If The First Time Having Sex With Someone New Isn't Great, Is That A Red Flag?

Maybe it's been a while for you, and you're low-key worried you've forgotten how to hook up. Or maybe it's been a long time since your partner has gotten it on, and they end up finishing more quickly than they'd like. It's also probable that you've both been building the moment up in your minds, so when it finally comes, the reality might not live up to your expectations. Whatever the reason, your first time having sex with someone new can be intimidating. But if the initial hookup isn't great, does that mean it won't get better?

The answer is no, so don't freak out. If your first time having sex with a new partner is awkward, uncomfortable, or simply not as enjoyable as you'd like, that isn't necessarily a red flag. You shouldn't judge your compatibility with someone on one sexual encounter, especially the first one. Nerves are normal, and can definitely lead to hesitation or a less-than-stellar performance. Plus, because the two of you aren't yet familiar with each other's likes and dislikes in bed, you can't really expect it to be the best sex you've ever had. So if you plan to give it another go with this person, stay optimistic. Experts and "regular people" agree that when it comes to having better sex, practice makes perfect.

This woman believes that it always gets better, and you should take the time to get to know each other's turn-ons.

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Oh my gosh, 1000 percent. [In my experience], unless it is completely terrible and unsexy and gross, I think it can absolutely get better (and always does). Even if it’s not bad, it always, always, always gets better. It takes a little while to get to know each other’s rhythms and likes and turn-ons, so give it time! And don’t be afraid to tell your partner what you do or don’t like.

— Gen, 25

David F. Khalili, LMFT, a sex and relationship therapist in Oakland, CA with a Master's degree in Sexuality Studies, agrees with Gen. "It can definitely get better. Sex is a form of communication and connecting, as well as a way of receiving and giving pleasure. One of the exciting things about having sex with a new person can be that you start to learn how to please them and how you can be pleased by a new person. So there's an opportunity to get more familiar not just with how the two of you can have a better flow, but how you can communicate your needs," he says.

For this couple, the sex got increasingly better over time.

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With my current boyfriend, the first time we had sex literally lasted about 10 seconds. He was really nervous and hadn't had sex in awhile. While I truly didn't care that it only lasted 10 seconds, I knew he was extremely embarrassed and when we talked about it in the future, he actually said he thought I'd never talk to him again after that. To me, it didn't really matter because I just figured it would get better. The next few times got a little better and each time after that got better and now it's been two years and we have a healthy relationship and healthy sex life.

— Leslie*, 23

"Performance anxiety can make things feel clunky the first few times you have sex with someone," says Khalili. He suggests slowing down and taking your time when hooking up with someone. "With anxiety your nervous system is all over the place, meaning your heart rate is up, you're tense, and probably not thinking clearly. If you give yourself a chance to slow down, perhaps even take a break to cuddle or hang out, then your nervous system to get back to normal and you can be less anxious," he adds.

This woman will give you a second chance, but not a third.

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Yes, it can get better. But if it isn’t better after the second time, it’s a dub. Two strikes and you're out. I’m not wasting multiple waxes just to be disappointed. The window of time to redeem yourself is short; I give two chances.

— Carrie*, 23

Not everyone is going to be sexually compatible. It's possible that the issue with you and your partner is "due to both of you having differing sexual interests or desires, or communication styles that don't work well together," says Khalili. "An important part of being a good sexual or romantic partner is caring about your partner's pleasure, so if they are not interested in helping sex be better for you then it may be time to find a new partner. But if they are open to talking about improving your sex life and are willing to make it work, then you both are on the right track," he adds.

This guy believes it can get better, as long as you don't wait too long to try again.

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It can get better for sure, but I think if you wait too long to try again, then people start to overthink it and psych themselves out so much that it doesn’t work.

— Preston, 22

Even if you're pretty sure your partner thought the sex was satisfying, if you weren't impressed, you should speak up. Talking about sex can be incredibly sexy and help you form a real connection with someone. It also shows confidence and reiterates interest.

"Start the conversation with compliments by telling your partner what you liked about the sex first, then explain from your experience why the sex was uncomfortable, awkward or not pleasurable for you, and follow it with some concrete ideas of what would make it more pleasurable. It's also important to acknowledge that sex may feel awkward the first few times, especially if there is anxiety or low self-esteem," says Khalili.

One bad sexual experience doesn't mean you aren't compatible with that person in the bedroom — or outside of it. Take the time to talk it out, then try, try again.

*Name has been changed.

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