A Fairy-Tale First Time
Originally Published: December 3, 2015
Revised: March 28, 2019
Everyone knows that classic teen movie scene: the fairy-tale first time with the candles, romance and perfect sex. But sex isn’t always what it is in the movies. In fact, it almost never is. Put two people together with little to no sexual experience, and you’re in for a much different experience than the glamorous and effortless sex scenes of many teen movies. Not to mention many of these films neglect real-life issues: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), consent and discussions about birth control and possible pregnancy. The players are always heterosexual; rarely do the fairy-tale first times delve into the queer realm and same-sex relationships. Oh, and the assumption is you live happily ever after with your first partner, which almost never happens. Your first time may be awkward, funny or uncomfortable, but it likely won’t be a pretty movie. Sorry to break the rose-colored glasses, but it’s time for some real first times.
Sex cannot cure a friendship or relationship, but communication can!
Fairy Tale #1: The first time will be soooooo romantic.
There’s no one home. The candles are lit. Rose petals are all over the bed. Your significant other is staring deep into your eyes and telling you s/he loves you. According to the teens we spoke with, this is not common at all.
Eighteen-year-old Matt of New Jersey had this to say about the first time. “Everyone thinks that sex is the best thing ever or that their first time is the best thing ever, but it isn’t.” Matt goes on to say, “There is this facade that you will end up loving the first person you have sex with. I haven’t talked to him in forever. The whole fairytale of the rainbows and sunshine is all a lie.”
Sex can be romantic, don’t get us wrong. But regardless of how much you prepared by discussing safer sex and using condoms and/or using hormonal birth control, sex can still be weird the first time, and that’s OK. It can take some time and lots of communication to get the romance you may be looking for.
Fairy Tale #2: Sex will fix a broken relationship.
The last conversation the two of you had was filled with harsh words, and you swore you’d never talk to each other again. But you still think he’s totally hot! You think maybe if you have sex, all of your relationship problems will be resolved. But this is not the case.
If you’re having sex to maintain a relationship or cure a broken one, it can be even more awkward.
“My first time was so awkward,” explains Erica, 17, of Nebraska. “It was with my ex-boyfriend the morning after prom in the back seat of his car. I thought the sex would make things better between us. The passion and emotions were there, temporarily I guess. Afterwards, I hated him more than ever, and he didn’t even speak to me until months later. I lost my boy and my virginity. It’s sad.”
Sex cannot cure a friendship or relationship, but communication can! Talking to your significant other about your problems will do more to improve your relationship than just having sex.
Madison, 15, of New Jersey, tells us, “Sex is really just an action that isn’t meant to make people like each other more, but to allow two people who already like each other to enjoy themselves more.”
Fairy Tale #3: It will last for at least an hour.
The hours spent eating chips and watching old movies have given you the stamina of a marathon runner. You can delay orgasm for hours. Chafing and loss of erection? Nonsense! Oh wait, this was all just a dream….
Lots of guys boast about lasting forever, but do they really? A 2005 Journal of Sexual Medicine study surveyed 500 adult heterosexual couples and found that the median length of time it takes men to ejaculate during sexual intercourse to be about five minutes. This means there were as many men who lasted more than five minutes as there were men who lasted fewer than five minutes.
Michael, 16 of Ohio, spoke with us about expectations for how long sex will last. “I told my girlfriend I’d last 20 minutes our first time,” he explains. “I ended up cumming after three minutes and got a little embarrassed.”
Michael’s experience isn’t unusual. Matt had a similar experience with his partner. “It hurt! And it also didn’t help that he only lasted 10 seconds.”
Reaching climax within minutes is nothing to be ashamed about, especially if it’s your first time. You don’t automatically know how to parallel park the first time you get behind the wheel, do you? Sex is more than intercourse, and you have to take your time to figure out what feels right for each person. Sex can include lots of different behaviors and isn’t only over when the guy ejaculates.
Fairy Tale #4: You’ll both reach climax simultaneously.
After hours of sex, you’re finally reaching the big O. Your mind shifts in your happy daze; the picture of the two of you riding off into the sunset together tickles your imagination. Suddenly, you’re alone on that horse, and your partner exhales, “That was amazinggggg. Did you cum, too?” Not at all.
Not only is it unlikely that you and your partner will orgasm simultaneously, but many people don’t orgasm from penile-vaginal sex, especially the first time. A survey of 4,000 women in the United Kingdom found that 32 percent of the women never or seldom orgasmed through sexual intercourse. Guys seem to have an easier time reaching orgasm, but they can also sometimes have a difficult time orgasming during intercourse.
Diego, 17 of New York, didn’t reach orgasm his first time. “We were going at it, and I was starting to get soft,” he explains. “Her parents got home after about eight minutes, so I pulled up my pants and ran. I wasn’t going to cum anyway, but her parents getting home was a great excuse.”
Lots of factors, such as nervousness, can keep guys and girls from having an orgasm.
Just as there’s no guarantee your first time will be a fairy tale, there’s no guarantee it won’t be great either. Discussing the first time before it happens can really help to make it a positive experience, even if it isn’t a fairy-tale experience. Talk about birth control, STD prevention and what you’re comfortable with. More importantly, make sure you’re ready and understand consent. Sex is a big step, and no one should pressure you into it prematurely.
Michael, 17 of New Jersey, enjoyed his first time. “I didn’t want my first time to be purely physical. When I found the right girl, we talked about it for the week leading up. My parents were out of town for the night, and I picked up a few condoms earlier that day. It only lasted four minutes, but I’ve never felt more connected to a person. No regrets whatsoever.”
Eighteen-year-old Blythe of New Jersey shares what her first time was like.
“I waited to have sex until I was ready and made sure my girlfriend was also ready and consenting. We loved each other at the time, so it was a very average experience, felt amazing. It wasn’t too quick or awkward at all. I think once you know you’re ready, you don’t have to rush into anything.”
Sex isn’t a movie scene. Your parents won’t always be out of town and the experience might be awkward. Fireworks aren’t what matters. Enjoying something intimately with the person you care for is.
Please login to comment on this story
Hallie, 19, of Washington, D.C., felt like a late bloomer when she got her first period later than most of her friends. “It was weird to have friends that were experiencing all these things that I had yet to experience […]
Read Story »
Although the number of teens that are sexually active has dropped in recent years, there is still a range of when teens decide they are ready for sex. For instance, I was born into a Christian home that believes people […]
Read Story »
Anxious about talking to your parents or caregivers about sex? Join the club. There is often stigma and shame around sex, enough to prevent us from having these conversations. Whether you have questions about a relationship, you’re questioning…
Read Story »