There you are, tumbling through the front door with your date like a scene out of a romantic comedy. It's pretty obvious you're about to hook up for the first time, and you feel all types of ways. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Of course. But you might also be worried about making some kind of "mistake."
While not everyone gets nervous when they're with someone new, it is totally normal to feel a bit self-conscious or awkward, or to wonder what's "OK" and what isn't. As sex and relationship therapist Courtney Geter, LMFT, tells Bustle, "These feelings can be triggered by thoughts about your sexual performance, body image issues, and comparing yourself to this person's other partners or hookups." The nerve-racking list is endless, really. But it doesn't mean you have to have a bad time.
However you define "hook up" — a one night stand, the first time you have sex with a partner-to-be, etc. — it should be as fun and healthy an experience as possible. So, here are some common mistakes everyone makes when doing the deed. Avoid them, and you should have yourself one heck of a time.
1. Not Stopping To Talk About Your Likes & Dislikes
While it may be momentarily awkward, don't be afraid to wax poetic about your thoughts and desires before you have sex. And don't feel weird about asking your partner what they like, either.
This might mean pausing for a brief moment to be honest about what you're looking for, and you can certainly make it a part of the sexy conversation you have whilst tumbling into bed, as a way to make it easier.
But if you do hesitate, keep in mind that sharing what you enjoy will help to ensure you both have a good time, relationship expert David Bennett tells Bustle, which can definitely serve as motivation.
2. Never Speaking Up During Sex
You might also find it tricky to share your thoughts during sex. And that makes a lot of sense. Lots of folks worry about "ruining the mood." or being too honest with a somebody new. But it's still so important.
Whether it's before sex or during, if something pops into your mind that feels worth sharing, let it be known. "Sex is meant to feel good and enjoyable," Greter says. So you may want to direct them to what feels good, or offer a few ideas.
Speaking up becomes particularly crucial, though, if something is making you uncomfortable. By not pointing it out or letting them know, you won't have the experience you're looking for.
3. Going In With Unclear Expectations
If you're invested in this person and would like to see the relationship go somewhere, relationship expert Kailen Rosenberg tells Bustle, it'll be even more important to check in with yourself beforehand, lest anyone's feelings get hurt.
While you don't have to map out the entire relationship's future before hooking up, you might take a quick moment to get on the same page, and ensure you're both thinking (roughly) the same thing.
Is this just going to be a fun experience for the night, or are you looking for a long-term partner? If it's weighing heavy on your mind, let them know.
4. Caring Too Much About Being "Good"
While everyone wants to be "good in bed," a healthy and exciting hook up is so not about that. In fact, the moment you can let it all go and have fun, the better. After all, "nobody is supposed to know anybody's body yet," psychoanalyst Dr. Claudia Luiz, tells Bustle. "If it isn't a little awkward, something's wrong."
Sure, you might have amazing chemistry right off the bat, and feel as if everything falls into place. But if it's clunky, if you need to take a break, if you aren't sure which position to try, or just so happen to bash foreheads mid-makeout, never fear. It happens to everyone, and is nothing to be ashamed of.
5. Doing Something You're Not Comfortable With
In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to figure out what you're comfortable doing, and sometimes even more difficult to say "no" or "not yet," why is why it's so important to set up boundaries before getting too far in, certified life coach Cassandra James, tells Bustle.
Go into the evening knowing what you'll feel comfy doing, as well as what's going to be off limits. This can be an ongoing discussion you have with yourself, and it's always fine to figure it out as you go, and think "hmm, OK, never trying that again." But if you already have some hard and fast rules, don't let anyone pressure you into breaking them.
6. Not Paying Attention To Your Own Needs
While a hook up will obviously be about those involved, try not to focus solely on your partner, and forget about yourself. As Geter says, staying tuned into your own needs and desires (you know, multitasking) is where it's at.
It can be a lot to think about, as you try to balance all your thoughts, along with what you're doing, and what your partner is doing. So if you happen to forget or think you could do better next time, that's fine. You can, however, go into a hook up knowing that your needs are important, too, and try to make them a priority.
7. Feeling Like You Have To Teach Your Partner Something New
Unless you're being awesome and pointing out what you like in bed, don't feel like you have to spend the night telling your partner what's what. And you certainly don't have to get too creative, or teach them something new — like some weird position involving a couch — if you don't want to.
"This is not the time to teach anybody anything," Luiz says. You first hook up can simply be a time to get out of your head and do whatever feels right. If both of you are into it, then go for it, but don't feel pressured to wow them, or try funky positions, or be over the top. If you hook up again, there will be plenty of time for that.
8. Forgetting To Tell Someone Where You're Going
In an effort to be as safe as possible, it's always a good idea to give your friends a heads up when going home with someone new. If you met this person on a dating app, tell your friend (or roommate, or mom) their name, where you plan to meet, and call them again once you get home safely.
You might also "consider using an app like iSurvive, which allows you to quickly and secretly send your location to multiple friends at once so they can come to your aid without involving family members or the authorities — unless absolutely necessary," Daniel Saurborn, MD, tells Bustle.
This will help keep you safe when out and about with people you don't know very well, so you can have a good time without worrying, or causing your loves ones to worry.
9. Feeling Anything Less Than Confident
Easier said than done, of course. But going into a hook up situation worrying about your body, or your skill level, or whatever else is a recipe for a lame night. So give yourself a little confidence boost beforehand, perhaps by popping off to the bathroom to give yourself a bit of a pep talk.
"You can do this both inside and outside," psychologist Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman, tells Bustle. Try reciting a few self-esteem mantras, or showing up in an outfit that makes you feel particularly great. Whatever that may be.
10. Forgoing Any Form Of Protection
By now we all know the importance of using protection. That goes without saying. But even the most wary among us can forget, or think it's fine "just this one time."
It's also easy to get caught up in the moment, so be prepared and think ahead. As Saurborn says, "The absolute simplest way to protect yourself (whether boy or girl, gay or straight) is to bring a condom (or two) with you." And, of course, you should always follow up with a doctor if you happen to forget.
11. Not Processing It Afterward If You're Interested In The Relationship Moving Forward
OK, so the deed is done and you (hopefully) had a great time. Now, don't forget to process what just went down, including how it felt, and whether you might like to do it again. You might even want to chat with your partner, at some point, to see how it was for them, Luiz says.
This will help grow your relationship, if that's what you'd like to see happen. But it will also be the perfect moment to focus on what you learned from your hook up, and what sorts of revelations and new outlooks you can bring to the next one.