Which First Times Matter?
“First Vacation With Boyfriend—How to Plan for a Romantic Trip.”
“First Date Tips—First Date Advice for Women.”
“First Time Sex—Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had Sex.”
First kiss. First orgasm. First time meeting the family. According to these article titles, Cosmopolitan really knows what they’re talking about when dealing with first times. My 12-year-old self-learned—or thought she learned—a lot from these articles. Looking back several years later, I realize there is a point to be made about this culture.
With experience, it is easier to understand that, despite how often we discuss our first times, these are not the ones that actually matter. Hollywood tends to push for a certain agenda with movies like The Forty Year Old Virgin, Twilight, Endless Love, American Pie, Easy A; the list of movies with a “first time” storyline goes on and on. Personal experiences, however, often contradict these stereotypes.
Sophomore Ximena Delgado remembers her first date when she was 12 years old; she and her date went to the movies.
“The first time a guy asked me out, I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to wear? Do I have to smile? Do I have to hold his hand?’ I was so worried so I Googled the whole thing. And I want you to know that it was a terrible date,” she says.
Sophomore Chloe Ramos explains how Cosmopolitan articles did pique her curiosity, but were pretty much useless when looking for real advice. “There isn’t really a concrete answer for those things, and there shouldn’t be a concrete answer,” she says.
And she is right—there shouldn’t be. But if these articles and movies exist, it is because society created a successful myth around the concept of first times that makes them superficially important. This myth is what makes a lot of us wonder if we are doing the right thing at the right time. This led to the desire for answers which many of us have.
If we don’t go to these articles for advice, the first time—whatever it refers to—remains a scary and unknown territory that can create so much anxiety. When asked if she is still scared of first times today, Delgado said, “I certainly am.”
Although Ramos didn’t seek answers from magazine articles, she was, like most of us, trying to figure it out. “I think that when you’re younger you’re definitely searching for things that you can look at and base your life off of and see if you’re doing things the right way. Because you just don’t know,” she says.
Firsts aren’t always the most memorable moments of relationships. They are mostly moments that are labeled to prove to others, or maybe to ourselves, that we are doing it. We are in a relationship and we are doing it correctly. First-time stories are only the facades of our relationships—plain, impersonal, and universal.
“I definitely feel like there are moments that are way more special than first times. I feel like we try to make first times so big and make them more important than they have to be, and we put so much more pressure on them,” Delgado says. “I do think that they are important in some way, but I don’t think that we should base our relationships on those things.”
Ramos can’t remember her first time holding hands with someone. Most of us probably don’t. But she remembers the first time her freshman year boyfriend held her hand on the street.
“We were walking down the street and we were talking and then he put his hand over here and I was like, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on.’ And then he stopped the thing he was saying and said, ‘Wait, could you like hold my hand for a second?’ and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. Okay.’ And it was just so cute,” she says.
What movies fail to mention is that just because it’s your first time doesn’t mean that it is the end-all-be-all first time. If today I don’t remember my first kiss as much, it is because I didn’t care as much.
The typical “first time” Hollywood storyline almost always, if not always, covers themes of romantic relationships. However, first times are also at the center of family and friend relationships as well and can stick with us just as much.
Ramos easily remembers the first time she made a friend. Until sixth grade, Ramos explains how she was always friends with her sister’s friends. So the first time she made a friend independently from her sister, the memory stuck.
First times should be individual and personal. This truth extends even today. Here I am, writing about this over-covered topic, and here you are, again, reading about it. The hype that surrounds first times makes money in Hollywood by telling people what they want to hear. These articles serve as our personal fortune tellers. They reassure us. We all want to know what’s behind the curtain. But the truth is, there isn’t any universal truth.
Art by: Olivia Kelliher