WELCOME TO THE CLARK PROJECT
FIRST TIME SEX (FTS)
SCROLL DOWN TO HAVE A LOOK AT PRELIMINARY SURVEY RESULTS
This project provides information and advice for people considering becoming sexually active. The information comes from people who’ve already had their first sexual experience.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
This website has two objectives:
Provide young women and men with accurate information about what “first experiences” are like as reported by people who’ve already “been there, done that.”
Provide parents and guardians with talking points for constructive discussions with young people on the subject of sexuality.
To accomplish these objectives, we’ve surveyed people in all walks of life, all sexual preferences, and all ages in order to find out what their first sexual experience was like. Here, on this website, we’re making that information available to anyone who’s interested.
WHY WE’RE DOING THIS
Because why not? There isn’t one good reason to avoid respectful, age-appropriate discussions about sex. Conversely, there are many good reasons to have such a conversation. In spite of that, most parents don’t talk with their kids about sex, and almost no parents discuss virgin sex with their adolescent children. Why? Because it’s highly personal, for one thing. For another thing, parents may fear that an open discussion about sex can be construed as encouragement. Finally, no one has more than one virgin experience. Unless they’ve made a study out of it, no one is experienced on the topic of virgin sexual encounters.
HOW WE’RE DOING IT
To gather information we’ve administered questionnaires and personal interviews to people from all walks of life who have already had their first sexual experience. In addition to the basics (date of birth, age at which you first had sex, zip code) we also ask about regrets, about whether the experience was spontaneous or planned, whether it involved social or romantic pressure, whether it was respectful, what contributed to the decision to have sex, what might have improved it, and any advice for people considering becoming sexually active. Unlike most sex education programs, the FTS project approaches virgin sexuality from an emotional and social perspective in order to address the most burning questions young people have about sex.
We want to help young people make good, responsible decisions. We believe it’s worth taking the time to become informed on the emotional and social aspects of sexuality, and we hope you find this information as helpful and interesting as we intend it to be.
Clark Project Survey
Data have been collected on a total of 70 individuals responding to prompts in a newspaper ad, on Twitter, on a Website (ClarkProject.com), and through personal circulation and requests. Initial surveys were completed by a handful of women in person-to-person interviews in an East Lansing, Michigan area church. Approximately 50 percent of the persons scheduled for the church surveys were no-shows. Responses have been slow – with over a year elapsing since this survey was initiated. All persons willing to participate in this survey are encouraged to click the hyperlink at the bottom of this page and fill out the questionnaire. For the purposes of this survey, the word “sex” refers to consensual sex between any two people of any race, age, culture, or sexual persuasion. It does not include “making out” or “heavy petting.” It does include either oral or vaginal penetration. This project is confidential and anonymous.
Age/Birth Control/Shared Information
Ages of respondents ranged from 13 to 72 years of age, with the average being 24. Thirteen and 14 year olds made up 52 percent of respondents. The average for their virgin sex experience was 14.4 years. Other surveys on this topic have estimated the average age for first time sex at about 17 years, a substantial deviation from the results of this survey which could be explained by several factors, including the use of social media to encourage participation.
Thirty-six percent of respondents reported having known their partner for less than one month, with an additional 21 percent reporting they had known him/her for one month. Another 21 percent knew their partner for over a year before having sex together. One-third of respondents indicated this was also their partner’s virgin experience.
Only 12 percent of participants reported having used birth control for their first experience. While this number is concerning, it’s also true that most of these experiences were unplanned, and many of the female respondents may not have started menstruating. One respondent reported becoming pregnant on her virgin experience.
Ten percent of the persons completing this survey reported having shared information about their experience with someone beforehand. In all of those cases, they shared information with a friend. No one shared information with a doctor, a mentor, a family member, or a parent.
Nine percent of respondents reported using either drugs or alcohol before or during their virgin experience – a relatively low number when considering overall patterns of substance use.
While many (not all) people may consider privacy an important factor when considering having sex, a full 73 percent of people in this sample were not able to lock a door or otherwise ensure their privacy. This turns out to be a substantial issue to many respondents when looking back on their experience – 63 percent felt apprehensive about being seen or interrupted during their sexual experience.
A majority (54 percent) of respondents indicated they were pressured to have sex while 45 percent indicated they “decided for themselves.” Seventy percent of those who felt pressured indicated that the pressure came from their partner, while four percent indicated the pressure had come from friends.
Just under one-third of respondents indicated having reached orgasm during their virgin experience. As more data are collected, it will be interesting to examine whether this variable is related to other issues, including feelings of respect, education, or social pressure.
Fifty-one percent of participants in this study indicated they were treated either “very respectfully” or “respectfully.” Forty-two percent said they were treated neither respectfully nor disrespectfully. Six percent reported being treated disrespectfully. As the sample size in the Clark Project grows, the issue of “respect” will be of particular interest as it becomes possible to explore feelings of respect as they relate to issues such as privacy, age, and orgasm.
Relationship with Partner
Among Clark Project respondents, 39 percent of women reported that their first experience was with “a friend.” Another 32 percent indicated their experience was with someone they had a crush on, and about 11 percent reported it was someone they had a steady relationship with – a response that was tied with “someone they had not previously known.”
Eighteen percent of respondents indicated that their first sexual experience was very painful. An additional 27 percent indicated that it was painful, and 24 percent indicated that it was not very painful. A lucky 24 percent said it was not at all painful, while six percent didn’t remember.
A total of 43 percent of respondents indicated feeling “happy” after their first experience, with another seven percent saying they were “relieved.” This brings the total to 50 percent of respondents having positive feelings in response to their experience.
Unfortunately, not all respondents were pleased about their experience. Twenty percent were regretful, while an additional 29 percent indicated feeling either confused or angry.
