Q. I'm 16 and lost my virginity a few weeks ago. I feel horrible about it. I was drinking at a party and got it on with a guy from school. We were fooling around naked and I told him I wouldn't have sex. He told me he wouldn't put it in and just wanted to mess around a bit. I only wanted to do oral, but he kept on trying and trying for sex. I should have just stopped, but once it happened I guess I kind of went with it. The more I think about it, the worse I feel. How do I get over it?
A. Losing your virginity is a rite of passage, an event that's tinged with nervousness and excitement. Making the choice to be that intimate requires a great deal of trust in your sexual partner, and above all else, mutual respect. When you sleep with someone who doesn't pay heed to your boundaries, especially your first time, the trauma can having a lasting effect on many aspects of your life.
When your lover doesn't value your limits - or outright ignores them - it's easy to fall victim to pressure and perform acts that you aren't comfortable with. This is even more the case when you're inexperienced sexually. The after effects can leave behind all sorts of conflicting emotions: regret, shame, and a sense of powerlessness. Self-worth is put in jeopardy, and second guessing becomes second nature.
Is a bad first time going to change how you have sex later in life? Definitely. But the good news is that it doesn't have to be negative! You now know the psychological pain of a horrible sexual experience, definitely something you want to avoid feeling again. Now you need to focus on having a first good time, the next time; when you are ready – not when someone else is! Then it can be the time you always hoped you'd have, achieved by making empowered choices about your sexuality, as well as how you select partners in the future.
Maintaining healthy boundaries with others will be a saving grace throughout your life. They allow you to feel secure about your choices and interact safely with others. Work on recognizing your needs, feelings, and opinions. Respect what's important to you and practice asserting those things. Take care of yourself. As you come across people who want more than you are willing to give, it will be easier for you to say no, instead of compromising yourself to go along with their overreaching behavior.
Overcoming the pain from a distressing event is different for everyone. Sometimes it will drag on in long stretches; other times, your healing will progress in leaps and bounds. The point is, you can move forward from a negative experience to enjoy a fulfilling sexual relationship, one that is utterly and completely on your terms - if you avoid confusing the past with your future.