I found my orgasm as an elementary school gymnast while climbing a rope. My aunt bought me my first vibrator at 18 because that’s just what we do in my family. In college, I hosted Passion Parties, so called due to the sale of numerous sex toys, lubes and flavored everything. So when I would eventually tell new friends I was a virgin — at 27 — it came as a bit of a shock.
I never looked like a stereotypical “virgin.” I didn’t dress in conservative clothes. I loved men. I made out with guys in public all the time, and let’s just say I was good with my hands. Yet, if boyfriends discussed intercourse, I always said no.
Was this a religious thing? I was raised Christian, so I was aware of the Christian ideal of not having sex until marriage. However, I didn’t buy it. I knew I would have sex before marriage because I couldn’t imagine only having sex with one person my whole life and not knowing what else was out there.
Was I lacking in confidence? No.
By the time I graduated from college, every girl I knew had already lost her virginity — most of them, ages ago. Yet, very few of my girlfriends ever picked on me about not yet swiping my V-card. In fact, it was guys who were more curious, possibly because they wanted to bust my cherry.
I realize, announcing you’re a virgin to a hormone-addled 21-year-old male puts a target on your back. Still, I was never pressured. Guys just wanted to know why, and I had an answer: “I’m not ready.”
At 22, I was more mature than a lot of people I knew. I graduated from Ohio University — an infamous party school — with a 3.9 GPA, yet I still spent the weekends destroying my liver. I was confident in who I was, and I was annoyingly ambitious. Perhaps due to all these things, I knew sex was not a good idea in my early 20s.
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I knew in my early 20s I couldn’t handle the possible emotional upheaval. I’d witnessed the heartbreak of so many of my friends, and adding sex to that equation just made it all the more difficult. I couldn’t handle the possibility of a pregnancy or an STD. I didn’t want the distraction. Plus, I knew how to get myself off, so it wasn’t like I was sexually frustrated.
I graduated. I grew up. I had serious boyfriends. I had much older boyfriends. I may have loved a few, but I still said no to sex. The time wasn’t right, or more likely, I wasn’t right. Then, at 27, I moved to Charleston, South Carolina — my first foray away from Ohio — and suddenly, it was time.
What changed? Was it the corporate job with benefits? Was it my own adult apartment, sans roommate? Was it the geographical distance from the little girl I once was? Yes. All these things. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was emotionally, financially and physically ready for intercourse.
Was the First Time earth shattering? No. Did I look different in the morning? Not a bit. When the relationship ended, was I busted into a million pieces? You bet. However, I recovered, and I think it was because I was old enough to know how to heal myself, know how to move on.
For a year, sex became something I could actually choose to do with whomever I liked, and it was shocking. It was like turning 21 and realizing I could buy beer — anywhere. I had a one-night stand with a yoga instructor. (Excellent.) I had a serious relationship that involved love. Eventually, I met my husband, and even now, almost five years into our marriage, I’m still surprised sometimes that I get to have sex whenever I want. Maybe because, for so long, it was a deed I dared not do.
Do I regret waiting as long as I did? Never. Sure, I don’t have a laundry list of sexual exploits, but I had my fun (and still do, thank you). So many young women use sex as a tool. Either they think the guy will stick around if they have intercourse or that intercourse will fix a broken relationship. Other young women have sex for love, which is wonderful.
I don’t judge anyone for jumping into bed at a young age. I just couldn’t have done it. I couldn’t have handled it. I could handle it at 27. I waited, and I’m lucky to have found men who treated me right, especially the man I married.