sex

'I was a virgin until I was 26. I felt like an outsider.'

When I was 24, I left a Pentecostal church I’d grown up in. I joined at 14, before I’d even considered holding a guy’s hand, let alone gotten my head around dating.

I met my first boyfriend in church, but we never had sex - it was a total before-marriage nope, so when I stopped feeling connected to church and left that community, in terms of sex, I was as green as they come. 

Blow jobs? Couldn’t even imagine them. Casual hook ups? Something I’d only experienced via The O.C. It was like my 14-year-old self still inhabited my body, except now I was 26 and everyone around me was doing it, talking about doing it, and assuming that I was doing it, too.

While you're here, watch a group of adults who've never had sex share what they think their first time would be like. Post continues after video.


Video via ABC's You Can't Ask That.

The game 'Never Have I Ever' is the literal worst when you aren’t sexually active. It came up a lot as I adjusted to the real world via new friends and house parties. 

"Never have I ever had sex in a tent," one person would say, throwing back some warm beer with a sly grin on their face, as others rolled their eyes and took furtive sips. 

"Never have I ever given head in a public place," someone else would volunteer, and another four people would swig. 

I’d usually just quietly leave the circle and go find the smokers area. I didn’t even smoke, I just felt like the awkwardness of not smoking with smokers was better than the awkwardness of admitting I’d never even seen a penis before.

For a few years, I just focused on everything else I’d missed out on - travel I’d postponed because I was committed to so many church activities, partying, movies and shows I wasn’t supposed to watch, all of that. 

Eventually, I wanted to date, and I really wanted to have sex, but I also wasn’t confident enough to just sleep with someone just to get it over with. 

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I fully support this choice if it’s right for you, by the way. The idea that our "virginity" is something we should give away as a prize is archaic. If you want to get it over with, get it over with! I was just too nervous to feel comfortable with a stranger.

My first post-church date was with a friend of a friend. He’d asked me out after meeting me at a party, and we had an amazing, tipsy pash on a ripped couch in this tiny dive bar. 

I remember it so clearly – he brought back a round of beers, put them on the table, and just took my face in his hands and went for it. It was hot and sexy and I could feel his erection through his jeans. That scared me, and when he asked if I wanted to go back to his place I panicked, made up an excuse, and fled in an Uber.

That fizzled, but within months I’d fallen hard for a co-worker at the retail store I worked at. I was obsessed with him, like obsessed. Eventually, we got drunk together at a work party and wound up in a dark corner making out. We went back to his place. We got in bed - me, naively thinking he’d expect to just make out with me for a bit then we’d fall asleep in each other’s arms, fully clothed.

When things got really heated, I stopped. "What’s wrong?" he asked. "Let’s just take it slow," I said, smiling. I liked the guy! I didn’t think this would be a problem. 

"You’re not a virgin, are you?" he said jokingly, before realising that the way I stiffened and the look on my face said, well, yes.

The next day at work, he told me he "couldn’t do the virgin thing" and "wasn’t looking for anything serious, anyway".

I was crushed. 

As so many of us often do, I blamed myself for the relationship imploding. I was an idiot; I told myself - I should have just had sex with him, even though I didn’t feel comfortable going from 0 to 100 like that. I should just f**k anyone to get it out of the way, because no one was going to date me as a virgin.

I felt like a social pariah. This weird human anomaly. I was on the outside looking in on all these hyper-sexually active, confident people sleeping around with ease, and falling in love in the process. I wanted to hide my virginity away from everyone, but also wanted to experience first-time sex with someone I could be open and honest with.

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It was just a few months later that another co-worker, someone I hadn’t even thought of romantically, asked me out. It was totally out of the blue and I really only went out with him out of curiosity. Our first date was fun. We went on a second, then a third. By date five, I was still holding my emotions back – I was sure he would dump me as soon as he found out I was a virgin.

I remember getting ready for that date, knowing I had reached a point where I had to tell him or risk getting even more hurt because of rejection. After dinner, I stopped him as he walked me back to my place. "I need to tell you something."

He went white. "What’s wrong?" he asked. 

"So, you know how I grew up in church..." I started, telling him the whole story.

"Is that all!?" he said, sighing with relief. "God, I thought you were going to tell me you’d met someone else."

In the end, we dated for two years. We had sex for the first time after three months together. It wasn’t a fairytale relationship, it wasn’t even a fairytale 'losing virginity' story - we did it at his parents place while he was house-sitting, I wasn’t expecting us to go all the way, and while it didn’t hurt, it also didn’t make me orgasm.

I don’t even think there is a moral to this story. It shouldn’t be that we go "aww" when a person decides waiting for someone they’re dating to feel ready for sex is worthwhile. It’s also, actually, okay if someone feels uncomfortable with the idea of being someone’s first (although he could have been a bit nicer when breaking the news). 

I tell you this story because I would have killed to know someone else had experienced my situation. I felt like everyone in the entire world over the age of 18 was having sex except for me, because that’s how the culture I was now part of portrays it. Sex is just everywhere, especially when you aren’t having it.

So, if you’re still a virgin – don’t feel like a pariah. Have sex when it feels right for you, whether that’s tomorrow with a stranger you meet at a party or on your wedding night. Most of all, remember that you’re not alone in your experience.

Melissa Mason is a freelance writer. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

Feature Image: Instagram @melissamason_.

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