When my doctor found out I was 23 and a virgin, she told me I deserved a prize. ‘Oh my goodness,’ she said, ‘I have girls coming in here as young as 10 who have had sex.’ (Sorry, WHAT?)
At 23, being a virgin was not something I was proud of. I had many, many high school crushes, but no sweethearts.
I refused to let my best friend drunkenly take my first kiss on the slippery dining hall dance floor at a college party, even though it probably would have made for a better story than being peer-pressured into a drunken hook-up at a pub three years later.
I ended up seeing that guy for two months after. I’m not sure why. It never felt right. We never had sex.
At 23, I figured I had waited SO long to lose my virginity that I might as well wait for the right person. You know, someone I loved. Someone that knew me well enough to know I’d be a nervous, inexperienced wreck who would re-live and overanalyse the whole ordeal for days/weeks/months afterwards. Someone that was warm and generous and kind. Someone that loved me too.
Besides listening to my girlfriends gush about their magical sex lives, I didn’t really know what I was missing out on. I had never flown solo, and never, ever – you know – finished. They didn’t understand how I did it – or more to the point, didn’t. One of my friends even bought me a vibrator because she felt SO sorry for my pitiful sex life.
Peggy Orenstein on hookup-culture, casual sex, and our girls. Post continues after audio.
But for me, it was normal. Sure, I had DREAMS of wild sex in unimaginable positions and places, being tied up, blindfolded, hair pulled. I had days that I could barely concentrate because I was so bloody toey, but I had waited so long already… what was another few weeks/months/years to my life?
And then I found him, the right person. And I immediately regretted holding onto my virginity for so long. After four years at college, I regretted not just popping the cherry with a sleazy guy from the uni bar or my gay best friend when he offered. I felt like I could have skipped right past the awkward, I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing and WHY-THE-HECK-AM-I-BLEEDING? and been happily banging my way through life.
I could have bypassed the Napisan aisle and gone straight for the strawberries, chocolate dipping sauce and whatever other kinky stuff people are into. I could have actually got drunk playing Never Have I Ever instead of slinking in the corner, hoping no-one noticed that my drink was still full. I could have been having amazing sex with someone I loved. STRAIGHT AWAY. Right. Now. RIGHT-THIS-VERY-SECOND.
Instead, I was left feeling guilty and anxious every time he was – you know – generous. Because he was leg-shakingly, ear-ringingly amazing. Because he clearly knew what he was doing and I did not. Because I knew I could never be THAT good in return when I didn’t have any practice. At all. Ever.