I cringe when I think back to some of the sex I had as a teenager. There are a lot of reasons why it's so uncomfortable to remember — partly because it was so damn awkward a lot of the time and partly because a lot of the sex I had then was, frankly, terrible. But I didn't realize I could ask for more. Talking about your sex life, talking about your needs, and, even worse, talking about things you don't like — that all seemed scary as hell.
"Often people can have sex but are scared to talk about it out of fear that might offend their partner or it might be awkward," sexologist and relationship expert Dr. Nikki Goldstein tells Bustle. "In order to have a healthy sex life you need to have sometimes awkward conversations about what might not be working in the bedroom or what you want more or less of."
It is so important to talk about sex, and I know that now. But I didn't then. And I don't think I'm alone — most millennials lost their virginity at around 17 years old, an age when we're often not confident or informed enough to have more honest conversations about sex. Here's what I wish I had known, because things could have been so much better.
1You May Enjoy Foreplay More & That's Perfectly OK
I remember the first time I had penetrative sex being, well, underwhelming. This is it? Quite frankly, I found fingering a lot more fun — and I had been doing that for ages. It wasn't until I was older that I realized I could embrace that as my favorite part of sex. Penis-in-vagina is often overrated.
2Your Pleasure Is As Important As Your Partner's
The amount of orgasms I faked with my first boyfriend is impossible to count — and, honestly, I can't even tell you why I did it. I just thought that I had to, that it was about them finishing and having a good time, rather than me. I thought if I didn't orgasm within three minutes, I was broken. It never occurred to me that it had anything to do with them being selfish.
3Longer Sex Does Not Always Mean Better Sex
With so many products out there promising to help you to "last longer", it's no wonder that we grow up thinking that the longer, the better. So I figured this was true when I first started having sex. But good sex can be long, short, or somewhere in between. Now, I realize that longer sometimes just means being sore.
4Sex Toys Can Help
As a teenager, I would have never brought a toy into the bedroom — I thought that it would mean that the sex was awful and that it would offend my partner. Now I know that, actually, it's just another way to have fun and advocate for your pleasure.
5More Experienced Doesn't Always Mean Much
I used to assume people who had had more partners than I had were definitely better in bed — or, at the very least, that they knew more about sex thank I did. Now I know some people who have had 30 partners will just jack rabbit for 10 seconds and fall asleep.
6You'll Feel More Confident With It
The first few times I had sex on top I thought I would never know what to do with my arms. The truth is, I still don't — but now I worry about that less.
7Those Things You Like? Other People Will Like Them, Too
My teen sex was vanilla as hell. I thought other things I was curious about were just... weird. Turns out, now most of my partners want to mix things up a little.
8Other People Will Do It Just For Fun Too
I was always pretty casual about sex. I didn't see what the big deal was and could separate sex from relationships. But I spent a lot of time in my teens feeling like I was a sex robot, because other people made sex such a big deal and acted like having a hookup buddy or random hookup was gross. Flash forward to college and then everybody as doing it it. It stopped being such a big deal.
9You Can Say When Something's Not Working
This is probably the most important thing that I wish I knew, and that I wish everybody knew. You don't have to pretend subpar sex is working for you and you don't have to fake anything. It's OK to say, "I don't like that, how about this?" A good partner will want it to be a great experience for both of you.
Most people start having sex in their teens, but many of us didn't have the experience or the confidence to advocate for our pleasure. There was so much that I wish I knew because over a decade after I started having sex, it's only gotten better and better over time. Sorry, teen me, you could have had a lot more fun.