Is sex for the first time really that different for guys than it is for girls? There are a lot of myths and stereotypes attached to sex, depending on gender—but they’re not all true. From movies and TV, it may seem like sex is completely different for guys than it is for girls, but we talked to several guys to find out what it’s really like, behind-the-scenes.
1. Guys can regret their first time
Just like girls can regret having sex, guys can, too. A guy may have sex earlier than he expected or with a partner that he’s no longer with. It’s perfectly normal for either gender to feel a sense of uncertainty about whether or not they made the right decision.
“My ex and I broke up shortly after we started having sex,” says Colin*, a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. “She started cheating on me. I didn’t regret having sex at the time, but now I kind of do. I didn’t know what type of person she was.”
It’s not the end of the world to end up regretting your first time, for a variety of reasons. All those things you heard about virginity and how sacred it is? They’re not necessarily true. Your sex life is what you make of it, and there’s nothing shameful about not being 100 percent pleased with how your first time turned out. Don’t forget: practice makes perfect!
2. Guys could be having their first time even if their partner is not
There’s a stereotype attached to the idea that guys have more sex—and start having sex earlier—than women. The fact is that this isn’t true. Plenty of guys have sex later than girls, and even if it’s his first time, that doesn’t mean it’s hers.
Just because one partner has had sex, however, doesn’t mean the other partner should feel insecure. “I didn’t know if I’d be living up to expectations,” says Adam*, a freshman at Boston College. “My girlfriend assured me that she really wanted to have sex with me, and that there was nothing I could do wrong.”
While it’s true that you get better at sex with practice, the same is true for every partner. Just because someone’s had sex with other partners doesn’t mean they’ll be better at sex—because they still have to learn what it’s like with a new partner. Sex is about exploring what two people like as individuals as well as together, and it’s a learning process no matter how many previous partners you’ve had (or haven’t had).
3. The first time may be different depending on his sexuality or gender identity
There’s no across-the-board answer for what it’s like to have sex for the first time as a guy, especially when you take into account the variety of sexual orientations and gender identities.
Nathan*, a senior at the University of Connecticut, says that he was hesitant to have sex for the first time because he wasn’t interested in anal sex, and many gay and bisexual men are. “By not liking anal sex, I felt like there must have been something wrong,” he says. “My partner was really understanding, but I was worried I was not making him happy.”
Nathan also made sure his partner, who’d had sex before, got tested for STIs. He recommends that even if your partner seems certain that they’re clean, it’s a good safety precaution to be absolutely sure. Nathan offered to get tested as well, even though it was his first time having sex. “Even though I was never sexually active, it just showed we cared about each other’s well being and comfort before committing sexually,” he says.
For transgender and genderqueer guys, sex can also be a time of self-discovery and mutual trust with a partner. Jack*, a sophomore at Emerson College, knew he needed to feel completely at ease with a partner before having sex, because he’s transgender.
“Trans people are open to a lot of discrimination—which sometimes leads to violence,” Jack says. He also had worries that a female partner wouldn’t find him attractive and wanted to be absolutely certain there was a level of trust before having sex.
4. He’s probably nervous too
This is another one of those completely false stereotypes: that women are nervous about their first time, but guys aren't. It’s a myth that, to be honest, doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you were doing something you’ve never done before, why wouldn’t you be at least a little nervous?
Steven*, a junior at California State University, says that he was nervous the first time around. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says. “Neither of us did—but that didn’t stop me from feeling worried. I didn’t want to mess it up, do something she didn’t like or do anything to hurt her.”
Nathan also felt awkward and uncomfortable during his first time—which he attributes to the fact that he wasn’t sure about anal sex. “I understand most people feel awkward before, but I felt like I should have been more excited,” he says. He also realized that he and his partner have different sexual preferences, but it’s okay and they can find ways to compromise. “My partner and I are still together and learning something new about each other as time goes on.”
If a guy’s nerves seem to be getting in the way, stop and make sure that both partners are consenting and really want to have sex. If they do, but are just nervous, ease the tension by reminding them that you’re not perfect either—you’re just human. Level the playing field, and don’t make sex into something that has to be achieved perfectly from day one.
There are so many stereotypes out there, but truth be told, sex is different for every person, regardless of gender. Sex, especially for the first time, really varies depending on the partners involved, their level of trust and mutual respect, enthusiastic consent and many other factors.