As part of writing non-consent and gender degradation erotica in a responsible manner, I regularly present Reality Check articles, touching base with safe, respectful, equitable behaviour in kink, in relationships, and in the world generally.
Readers of All Those Roadworks are surprisingly diverse. Some of them are very sexually experienced. Others are not. Here’s an article for those who are not.
Context: I’m writing this as a middle-aged white heterosexual polyamorous cis man. I’d consider myself experienced in terms of long-term relationships, variety of partners, and variety of play – but I’m not not nearly as experienced as some. Read this as my subjective experienced opinion, but not the voice of a qualified expert.
Disclaimer: If you are under the age of 18 years, this article is not for you. I acknowledge that very many people are sexually active at young ages, and many of them are able to make mature, considered decisions about their own sexuality. But for a range of very good reasons, no person older than you is able to safely accept your consent, and you should be extremely suspicious of anyone who claims otherwise. I know you’re going to do what you’re going to do anyway, and that doesn’t in any way make you a bad person, but you can’t be my audience for this article.
So, that said…
First: “Virginity” is bullshit
When we talk about “virginity”, we’re talking about a social construct. It has absolutely no meaning other than the meaning you give it.
Sex is special – but, at a more important level, sex isn’t special. We don’t use a word to divide people by whether they’ve ever had pineapple on pizza, or whether they’ve ever gone parachuting, or whether they’ve ever read The Lord of the Rings – and sex really isn’t different. It’s a thing that people do. Often they enjoy it. Some people get into it young. Some don’t. Some get bored of it, or want to do it differently. For some people it’s super-important, and for some people it isn’t.
Plus, it’s really hard to draw a line around where “virginity” ends. Is it the first time you have penetrative sex? Does it have to involve a cock? Clearly not, because lesbians. Does it have to involve a pussy? Clearly not, because gay men. Does it have to involve a hole at all? Is it about the physical act, or the way it makes you feel?
Here’s my advice: the person who decides what boundaries are important is you, and the person who decides when you’ve crossed them is also you. No one else. And you can change your mind. For people who’ve experienced abuse, your first *safe, consensual, loving* intimacy might be way more important than whatever was done to you by bad people. For people who’ve experimented with their sexuality, or discovered their sexuality or gender later in life, your first time while identifying as your true gender, or your first time with a man or with a woman, might be more meaningful than what came before.
Or you can have multiple ‘first times”. I remember my first sexual experience with a woman – which was good – but I also remember my first explicitly, openly kinky D/s experience with a woman – which was also good, and they both felt transformative.
Anyone who is trying to put you into a box or a label based on your sexual experience is talking bullshit. Ignore them. The person who gets to define your life is you.
Second: Being inexperienced is okay
Seriously, being inexperienced is okay. No matter how old you are. (See my article on how it’s okay to not have sex *ever* if you want.)
Everyone is new to something when they start. No one should start until they’re ready. And very many people, throughout the world, don’t have opportunity even once they *are* ready.
Anyone who makes you feel bad for being inexperienced is someone who has a lot of insecurity themselves, and is probably not someone you should be playing with.
Inexperience is fun. Many people like to teach. And not just doms teaching subs. I learned many of my practical domming skills from my first sub, who was more experienced. There’s nothing embarrassing or weak about learning, and it is completely compatible with being a dommly dom who is in charge. (Although if it takes looking weak to learn a skill that you need, then take a knee, do the thing, and come out the other side a more competent dom.)
People *like* it when you ask questions. People *like* it when you admit what you don’t know, and let them tell you things. Learning comes from the synthesis of many perspectives, so admit your ignorance to as many people as possible, and soak up everything they have to share.
And remember that people who gain sexual experience later in life are no less clever, attractive, or valid than people who start early. While many people who start late wish they had started earlier, remember that some who start early wish they had done the opposite – or were never given the choice.
(Brief note: Okay, sometimes being inexperienced is not okay – in the very specific scenario where you’re doing something dangerous with a partner, including mid-to-heavy impact play, rope bondage, hypno, electro, or anything that breaks the skin. Go read up on that shit before you do it, to avoid hurting your partner or yourself, or maybe seek advice from someone more experienced.)
