There are exactly two ways that we expect a girl’s first time to go: Either it’s an incredibly romantic and special experience with someone she truly loves (and who cares about her too) or it’s short and awkward and kind of painful with some guy she probably had a crush on, and in a weird place to boot.
But most of all, no matter what, we’re taught that a girl must always remember her first.
Our moms, friends, abuelas and even pop culture has dictated to us time and again that our “virginity” is something sacred, something to lose. There’s a scene in the popular telenovela-style show “Jane The Virgin” in which the main character’s own abuela gravely warns her that virginity is like an untouched flower, as soon as it’s been crushed “You can never go back.” (EVERRR!) Once it is gone, soiled, it can never be pure again. It’s something that women lose and something that men take. If we’re really lucky, we give it to someone special. And if not, I guess we simply spend the rest of our lives knowing we lost something to someone who wasn’t worth it.
Still, even despite how pop culture and all of the abuelas in the world might have wanted me to feel about my first time being special, I just didn’t.
My first time was completely lack-luster, it wasn’t particularly special, and it certainly wasn’t some great or life-changing event.
I had sex for the first time when I was 21 years old and felt ready to do the deed. I had been waiting for quite some time but I was shy and studious, and all throughout high school and college having a boyfriend was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, I had only gone on a handful of first dates before I decided that enough was enough. It was time to have sex.
The night that it happened was easy and safe. I was hosting my friend’s birthday party in my off-campus apartment and there was a cute boy there. We spent the better part of the night flirting and, with some encouragement from my then-roommate who knew my immediate desire to cash in on my V-card I invited him to stay over.
The next morning, I felt no different.
The prominence of the pain I felt lingered a bit, but it was nothing terrible. There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about the experience. It was, as I know now, pretty average. Below average, actually, when it comes to my own physical enjoyment of the experience now. It wasn’t satisfying, but it did get the job done. I was no longer a virgin, and I was okay with it.
The boy in question left the next morning, and I never saw him again except for occasional posts on Facebook. Now, over a decade later, I don’t even remember his name. I’ve long since deleted him from my friends’ list, and from my memories.
When I happened to recount this story to a male friend years later, he was shocked by my cavalier approach to an experience which society says was supposed to mean everything to me. He questioned whether I didn’t secretly wish the guy had expressed an interest in becoming my boyfriend and whether I was upset that the experience wasn’t something “special,” as he put it.
I laugh in his face. “Why does it have to be so special, anyway?” I questioned.
It’s a thought that has crossed my mind more than once throughout the years whenever someone mentioned their first time or the topic of “special sex” comes up. Even more often, I see the conversation of virginity revolving around the woman losing something. Either she gives it away willingly (in healthy scenarios) or it is taken from her, but always I wonder: Why must we talk about first-time sex for women in this way? Why is it always, in the end, something that we lose? Something related to our purity or sexual awakening?
The way we talk about a woman’s loss of virginity is constantly negative. Through doing the deed, we’re told she loses a part of herself that she can never give back. We place importance on her being chaste and ridicule her once that is gone. If she doesn’t, she’s frigid or a prude who must have some sort of psychological reservations about sex. But the truth is that nothing truly changes between one day when a hymen is intact and the next day when it isn’t.
When I had sex for the very first time, I wasn’t looking at as something I was losing. The truth is that I was looking at it the way we should all look at it: As something that I was gaining.
I wasn’t losing anything to this man and I wasn’t giving him anything either. I was giving myself a new understanding of sex, I was embracing my body confidence in a new way. And most of all, I was giving myself a new experience — one that has led to many happy times afterward.
These days, when someone asks me about my first time, I brush it off and tell them the facts.
I tell them how old I was, where it happened, how I met the guy that night and decided I was done carrying the “virgin” label. I also tell them that it is one of the best decisions I ever made because, ultimately, it opened up my world in a way that I couldn’t have imagined before I had sex.
By giving myself the gift of sexual freedom, I came a little closer to being who I am and being comfortable with my own sexuality. Shortly after what ultimately turned out to be my first and only one-night stand, I met the man who became my first longterm boyfriend. And although we are no longer together, I know that I would have never had the courage to strike up a conversation with him if it wasn’t for the confidence I gained when I had sex for the first time a month earlier.
The truth is I didn’t lose anything at all. The only thing I truly lost during my not-so-special-and-completely-forgettable first time was my sense of timidity about sex.