Being a late bloomer is not intrinsically a bad thing. It can, however, bring about a ton of angst…especially when you get to the point in your life where you start becoming sexually active and you encounter people who have acquired far more experience than you.
I’ve always been the least experienced person in all of my hookups, and that always brought all of my insecurities out to play. During the hookups, my head swirled so many distracting thoughts that I didn’t even genuinely enjoy what I was doing. I was too preoccupied with whether or not I looked hot, if I was a good kisser, if my oral was up to par, if it was obvious that I didn’t really know what I was doing, if I was giving him any pleasure at all… It is so easy to get overwhelmed with negativity, especially if you are someone who is prone to social anxiety and/or you’ve internalized the idea that your lack of experience indicates a failure on your part. But seriously, sexual experience has no bearing or correlation to your worth as a person/sexual being. There’s really an element of chance when it comes to how much experience you have – being in the right place with people with whom there is mutual interest is really pretty random, and the odds are definitely skewed towards people who are more outgoing/more conventionally attractive/have found the perfect social scene that works for them – while those qualities are great, they are not intrinsically better than being reserved/not looking like a model/having a small social circle.
Once you accept the fact that you’re fine as you are, remember that every new sexual encounter has a learning curve – whether it’s your first time or your 5 billionth. Every person is different, and the same things that turned on someone else may not work on your new partner. So it’s all about being open to communication and being perceptive. No matter how many partners you have, if you’re not doing either of those things, you’re going to be a sucky person to hook up with. Enthusiasm and an interest in pleasing your partner will take you a lot further than a lot of blurry, potentially alcohol-drenched experiences will. If you’re really freaking out about technique, there are countless articles out there that will give you a general consensus on what people like – it’s not complicated at all.
You don’t have to draw attention to your lack of experience, although generally, people are fairly understanding and aren’t repulsed (and if they are, they’re not someone you should be giving the time of day). It might make you feel more self-conscious and make it seem like a bigger deal than it is. If you’re seeking a way to create a safe space, the best way is to make your boundaries clear. If you don’t want to do oral, say so. If you’re not ready for intercourse, don’t be embarrassed to express that. Never compromise your comfort and your peace of mind for the sake of being appealing to someone else (this is coming from someone who used to wake up with body-rattling anxiety attacks after I went too far with guys – trust me, it’s not worth it). Ultimately, don’t let your past inexperience define your present experience. Relax, enjoy yourself, and don’t get too wrapped up in obnoxious insecurities.
Jasmine is a graduate of Northern Arizona University who moved across the country to the Washington DC area for the politics and stayed for the cupcakes. She’s into working on her fitness, collecting nail polish, devouring current events, being the only person who still watches Gossip Girl, and relentlessly tweeting @itsajasmine.
[Image of teacher via Kiselev Andrey Valerevich /Shutterstock]