Disappointing first time

Dear Alice,

I recently had sex with my girlfriend. It was the first time for both of us. Her hymen broke and she bled a little and even cried but she said she LOVED it. I, on the other hand, felt no pain, but, at the same time, I did not have a lot of pleasure. I expected the first time to be much better, but her vagina seemed to be too relaxed and I did not feel a lot of pressure on my penis. Virgins are supposed to have tight vaginas to make sex more enjoyable. My girlfriend used to go to ballet for ten years and she always does the splits and squats. Do you think that made her vaginal muscles relaxed, or is it just that she did not know how to please me? I am really frustrated and lied to her, telling her I loved it, too. Please help me out.


Dear Disappointed,

Just having two people dance together for their first time takes some effort to make it feel natural and fun. Stepped-on toes and awkward moments happen, but remember very few things in life are perfect on the first try! First sexual intercourse experiences are often bursting with high expectations, hopes, anxieties, excitement, and fears. For some, it's important to get "this virginity thing" over with for future, less tense sexual explorations. Often, pressure is a greater factor than pleasure, unfortunately, making many first times disappointing. Don't be too worried — like dancing, subsequent sexual tries are likely to improve with experience, communication, and practice!

What were your expectations for your first sexual intercourse? Many factors could have shaped what you expected. Popular media, such as many movies or music, often portray first times as artistic scenes with attractive celebrities, sensual and hot, and perfectly queued music, lights, and magic. In reality, sex may be sweaty, sticky, uncomfortable, and not have that mesmerizing climax, especially on the first try.

As for the "tight vagina" situation, many rumors and media falsely portray all female virgins as having tight vaginas. Since women are all different, the tightness of the vagina, or vaginal "grip," varies. When a woman is aroused, the vagina relaxes to accommodate objects, like the penis. If you place your finger just inside her vagina and ask her to squeeze, you would probably feel her vaginal muscles tighten. Additionally, if you're accustomed to your hand in masturbation, you may have been expecting to feel pressure as strongly as your hand. Very few vaginas are as capable and strong as hands. If that might be the case, you may teach yourself to masturbate using a looser grip. Try using a water-based lube or your other hand. Changing your pattern may help you learn to respond to different stimuli so that you increase your own opportunities for pleasure.

The first time having sex with a new partner, whether it's your first partner or future partner(s), will often be challenging. What to do? You may prepare yourself in understanding:

  • What turns you on?
  • What do you find pleasurable?
  • How do you want the sex?
  • What are your turnoffs and what do you find unpleasurable or painful?

Masturbation, more experience, and a clearer understanding of your own preferences and boundaries will help answer these questions. When you know what is good sex for you, you may communicate it with your sex partner(s).

Being a good lover takes time, trust, practice, patience, and communication. Orgasms and pleasure are as much physical as they are emotional. Sexuality and intimacy involve more than gymnastics — truthfulness and authenticity also play an important part. Along these lines, telling someone that you love the sex when you don't isn't fair to your sex partner. If you were the sex partner and thought that you were doing a wondrous job, would you want to change or try to improve? Respectful feedback in the right settings encourages continuous improvement for your sex life and relationship. Check out the other Q&As in the archives for more on relationship communication and ways to improve your sex life.

Relax a bit. Build confidence in yourself, clarify your expectations and pleasures, and communicate to help make sure that your future sexual dances will be as good for you as is it was for your sex partner!

Last updated Sep 26, 2014
Originally published May 17, 1996

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