26 Girls Get Real About Their First Time Having Sex

teen first time
26 Girls on Their First Time Having SexKatrina Marcinowski/HBO Max / Design by Yoora Kim

Having sex for the first time can feel like a huge deal, and you may have tons of questions racing through your head. If you haven’t had sex yet, you’re probably wondering what your first time will be like. Unfortunately, due to often unrealistic standards portrayed on TV and in movies, most of us have, at one point, built up this imaginary idea of what first-time sex is supposed to be like, and it’s often not at all in line with reality. The truth is, everyone’s first time is different. Sometimes, it’s smooth and romantic and lives up to your expectations — while other times, it’s, well, kind of awkward.

Bottom line: Everyone’s experience is different, and what matters most is that you and partner are both comfortable, gave consent, and use protection. But to give you a better idea of what your first experience may be like, we talked to real girls about the first time they had sex — including how they knew they were ready and how they felt afterward.

1. “He knew I was a virgin and for some reason, I had this expectation of it being magical, which in all honesty, it wasn’t. He kept his face buried in my shoulder/neck the whole time and asked if I was okay once during, which I thought was kind of inconsiderate. I think I would have enjoyed it more if he had checked in with me to see if my needs were being met, which they weren’t. At the time, I was blinded by my love, so I chose to look past that.” — Hafeezah, 22

2. “We were 17 and we needed a time when our parents weren’t home, so we waited until Christmas Eve when his parents had left for a holiday party. I was so incredibly nervous — I think we both were. So we lit candles and took it slow. To be honest it hurt ... But other than that I think it was pretty perfect as far as virgins go.” — Debby, 22

3. “It was after homecoming and we were just in his room. It all happened pretty naturally. It wasn’t painful, but it honestly didn’t feel like anything at all was happening. And then 1 to 2 minutes later it was over.” — Jasmyne, 21

4. “I lost my virginity to someone I actually cared about, which doesn’t mean much to me looking back now, but it was important to me back then. It was late at night and we were in the backseat of his car. I was really nervous, but he was patient and managed to make me feel comfortable and sexy, even. I don’t regret anything and for that I’m thankful.” — Jennifer, 22

5. “It was nothing like I imagined. I felt comfortable, but out of nowhere, I got really nervous. He told me that we didn’t have to continue if I didn’t want to, but I did. It was very painful to the point that I had to stop because I was in so much pain. I felt a little ashamed and embarrassed because I imagined something different and I thought he was disappointed in the experience. He was so understanding and he said it was fine and that he wanted me to be okay, and that we didn’t have to continue. He made me feel better about the experience, and we are still together two and a half years later.” — Katie, 24

6. “I wasn’t ‘in love’ or whatever, but I guess I never expected to be. He made me feel comfortable and respected, so one night, I went over and we had sex. It wasn’t awkward or weird, and it wasn’t this special magical moment either. We went to a diner the next morning for breakfast and texted my best friend group chat the link to Lonely’s Island’s ‘I Just Had Sex,’ and I think they were more excited about it than me to be honest.” — Tiffany, 21

7. “I was on senior week, and I was hanging out with the boy I liked. His friend was asleep in his hotel room, so we did it on the balcony. It was completely unplanned, but I’ve never regretted it. I’m still friends with the guy, too.” — Kelsey, 23

8. “It was the summer after high school for me, sort of an in-the-heat-of-the-moment type of situation with this guy I’d been talking to for a while. Surprisingly, it wasn’t uncomfortable. It didn’t hurt or anything like I’d expected, which was interesting!” — Anumeha, 21

9. “My mom tried to have an open and honest conversation about having sex so that I would feel less nervous when the time came. But the conversation was always about boys, never about being sexual with girls, so I felt completely unprepared when I went to have sex with my girlfriend for the first time.” — Brooklyn, 22

10. “I was 18 and I kinda just wanted to get it over with. It was the summer after I graduated from high school and I was on a date with this kid I knew since elementary school. We had talked about it before and we got this cheap motel and we did it. I felt kinda numb until the next morning, when I got in the shower and cried for an hour.” — Ari, 21

