My first kiss in my first relationship was a huge deal to me. I had never kissed anyone and I made it a huge deal because I wanted to have feelings for someone first and all that jazz. What happened, you ask? I missed his mouth. Completely. Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, I was 17.

I was a little embarrassed to say the least, and throughout the course of our relationship I was always insecure about my kissing ability and questioned him probably more than was necessary.

The same thing applies to a lot of people’s experiences losing their respective virginities, too. Nobody is expected to be perfect, but I’ve heard of people lasting less than 30 seconds, which is a little hard to feel good about. Luckily, my first time went a bit better than my first kiss (I didn’t miss that time), but having no experience is definitely hard to deal with.

In the case of not having experience, I recommend a healthy dose of bravado. Not cockiness — don’t act like you’re God’s gift to the sex world, but be comfortable and honest with yourself and your partner about your ability.

If it’s just a fling, no need to tell him you don’t have much experience, because chances are they don’t really care too much about your backstory, but if you have a relationship, your partner will most likely be willing to work with you and get you some experience.

There’s even a little bit of a professional field in that realm. There’s such a thing as a sex surrogate, who is someone trained to help inform individuals about sex.

This practice definitely isn’t your average sex class, though. Sometimes the sex surrogate will give a hands-on demonstration with his or her client. It’s one way of getting experience and it’s probably safer and more informative than hooking up, but it’ll cost a pretty penny.

On the flip side of the experience scale, it’s not always the best thing to have tons of experience. I’ve given numbers a lot of thought, and I don’t think it matters whether you’ve had sex with one person or 100 people, as long as you don’t have any diseases, but not everyone shares that viewpoint.

A lot of people are scared of others having a high number because of what it could say about their character. I have one friend who won’t deal with anyone who’s had sex with more than five people because she believes it speaks negatively of their moral values. Others just feel inadequate and insecure when their partner tells them their number.

It’s about walking the fine line between security and insecurity between both you and your current or future partner. If you’re single right now, think about the person you want to attract in the future, and if having a lot of sex might affect your chances of finding that person, use that to shape your decisions.

Ultimately, the choice falls to every individual. Sex is natural, so we can all figure it out from experience or otherwise, but if it makes you feel more comfortable to have some experience under your belt, go for it! Just make smart and safe choices.