Friday, 21 October 2011

Losing My Virginity -- and My Self-Respect

Growing up, I considered myself a Christian and was about as devout as they come really. I had plenty of friends and was generally well liked, but everyone knew me well enough not to invite me to parties. As far as I knew, the students at my high school didn't have them, and they certainly didn't have sex. Of course the beer cans in the woods and the teen pregnancy rate proved otherwise, but I happily lived in my bubble of "good morals" right up until graduation.

The following summer, I moved out of my parents' house and began dating someone I knew through friends. I wasn't particularly interested in him, but liked that he liked me, so the relationship continued. That summer, in my first apartment, I had my first real kiss. Of course there were no fireworks, as often there aren't, but especially because I didn't really have feelings for this guy. He went off to college and I went on my way, slowly beginning to question my beliefs and moving away from organized religion.

Another summer came and I found myself dating someone I really was excited about. My religious beliefs had shifted enough that I had allowed myself to discover, and even begin to enjoy, parties, but there had not been a great deal of change beyond that. I was still a virgin, as I had always planned to remain until I married. One night I went to a party with my much older boyfriend and had far too much to drink, so he took me home. That night I lost my virginity shortly after vomiting out his car door in the parking lot outside his apartment building.

I had not planned this at all and apparently had very little respect for myself, because instead of feeling violated and upset, I figured "what the heck, it's done now, may as well do it again." I was not at all ready, but I also wasn't in tune with myself enough to realize this. In hindsight, I think he was, and that he felt guilty for taking advantage of the situation. I think it was for this reason that he immediately distanced himself from me. Before long our relationship was over, and I heartbroken and humiliated. Even years later, when he would call my place of work to ask a question, and I would happen to answer, a co-worker and mutual friend of ours would jokingly ask whether I had told him I wanted my "V-Card" back. Not funny.

Over the next two or three years, I would have half a dozen more partners, only two of whom I felt had any respect for me. Only two of whom I would sleep with because I wanted to. The others wanted me, and I wanted to be wanted. The others took advantage of post-party situations when I had let myself lose some degree of control. None of these encounters were enjoyable, and nearly all of them I regretted on some level. Rather than standing up for myself and being in control of my body, I allowed it to be controlled by men. I let them take what they wanted as I remained completely out of touch with my own desires. I never had a chance to develop new thoughts and beliefs regarding sex, as I had with faith and religion. I was too busy bouncing from one man to the next.

In the end, I found someone I truly want to be with, and someone who truly wants to be with me. We enjoy one another in nearly every sense of the word, most of the time anyway. I feel respected, I know what I want, and I am comfortable asking for it. I am thrilled to have found my husband when I did, and to have found some self-respect along the way, but I feel a deep sense of disappointment when I reflect on my past experience. I am saddened that I didn't love myself enough to be my own advocate in these situations. I hate that I allowed these men to decide what my early sexual experiences would look like. I wish I had become the somewhat sexually liberated female I am today on my own timeline, and not theirs.

I can't change my past, and really it all came together to make me the person I am today so I do my best not to live in regret. My biggest concern, now that I am raising a daughter, is that she will follow a similar path. If I have not learned to hold myself in high esteem, regardless of who is around me and what they think, how will I teach her to value and respect herself? How do I help her become a person with boundaries? A person who can respect herself? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I sincerely hope that I find them along the way.

Photo Credit: Glen Loos-Austin on Flickr


  1. I know this 1st part may not help at all, but perhaps that guy distanced himself because he had attained his goal and was really "done" by then. I felt I was ready (quite anxious, really) to lose my virginity at 14yo. I know, that is far too young. Still, I had some crushes and literally came very VERY close to losing my virginity with one of them one day, then lost it to another guy that night. In hindsight, I felt very much that he had taken advantage of me. (He was, btw, twice my age!) It wasn't until I started typing the contents of my diaries (a few years ago) that I really became embarrassed. I am mortified by the things I said about sex and how I went about all of it. I'm embarrassed by my teenage self. Thankfully, though, that was a long time ago.

    As for your daughter (and mine), I think that it is equally important to explain not just sex and the emotions involved, but also how alcohol can affect your self control and inhibitions. It is a real danger, not only because you might let someone do things to you that you wouldn't otherwise, but also because you might actually lose consciousness and have bad things happen to you completely out of your control. I don't know how much your parents discussed the real effects of alcohol with you, but perhaps this will be the extra key for you with your daughter. I certainly hope I'm doing a better job with my daughters than my parents did with me.

  2. I had always intended to wait until I found the one I would marry. But at some point in college, my junior year I believe I had had enough of being the good girl. I decided that I was ready to lose my virginity and if the situation presented itself to me I would do so on Spring Break. On the surface it should seem like something out of a romantic movie. Skinny Dipping in the Bahamas and later, sex on the beach. Unremarkable at that. I later waited until I met my husband. I have had exactly two partners, but I will say I did not wait until marriage with my husband. We dated for 7 years before getting married. My problem is how and when to explain all this to my teen and soon to be teen? Luckily for us, they are not interested in boys at this point. For one she is more interested in her academics the younger one still thinks boys have cooties. I know I have not led the best example for my children but what to do now?

  3. Momma Jorje, you make some very good points. This first person and I remained in one another's lives (and thanks to social media, actually are still on one another's lives in some strange way), and I have always assumed the best. I think that at his core, he's a good person, so I never did consider that he moved on because he "got what he wanted." I really sensed at the time that he felt bad for what had happened. Who knows. Perhaps I was just naive.

    Regarding alcohol, it truly is a danger and I'm glad you mention discussing that with our children. That is something I would like to do down the line, now that you mention it. My parents did not discuss the dangers with me, but they sure modeled them, which had a lot to do with my careful avoidance of alcohol prior to the season in my life I discuss here. That went out the window for a time, but I'm thankful nothing worse happened to me and I seem to have emerged without any long term alcohol-related issues.

  4. I feel deep shame to think of the different partners I have had. I slept with them mostly, I think, to erase the memory of sexual abuse by my father, because I waas anguished and felt hated by my parents on some level. I desperately wanted to be loved by someone other than them, to be loveable, and because I allowed desire to rule over common sense and love for myself. No undoing the past though. it's done. Booze and drugs do loosen the boundaries. My husband taut me everything about making love, and in that sense, he was my first. Lucky for me, I'm still with him, still making love with him, and he makes me feel clean and good. He is the best thing that ever happened to me. I thank my lucky stars that I met him because until him I was so sad.

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