Sexually Inexperienced? Here’s How to Start Dating

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How to start dating is a question for the ages. Dating is a unique experience, with paths diverging and converging in unexpected ways. For those stepping into this world sexually inexperienced, the road might seem shrouded in a mix of anticipation, confusion, and an understandable fear of the unknown.

If you haven’t had much sexual experience up until now or even no sexual experience, remember there are many ways to connect when you date. You can flirt, talk, and share your life experiences – and sex is something that you’ll continue to gain confidence around as you have more experience. It is also something that continues to get better and better throughout your life. 

What Counts As Sexually Experienced?

Only you can define what it means for you to be “sexually experienced”. Sexual experience can mean one thing to a religious subculture, and something else completely to people in the kink or BDSM community for example.  

Traditionally, sexual intercourse is considered the threshold for sexual experience. However, this perspective overlooks the broad spectrum of intimate interactions that can be equally, if not more, significant and formative. For example, some people find oral sex much more intimate, while others may choose never to have intercourse at all

True sexual experience encompasses a range of emotional, physical, and interpersonal dynamics. It includes understanding sexual consent, communication, mutual pleasure, and respect for boundaries. It also involves an awareness of your desires, and the ability to navigate intimacy in a way that is fulfilling and respectful to whoever you are sharing with sexually. 

Therefore, being sexually experienced is less about a tally of encounters you have – and more about the depth of understanding and connection with yourself and others that you bring to those moments. Recognizing this broader definition helps in appreciating that your journey is personal and valuable – regardless of how society traditionally measures sexual experience.

Sexually inexperienced young couple hugging

How Do I Handle Anxiety About Sexual Inexperience?

It’s natural to feel anxious about entering into a sexual foray, especially when you’re inexperienced. 

Managing these feelings involves setting realistic expectations for yourself and understanding that perfection is not the goal – connection is. Practicing with erotic breathwork and self-touch, and imagining savoring your arousal are great ways to prepare for a sexual experience. If you are feeling anxious about what your partner wants, feels, or thinks, make sure you communicate openly with them in order to ease your fears. 

Initiating a conversation about your sexual inexperience can feel very daunting. There is no “right” time to bring it up. You can talk about it over a coffee date, or once you’ve started kissing. The important thing is to start slowly and see if your partner is willing and able to listen to you and empathize with your feelings and needs.

Check whether they are able to share what they want, and always pay attention if you feel judged and shamed by anything they say. You may need to ask questions to clarify. And you probably won’t feel safe if they respond to your desires or feelings with any kind of judgment.  

A partner worth your time will respond with understanding, curiosity, and enthusiastic support of your needs and boundaries.

For those who feel their inexperience is perhaps linked to deeper issues of sexual dysfunction or anxiety, resources like Later in Life: 40-50 Year-Old Virgin provide compassionate guidance and professional advice.

Two young gay men, contemplating a sexual experience

What Do I Do if My Partner is Also Inexperienced?

It’s possible that you may go out into the dating world and meet someone who has zero sexual experience. This may cause you to feel more nervous. Or it may relieve some of the anxiety. A great way is taking the approach that you can learn about touch, build-up, arousal, and, ultimately sex – together. 

Here are some great ways to start:

  1. Read some books about sex and sexual technique together and talk about what seems interesting, what you are ready to try, and what you are not ready for yet.
  2. Check out books and articles to help you better understand your own and other people’s turn-on.
  3. Show each other scenes from regular movies or tv shows that have turned you on in the past, and talk about them.
  4. Share any fantasies you have about sex, and especially how you’d like it to be the first time it happens. 

How to Date for the First Time

Choosing the right platform to meet potential partners is a significant first step. Whether it’s online dating, mutual friends, or shared interest groups – each avenue offers its own benefits and challenges. 

Online dating, for instance, allows for a degree of anonymity and control over the pace of interactions. Crafting a compelling online dating profile can significantly increase your chances of meeting someone compatible. 

First dates are often a mix of excitement and anxiety. Make sure you choose a comfortable location, and think about what you feel passionate about. Whatever makes you feel alive and inspired are great topics to bring to a first date. Also, especially on a first date, you don’t want to arrive with a bunch of preconceived expectations. Really talk to and listen to your date to see if their personality and desires resonate with yours. 

