This may sound like the title of a cheesy teen movie, but we wanted to talk about something that is very personal, intimate, astonishing, hurtful and embarrassing, for some considered to be a very big deal and maybe even marking the steps into adulthood or personal freedom, for others not a big deal at all and just something they wanted to ‘get over with’.

So, we at E&M want to know from young Europeans: what was the first time having sex like?

We all have different experiences and had different concerns or expectations when it happened. Different dreams about with whom, when and where. What we wanted to wear, how much we would enjoy it or not. However, regardless of the importance we give to the experience, losing one’s virginity is a crucial step and opens up the sexual dimension of our lives.

In this section we talk about sex, so we went to ask young Europeans how it started for
them. They share some details about the experience they considered to be their first time.

Julia, 25, Belgium

Funnily enough, when I think about the first time I had sex, what comes to mind is how I thought about it before it happened and what I told my friends about it once it happened. The memory of the experience itself is not very clear, nor very interesting – and I suspect it is well hidden in a dark corner of the dusty attic for embarrassing memories in my mind.

I was very much a late bloomer when it comes to sex (and still am to be honest): the first time I had sex was at 22. This wasn’t due to religious, moral or any other conviction, it simply didn’t happen earlier because I was too shy to have sex with a stranger on a boozy night and too picky to date most guys I met. Or at least that’s what I told myself. With hindsight – and some painfully embarrassing conversations – I realise that I was very much afraid of something I didn’t know and could not just learn in a book like everything else.

So I was afraid, of not knowing what to do, and of not being good enough. But fast forward to 22 year old me, I have a crush on a friend, it is clearly reciprocal, and we start seeing each other. So sex is very much on the table now, and I have had a lot of time to think about it, stress about it, talk about it with friends, and needless to say, I have no more clue than I did at 18. Not so surprisingly, it happened on a very boozy night, took a few hits and miss and eventually was rather painful but didn’t last too long… not so memorable, and from what I hear, pretty conventional.

What really opened up sex to me was learning to talk about it.

What is interesting is that losing my virginity was indeed the start of my sexual life, but only of a tiny narrow boring path leading towards sex. What really opened up sex to me was learning to talk about it. It took me months to realise how much I was still afraid of my own desires and lack of experience. It took someone who wasn’t afraid of talking, who put a finger on it immediately and did not let me get away with a smile and a kiss. It took a lot of talking and improvising and experimenting – and it still does – to start feeling like I am getting a feel of the sexual dimension in my life.

Anonymous, 25, UK

I don’t think anyone prepares you for how underwhelming losing your virginity is. It’s clumsy, quick, often awkward and uncomfortable. Anyway to say the least, mine was like that. There is a lot of pressure, particularly on women to have a ‘special’ first time, with a ‘special’ someone.

WWhat’s good about the time you lose your virginity is that you know you never have to do it again.

What’s good about the time you lose your virginity is that you know you never have to do it again and it’s opened up a world of sexy time that will hopefully only get better.

Paula, 30, Germany

My first time was quite late, at least in my group of friends. Or at least, that’s what they let me believe. I was 18. I had waited until it happened with my first serious boyfriend, who was already experienced, and who didn’t push me but patiently waited. And my first time was exciting, painful, bloody and – unsatisfied. Having had no idea what was supposed to be the norm, it actually stayed like that for a really long time, minus the blood. Sometimes some of it was exciting, but mostly only the fact that I had made my boyfriend at that time come. I, however, was unsatisfied and sometimes uncomfortable during sex for years. And I thought it was normal. And my boyfriend at that time suggested that there was something wrong with me. And I started to believe that there was, because why couldn’t I find pleasure in it and come?

And then we broke up.
And I started to sleep with other people.
And everytime, it felt like a new first time. And I cherish those first times.
And then there was the first time with someone who made. me. come.
And if I am being honest, that’s my real first time. I was 26. When I told him what a threshold he helped me cross he was astounded and said that it wasn’t even difficult and that he enjoyed every single moment of it.
And that made me realise that I need to find someone who enjoys giving as much as receiving and someone who is willing to listen and learn. And it also made me realise that I don’t think many men understand the struggle and vulnerability women go through on the road to sexual liberation in bed.

I am still learning, I am learning to expect as much attention as I am giving. I am still experimenting, and I hope I will never stop.

Ultimately, I can decide what my personal first time is.

My first time wasn’t great, even though I think it was almost unavoidable that it went down the way it did. I am glad however that ultimately, I can decide what my personal first time is. And my very own first time, the one that counts, for me, is the first time where I felt secure, open and confident enough to let go, and where I was lucky enough to have a partner who took as much pleasure in my pleasure as he did in his.

Bela, 31, Germany

I cannot remember my first time. It was at a party. I was super drunk. And honestly I just wanted to have it over and done with to get the social pressure and the other guys off my back. I think I was 17, and I was at a point where I was thinking it’ll never happen, I’ll die a virgin. Because for four years it has been one of the main issues on my mind: to get laid. I think – from what I have experienced in my group of friends – that’s the goal for most boys that age.

It took quite long, and I think it was my birthday?

The first time I do remember I was super drunk as well and what stands out most clearly was the overall awkwardness, we were both stubbly, so it was itchy. It took quite long, and I think it was my birthday? I probably had feelings for her, but all of this is buried deep down in a inaccessible corner of my mind.

Cover Photo: Matheus Vinicius on Unsplash

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