I Lost My Virginity to Someone I Didn’t Love, and That’s OK

Over at College Candy, there’s a moving post by a young woman who regrets the way she lost her virginity. In her case, it was with the right person but at the wrong time – in an impetuous moment while she was grieving the loss of a friend. While I certainly sympathize with the anonymous author of the post, I also want to tell her something: it’s not a big deal.

I was 20 the first time I had sex. You could call me a late bloomer, but I prefer “picky and also somewhat indecisive.” Because I grew up in a conservative state where it was difficult to get access to birth control and information about reproductive health, I decided as a young teenager that I wanted to be at least 18 when I had sex, so that I could get on the Pill without my parents having to find out. The idea of being away at college also made my “wait til 18″ vow seem like a good one: more privacy, less risk of judgment in a small high school. But my eighteenth birthday came and went. I dated some guys and fooled around, but every time it started to get more serious I freaked out. I wanted losing my virginity to be one of those big, epic, romantic moments that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie. No one seemed right enough. No one seemed special enough. In the meantime, I took some courses in human sexuality, learned a lot about my body and my desires, and talked openly and honestly with some of my sexually active girlfriends about their experiences. I got on birth control. At some point, I decided I was ready to have sex. The only problem? I was missing a partner.

Enter Carl. A fellow English major, he was in one of my classes that semester. I kept seeing him at all the same concerts my friends and I went to, and when you’re in college someone having the same musical taste as you is as good as kismet. Carl liked me a lot. I didn’t love him. But we had a lot of fun arguing about bands and making out, and one night I decided that I wanted to sleep with him. It was a decision I made as casually as deciding to have Thai food for lunch instead of Indian. The thing about my virginity is that I’d been thinking of it as some massive, important, meaningful thing. I’d been assigning so much meaning to my first sexual experience that I wasn’t thinking about my sexuality as a whole, lifelong process. I was influenced by all the cultural associations tied to virginity, even if I wasn’t conscious of it – I was convinced I’d be “different” afterward, in some less-good way. The truth is, I was the exact same person before I had sex that I was after I had sex. It took me a couple of tries to get used to it, and after awhile with Carl I started to, as they say, get the hang of it.

Sadly, though, Carl and I weren’t long for couplehood. It was the person I slept with after Carl who taught me about my sexuality. I was crazy in love with him, but I could also enjoy sex with him without having to freak out about whether it was good enough, whether the moment was special enough, whether he’d care about me more or less afterward. Having my first time with someone who wasn’t the center of my universe kept me from obsessing and over-romanticizing the act. Honestly, I hate the term “losing my virginity” – it relies too much on the language of giving and taking, of conquest and captivity. I prefer to think that by having sex I was just moving from one phase of life to another, making a transition. Tying up too much meaning and identity in one single action or event is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure if the moment isn’t “perfect.” It’s like only thinking about the wedding instead of the marriage. I don’t regret having slept with Carl, and I don’t regret that my first time wasn’t magical. Because a lot of the times after it were.

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    • Christina

      I feel the exact same way. I have always been a very sexual person, but not a relationship person, so was 18 before i had sex for the first time. With an Australian guy named Erik, I had meet at a bar and had know for 2 hours, before i went up to his room. My first time wasn’t big and romantic, but it was good and fun and with a hot guy. I don’t really think you can ask for more.

    • Kerry

      So true. Way too much emphasis is put on it being ‘special’ when thats practically impossible!

    • Eileen

      Yup. Totally agree.

    • Rose

      Here here! I actually lost my virginity to a rapist, and the next couple of sex partners were my desperate attempt to get past the rape by devaluing sex (the easiest way to do that is to have lots of it with people you don’t care about). I hate all this emphasis on “losing virginity”. It’s heartbreaking to those who “lost” theirs in the way that I did. Any tv show or movie, or party conversation about “the first time” still makes me cringe. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that “losing it” is not the huge deal that it’s made out to be. I can’t let it be, or I’d be ruined.

      • Lilit Marcus

        Wow, Rose, thanks for sharing your perspective. Good for you realizing that how you “lost it” isn’t as important as what you do with the rest of your life.

      • Lindsay

        Rose, thank you so much for saying this. Because I never would have been able to say it first. But I, also, lost my virginity to a rapist. And it took a long time for me to realize that one single act didn’t have to effect the rest of my sex life. If my first time wasn’t what I wanted, that’s all the more reason to make sure that I get exactly what I want every time after, and not settle for anything else.

      • Alice

        Honestly, I don’t even count my childhood abuse as losing my virginity. The great Catholic theologian St. Augustine doesn’t either (despite the dismissive or encouraging tone of the Bible itself on this matter…), emphasizing the state of the mind instead of the act forced upon a body. You lose your virginity when you consent to intercourse with a partner for the first time, that’s it.

    • Lisa

      I think that as long as you know sorta what you want from sex and what you’re getting into, and it’s your decision completely to do it, then you’re mostly the same person after losing your virginity that you were beforehand. But I think that the action itself does change a person, especially if they did not completely prepare themselves (mentally, as in, “I will have sex when I am [age] and I will have protection and try to enjoy it”). What I’m trying to say is, if you’re already willing to have sex but a virgin, and then you lose your virginity and still want to have sex, then the wish to have sex at least hasn’t changed. But sometimes it does change, in either direction.

    • Emily

      Can we change “losing my virginity” to “gaining my sexuality”?

      • Dani

        Your sexuality is inherent. It’s with you from day one. You don’t lose it or gain it.

