The question of when and if to have sex with someone for the first time is always going to elicit different answers and opinions from people you ask.  It’s one of those relationship milestones where people will either have a pattern they can’t escape or a formula that never fails them.  The fact is, given our personal histories and varying experiences, we all view and value sex in different ways.  This is why it can be so difficult to know when we should or shouldn’t make that first move.

If having sex with someone new is on your cards, then there are a few things definitely worth considering beforehand.  These will help to make sure that not just you, but also the person you’re sleeping with has as positive and healthy an experience as possible.

Why are you going to have sex?

So it may seem like a simple question, but you’ll be surprised how many people will draw a blank when asked to answer it.  Shrugging or describing sex as the natural next step is something people do in high school when they’re not mature enough to know better.  It’s an easy trap to fall into and one also to be avoided.  Your answer doesn’t have to be profound, but you do have to consciously think about why now is the right time to invite this person into your bed.  The least reason, whether you’re male or female, should be that you genuinely want to and that it feels right.

What do you hope to gain?

We don’t have sex for completely selfless reasons and unless you have other motives, one reason will be the expectation of receiving or giving pleasure.  Having sex to create deeper intimacy between you or to bring you closer emotionally is, of course, the ideal, but for some people, sex is purely a physical act.  With this in mind, be sure to understand that physical intimacy is part of a package and can’t alone make someone commit to or respect you more.  Always enjoy sex for the sake of sex, but if you are serious about a relationship then look at it in its entirety, and make sure you’re compatible in other ways too.

High hopes, medium expectations

When we become intimate with a new person for the first time we would all love it to be a momentous, firework-worthy occasion.  Try, however, not to pin your hopes on first times and definitely don’t use them to colour your future relations with a new lover.  Yes, great sex can be instant between two people, it can however also take a little time to settle into a groove with each other.  Be patient and give one another a chance to get the sparks flying.  This may be especially needed if someone hasn’t dated in a while, or has been used to a particular routine or response in a previous relationship. 

Protection matters at all ages

There are some people who believe that if the person they’re dating has just come out of a long-term relationship, has a family or is older, then they’re safe to sleep with unprotected.  The thinking behind it is that there’s little or no promiscuity in these prior situations and therefore no chance of unwanted surprises such as STDs. Firstly, promiscuity isn’t necessary in order to catch an STD or to get pregnant and secondly, you can’t vouch for the sexual history of your lover’s previous partners, any more than you can their own. Be sensible and if you’re really serious, you can both pop into a clinic when the time is right.

Be yourself and enjoy it

Whilst it can take some time to be fully open with someone sexually, this is a really good opportunity to communicate what turns you on and what doesn’t.  So many people miss out on a fully expressive and varied sex life because they’re frightened of how their desires will be received.  In the early stages of your newfound fun, don’t be afraid to experiment and ask for what you want, especially if it’s looking like a long-term partnership is on the horizon.  Sex can be serious and meaningful and it can also be fun and frivolous – whichever it is for you, don’t forget to enjoy it.

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