Knowing when to do something new for the very first time can be difficult. Nobody responsible from the Department of Readiness calls to make it official, we figure it out ourselves, maybe with help from partners or friends. What’s more there’s no exact formula that helps us work it out because we’re all different. We all get to different stages in life at different times. That’s the way life works, our differences are normal.

Sex is one of those things that can be tricky to know when exactly is the right time for the first time. How can you be sure if you’ve never had sex before? You can’t. Being happy to have sex for the first time is a mixture of being confident you feel ready and knowing you’re prepared. Feeling ready and being prepared aren’t always the same thing when it comes to sex.

Think about it this way. You can be prepared for going to the cinema with your friend one night. You’ve both bought tickets online, arranged a time and place to meet up and put your jacket on to leave the house. You’re prepared to go to the cinema.  Feeling ready is a combination of being prepared to go to the cinema and feeling confident you actually want to watch the movie. But how do you know if your friend also really wants to watch the film with you?


If you feel ready, and prepared, you still need to make sure your friend is happy to watch the film with you, even if you’ve already bought the popcorn. Agreeing and being happy to have sex with someone is called consent and it’s the most important thing to discuss with your partner before you have sex. Understanding what consent is and how it works is pretty simple really.  If two (or more!) people freely agree and show they want to have sex with each other that’s consent. Here's a video that helps to explain in more detail everything you need to know about consent. (We're borrowing it form Canada so that explains why it mentions Canadians!)

Being Ready

There isn’t a magic formula or set of rules to let us know when we think we might be ready. It’s a decision we make after thinking about how we feel about having sex. Remember sex is supposed to be mutually pleasurable and we shouldn’t regret it afterwards. Some of the most important things to think about if you’re considering having sex for the first time are trust, respect and the kind of relationship you have with the person you’re thinking about having sex with. It might help to think about the following questions and what your answers are to help you figure out how ready you feel. Answering Yes or No to the questions won’t tell you 100% if you are ready for sex, but might help you think through how you feel about having sex.

• Can we trust each other?
• Do we have strong feelings for each other?
• Do we respect each other?
• Can we talk to each other about worries and concerns?
• Do I feel happy and relaxed when we’re together?
• Do they like me for who I am?
• Can I have a laugh with them?
• Do we both know what we want, and what we don’t want?
• Will we respect each other’s privacy by not telling all our mates?
• Have you planned how to keep safe using safer sex methods like condoms?

(This videos form Australia, so its information on the law isn't correct for Scotland. You can get the low down on Scottish law here)

Being Prepared

Whether its anal sex, oral sex or any other sexual activity its important to be prepared. The excellent Good Sex Is booklet written by LGBT Youth Scotland helps you prepare for sex by giving you the facts about sex and pleasure. It’s a handy run through of all the key points you need to think about if you’re a young guy having sex with other guys.  It’s great because it covers important stuff like talking to your partner, feeling in control and knowing how to have sex safely, plus straight forward, practical information about having anal, oral and other types of sex with guys.

You can download the “Good Sex Is” booklet by clicking here. You can also get more information on our young men page which has lots of great links to other resources and websites talking about sex and relationships for young gay and bisexual guys. 

So What Next?

Even although there isn’t an exact formula to let you know when you’re ready for your first time, there is information to help you feel confident you’re making the right choices for you when it comes to sex. You should never feel pressured into having sex and if you change your mind during sex… say so! Equally, you shouldn’t ever pressure your partner into doing things they don’t want to do. Both of you should feel ready for sex before anything happens.

There are lots of places you can get more information, advice or support about everything covered in this blog, or to find out about STI testing. You can also have a look at Sandyford's dedicated Young Peoples website for more information on lots of different sexual health topics.