When you're a teenager, losing your virginity is often quite a big thing on your agenda. I remember wondering how I'd find a boyfriend, whether it was easy to kiss like they did in the movies and, later on, what on earth I was going to do when it came round to sex. There was always plenty of advice around, but it never seemed to be the right stuff.
The problem pages of teen magazines were a great place to get advice on sex and relationships but the good stuff was always buried away, while the rubbish - like a 3 page "does he like you?" quiz - would be front page news. How on earth were we supposed to work out what to do from that? I know he likes me, what happens now?
Of course, everyone learns the most in this area from their own experience, but what if we'd had a little bit more help to begin with? If I could go back and visit my younger self, or give frank advice to teenagers, I think this is what I'd say.
Don't worry about kissing
In my, now quite considerable experience, women are great at kissing. In addition to this, I have rarely heard a man talk in horror about a bad snog he'd had with a female partner. In general, it just works when there's chemistry and, if there isn't any, chances are you won't get negative feedback on that particular element anyway.
No one is looking at your belly/thighs
A caring and considerate lover won't give a shit that you think you could look better naked, so long as you act like you don't care either. Worrying about how you look in bed is pointless because, usually when you get to the stage that clothing is being removed, the other person is interested in you just the way you are. If they do comment, they are SO not worth your time. Kick them out and find someone better.
Don't give in to peer pressure
If you don't want to have sex yet/right now/with this person, say no. If you don't want to do that specific sexual act, say no. Just because other people claim to have done it, doesn't mean you need to. And just because a guy says you're each other's first and so there's no need to use a condom, doesn't mean it's true. Respect yourself and get into good habits before doing something you'll regret.
Of course, teenagers don't like unsolicited advice, so younger me probably wouldn't have listened to any of that and would have gone on to do exactly the same things anyway! If you could go back and hand over some of the knowledge you've acquired about sex and relationships over the years, what advice would you give to your younger self? I'd love to hear your stories.
Lori Smith is the BitchBuzz Sex & Relationships columnist and has 19 years of experience to call upon. This may mean that she started young, or that she is older than she looks. She couldn't possibly comment!
Image via hellojenuine's Flickr photostream.