations. Romantic expectations are always very receptive to embellishment. Seems to me as though you are beginning to accumulate some good experiences.

Talk to your friend. I bet he's had a similar experience. Maybe this is the point where you and he begin to lay the groundwork for a broader and deeper context in which to enjoy your lives. Or, it may turn to be a "well that was fun" moment, where you both realize that an exclusive relationship isn't in your future. You won't know until talk it over. By the way, this isn't like trying to figure out how to navigate from Seattle to Boston--just follow the road. It's a little more like planning a menu for the week, making allowances for adding new items as you discover things you hadn't known about your appetite until you tasted a few new sauces. Take it one step at a time.

As far as I can tell you are just fine.
posted by mule98J at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2015


First of all - I'm impressed by how thoughtful and reflective you are as you struggle with this ... and (I echo another commenter here) 'Hello, younger me!' How familiar this anguish sounds...!

You did nothing wrong. You're human. First experiences of love and sex are...a crucible. A great deal of wisdom can come of them. So...You're growing in wisdom *already*, and man, can it hurt. Or, as a friend of mine likes to say, 'AFGE' ('Another F@$%ing Growth Experience'!)

You're getting some wise and reflective responses (after all, this is AskMefi). Here is my two cents:

1) It sounds as if this relationship began with genuine ambivalence...and the ambivalence is worth unpacking a little, first. What was the 'not exactly having feelings for him or being into him' about, do you think? What was it that felt not quite right? If you look within yourself, what were the twin voices of this ambivalence saying? And did this ambivalence re-emerge as you were having your sexual encounter? There's nothing you did 'wrong' - you're *human*. There's something to be understood here.

1a) What are the pressures (or expectations) from your family about bisexuality - and sexuality in general? What are the pressures (or expectations) from peers about bisexuality - and sexuality in general? How do you experience these? What does this set up within you?

1b) What does 'virginity' mean to you? This is a *loaded* cultural construct that causes immense anguish for people.

2) Ok: Then the ambivalence and super-anxiety melted as you got to *know* him. What a rush! It sounds as if you recognized the beginnngs of a real relationship - whatever shape this might take for you both. You *liked* eachother, you were curious about one another. You could really have a conversation. And - you were profoundly attracted to him. Again: What a rush!

2a) There is something universal that happens with couples, and it sounds as if this may be part of your experience. In most relationships, there is a partner who tends to 'pursue' for connection, and a partner who tends to respond with a bit of anxiety / overwhelm - by 'withdrawing' a bit. And the 'withdrawal' of one partner triggers the 'pursuing' partner to panic and pursue a bit more...causing the 'withdrawer' to withdraw a bit more. The tendency to 'pursue' or 'withdraw' is developmental, and largely rooted in your experiences of being parented. This is too complex for an AskMefi Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples, it's called 'The Cycle'. It's not your fault, or his - it's a cycle of responses that you each trigger in the other without being aware of it. Becoming aware of it ... and being able to talk about it ... is often the 'beginning of a beautiful relationship' (so to speak).

So: (3) What would it be like to perhaps ... try to talk about it with him. To say, 'You know, I had this weird feeling driving home...and I'm kind of afraid to talk about it with you...I don't understand it, but I want to...' It sounds as if you guys might be able to have this conversation. You'd need to try to put your self judgment a bit to the side, hear about how he experienced you...and let him know how you experienced him. (again - see if you can find within you what happened for you during that sexual encounter - something that began to come up that you likely pushed down...and that ambushed you on the way home).

Hope this is helpful, Anonymous. A couple of (fairly heterocentric but nonetheless helpful) books on the relationship 'dance' are:

Hold Me Tight - Sue Johnson PhD

After the Fight - Dan Wile, PhD

Grow in wisdom, and - the Force is with you!
posted by ferkit at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just want to reassure you that this

now you aren't a virgin and because of this negative experience you'll never be able to have feelings for or good sex with anyone

is not a thing, unless you do your damndest to make it a thing. I know that dramatic media loves the YA trope of "RUINED ALL MY LIFE" and that's because sex is bad and dirty and should only ever be used to sell deodorant and cars. (Media also promotes this idea that losing your virginity means anything to anybody but you, but it's one fuck of hopefully thousands in your lifetime and it won't even matter to you in a couple of years. It doesn't sentence you to that exact same sex for the rest of your life. You can never be less of a newbie than your first time.)

Here's what happened: you thought you were totally into this guy and it turns out...not so much. You will feel (or at least should kind of feel) that crazy limerence for anyone you go out with, but don't mistake that feeling for anything other than excitement. It doesn't mean you should have sex with them, loan them money, recommend them for a job, let them borrow your car, or anything else that has consequences. To make those decisions, you have to look past the limerence to the actual facts of the person.

Here's also what happened: you had mediocre sex. Not gonna be the last time. You're going to meet people with whom the chemistry completely collapses in the bedroom (and people you can't stand who make your hair stand on end in bed), you're going to have bad nights with long-term partners sometimes, you're going to realize mid-act you're coming down with the flu, you're going to have a multi-month rut while your new promotion at work eats you alive. That's life, it happens.

You can't let your entire world be dictated solely by feelings. Yes, you had a happy feeling about the guy, and yes, you had regret after you had sex with him. That's not the sum total of the situation, you have to spend some time with your actual thinky-thoughts and not just your gut. There is really no way to learn when you (by your own personal metrics for your own happiness and sanity) should and shouldn't have sex with people except by experience. Look for the lesson in this.

I think you might have just had your first experience of dating someone by accident. Like, this all started with prom rather than you deciding that this was someone you wanted to proactively get to know for the purposes of some kind of relationship, and then you got swept along instead of exerting more agency. This happens to almost everybody, and some of us more often than others (I was 31 the last time it happened to me). My number-one advice as you head off to college is try not to do that. Only be with people you really want to be with - whether that means dating or you just want a one-night stand or whatever, but never do it without firmly making the decision yourself to do it - and that will keep a lot of drama and trouble out of your life.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:26 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Most people's first times are pretty disappointing. What you're feeling is normal. It'll fade with time and additional experience.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:48 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of pressure for the first time to be magical and perfect.
For a lot of us it's pretty crappy, compared to the sex we will have later in life. Experience is what makes sex, and relationships, good!
So, you know, you'll end up having loads of good sex with different people. Take your time and whatever distance you need with this guy now. Practice listening to your feelings. Because that's what will help you get the awesome sexual experiences you want.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:14 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Phantom doctor bill from 2005   |   ADHD and working memory Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.