One thing to remember also: just because you have gone out on a date with someone doesn’t mean you owe them anything. For the first date, you’ll want to pay attention to any feelings of attraction, and whether there’s any interest in taking it further. If you don’t, but your date is showing interest or asking for a second date, it’s fine to thank them and let them down gently. You might say something like, “I really appreciated getting to know you a bit, but I’m not feeling any chemistry between us.”

Young couple, learning how to date for the first time

4 Tips To Introduce Physical Contact

That first date is about getting to know the person and seeing if there’s a potential for a deeper connection. But if you are interested in taking it further, here is some guidance on how to start introducing a physical connection:

  • Start with Small Gestures: If you do feel ready to have some kind of physical connection on a date, you definitely don’t need to try to jump right to sex. You can hug someone hello or goodbye, try holding hands at some point, and gauge when you are ready for a first kiss. 
  • Communicate Your Comfort Level: Always communicate what you’re comfortable with. It’s okay to take things slow and discover what types of physical affection you enjoy. It’s also fine to go faster if you feel excited, comfortable, and ready. Try not to judge your pace, and just see how it flows with the other person.
  • It’s OK to Stop Anytime: Let’s say you thought you were really attracted to a person, you have a first kiss – and it doesn’t feel good to you. Maybe the kissing was incompatible, or there was too much touch all over too quickly. At that point, it’s ok to pull away and let the person know that you don’t want to go any further. 
  • Learning Together: If you and your partner decide to explore further, remember that sex is a journey of discovery. Learning what pleases you and your partner is a process that requires patience, communication, and consent.

Overcoming Challenges and Rejection

Facing rejection is a part of the dating process that everyone experiences. For those who are sexually inexperienced, the fear of rejection might feel particularly daunting. Just remember:

  • It’s Not Personal: Rejection can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that it’s not about you. Compatibility plays a significant role in whether a relationship will progress.
  • Self-Care: Even if you know it is not about you, you may have feelings about it and that’s normal. You may feel disappointed or sad. You may feel some internal criticism or self-worth issues arise. This is the time to be extra kind and gentle to yourself, acknowledging your feelings, and reminding yourself that you were brave to put yourself out there in the first place. 
  • Support System: Lean on friends, family, or supportive communities during tough times. Sharing your feelings and experiences can help alleviate the sting of rejection.

Learning how to start dating as a sexually inexperienced individual may seem a bit scary. But, if you approach it with with self-awareness, gentleness, empathy, and an interest in exploration and learning, it can actually be quite exciting and fun. 

For more detailed guides and advice, explore topics like How Many Dates Before Sex?, Mastering the art of Sexting, and STDs and Safer Sex Practices.

Two people sitting on a bench, learning how to date

How a Sex or Dating Coach Can Help You Learn How to Start Dating

A coach can be an invaluable resource for you if you’re looking to build confidence – but especially so for virgins, shy people, introverts, or those lacking sexual experience.

Dating and sex coaches, and especially experiential ones, offer a judgment-free space to learn and practice the tools of dating. This can include everything from getting-to-know-you first date practices, to emotional connection. They can also teach you skills around empathetic listening, clear communication, establishing boundaries, and touch. 

Whether it’s navigating first dates, discussing how to communicate your needs and boundaries, or learning to escalate a sexual situation with ongoing consent – a sex or dating coach can provide the tools and insights necessary for a rewarding journey into relationships.

Find your perfect dating coach here.

Find a professional sex coach near you or by expertise now.

Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschmanhttps://www.somaticainstitute.com/faculty/celeste-hirschman/
Celeste Hirschman is the is the co-creator of the Somatica® Method and the co-founder of the Somatica® Institute. She received an MA in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Women’s Students from UCSC.

In her teaching and coaching, Celeste routinely draws on her extensive training in attachment psychology, sociology, gender studies, and body-based modalities like Hakomi. She uses these embodied learning principles to help students and clients tap into their own somatic wisdom, deepen their experiences of pleasure, and realize their full personal and professional potential.

A prolific writer, Celeste researched and published a defining paper on adolescent sexuality development in 2006, during her tenure at SFSU’s Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality.

Since then, she has co-authored 3 books with Danielle Harel: Cockfidence, Making Love Real, and Coming Together. She writes frequently and is generally the first expert journalists turn to for quotes and information on sex, dating, and relationships.

No matter what she does – whether she is co-producing the sex-coaching-based TV series Here She Comes, or teaching at the legendary Esalen Institute – Celeste always brings her unconditional love, scintillating presence, erotic energy, and insight to every part of her work.

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