Ask anything: First-timers


We are still getting more and more questions in our “Ask Anything” question box to the right! –> Sense volunteer Liam tackled today’s question…

Q: My boyfriend and I are planning our first time. I’ve been looking into birth control and trying to figure out which one will be best, but besides that, we’re both virgins and neither of us really know what to expect. I want this to be special. Advice?

After much time spent dwelling on what I would say to two people about to have sex for the first time, I was able to narrow my characteristic longwindedness down to 3 topics: Communication/Consent; Safer Sex/Birth Control; Pleasure.


Communicating about sex is really a win-win: you can make sure that your partner is consenting and into it as well as maximize the pleasure of everybody involved. From a super practical standpoint, communicating might look like saying things along the lines of “is it cool if I take off your pants”, “oh my god, what you just did felt amazing”, “Could you go a little slower”, “Stop for a second, I need a break”, or seriously a bazillion other things. I generally shy away from making sweeping generalizations BUT sex will probably be better if you know that your partner is listening and responding to you and would stop as soon you asked. To make communicating easier, some people like to use code words that you and your partner can come up with beforehand. A really common set is the traffic light system where ‘green’ means everything is fantastic, ‘yellow’ means turn it down a bit, and ‘red’ means stop immediately. Coming up with code words can also be a helpful way to start a conversation about sex, consent, and boundaries with your partner.

–Safer Sex/Birth control–

I’m going to take the easy way out of this subtopic and encourage you to check out this post from a couple days ago.

Keep in mind that people respond to hormonal birth control differently so you might have to try a few different kinds before you get one that you feel is a good fit. And just because it’s impossible to say this too much, make sure to use a condom to keep yourselves safe from STIs and to also double up on the birth control front. If you’ve never used a condom before, it might be a good idea to open one up on your own, stretch it, get used to the lube that comes on most condoms, and generally get familiar with what condoms are like. Check out this refresher on how to put on a condom.


Try not to get too caught up in making your first time perfect. It takes the vast majority of people some time to figure out how to make their own bodies feel sexually good, not to mention how to communicate and negotiate that act with another person. Because doing anything for the first time is often intimidating, don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. It’s okay to laugh, it’s okay to be scared, it’s okay to REALLY want to have sex, it’s okay to not, and it’s okay to change your mind whenever you want. There’s no surefire recipe for a ‘special first time’, so maybe instead of expecting something special, expect to have an experience where you learn something new about yourself and about your partner.

So, in short, communicate lots, protect yourselves as best you can from unwanted pregnancy and STIs, only do what you want to do, remember that the first time you do anything is usually intimidating, and keep in mind that there’s no reason that your 2nd, 157th, or your 2493rd time won’t be as or more special than the first.

Hope this helps!

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