Only nineteen percent of respondents indicated feeling a greater sense of connection with the world following their virgin experience. Some might describe this as a feeling that they were finally “in on the big secret.”
Of all the respondents, about 22 percent were still in a relationship with their first partner when they took the survey.
Among those who felt regretful about their experience, reasons included:
I wanted to remain in the relationship permanently, and I didn’t.
I was embarrassed when s/he told his or her friends.
I wasn’t ready.
I was afraid I was pregnant.
I wish we had known more.
I wish we had used birth control.
I wish I could still be a virgin.
How I Could Improve the Experience
If I’d been more knowledgeable.
It would have improved things if we hadn’t done it.
More open discussion.
Someone I loved as a partner.
More experienced partner.
Sex education and/or parental advice.
I should have waited until I was older and better prepared.
A more considerate partner.
Not having an audience.
A better emotional connection.
Romance, like maybe flowers or music.
I should have waited for someone I cared more about.
If you could say anything you wanted to your partner now, what would it be?
Did it mean anything to you?
Thank you (14).
Don’t tell anyone.
You were a toad.
Thanks for ruining it for me.
You shouldn’t have treated me like I was disposable. I had feelings.
I regret ever talking to you.
I’m sorry I made you do something you were uncomfortable doing at first.
Care about me too.
You took advantage of me.
More oral sex.
You shouldn’t have done it.
I’d tell him to stay away from me.
Hey there. Hope all is well.
Among the Clark Project’s participants, sexual orientation was as follows:
Nine percent heterosexual male
61 Percent heterosexual female
Nine percent gay men
Zero percent lesbian
18 percent bisexual
Three percent questioning/searching
Suggestions & Advice
About one-third of participants answered the question “If you could provide any kind of helpful suggestions, advice, or guidance to people contemplating their first sexual experience, what would it be? Responses are as follows:
Make sure you really want to do it And do it with somebody that you trust
Make sure to use protection.
Be prepared and use birth control.
Make sure it’s with someone who cares about you
Seek information from someone you trust.
Don’t have an audience.
If you can, have the experience with someone you care about and have an emotional connection with. Don’t rush. Setting and atmosphere matter.
It’s different for everyone. Be empowered to say no if you don’t feel ready but also don’t be pressured into feeling it should be meaningful; it doesn’t have to be. Sex can just be about the physical. Some people need an emotional connection for sex to work well, some people don’t. However, it does tend to be better with a partner you trust/can talk to/have the opportunity to work on what works.
Make sure you’re treated with respect. Be certain to use birth control and plan this event ahead of time. Make sure the plans include a room with a lock. Don’t treat your partner as a priority if he’s treating you like an option.
Other Comments from Respondents
It hurt at first because I wasn’t adequately aroused and moist, and he had problems finding my opening and pushed around hard outside before he got it to go inside.
Like every other situation in life, be in and respect the moment and the person you’re having it with. Having sex, however defined, with another person for the very first time, is something that only comes once in someone’s life. Whether you are the one having that experience, the one someone is having it with, or you are both having it with each other, be mindful, and present. Both for yourself and for them. It’s hopefully going to be wonderful. With a real and honest connection it will be even more so.
Virgin sex can be a wonderful experience or it can be a disaster. Think ahead about what you want it to be like, then have a discussion and make your feelings known.
These results reflect surveys completed through mid-August, 2019. Interest in and responses to the survey have increased gradually since the survey was first posted, but the overall number of responses is low, perhaps due to the highly personal nature of the information involved. Several responses have come in via the internet since mid-August, but are not included in these results. As more results come in, results will be updated.
As a public health researcher, the most notable number in this survey is the average number reported for “age at the time of first sex,” which is 14.4 years for males and females combined. This is a much different number than that reported by the Kinsey Report (Indiana University) which puts females at 17.2 and males at 16.9 years of age at the time of their first sexual experience. In fact, a review of the literature on this topic places the U.S. average age at anywhere from 17 years to 18 years of age. The discrepancy in those results and the results in this survey can be explained in several ways, the most likely being selection bias. The type of person who is willing to complete this survey such may also be the type of person who is likelier to become sexually active at an earlier age. Another important aspect of this survey is the low percentage (12 percent) of persons who utilized any method of birth control during their first sexual experience. Because of their age (several respondents reported being 12 years old at the time of their virgin experience) several had not yet reached menarche; among these, many felt that, as a consequence, they couldn’t become pregnant. One such woman started menstruating two weeks following her first sexual experience, and counted herself fortunate not to have become pregnant. One respondent reported becoming pregnant on her virgin experience.
Only 12 percent of respondents reported having shared information with anyone about their plans to become sexually active. This low number can be explained by the fact that in most cases (88 percent) respondents indicated that their experience was unplanned. Of those who did share information, all of them limited their interaction to friends. Not unexpectedly, no one shared this information with a parent or a mentor.
Less than one-third of respondents reported reaching orgasm. As the number of male respondents in this survey increases, more information is expected to become available on the relationship of orgasm to other variables, such as birth control and respect
A total of 49 percent of respondents reported having negative feelings following their first sexual experience, with comments on the subject including “lack of information,” the lack of an orgasm, the need for a more experienced partner, and the absence of birth control. In the comments sections, many respondents expressed regret over not having waited longer before becoming sexually active.
Many respondents included observations and information that weren’t specifically requested in the survey. Five percent of respondents reported that their first experience was with a sibling. One additional respondent indicated that the experience took place with a cousin.
Finally, of all the of motivating factors involved in the decision to become sexually active, the least frequently mentioned was “love” at 12.5 percent. Curiosity and social pressure were by far the most frequently mentioned factors in this decision.
If you have questions or comments about this survey, please feel free to contact us at EdithAClark@gmail.com.