A guide for a young man in his early teens

Jake Orlowitz
Apr 27, 2017 · 12 min read

I was recently was asked to give some advice to another young man about sex. Here’s what I came up with and wish I had heard at his age.


tldr; Your body is going to change a lot and it’s perfectly normal. You’re going to smell if you don’t wash every part every day and use toothpaste, deodorant, and soap. Accept yourself however you are and whoever you’re attracted to — and accept others too. Sex will happen but it’s not the most important part of your life or even growing up. Wear a condom. Ask questions: it’s ok if you don’t know something. Listen when someone says no; only touch someone with their permission. Orgasms are great, and most women take longer to get fully aroused. Masturbation is healthy, but avoid too much porn. Enjoy sex by finding out what you and your partner like. To do that you have to talk about what you like and listen to what they like. Have fun! Respect the person you’re with, even you’re not right for each other. Take care of yourself and others will want to be with you. Maturing is about how you handle yourself not what you have or haven’t done. Treat women as equals and stand up for them. All parts of the body can feel good, but every body is different; in any case, keep your body clean! Learn from the differences between you and the people you like. All of this is exciting and maybe even scary — but you’ll do great.


PUBERTY: It happens to everyone, but it happens at different times. Between 10 and 15 you might be more or less short or tall, hairy, muscular, smelly, and interested in sex than others. Don’t worry, it will happen and it’s not a race. One thing that happens which is pretty cool is your body will start to make cum when you orgasm and your penis gets bigger. It will be big enough — and size is nothing to worry about. Much more important is how you treat the person you’re with. Less cool is that pretty much every part of you starts to get dirty and you have to wash every day to stay appealing and not gross.

ACCEPT: Whatever you think or like or feel is ok. Accept what you prefer, what you desire, and what you dislike. Accept the same in your partner. Sex is best when you accept who you are, how you look, how you feel, and what you want. Sex is best when you accept who the other person as they are, as they feel and what they want. Accept that you may like a girl, or a guy, or both. Accept that you may feel like you are a guy, a girl, or a mix at different times. Accept that you are unique and complex. Accept that you won’t know most of this until you try a lot of different things with different people.

SEX: Almost everyone has sex at some point in their lives. It’s really natural. It is an incredible way to be close to someone you care about. It’s not the best or most important thing you’ll ever do, unless you find the right person to do it with. It is great, but usually not at first, and the beginning times you do it are usually pretty clumsy. That’s normal. Just like any skill, you have to practice and learn and that happens with lots of little mistakes. Find someone you can have fun learning with.

SEMEN: Cum makes babies when it meets an egg. If you’re not ready to make babies, keep your cum outside of and away from a woman’s vagina. Because you’re not in control of how or when you cum, don’t put your penis or cum on or inside a vagina unless you’re ready to have a baby or using birth control (pill, condom…). Semen also can contain diseases, so have sex with people who have been responsible and be responsible with them no matter what.

INQUIRE: We’re not born knowing what to do with our bodies, or our feelings, or our relationships. Be curious and ask questions and learn from other people’s experience. Ask people you trust. Ask your doctor. Ask your friends. Ask both guys and girls. It’s good to ask — it helps you learn and shows others that it’s ok not to know, nothing to be ashamed of. The person who knew nothing yesterday and asks today is the person who knows tomorrow.

OPEN: Sex is about being open to another person, to new experiences, to your body and theirs, your desires and theirs. A good way to approach sex is like an adventure with two people where you don’t know how it will end up but you know the journey will be awesome. A lot of the best experiences will happen because you’re open to them. Sometimes that means being vulnerable about what you’re unsure of, afraid of, confused about, or embarrassed to share. Trust with another person makes being open feel great, even if it’s scary at first. Find someone you can be open with and then you’ll learn and grow no matter what happens.

NO: No is not a bad word. It’s one of the most important words you’ll ever hear and you shouldn’t be afraid of it. If you try to do something sexual and someone says no, STOP. That is their limit. Respect it and immediately give them enough space to feel comfortable. “No” can also happen if you like someone and ask them to hang out or kiss or go on a date. If someone says no, it’s for the best — a relationship can’t work if two people aren’t both interested in each other. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, just that it’s not a match. Some people are afraid of rejection, but it’s actually just the fastest way to avoid wasting your time with someone who isn’t into you. Listen to no, it’s not a bad word.

