"Bigger Isn’t Always Better": Here Are 34 Lessons People Wish They'd Learned About Sex Before Having It

·11 min read

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the things they wish they'd known about sex before having it for the first time. Here are their thoughtful, honest responses:

blocks that spell out "sex"
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1."I wish I'd known that the whole 'losing your virginity' thing is a pile of bullshit. SUCH a big deal was made of it when I was growing up — from school, church, movies, and peers. It’s nobody’s business when you have sex, and everyone should feel like it’s okay to wait until whenever they’re ready, whether it’s 15 or 25 or whatever. I didn’t lose anything; I gained life experience."


2."More guys will try to talk you out of condoms than you think, even when you tell them you’re not on the pill/don’t have an IUD. The stress of worrying about pulling out or them 'being clean' is not worth the few minutes of sex (which will probably be mediocre if he’s so insistent on not using a condom even if you give him one). Stick to your guns, because no guy is worth multiple trips to the gyno."


a person taking a condom out of its wrapper
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3."Having sex for the first time doesn’t change who you are as a person. I’d been taught by religious, abstinence-only sources that once you had sex (outside of marriage), your whole personality would change. You’d become sex-obsessed, rebellious, aggressive, bold, selfish, and cruel. But after the first time I had sex (outside of marriage), I was still just…me. Still quiet, thoughtful, caring, nerdy, socially awkward, and a people-pleaser. Falling in love for the first time had a much bigger effect on me. Sex was more just, 'That was fun!'"


4."The vagina should be 'ready' in the same way a penis is. I always thought that once the penis was erect, then you could have sex (which can happen in a matter of seconds). But it’s also important for the vagina to be 'ready,' as in lubricated. This can be from natural vaginal secretions as a result of foreplay, or with the help of some artificial lubricant. When I first started having sex, penetration was painful for me because my vaginal lining was not prepared and was too dry. So much of the focus is put on the erection being needed for sex and not enough emphasis on vaginal lubrication."


lube poured into a person's hand
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5."Cis, hetero sex isn't 'done' just because the man finishes. He should be taking care of you, too, and making sure you're satisfied! The whole event doesn't revolve around his ejaculation."


6."From my own personal experience, I wish I’d known about sex that's not heterosexual or doesn't include two cisgendered people. I wish I’d known that sex does not need to involve PIV (penis in vagina) contact. I wish I'd known what sex without PIV penetration looks like. It’s been my own experience that, for so long, a lot of sex advice or the 'basics' are generally geared toward cishet people, with PIV sex expected to be had. A lot of us queer people and/or people who can’t or don’t want to have PIV sex are frequently left out of the conversation."


a banana with a condom on it
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7."That sex can be more than penis in vagina. Teenagers need to know about how to be safe and prepared for anal (not to just 'stick it in'), and that sex comes in all shapes and forms. They need to know that female bodies rarely (rarely!) orgasm from penetration and that foreplay is super important. Asexuality exists as well and is a totally normal orientation. And most importantly: People need to learn about consent and that a hesitant yes is actually a definite no!"


8."It doesn’t always have to be amazing. Sometimes it’s just Tuesday sex with your partner because you haven’t had sex in a while. Sometimes Tuesday sex IS amazing, and sometimes it’s just fine. Not every sexual encounter is out of this world, and that’s great too. Stop stressing about performance, and have some fun together!"


people under the covers in bed
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9."That sex (for women) can hurt. When I first started having sex, it felt like someone was stabbing me with a burning hot knife, and I didn’t realize that was more painful than normal. Three years later, I went to the gyno and was diagnosed with vaginismus. I really wish disorders like this were talked about more so I could’ve started getting treatment years earlier!"


10."Sex can be, and often is, funny. Before having it, I always thought that it was this serious, intense matter, but more often than not, there is plenty of laughing and having fun with each other."


people kissing
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11."It can be hard to orgasm just from penetration alone. Just because it seems to 'do the trick' for women on TV/in movies doesn't mean it's going to work for you! Don't be afraid to tell your partner what is or isn't working for you. You shouldn't feel the need to 'fake it' or perform pleasure just to avoid hurting their feelings or making it awkward. If they're a good partner, they're going to want to make you feel good, so communicate with them!"


12."That lust is different than trust."


a woman looking distressed and sitting on the edge of a bed and a man sitting behind her
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13."Communication is key, and you should relax and have fun. Sex should be taken seriously, i.e., consent, boundaries, triggers, etc., but that doesn't mean it has to be all serious. Some of my best sexual experiences were ones that had me rolling around laughing. Also, that 30 seconds it takes to put on a condom is not going to kill the mood."


