Love & Sex

My First Time: Female, 19, New York

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Female, 19 years old, New York

I went away to college a virgin. I think I delayed having sex in high school in part because I liked being a virgin. It was a part of my identity, and as more of my friends became sexually active, it had begun to make me feel different from them, almost special. Plus I figured virginity was something I could never get back once I lost it—so why not hang onto it until I was really ready to let it go?

I had boyfriends in high-school—but none of them were particularly serious. (I was aware that it was unlikely for a relationship begun in high-school to have much staying power, so I tended to treat them like the practice runs they were.) None of my high-school boyfriends ever really tried to pressure me into sex, either, even though one was several years older. I’m grateful for this, because it left the decision completely up to me.

I didn’t meet my first college boyfriend until the second semester of freshman year—which at the time, with students hooking up left and right all around me, felt like an eternity of singleness. I had spent the first several months of college crushing fruitlessly on a guy friend who did not return my feelings, which did not help my self esteem; in fact, by that spring I was almost convinced that no decent college boy would ever want to date me. The first one who did practically had to spell it out with hand puppets before I realized he actually LIKE-liked me.

Things moved quickly once we got together, and by the end of freshman year I had begun to feel as though I was the only virgin left on the entire campus (and given my school, there is a good chance I was right). As a teenager living at home, I had had few opportunities to be alone with a boy for any length of time; in comparison, college was an oasis of opportunity for naked times. As our relationship progressed, I felt the prestige of my virginity gradually ebb, until it almost felt like a burden. There was a rule of diminishing returns, I realized; virginity was an asset to a certain point, but if you remained a virgin for too long, eventually it stopped being virtuous and started becoming weird. Still, some part of me couldn’t let go of the idea that once I lost my virginity, the person I had always been would be irrevocably altered. Suddenly I would be Not A Virgin!

One day toward the end of the year, I was going for a run outside, relishing the heat of spring turning to summer, when it finally hit me: What was so great about being a virgin anyway? And really, was it better than sex? Of course I couldn't yet be sure, but since I loved fooling around, didn't it stand to reason that actually having sex would be even more enjoyable? I began to consider the possibility that life after losing my virginity was going to be at least as fun, if not a thousand times more fun, than life as a virgin had been.

This was something of an epiphany for me, and it made the decision to have sex a lot easier (and it also left me feeling a little silly that I had struggled so long with whether to give it up or not). I had enjoyed being a virgin, but I was willing to bet that having an active sex life was also going to be pretty great.

It turns out I was right. That summer I flew across the country to visit my boyfriend. We had sex for the first time on the Fourth of July, in a house in the hills of San Francisco. It hurt a lot the first time. In fact, it hurt so much that my boyfriend felt guilty for hurting me, which made it hard for him to continue, despite his being a hot-blooded, twenty year old deflowerer—but we managed to get the job done. And once I got the hang of things, I was happy I hadn't waited any longer. It had been good to make sure I was in a committed relationship with someone I loved and trusted before having sex, but the most important thing was that from now on I could have lots of sex, hopefully for the rest of my life.

I remember thinking that it had been kind of cheesy to lose my virginity on Independence Day, but also realizing that now that I was no longer a virgin, the way it happened didn’t really matter that much to me. As momentous as it was at the time, at this point I rarely think about it. In fact, I don't even recall how old I was when it happened, although by doing the math, I must have been 19. Losing my claim to virginity didn't end up being much of a loss, replaced as it was by a life with sex in it. I think it was a more than fair trade.