Unrealistic "first times"

Why is it that “first times” in many romances are written as beautiful, extraordinary, perfectly sensual experiences?? They can be spicy and engaging, for sure, but they’re not very realistic most of the time. Can we all agree that sometimes they can actually be downright awkward? Does this lack of realism kill romances for anyone else?


You are absolutely correct. If two people engage in something as intimate as sex, and neither of them have any experience then it’s not possible that they’re going to be great at it the first time. They may know how it is supposed to work, but knowing how something is done and actually doing it right are two different things.


Exactly! And it doesn’t even have to be their first time in general, but maybe just their first time with each other. Maybe they’re nervous. Maybe one person is more experienced than the other. These are relatable situations, and deserve to be reflected in literature


I guess if the writers first time wasn’t awkward but something he/she saw as something beautiful they may not relate.


Also true! But to me not as many writers seem to want to incorporate real life worries into romances. And a lot of stuff seems too perfect almost. But maybe you’re right–maybe some people see it differently.

Yeah I mean they are romance novels. Where love is already much different than real life.


Fully agree.

I’ve seen several books on here where the MC acts like this pure soul, putting down other’s in her class for having sex with people and being sluts.

Next chapter she meets a guy. Two chapters later, she has sex with the guy. Suddenly it’s okay to have sex with someone she barely knows, it’s just not okay when other’s do it.

I’ve never written a character’s very first time having sex because I really don’t think I could capture it in the way it’s supposed to be captured. It should be awkward and not last long. There should be more realism to these scenes, but instead they’re written as these magical, beautiful moments, which they can be to an extent, but the other elements are missing, causing it to just look like a hot mess.

A poorly written sex scene can ruin even a great book. I don’t think writer’s get how difficult it really is to capture one of these scenes in a way that adds to the book and improves it. Instead, many just seem to write them because they think that’s what reader’s want.


Totally agree! It’s fiction, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t invoke real moments.

I’d probably stop reading at the slut shaming. I also think the age of the character matters too. If they’re really too young and neither knows what to do then yes but if they’re more mature it can be written another way.


Same here. And yeah, if the characters are more mature then it’s less tense/awkward. What I was originally trying to get at is how some romance writers seem to leave out the vulnerability and little moments, and instead opt for steamy, perfect nights–which are great to read and I’m sure fun to write–and take away some of the relatable emotions. Just a thought.


I had someone comment on my story the other day, thanking me for not having the girl orgasm during her first time - never thought I’d hear that as a compliment but I loved that they picked up on the fact! :ok_hand::blush:


I made my MC’s first time very awkward and quicker than the female mc thought it would be, but she didn’t regret it. I always read how the first time is suppose to be magical and I try not to judge since it might be different for everyone, but I decided to make mine awkward lol.


I haven’t written a first time, but the first time I have two characters sleep with one another I don’t make it perfect. I can’t, really – it seems too weird to me to write it that way.

I definitely write with rose tinted romance glasses, so it’s less awkward and more charming. The characters laugh together, someone stumbles a little while taking their pants off, they need help getting each other’s clothing undone, etc. The response to it is sweet and teasing, though, which sets the tone for the emotional connection I’m trying to develop (since I don’t write erotica, I focus more on the feels than the physicality).

I guess in other words, I write first time scenes that would theoretically be awkward if not for the connection the two characters have which, instead, makes them funny and fun and enjoyable even though it’s not MiraculousMultipleOrgasmFireworks.


Ive written “first times” in all three of my books. Twice for girls and once it was the guys.
I don’t think I romanticized it, in fact in my second book her virginity is lost in an…interesting way and its bloody and embarrassing but I think it still was a ‘moment’ for my readers (and characters)
I’ve read both romanticized scenes and real life virginity scenes, and as a reader I appreciate the ones that steer more towards reality.

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Good first-time sex is not unusual and I think it should be written about, Readers don’t want to read about bad or awkward sex. They have enough of that in real life. Many of them buy romance novels to find out the best things to do, so we as authors need to tell them. The only reason I can think of for writing bad sex is if that’s all you know. If you know about good sex there’s no way you’ll write about bad.

I mean, it might depend on who the first time is with. My first time was with another woman, and while it certainly wasn’t the greatest sex I ever had (we got better at it over time) it wasn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination.

I have no idea what it’s like for straight people, though.


I don’t think that everyone here is saying that you have to write terrible sex. I also don’t think that including realistic elements or some awkwardness means that the characters’ overall sexual experience was bad. My first time was full of nerves and jokes and pain, and we had no idea what we were doing, but I would still think of it as a good experience.

The way that sex is portrayed in romance novels is entirely unrealistic sometimes and that can be harmful. In teen or young adult fiction especially, I think that realistic depictions can be helpful for both education and self-esteem.


Let me put it like this, one word that sums up every unrealistic teen romance story, PROM.


So basically the same reason ppl watch porn? If all I was doing was having fantastic sex, I wouldn’t be writing romance novels. I’d be writing self-help books or a memoir instead. I’d prob be making more money that way. :wink:

It’s a “first time” and it’s not supposed to set the standard for somebody’s sex life, whether good or bad. You also won’t get better at sex by reading about the sexual encounters of two fictitious characters. I can understand if characters have good sex on the first try if the sexual tension was built up just right by the author (which is rare), but I insist that physical attraction alone may not fetch you those results, so then as writers, why not focus more on developing our characters and use bad sex as tool for it?

I don’t want to read about Mary Sue’s sex life, with its multiple orgasms and all. I’m personally more interested in the in-between type of sex. That’s more realistic to me.


To be honest, most of the heroines in my story are already sexually experienced, so this comes across as easy for them. The heroes actually have their first time with them, but since they are the focus of attention, not knowing anything doesn’t really affect them as much, especially because they don’t “go soft” like many do if something goes bad for them.