14."That it's not strictly necessary! I felt sooo much pressure to 'catch up' because I was in my early 20s and hadn't had sex yet, so I kind of forced myself to just get it over with and was always so uncomfortable with the whole experience. I've since realized that I am very much asexual. I'm sure sex can be lovely for those interested, but I still feel like there's a ton of societal expectation that everyone is having/should have sex, and that's just not true."


pride flags
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15."When my first boyfriend and I tried to have sex, he couldn’t get in. We were both virgins and frustrated that it didn’t work. Later on, when I started dating someone who was not a virgin, he also couldn’t get in. We ended up working our way up to sex by him fingering me and inserting more fingers each time, until my vaginal opening was ready for a penis. I had the same experience with anal. At first it hurt too bad to continue, but when my boyfriend fingered my ass and slowly increased the number of fingers, I was eventually ready to go. I have no idea how common it is for women to feel like they’re incapable of having sex because of this, but I wish I had known when I was younger that there are ways to 'prep' the vagina, for lack of a better word."


16."Lube is a lifesaver, especially if you’re on birth control or antidepressants, which can seriously hinder vaginal wetness. I suffered through way too much pain and chafing before I realized how important lube is and that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about."


bottle of lube
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17."For god's sake, everyone wash your damn hands before touching the fun bits!"


18."Bigger isn’t always better."


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19."Orgasms are lovely, but it doesn’t mean that sex isn’t worthwhile or enjoyable if you don’t have them. I was in my 40s before I experienced an orgasm through vaginal sex."


20."As a woman who was taught that pre-marital sex is a sin, I wish I had known that wasn't true and that I could've been able to relax more and explore more things with my then-partner. I wish I hadn't had that subconscious guilt about it."


sign for confessions pointing to a door
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21."Just because someone has sex with you doesn’t mean they actually like you."


22."Consent and respect for yourself are so important! I was just talking to my therapist today about how I want my kids to know that because my mom never mentioned it, and it might have changed some real shitty experiences."


yes button
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23."The first few people I had sex with, I couldn't really feel anything. I thought that it was normal and all women just faked literally everything. Fast-forward to a new partner, and boy my mind was blown. I was actually dumbstruck that I was supposed to be feeling something in my vagina the whole time. Moral of the story: If it doesn't feel good, they probably aren't doing it right."


24."That it’s not a life-changing experience."


a man and woman in bed looking the opposite way
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25."For some reason, as a teen I thought that if a dude came inside of you that your vagina would just 'do something with it.' But no. It ends up in your underwear 30 minutes later."


26."It’s probably going to be awkward, and that’s okay. It’s not going to be like in the movies, and it definitely isn’t going to be like a porno. You might have trouble getting aroused, or you might, uh, finish very quickly. The point is just to have fun, and make sure everyone involved consents to everything. Don’t allow anyone to pressure you into doing anything you’re not comfortable with just to make them happy."


people peeking out from under the covers
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27."Consent is everything! No matter how many times you have done it with the other person, consent is necessary."


28."Sex is not always romantic like in the movies, but it's also not always a passionate quickie either. There is a middle ground that doesn't involve lighting a million candles or tearing off your favorite underwear. It's can be as easy as 'You in the mood? Me too. Let's do this,' and it's 10 minutes of no frills fun in the sheets. Doesn't make it less intimate or passionate either. Just quick, happy fun with your favorite person. I don't know why the middle ground is 'boring.' It doesn't have to be considered that at all. I still try new things with my partner. We can have our two-hour bone-fests, but mostly it's one or two times per week, 10 minutes tops, and it's still just as wonderful as it was 14 years ago. We know each other, know our bodies, aren't afraid to vocalize when things change. Really, the middle ground is great."


a couple laughing in bed
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29."As a gay man (sex ed never focused on queer folks, of course), I wish someone had told me about 'fleeting,' or douching out your hole before bottoming for the first time."


30."It’s not THAT big of a deal. I grew up Catholic, so enough said. I waited so so long to 'lose my virginity,' and then when I did, I expected myself and the world to be totally changed. Nothing changed. Nothing major happened. Outside of the fact that sex isn’t the biggest thing to ever happen to someone, this attitude also meant that I had no gauge for other sexual activities beside a penis entering me. All that I was taught was if a penis went in me before I was married, bad things would happen."


a sign post with the seven deadly sins pointing in various directions
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31."Sex won’t make them love you more or cheat on you less."


32."I wish I'd known that having sex is about how you feel during it, not something performed out of expectation or obligation. I think I gave away too many parts of myself having sex in an effort to please people or do what I thought people wanted so they wouldn’t leave me."


two people holding and smiling at each other
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33."You will queef."


34.Finally: "There’s not necessarily anything I wish I had known prior to having sex. Instead, I wish I had grown up in a society that empowered and celebrated girls, women, trans women, and gender-nonconforming people (of all racial backgrounds and identities) rather than shaming and shitting all over them constantly. Maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to realize that sex isn’t solely about pleasing a man. Maybe I would’ve known sooner (and known how) to speak up about my needs, set healthy boundaries with partners, not give in to external pressure, etc."


Is there something you wish you'd known before having sex? Tell us in the comments!

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.