CONSENT: Anything two adults both agree to do is ok, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. It’s never ok to do something if the other person doesn’t want or agree to it. It’s never ok to force someone to do something they don’t want to do, and the best way of avoiding that is just asking, “is it ok if…” or “can i…” or “do you want to…”? It’s never ok for someone to pressure you either into doing what you don’t want to or agree to do. A kid, even an older kid can’t consent to an adult because they don’t have enough power and knowledge for it to be fair. Consent with someone you do like isn’t awkward — it’s easy, and it’s mature, and if you are with the right person it’s sexy.

ORGASM: Orgasms feel really good, but they’re not the only point of sex. Women often take longer than men, so it’s important to spend a lot of time getting a woman you’re with in the mood through touching and talking. Womens’ bodies are more complex, but the simple path to their pleasure is a lot of respect and knowing where the clitoris is (on the outside of the vagina, right below the pubic bone, at the top between the labia) It’s much more sensitive than a penis, so be gentle and make sure it’s got some kind of moisture on it (spit is ok, or the vagina is just an inch or so below the clitoris and it gets wet if she is relaxed and aroused). When you find a way of touching and a rhythm of touching that feels good to a woman, repeat it. You’ll have to experiment to find what that is. Womens’ bodies also enjoy being touched in multiple places at once: kissing a neck while touching a breast, while stroking a clitoris, while also having something around the entry or inside of the vagina is often better than just sticking a finger inside someone. Often people can’t orgasm with a partner until they learn how to give one to themselves alone. If someone doesn’t orgasm it’s not a failure, just more to learn. Be patient, reassuring, and listen.

MASTURBATION: It’s healthy, feels good, and let’s you get to know your body. When you do it, find some privacy and clean up after yourself. That’s it, and enjoy it. Also use something that slides not rubs on your skin. Try to avoid too much porn, because real experiences are better and you want your brain to have a realistic expectation of what real sex is like. Porn is junk food and a healthy sexual life involves a full and nourishing meal. Porn is pretty addictive and so the brain tends to want more of it, sometimes preferring it to real people. Masturbation won’t make you sick or blind or sinful or bad. It will make you feel good.

ENJOY: The key to sex is expressing what you like and *listening* to what the other person likes, and dislikes. This doesn’t always require talking but sometimes just about a little sound or a movement of a body. You can’t know what you want if you don’t experiment. If you want to try something new, ask, and if you like it, say so or show it. If you are doing something with someone else, listen or ask if they like something, and if they do, do more of that! If they don’t then stop or have a conversation. Sex is not about ‘getting somewhere’ but feeling good in the moment with the person you’re with. It’s not about collecting achievements but enjoying experiences and a connection.

SYNC: Sex is taking two different people with different thoughts and feelings and desires and finding the area where you both feel good and comfortable together. The easiest way to get here is lots of good communication, loosening up your expectations about things are ‘supposed’ to be be like, and getting into a rhythm with another person. That takes practice, and the longer you’re with someone in a good relationship the better you can get in sync. New sex is exciting, but sex-in-sync is deeply satisfying. Both are good, and when you find someone that’s both exciting and satisfying to be with you’ll know it’s right and you’re really lucky.

FUN: Sexuality should be fun. Even though it can have major consequences, as long as you’re responsible, it doesn’t have to be overly serious. It’s not like in the movies, always perfect. Romance happens sometimes and it’s great, but most often sex can be silly or surprising or messy or just new. Accept all of that and you’ll have many more wild and romantic and fun and pleasurable experiences.

RESPECT: Consent is about permission, but respect is more than that. Respect is when you pay attention to another person, listen to them, and validate what they’re feeling or experiencing. Respect is about being honest, not misleading people, not manipulating people, and trying to bring out the best in them. Sometimes that means you’ll learn that a person just isn’t right for you, or you’re not right for them, or one of you is not ready for what the other wants. The respectful thing to do in that situation is to kindly tell them that you think it’s not going to work and you think they’re great but not right for you or where you’re at. There are a lot of great people in the world but they won’t all be right for you. That also means you can be a great person and still not be right for someone else.

