Being told that sex was meant to be cherished after marriage only validated my promise to premaritally “pop my cherry.” Six years of priests indoctrinating that sex meant keeping your legs closed and Bibles open in anticipation for your one spiritual soulmate, left me bewildered on the significance of this Hallmark moment. Why are we putting our virginity in a glass case, like a priceless action figure, and being so reluctant to play with it? I felt so disenchanted by these scriptural fables of monogamy, celibacy and … heterosexuality, that when I entered the supposed cesspool of public school, I felt it was necessary to use it and lose it.
That’s what 13-year-old me thought.
Public school was a culture shock from my small private institution; the only sex education I received prior involved covering up hickeys poorly with foundation and watching over-pixelated SkinaMax soft porn. But as I thrusted myself into the dating world, I began to feel the pressure to go underneath the boxers since “it feels better” or “you would be so good at it.” The pressure was a turn off, and my urge to have sex went into remission; I wanted to wait for my freshman-in-high school idea of Mr. Forever.
I met my first serious boyfriend at a house party; I guess he was turned on by my ability to drunkenly take swings at a junior football player. After two months of dating, “I love you’s” turned into “I need a way to show you I love you’s,” and heavy petting turned into mild penetrating, but I would not give myself away.
I was 14 years old.
I lost my virginity a couple times: two strokes on my green bean bag chair, and three strokes on a friends couch after a three-day party binger. It was enough to fear getting pregnant while on the pill, and enough to force him to stop. The day of my sophomore-year homecoming is the virginity story I tell, either on a blow up mattress with someone smoking crack in the next room, or in his Jeep Cherokee after skipping school. Sadly, I can’t say I remember which.
All I know is: I was 14, maybe 15, and the first time was consensual.
We had some very consensual, but some very blurred encounters where consent was not given, but instead, coerced, manipulated or ripped out of me. He dangled my virginity, sex and loyalty over my head like a carrot for two years. Then I left him, and I spent four years treating dozens of bodies as he had mine: detached and unemotional, because I craved the power over people that I had lost on a blow up mattress or in the back seat of someone else’s Jeep.
Losing my virginity was a decision to denounce my religious education and every spiritual sermon uttered in my abstinence classes. However, I realized it was a display of devotion that I thought would repair an already terminal relationship. Sex cannot create, or heal, a connection with the absence of “love.”
I am still thankful, regardless, to have had this awfully cringy and mildly terrible guy steal my virginity, since it taught me that this “pinnacle” moment is miniscule in comparison to what life has hidden for you. Whether you wait for The One or The First One, your virginity doesn’t characterize you, nor does it define your worthiness of stupidly-smiling-out-your-car-window, constant-tears-of-joy love.