11. “I had always been nervous about the idea of sex. I had so many questions about how it would feel. But we discussed it and we both agreed we trusted each other fully. At first, it felt weird — not painful, but just a completely different feeling. My advice is to make sure you trust this person so you can enjoy it even if it is awkward at first.” — Carina, 19

12. “I was 18 and in a long-distance relationship. My boyfriend was visiting and it felt right at the time. But then he had to leave to go back to school, and I was left with a lot of emotions, including regret and shame. I missed him and I felt overwhelmed. Even though we aren’t dating anymore, I really did love him and a part of me always will.” — Sammy, 18

13. “I was 16. My boyfriend at the time and I had been together for about eight months and things were getting serious, so we decided to do it. I was expecting it to be so nice and amazing, but instead it was so painful. It only lasted a couple of seconds.” — Katelyn, 20

14. “I had been dating a guy for less than a month when he told me, ‘We need to have sex so we can figure out if we have a spark to continue dating.’ I was 18 and wanted to lose my virginity so I could fit in, but also because I really liked this guy. We had sex in a car (how romantic, right?). I was so nervous that he wouldn’t feel that ‘spark,’ but he did. At the time, I felt amazing. I thought I found the guy of my dreams and that we’d get married. We’re no longer together, but I don’t regret the experience. I just wished I had known I didn’t need to have sex with a guy for him to approve of me or continue dating me.” — Mikayla, 20

15. “I love my boyfriend and I was ready, so we had sex. I’m on the Pill and we used condoms. It didn’t hurt at all. I was so happy to be making love with him. I liked the feeling of being so close to him. But physically I thought it felt weird — like it didn’t really feel all that great and I didn’t feel tons of pleasure. Afterwards, I expected to feel more mature and more confident, but I really just felt the same as I always have. I don’t really feel like losing your virginity is as big of a deal as everyone makes it out to be. I’m happy that I had my first time with someone I love.” — Krista, 19

16. “I had a group of friends over on a Friday night my first semester of college. One friend asked if he could crash at my place. I wasn’t expecting it to turn into anything — I didn’t even know he felt attracted to me that way. It was very spur of the moment, but we did use a condom. He was my good friend and I trusted him, so even though we didn’t talk about it beforehand, it felt right and okay and was even pretty exciting.” — Beatrice, 19

17. “At 17, I was convinced I was the very last virgin in college. I was obsessed with the fact that I was a virgin, sizing up my classmates, puzzling over whether any of them were virgins, too. One of my high school crushes invited me to hang out one weekend, and according to my experienced roommate, it was apparent that he wanted to have sex. We used protection. He was considerate and gentle and quite kind. The experience as a whole was very positive. I didn’t have sex again for another two and a half years. I was ready and glad to no longer be a virgin, but I was not ready for the risk and responsibility of being sexually active. I have no regrets — either about how I lost my virginity or how long it took me to have sex again, because both were a reflection of me being good and ready.” — Chloe, 22

18. “I was 20 when I lost my virginity. I decided that I wanted to wait until college to lose it, but when I finally got to college, I didn’t really meet anyone that I wanted to have sex with, especially not for my first time. I ultimately decided to lose it to a guy that I really, really liked but wasn’t in a relationship with. I was just so ready to ‘get it over with,’ and this guy was (and still is) a great guy. My one regret in the entire experience is that I didn’t tell him that I was a virgin. To this day he doesn’t know! I was so scared that I was going to freak him out, but really, a lot of awkwardness could have been avoided if I’d just been honest.” — Shannon, 22

19. “When I was 17, I had this guy friend who I had been friends with for a while. We were both virgins and just wanted to get it over with. It wasn’t pleasurable or even fun, and throughout the entire process all I could think about was, when will this be over? Moral of the story — wait until you're really ready.” — Lee, 22

20. “I was 17 and had been dating a guy for about two months. I knew I wanted to sleep with him. I thought about it for about a week to be sure, but I knew I was ready. I brought it up first, but quickly added that if he didn’t want to yet, we could wait. He immediately said he wanted to, but asked about five times if I was sure I was ready, making sure I knew that he wouldn’t care if I changed my mind. He made me feel safe, he made me happy, and that made me even more sure than before that I wanted to sleep with him.” — Emily, 19

