Having sex with someone for the first time is super exciting, and there's really no time frame for when it's right.
There are times when I've hit it off with somebody so intensely that we've had sex on the first date. There are other times when we've gone on a few dates before doing it, and still others where we were friends for so long that we never had a date to begin with.
Feelings don't stick to a strict schedule. That's why I've learned to tune into what's going on with me, what kind of connection I'm sensing, and where I'm at physically as well.
These are the things that help me figure out whether or not I'm ready to have sex with someone for the first time.
1. I Felt Comfortable
Before I have sex with somebody, I need to know that they are respectful of me. This includes firm confidence that they will pay attention to my boundaries and listen if I express discomfort.
According to Dr. Nikki Goldstein, expert sexologist and author of Single But Dating: A Field Guide to Dating in the Digital Age, these boundaries vary depending on who you are.
"For some people, sex on the first date or early on is fine, and they are comfortable with it. For others, they need to feel connected, intimate, and safe with someone before they jump into bed," Dr. Goldstein told Elite Daily.
For me, these lines vary depending on how I'm feeling. Casually seeing someone versus looking to seriously date them also plays a role. There's no wrong boundary to set, though, and it's important to listen to your gut instinct, whether you're heading out on your first date or your 31st.
Feeling comfortable also means knowing that the person goes into the bedroom with an open mind, that they're into providing pleasure to their partner and not just seeking their own, and that they'll be appreciative of what happens, no matter what.
Obviously, this can't all be gauged before actually going to bed with someone. But before I have sex with the person I'm seeing, I want to have a pretty good idea of how they'll act in the bedroom.
2. I Knew They Were Emotionally Invested
Before I have sex with someone, I don't need to think that we are going to spend the rest of our lives together or anything. At this point, I doubt I'm thinking beyond the next week.
What I do need, though, is to feel like the person I am seeing is equally invested in me emotionally. I also need to be pretty confident that that investment isn't going to disappear as soon as we have sex.
Of course, there is always a risk that a person who is attached at first will become emotionally unavailable later. Paying close attention to their behavior over time should help you gauge whether or not you're with a person who is going to flake.
I can tell whether or not a person is into me by seeing how they treat me. It's definitely more about what they do than what a person says. Does she respond to my texts within a reasonable amount of time? Does he get in touch with me if I haven't hit him up?
If I am in doubt about how a person feels about me -- well, it's better to ask than to stay in the dark. Some people are shy or slow to respond. A simple question ahead of time can save you a lot of pain down the road.
3. I Felt Good About Myself With And Without Them
When I was younger, before I was fully in control of my sex life, I think there were definitely a few occasions where I rushed into sex to please the other person.
I didn't have the best self-esteem when I was younger, and I'll admit that sometimes, I had sex as a confidence boost. More often than not, however, this backfired.
Sometimes, this happened before we even talked about one another's sexual health -- a conversation that, these days, I feel is an absolute must.
I know I am ready to have sex with somebody when I'm not totally focused on how they'll think of me in bed. If I am emotionally close to them and comfortable, I'll be more interested in our mutual enjoyment of each other.
And when it comes right down to it, I will have the confidence to know that it's 99 percent likely that my partner will have a good time. If they don't, I'll also be in a place where I'm able to say that it's them and not me.
4. I Felt In Control
When it's the first time with somebody new, I know that if I feel in control of my wishes and my body, then the sex has a better likelihood of not being totally awkward.
Being nervous the first time you're having sex with the person you're seeing is pretty normal. You're not familiar with their body, their preferences, and what feels good to them.
That's actually kind of amazing because it means that this is your chance to communicate and begin to explore one another.
I've found that being out of control makes it seem a lot less amazing and a lot more clumsy. This is especially true if we have been drinking to quell our nerves.
Waking up feeling embarrassed in the morning because you don't know what you said or did the night before is not a great feeling. It might even make you feel like you have to run in shame from that person you were really into 12 hours ago.
Tune into what you want and find a way to stay in control and to soothe your own fears. Hint: It won't be at the bottom of that bottle.
5. The Timing Was Right
There are certain times of the month when I'm just more into sex than others. I've learned to be patient with the process.
When I'm ovulating, for instance, I often get cysts. I know because I have a twing-y pain in my pelvis. This has made sex really painful in the past. It's definitely not worth rushing into.
As for period sex, I'm totally down -- if I've been with a person long enough to know that they won't be weirded out by it.
If they're not? It causes a lot of hassle and will probably lead to me feeling resentful of the person I'm seeing for not being more open minded.
While my boundaries might fall a few months after going steady, it takes time for that to happen. I want to be sure my body is in alignment with my mind when I'm having sex with someone for the first time.
Trust me, I know it's tough. When you're really into somebody, you want to hop into bed right away. And while there's no substitute for sex, just think about how much that anticipation is going to turn things up a notch when you finally do get into bed.
While it's not sex, there's nothing wrong with a good, old-fashioned make-out sesh if you feel you just aren't ready yet.