OPPORTUNITY: The best way to ‘get some’ is to take good care of yourself, your body, your mind, and your feelings. If you follow what you like and build your own independent strengths, skills, hobbies, knowledge, and happiness then people will want to be with you — more importantly you’ll be ok even when they don’t. When you find someone you’re interested in, just make casual contact with them until you’re comfortable enough to ask to spend some time with them. Take care of your hygiene (face, mouth, underarms, butt, penis). Make the person you’re with laugh. Do something exciting together. Find out about them and don’t just talk about yourself: ask and then listen. “Oh that’s cool… tell me more…what else…” opens a lot of doors.

MATURITY: You’re not mature because you have sex or are sexual. Rather, when you are ready to handle intimacy with another person, sex will happen. Maturity is about taking responsibility for your actions and being considerate about other people and how what you do can impact them. Maturity doesn’t mean giving up fun, it means taking care of what you need to so that you can have more fun.

CULTURE: You’re a man in a culture where women are often treated like objects — something to win, or control, or dominate, or value less. This sucks for them, but it’s also not good for you, even if you can treat some women that way and get away with it. As a man you have the power to set an example about how other people should be treated. Treat them like equals: strong, smart, creative, individuals — just like you. Watching too much porn can make thinking this way more difficult. It’s natural to look around at lots of people and find them attractive. It’s tempting sometimes to find the “hottest” or “most popular” person and wish you were with them. That’s normal but you’ll be happier if you find someone you like for your own reasons and get to know them for who they are and not how they just appear. If you see a woman being talked about or treated poorly, don’t go along with it, and even better say something. “That’s not cool…” can change people’s mind and gain you respect. If you do ‘get some’, don’t brag about it or share details with everyone. Just say “we had a good time” and smile, respecting both of your privacy and integrity.

ANATOMY: There’s no part of the body that can’t give you or someone else pleasure, but every body is different even with similar parts. There’s no part of the body or interaction between two people that’s wrong or dirty, as long as there’s consent and responsible hygiene. There are body parts that tend to be more sensitive, and that’s the lips, ears, neck, breasts, nipples, balls, butt, tip of the penis, labia, clitoris, opening of the vagina, and inside of the vagina below the belly button but on the inside. While these parts are often sensitive, some like to be bitten or kissed or licked or stroked or pressed or pulled, and some people like it harder or softer, more often or less often. Respect that. Enjoy that. The ‘bases’ are not a checklist of trophies to win, but a rough guide of how to go from relaxed to really aroused. Keep your hair, face, teeth, underarms, balls, head of your penis, butt, and feet clean every day. (Uncircumcised pro-tip: if you have a foreskin, you have to pull it back and clean underneath it with soap every day or else it will stink).

RELATE: It’s often said that “opposites attract” and many of your early relationships will be with people who are different than you. This is a natural way to grow and learn not just what other people know that you don’t, but how to interact with difference. The key is being clear and open about who you are, interested in how other people see and do things differently, and easygoing about talking through differences. Any two people can find a way to get along great if they can communicate, listen, and learn from each other. The person you end up with won’t be ‘just like you’, but will be someone worth learning from.

EXCITEMENT: All of this change and growth and opportunity can be really, really stimulating. It can also be overwhelming or even scary. Whatever you feel is natural and ok. It will work out. There will be ups and downs. Some things will make you feel incredible and strong and loved, and other things will make you feel embarrassed or sad or left out. This is all part of the journey. You’ll do great.

Take care of yourself, and learn from your partner, and you’ll have great sex.

The J Curve

It gets better. First, it gets worse.

Jake Orlowitz

Written by

Internet citizen. Seeker of well people and sane societies. Head of The Wikipedia Library — @WikiLibrary. Happy to have works (re)published!

The J Curve

It gets better. First, it gets worse.

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