There you are, in bed with someone new, ready to get down. While this is indeed often very exciting, it can also, understandably, cause a storm of nerves and uncomfortable feelings. Awkward sex experiences are the name of the game when it comes to new partners. But that's OK, and there are solutions.
First and foremost, having consent to move forward for the first time —or any time, for that matter — is super important, and sets good communication in motion. And while even talking about sex with a first time partner might get your nerves in a bundle, it truly gets easier the more you do it. So break the ice!
"It is best to communicate your sexual preferences at a time when you are not hot and heavy," Valon Alford, MSW, LCSW, a psychotherapist and sexologist, tells Bustle. "And if the first encounter is not pleasant, be open. It tends to get better over time."
And this isn't exactly a shocker, but the first sexual encounter with a new partner can be disappointing, says Alford. Sometimes the anticipation of the moment, the story you’ve created in your head, the duration, or performance of your partner can be underwhelming. Not to mention, we can get so entangled with our thoughts that we aren’t present in the moment. But don't get too down on that, Alford says. Good sex usually takes time.
And it's all OK. You can fall off the bed, fart, or even start crying — these things happen. Below, the pros point out some of things you might encounter with a new sex partner that feel hella awkward, but are totally common.
Ah, the queef. It really can just show up out of nowhere and make a wild and whoopee-cushion-esque sound that might make you feel a tad embarrassed, right in the middle of some hot sex. Worry not, the sound of a queef is commonplace.
"While queefing is completely normal, it may be new to you or your new partner [...] queefing is essentially an air pocket escaping from your vaginal canal," women's health expert Samantha Morrison with Glacier Wellness, tells Bustle. "Unlike flatulence, queefing has nothing to do with gasses or the digestive system, rather it is the product of air suction being forced out of the vagina."
Simply acknowledging the queef might make you feel better, but you can also just breathe a sigh of relief knowing that queefs happen all the darn time.
2. Sex Face
Sometimes people clench their face as if in great pain, others like they are falling asleep, and some are totally present and looking you right in the eye. Everybody has a different expression when they are in the midst of the act, you know?
Sex & Relationship Expert Mayla Green tells Bustle that sometimes we can't help but wonder when we see a person's sex face for the first time: Do they like this? Am I hurting them? Is their reaction signaling pleasure or pain?
"This is awkward because it can be a challenge to interpret their facial expressions," says Green. But her advice for dealing with this is just to talk to your partner.
"Ask them what they want you to do," she says. "By asking for guidance, they will let you know if you should keep doing what you're doing, or change it up and do something different. You'll immediately know if their sex face is positive or negative."
3. Mismatched Kissing
While it might seem like basics, kissing can feel like the most vulnerable physical contact of all.
"Kissing is a highly subjective experience and one that is so important to many people as an element of fulfilling sex," sex and relationship therapist Cyndi Darnell, tells Bustle. "A general rule of thumb is, when in doubt, slow down."
And while talking through every part of sex upfront might not be your ideal, communication is key, and going slow is a great way of feeling out what the other likes.
"If you find yourself with a kissing monster eating your face off, its OK to let them know that you like it slow, sensual and exploratory," says Darnell.
4. Figuring Out How Each Other Likes To Be Touched
Hand techniques may be too rough, too, gentle, too fast or slow or even too "porno," says Darnell. Again, slow down.
"If you are inclined to race through sex, in the hopes that you can minimize the anxiety, it may work temporarily, but it's like the sexual equivalent of gulping your dinner in a few minutes," says Darnell. "You don't enjoy it, you don't remember it, and it leaves you feeling less than nourished afterwards."
"This applies to all genders," says Darnell. "Everyone benefits from starting slow and [even thoug] people with penises (cis men especially), are often portrayed in porn as only liking sex hard and fast. This default is often a response to feeling anxious in the moment."
But again, that happens a lot! Don't feel bad if you have performance anxiety or things don't go super smooth the first time. And know that at any moment you can pause, take a deep breath, and go from there.
5. Bad Tastes Or Smells
Yes, this one is definitely awkward.
"You may not like the taste of someone's skin, genitals or their smell," says Darnell. "Sometimes this is related to [what they eat], hygiene or smoking and sometimes it's just a chemical response."
If its hygiene-related, Darnell says you could always suggest a shower together as a precursor and way to build pleasure. But if it's simply not the right chemistry, it's just information for you. It will either be something you get used to, or something that indicates its not a right match for you.
6. Simply Feeling Nervous
You might be in bed with your heart pounding, getting sweaty before you've even started to, well, you know.
"Learning a new partner’s wants, needs, and hot spots while seeking to get your needs met can make you feel anxious," says Alford.
Nerves are a totally normal. If you need a moment to pause or take a break, take it!
7. Busting Out Moves Without Checking First
"Sexy talk that might not be sexy or welcome to the recipient," sexologist Dr. Carol Queen, tells Bustle. "As is busting out your BDSM moves like spanks, dominant talk, and roles, without actually checking that your partner wants to do those things. "
In fact, any new move might land wrong if people don't communicate and make sure it's a consent-based action, she says.
Just letting your bodies do the talking, as opposed to actually talking can be awkward, Queen says. But to be able to experience sex as funny and awkward sometimes, and still enjoy it and forgive yourself and your partner the awkwardness, is really something to strive for.
"The alternative can be shame and fear," says Queen, "[or] shrinking back from open communication and comfort because you worry about being judged or looking bad. Or ruling out a partner whose moves you found awkward but not trying to communicate what you do enjoy. That kind of silence is one's prerogative, but it rarely optimizes a sexual experience."
8. If Your Body Isn't "Working As Planned"
Maybe an erection is lost, maybe you're worried you aren't wet enough, maybe you just don't feel aroused.
"The first sexual encounter can get awkward if you feel like your equipment isn’t working right," says Alford. "Being intimate in a sexual way leaves us extremely vulnerable. It could be the first time a partner sees us naked, perhaps we are embarrassed by our bodies or the shape and size of things."
But try to take these issues in stride as best you can. "Negative thoughts can greatly impact our sexual performance," says Alford. But bumps in the road happen to everyone.
9. You Don't Get Off
It is a misconception that you "have" to come every time you have sex. Your pleasure goals around sex are simply that, yours. But moreover, you might not come with someone new, or even feel totally turned on when you are having sex with them right away. It could be performance anxiety, or simply being in our heads. It could be anything, really!
Alford says that performance anxiety may inhibit our ability to orgasm, decrease our interest, in sex or cause premature ejaculation.
"Acclaimed sexuality expert Dr. Emily Nagoski wrote in her book Come As You Are that the best context for sex, for most people, is low stress, highly affectionate, explicitly erotic," Alford says. "Often, we must become aware of the variables we have no control over and learn how to manipulate the ones we can control for optimal sexual pleasure."
10. Your Body Does Something Unexpected
Maybe you passed gas while getting undressed or your period started, and you didn’t know it, says Alford. Maybe you pee a little, or you sweat a ton, start coughing uncontrollably, or suddenly you smell something very strange and don't know where it's coming from. Bodies will be bodies, friends.
"New can be awkward because you may not have established the sexual rapport or comfort level to feel secure in the rebound for a mishaps," Alford says. "Remember that it happens to the best of us. A moment in time is just that. Take deep breaths, remember that it does not have to be one and done, and don’t be too hard on yourself."
While sex with a new person can be awkward, just know that whatever comes up, you aren't alone in the experience. Remember that communicating with your partner is super important! And always, always, be kind to yourself as you embark on a new experience.