When dating someone new, you may worry about when to have sex for the first time. You don’t want to get hurt or hurt the other person. You don’t want to complicate a budding relationship.
You may have sought guidance from friends, therapists, blogs, scriptures, experts, and sexperts. None of their advice has eased your fears. Part of you wants to have sex just to get it over with, so you can stop worrying about it. Another part of you wants to walk away before you make a mess of things.
Before you do anything, throw away the books of rules and stop asking others for advice. It's time to learn how to turn toward yourself for the answers, as you are your own best dating and mating guide.
You may be thinking that you can’t trust yourself to make “good” decisions. You've made mistakes and gotten hurt. You've let yourself down—and been let down. You regret some of your past dating and sexual decisions. You feel like you're the last person you should turn to for guidance.
But what you may not realize is that after all of these experiences, you can trust yourself now more than ever! You've learned what you need to be in place in order to have sex and reflect back positively. You’ve also learned what circumstances leave you feeling guilt, shame, or regret. You know what works for you and what doesn't.
Most of us did not learn how to listen to our bodies for guidance as to what we need. No one taught us to trust our inner voices to make decisions. We certainly weren’t told to make our own decisions about how we want to have sex, when, and with whom. In fact, many people were told that what they feel and what they want is not okay, and should not be validated.
All of us received tons of conflicting messages about sex. From an early age, we heard what sex is, how to have it, when, with whom, how often, and what it means about us when we do. It makes sense that as adults, we continue to look externally for guidance—but looking outside ourselves is dangerous, because we are more likely to regret decisions when we base them on other people's beliefs and values. When we make decisions based on our own feelings, needs, and values, we are more likely to be happy with our choices.
When you learn to turn inward for guidance, you’ll be more likely to make choices you feel good about, and you'll build trust in yourself.
Your needs should be met without having to compromise yourself to please others. When you dismiss your needs to feel ready to have sex, you give others permission to dismiss them as well—and then you’re at risk for having sex before you’re ready, which could lead to regretting your decision. Only you can know what you need, and it’s up to you to make sure your needs are met.
The following exercises will help you turn toward yourself to gain clarity so you can ensure that your needs are met before you have sex with someone new:
1. Use the past.
Think about the times you've had sex and felt good about it. Then think about the times you regretted it or felt shame or guilt. What conditions were there: Were you in a committed relationship? Were you clear with the person that you were not, and would not be, in a committed relationship? Did you take things slowly? Had the person already met your family? Were you excited that you might get caught doing it? Did you do a meditation together first?
Use your past to identify what supports you in reflecting back with positive feelings. Doing so provides a good source of information as to your needs to be ready to have sex.
2. Know how you want to feel after you have sex.
First, identify how you want to feel after you have sex with this new person. Then, you can take steps to make sure you will likely feel this way. If you want to feel safe and loved, wait to have sex until you are safe and loved, as you define safety and love. If you want to feel free of commitment, make sure you're not committed. If you don't want to feel anxious about pregnancy or diseases, make sure you bring and use protection.
You can’t figure out if you’re ready to have sex with this new person on your own; you have to discuss your needs with your potential partner in order to be sure you’re on the same page. Otherwise, you’re acting on assumptions, and you could be very off-base.
Once you know what you need in order to reflect back positively, check in with your partner. Part of meeting your own needs is expecting that the other person meets them too. You give your partner an opportunity to meet your needs by voicing them.
You already have all the answers you need to know if you’re ready to have sex for the first time with a new person. It’s time to acknowledge your truth, believe your needs are valid, and take a risk that others will believe it too.