Third: Being older is okay
Trust me that there are *many* wonderful, sexy people of all ages and genders that have “mommy” or “daddy” fetishes. And there are many who just find older people hot. Yes, the experience of sex when you’re young is different to the experience you’ll have later in life, but it’s not lesser, and if you behave with confidence, respect and maturity it’s not any harder to find.
Personally, the quantity and quality of sexual experience I’ve had after the age of 30 has been vastly better than what I had before it (with no slight intended to my earlier partners).
Fourth: How to break the drought
Okay, so with all that said, what happens if you’re inexperienced, but you’re ready to start?
That could be the topic of a whole book by itself, so I’m just going to hit some non-exhaustive bullet points here.
- Make an effort. Buy some good clothes that make you feel good when you wear them. I recommend a tailored suit, if you’re a guy, or a little black dress if you’re a woman, but ultimately this is up to you. The important thing is that they make you look like you *made an effort*. This makes all the difference in the world. I know good clothes are expensive, but if you want a partner, it’s worth an investment.
- Be confident. Act like you’re worth talking to. Engage in conversation. Take the responsibility for being entertaining. I recommend asking questions about other people, listening carefully to their answers, and responding with follow-ups that show interest. Everyone loves talking about themselves.
- Don’t fixate. If you’re crushing on one person in particular, ask them out, directly and with literal words, and if the answer is no then move on. They’re not going to change their mind. They’re not going to suddenly fall for you one day – and if they do, it might not be the healthiest relationship. Keep meeting interesting new people, let the ones you like know that you like them, and understand that “no” doesn’t reflect on you, but it is a *final* answer.
- Give compliments. Tell people nice things about themselves. There is absolutely no need to lie or be shallow here. Just tell them honestly the things you like about them. Ideally these should be compliments about things they have control over – “That dress looks great on you” is good – not things they don’t – “Nice tits” is (usually) very bad. If you get into the habit of doing this regularly and honestly, with friends as well as crushes, it will make everyone you know feel good, and it won’t be weird. People particularly like it when you notice a new hairstyle, a new outfit, a new tattoo, or a skill they’re displaying.
- Respect boundaries. Ask people if they would like a hug before you hug them. Ask people if it’s okay to sit next to them before you sit next to them. Ask people if they’re in the mood for talking. Consent is sexy, and demonstrating that you know how to hear a “no” makes people feel safer to say “yes”.
- Eye contact. I’m on the autism spectrum, and I know this is hard, but eye contact is sexy, and you should try and make eye contact for as long as other people seem comfortable with you doing so.
- Be literal. Don’t expect people to understand your subtle signals and hidden messages. Tell people you like them. Ask them if they’d like to go on a date, and use the word “date”. Ask them if they’re flirting with you. Tell them that you’re flirting with them. This is just good communication. It’s also surprisingly sexy, and it displays confidence, and honestly it’s just good to establish a precedent in a relationship that participants can be direct about important subjects. (Being literal is also 100% mandatory for some people on spectrum, but it’s good for anyone.)
- Meet people. Sometimes relationships develop organically out of your existing friend group. But sometimes you can turn into an embittered toxic asshole waiting for that to happen. If you want to meet someone, you have to make an effort to *meet people*. I’m writing this in the age of COVID, so I know that’s not easy right now. But under normal circumstances, get out to singles events, or kink events, or get on a dating service. Don’t get invested in being successful. Treat it like a social experiment. You’re going to hear some “no”s, and that can be hard on your mental health, but you need the practice, and it’s the only way to eventually get a “yes”. I recommend going to events where people are specifically there *for* dating or kink, because hitting on people who are just trying to have a good time can be inappropriate, and because honestly it’s just simpler.
- Ask questions. Ask people of your preferred type what you’d need to do to get them interested in you – preferably once “them being interested in you” is off the table and it’s clear you’re not still trying to hook up with you. Listen carefully to what they say. It’s not all going to be good or practical advice, but listening to other people can only improve you as a person.
- Keep an open mind. Don’t get too set on what you’re looking for in a partner. Give people outside your fantasy a chance to convince you. You are probably not going to get the partner you’re dreaming about, and the more you focus on that, the unhappier you’re going to be. But you may end up with someone even better – and possibly healthier for you. What’s good in reality and what’s good in fantasies are often very different.
That’s all I’ve got for this Reality Check. I hope it was helpful to at least someone reading it.
If you’ve got other topics you want me to address in a Reality Check article, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by private message on this site.