Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of my own sexual experiences. If reading about my sex life might be TMI for you, then you’ll want to skip this post.
How I lost my virginity–in the heteronormative, genital intercourse sense–was more of a process than a discrete event. I want to tell this story because this experience had a major impact on the person who I grew into.
My first partnered sexual experiences happen with a person we’ll call B, my first high school boyfriend. He has a reputation as the smartest guy in our class, the way that I’m supposedly the smartest girl. B leaves me a note tucked inside a Dragonlance book he’s loaned me, confessing that he has a crush on me. I don’t feel that attracted to him…but as an unpopular nerd, I’m desperate for a boyfriend. Besides, our classmates have been saying the two of us geeks are meant to be together. So I agree to go out with him.
Keep in mind that at this time, I am still very Christian. I have been raised as a conservative Lutheran, and I go to Sunday School and church service with my family every week. I believe with all my heart that I should not have sex until marriage.
B is the first guy that I’ve ever made out with. We’re never allowed to be in a bedroom together with the door completely closed, but, since our parents trust us, we can work around it. We end up fooling around in his rec room downstairs, and I am constantly worried that someone is going to walk in on us. I feel tinges of fear and shame, but everything feels so good.
The more things I try, and the more things that feel good, the more my definition of what counts as sex starts to change. So at first, I’m pretty sure that we’re not supposed to touch each other’s genitals at all. But hand jobs feel pretty good…and things go further from there. After a while I decide that as long as his penis does not enter my vagina, I am still a virgin. And finally, it’s, “It doesn’t count as sex as long as he doesn’t ejaculate inside me.”
And then one night B calls me and tells me that when we were playing around the night before, he had come inside me.
I can’t possibly stretch my definition any farther: I am definitely not a virgin anymore.
The next two weeks are the most miserable two weeks of my entire life. I am crushed with guilt and paralyzed with fear. Here I am, valedictorian of my class, a good girl. I can’t imagine being pregnant. We haven’t been using birth control because a) my Lutheran church doesn’t approve of giving unmarried people access to birth control, and b) at least in my mind, we weren’t actually having sex.
B tries to console me by saying that statistically speaking, there’s probably only a 1% chance I am pregnant. It doesn’t help. I am now impure. My virginity is gone; I have disobeyed my family and God. I will have to keep listening to my Sunday School teachers and pastors praising abstinence, feeling secretly ashamed at what I’ve done. At the end of those two weeks, my period finally arrives, and I am almost sick with relief.
Later that year, I leave Christianity behind me. I vow that when I’m in college and out of my parents’ reach, I will get on birth control, find someone who I can trust, and have sex that I can enjoy. I want to have sex without fear, guilt, or shame.
Fortunately, I can say that I did eventually have many more positive experiences with my sexuality. Contrasting those good experiences with my early ones has lead me to hate the way my culture fetishizes virginity (particularly with respect to heterosexual genital penetrative intercourse). I absolutely cannot stand how much value is placed on that particular experience: who is a virgin, who’s slept with a virgin, when and how you’re supposed to lose your virginity, and more. There’s so much hype placed on having a “perfect” first time…but it takes a while to learn what kind of sex you want and how to have it. It’s unreasonable to expect sex without glitches–and in the end, sex can be awkward and funny and messy and fun all at once.
If you’re interested in having a particular sexual experience, your first time doing it will be exactly that: the first, just one in a set of potentially many experiences over a lifetime. And if there’s a particular experience you’re not interested in trying for whatever reason–that’s fine, too.
That said, I won’t say that a first time has absolutely no value. I would never want anyone else to have an experience like mine. It matters to me that people be able to have the kinds of experiences they want, on their own terms (with informed consent from everyone involved).
I think that for a long time, I was hoping I would forget everything that happened with B and everything that I put myself through. Part of me still regrets that I ever dated B, but now I acknowledge that the process of losing my virginity helped shape who I’ve become. I’m a person who cherishes my sexuality and my desire to explore it as integral parts of who I am.