I really love this website, & I'm pretty sure I've read all of the articles on here (many twice). I still have a question, though.
I'm a 20 year old female who has had no sexual encounters, but want to be totally prepared whenever those opportunities arise. In a lot of the articles, you say in order to successfully move onto vaginal intercourse with a partner it is important to have participated in the precursors beforehand (i.e. cuddling, kissing, manual sex, oral sex, etc). This makes perfectly logical sense, and I agree with it, but I personally am shyer about manual and oral sex than I am about vaginal intercourse. Is that normal? How do I get over it?
I'm glad you've found things on the website that have been useful for you! Being educated about your body and about safer sex practices goes a long way toward making sex both safer and more enjoyable when we are ready for it and do want to be engaged in it.
Keep in mind here that there is no one, perfect progression that every sexual relationship will take (or should take). If you are personally not comfortable with a given type of sex, then you certainly are not required to engage in it. You should never do anything you do not want to do. If oral sex is just not your thing, then that's fine. Lots of people have various activities that either don't do a thing for them or that they don't like.
All that said, it is very important to engaged in foreplay and other activities that get you comfortable with a partner before jumping into vaginal (or anal) intercourse. That's what the articles are really getting at, rather than trying to prescribe a set order of activities. There are several reasons for that. First off, obviously there are many other things that go into arousal. Women are not primed and ready for penetration 24-hours a day, so rushing ahead to penetration before your body has had a chance to relax and become aroused is not likely to be a very enjoyable experience. Also, intercourse on it's own doesn't do a lot for most women. If you've read the articles, you've probably noted that for women, most of the really sensitive areas on the genitals are not really likely to get a lot of attention during intercourse unless the people in question make it a point to contact them. The external vulva, clitoris, and only the front part of the vaginal canal itself are really nerve rich. So foreplay and other sexual activities are really important in arousal and in general enjoyment of sexual activity for women. Also, it's important to be comfortable with a partner and understand their body and their likes (and have them understand your body and your likes) before rushing into an activity like intercourse. If you're not comfortable touching a partner's genitals or having them touch your genitals in any way, that's probably a good sigh that you're not ready to be having other types of sex with them. (Please note I said touching in any way...so if you're not cool with oral, that's totally ok. You just want to be careful if you're feeling too shy or afraid to have any other contact with someone's genitals or them with yours.)
Remember as well that we're talking in generalities and about hypothetical situations here. It is not at all uncommon to feel more comfortable or less shy when we actually have a person in mind that we are actually interested in having sex with. So you may find that you feel shy about it in general, but when you have someone you are interested in, you may feel quite differently. It's also important to just take your time with things. When you are with someone (whether that's in a serious relationship, a not-so-serious relationship, a short relationship, a long relationship, or whatever), you'll have a feeling about how things should progress in that situation. It may not be the same in every situation, but that doesn't matter. Trust your instincts and go with your gut about what feels right to YOU at any given time and what you feel comfortable and safe with.