I’ve only really come out to everyone (myself included) in the last year, and it’s really just been over the past few months that I’ve felt truly okay calling myself gay and felt at peace with that (after getting over the whole “raised-Catholic-in-the-Bible-Belt-you’re-going-to-hell” adolescence and such). I’m about to be in my senior year of college and have never been on a real date with anyone, let alone hooked up with another girl. I’m super self-conscious and every time I start to think about it as a possibility, I freak myself out. I’m too inside my head to think about relaxing and opening up to someone, and I feel like I’m getting to a point where people will judge me on my lack of experience. Am I being dumb for being so worried? How can I stop psyching myself out of everything?
First of all, try not to feel bad about worrying. It’s natural to worry about things you feel insecure about, and if you feel bad about it, you have to experience two negative feelings – the insecurity, and the worrying about it – instead of just one. And it’s totally natural to worry about things you feel insecure about!
No one worth having sex with will judge you on lack of experience. Here’s the thing about sex: what works for one person might be terrible for another. What’s terrible for one person might be another person’s secret favorite. Everyone’s different, and everyone’s different brains and bodies will respond to different things in different ways. In some ways, you’re actually at an advantage, because you don’t have preconceived ideas about what might work because it’s worked in the past. Instead, you’re free to focus on the person in front of you, on what they’re telling you with their mouth and body, and on what you’re saying with yours. Don’t think of not having had sex as a disadvantage — think of it like a secret weapon. The experience you need to try to build isn’t what to do with a girl in bed; it’s how to communicate with that girl before bed is even a question, as well as once it is.
The best way to communicate is to practice good intent, to listen to what someone is saying they might want or not want, to be respectful, and to know what you might want or not want and communicate it back and see where things line up. It is shockingly hard to do this well, but the key is to have a strong sense of self, to trust the other person does, too, and to go from there.
In order to do that, you have to have a sense what you like and what you want all on your own, before there’s another person there. Personally, I put a lot of value in going on sexual journeys with other people, on exploring and learning and playing together, on trying this thing that you never thought of before but that they’re finding so exciting you can’t help but want to. But I put even more value in masturbation. If you haven’t spent a lot of time having sex and figuring out what you like and don’t like by yourself, it’s going to be much harder to have sex and figure out what you like and don’t like with another person. Plus, if you’re having really good sex with yourself, it takes some of the pressure off of sex with someone else — partnered sex is fun, but it’s not the only type of sex you can have. Take some time alone and get creative. Try different types of touches in different places. Use different fantasies, erotica, and porn and learn more about what gets you off. Experiment with yourself a little.
After that, if you want, feel free to spend a little time researching how to have lesbian sex. Don’t get too caught up in your head about it, though: again, the best way to get good at sex with a specific person is to really pay attention to that specific person.
And a note on that person: this might be controversial, but it’s okay to not be totally relaxed and open with someone right away. It’s okay to turn down that stove and take that pressure right off yourself until you’ve spent a little more time together. Unless you’ve moved through the world with everything sunshine and rainbows all the time, you’ve probably met some people around whom it did not feel safe and good to relax, and when you have enough of those moments built up, it can be super hard to feel safe and good relaxing around someone new. Don’t force it. Don’t feel bad about not forcing it. You don’t have to walk around like an open flower, your insides there for everyone to see. All you have to do is be open to being open.
Want to ask Autostraddle a question? Submit your own quick and dirty questions any time!