21. “I lost mine last year, when I was 19. The guy I lost it to was my first love. When we finally tried to have sex, it hurt unusually badly. We kept trying the whole night, but it just wasn’t happening. I eventually found out I had cysts on my ovaries. We broke up about five months later. Afterwards, I thought I had wasted that special moment on someone who didn’t deserve it. But now, I'm grateful because that experience probably saved my life. We are on good terms now, so I’m glad to say it wasn’t a mistake.” — Rachel, 20

22. “I was 19. It happened during a Netflix and chill situation and things were escalating pretty quickly. The guy I had been talking to didn’t know I was a virgin, and I didn’t tell him because I was afraid it would scare him off. Losing my virginity was quick and for the most part painless. It was no worse than period cramps. Once I got home, I felt guilty because it wasn’t how I imagined losing my virginity, and not something you get back. I cried for a little bit and then decided there wasn’t anything more I could do about it. I couldn’t change what had already happened. All in all it wasn’t terrible, and I’m not sure I would change it.” — Kylie, 20

23. “I lost mine at 19 to my first boyfriend. I had wanted to wait until we had reached the six-month mark of our relationship, but it was about four and a half months into our relationship. It was on my bed in my dorm on a Sunday (which I remember because his dad is a pastor!) and it was actually totally fine. I had no pain, and it just felt right. He was gentle and it was loving. I knew I was ready because I just looked at him and wanted to be with him. I remember whispering that I was ready, and he asked me twice before we actually did it if I was sure. We spent time after just cuddling and I felt so happy.” — Rachel, 24

24. “I was 21. Before then, I hadn’t gone very far past first base. I don’t necessarily know if I felt ready or if I just felt like it was about time I got this over with, but I was doing everything I could to find the right guy. After many, many failed dates, I met my first boyfriend at a film festival. He was cute, European, and really into me. Within a week, he was asking me to be his girlfriend. I didn’t know how I felt about him, so I kept putting off becoming official. One day, we were fooling around and he asked to put on a condom. I was definitely into it, so I said, ‘OK, I want to be your girlfriend now. Put on the condom.’ Even though we broke up later, he cared about me in the moment and that’s all that mattered.” — Alex, 23

25. “I was almost 21, I was (finally) in a relationship with a guy I was crazy about, and I knew I was as ready as I’d ever be. I had waited to have sex because I wanted my first time to be with someone that cared about me and would be around to share not just the physical act, but the emotions that came with it as well. I was scared that sex would hurt, and that fear made me more tense, so even though I was happy to be sharing that intimacy with my partner, I couldn’t really relax and it hurt a bit. Afterwards, I was relieved that I’d finally gotten it over with, and didn’t know if I would ever think sex was fun. In the next weeks I learned that our culture obsesses about making the first time perfect, but chances are that the second, third, fourth, etc. times will be so much better. There’s less subconscious pressure, and you’ll learn what feels good for you. Also, lube is probably something you want to have.” — Tori, 22

26. “As a teenager, I tended to put sex on a pedestal as something that’d be magical. Luckily, I fell in love with a guy during my first semester of college. He had already had sex, but he was considerate and made me feel safe to call the shots for when I felt ready to do it together. So after a few months of dating, I planned a specific night for us where ‘it’ was going to happen. I put on lingerie, we lit a candle — the works. But after making such a big deal about the pageantry of sex, I ended up putting too much pressure on myself and couldn’t relax when it came down to it. Nothing felt right, I couldn’t get into the mood, and the act lasted seconds before I asked to stop. Later that week, during a comfortable Netflix date, I felt at ease and we tried again. It was so much better and enjoyable that second time — and I didn’t even have on matching underwear. Looking back, I wish I would’ve paid more attention to how I felt rather than how I thought ‘the best’ situation for sex looked like. The best sex happens when you’re comfortable and connected, not when you’re posed and overly self-conscious.” — Anna, 21

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