Female, 24, New York
My first time was on an unremarkable Sunday afternoon, with a boyfriend I'd had for about a year and a half, just before I turned twenty-five. Although I'd had two other serious boyfriends since high school (neither of whom were virgins, and each of whom I'd been involved with for a couple of years), and more casually dated a number of other guys, I somehow managed to remain a virgin. It was my choice, because I truly believed (and still do) that sex can be magical, and I wanted to share that bond with just one other person.
I knew early on that my partner was someone really special. He was gorgeous, smart, successful at his job without being threatened by my successes, and he was perhaps the kindest, most respectful person I'd ever met. I made it clear from the start that I was only interested in having sex with one person in my life. Although I'm sure that wasn't what he wanted to hear, he didn't complain about it to me once, not even as a joke.
I lived in the suburbs at the time. One summer day more than a year after we began dating, I met him in the city, to spend the day together. After brunch, we took a long, meandering walk and finally made it back to his apartment. I'm certain that neither of us thought we'd be having sex that day. We messed around a little, and I remember looking outside the window and noticing the clouds outside. For some reason, everything in the world seemed to exist in harmony at that moment: him, me, the pigeons cooing outside, the cloudiness of the day, everything. At that moment, I felt ready for sex with him in a different way than ever before — not just because of hormones and attraction, but in a spiritual way. I said, "I think I'm ready now." He asked me twice whether I was sure. I said yes, but had I changed my mind even at the very last instant, I know he would have stopped immediately.
He told me he loved me just before it happened, just as seriously as if it were the first time he'd said it. The sex itself was precious. It was painful at times, uncomfortable all of the time, but I felt a deep pleasure in giving him pleasure. And I could see then how I could really like it one day. I remember how slow and gentle he was — his responsiveness to my body language and his attention to my comfort.
Honestly, the whole thing was a little awkward, too: switching positions, and not feeling sure what exactly to do or whether he was enjoying it. I think it's always awkward the first time, and some say it's better to get all of the fumbling over with when you're a teenager or during a casual experience. Personally, I'm glad I got to share that sweet, memorable awkwardness with someone I loved and trusted completely. Someone who, after we finished, cuddled with me for hours and talked. And then, even though he was sleepy and hungry, took the subway an hour out of his way (and an hour back alone), just to drop me off at the train station.
Some people say that you need to test out sex with someone before you make any big commitments. My (admittedly limited) experience suggests otherwise: I think sex is what you make of it. In the couple of years since that first time, we've had some amazing experiences with each other: heart-pounding encounters on the floor as soon as we walked in because we couldn't make it to the bed; loud, sheets-ending-up-on-the-floor sex in a hotel room on a mountain vacation; sex, on an air mattress, that I hoped would never end. We've also been in some ruts that it took some effort and imagination to get out of, a couple of dry spells, and encounters where we were a little out of sync. Still, as the saying goes, sex is like pizza — even when it's bad, it's pretty good. He was my first, and we both plan on being each other's last.