        However, with the coming of knowledge, ignorance is shed. “Losing your virginity” is a good phrase.

    • Sarah

      My first time was with someone I didn’t love as well. I was way too young and did it to make the guy happy. We broke up almost immediately after.
      Then, a few years later, I met someone and fell in love and the first time he and I had sex it really was perfect; it happened while stargazing one night after having an awesome dinner that he made from scratch. It was his first time and it meant so much to me that I decided it was mine too. He didn’t “pop my cherry”, but I’ll always consider him my first.

    • Sara

      I’m in the same boat: I decided to ditch my virginity when I went to visit a friend I met on a cruise. He was the twin of an ex of hers, he looked great with my Arbor Mist goggles, and it was on her basement couch. But I wanted to have sex and gain experience so that when I did find that special guy I would know what I wanted.

    • Amy;s Cooking Adventures

      My first time was on my wedding night and I think it is the best way imaginable. No, it wasn’t perfect. It was awkward for both of us (my husband was also a virgin), but it gave us time to get to know each other and grow in our marriage. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that sex is most meaningful after marriage and should wait until that time. Why would I want strong memories of my first time with another man? My memories of sex are all with my husband and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

      • Margot

        My first time was awful – a boyfriend of two years, in my own apartment, at the mature age of 22 would’ve suggested otherwise. But he was small, anxious, and I soon learned, unwilling to learn. I put up with another three orgasmless years in that relationship while he came in two minutes and thought if I was already aroused he didn’t need to touch me first. And believe me, I talked to him about it but he’d get embarrassed and shut down. I would never leave something as important as physical compatibility up to chance and wait until marriage. It IS possible to wait and be responsible about your sexuality. I’m glad you weren’t disappointed the way I was.

      • Dani

        ” I would never leave something as important as physical compatibility up to chance and wait until marriage.”

        If you’re waiting until marriage and want to know about physical compatability, talk about it. People have more of an idea of what they like than they realize. Being open about your sexuality is very different from being active in it. If you both understand yourselves, and aren’t ashamed of the fact that you have genitalia, then real, open communication will give you an idea of whether or not you’re physically compatible. Plus cuddling and other wonderful things, of course.

        And I’ve never met someone who waited that wished they hadn’t. But I’ve met plenty that wish they had.

    • Katherine

      I was at the tender age of 15 when I came up with my list of what I wanted in my first sexual partner:
      1) Someone I had social connections to so I could get ahold of him if any issues arose.
      2) Someone who wasn’t a virgin, so at least one of us would know what was going on.
      3) Someone who I wasn’t in love with

      That ended up being Joe, in my SAT prep class at a neighboring high school. Looking back on it, I can say honestly that it was exactly the right decision for me. No one pressured me one was or another about it; it was a plan I came up with in my own little head and I got exactly what I wanted, which was to not be a virgin when I slept with the next guy, who I really liked, and ultimately what I wanted out of my sexuality over the course of my life: an independent, organic definition of my sexuality that didn’t depend on my partner. In a way, I treasure that experience with Joe almost above any other, because despite the bleeding (I didn’t tell him I was a virgin, and boy, was he surprised!) awkwardness (I was a nerd) and physical discomfort (I’m close to 6 feet tall and it was the back of a late-model Toyota) it was a moment that was totally, completely, triumphantly my own.

    • Katherine

      Amen. I was 15 when I came up with my criteria for my first: someone I was socially connected to if I needed to reach them, but not someone I had to see every day, someone who wasn’t a virgin, and someone I wasn’t in love with. I found him in my SAT prep class, we did it in the backseat of his car, and despite the usual issues (awkwardness, blood, the fact that 6 foot tall girls don’t fit easily in the back of a Toyota) it’s actually still a moment I treasure, not because of him at all but because it was so deliciously, totally, completely mine. Although, I do owe him (and the next guy, who I actually liked) a debt of gratitude–they both went down on me before sex, and even though looking back on it, it was inexpert and awful, it set a precedent that this was normal and something that I should expect to get–not the norm, as I found out later.

    • marlenne

      Well I lost my virginity at age of 18. I didn’t really knew the guy but I was ssick to b home n listen to my parents everytime I did something plus they were getting divorce so they did get divorce and as soon as that happend I decided that they did their own life wat they wanted to do so I was my turn n I ran away with this guy n in a week we were constantly having sex (yes he was my first my second etc) after 6months I came out pregnant n I’m glad to say that him n his whole family were happy they all liked me so I wasn’t really worry in that way so I told my mom after I was about 3months pregnant. N well my babys 1 months now I’m about to turn 20 next month n I’m still living with this guy. N yes I wast sure at first but now I’m really happy. We do argue like every couple but thatss normal… I honestly never thougt that my firat time was gona b with the guy I was gonna spend the rest of my life with but surprise surprise..

    • marlenne

      My babys ten months not one sorry

    • Jill

      This was an interesting take. The fact that the author took a Human Sexuality class beforehand and had the freedom to openly discuss sex with friends before losing her virginity definitely makes me think that, that would be the most “mature” way to lose your virginity. Something to definitely think about.

    • Jamie

      I lost it to someone that I DID love, and it still wasn’t any good. 5 years later, though, we’re married, and the sex is amazing. There’s too much pressure on the first time, I think. Were you good the first time you drove a car, had a job interview, or cooked a tricky meal? And yet no one ever worries about stuff like that…

    • Janessa

      Ive always felt bad when people play up their first time and talk of it having to be special. Mine wasn’t at all..in fact..there wasn’t even kissing and thinking back, the dude was totally ugly and it pains me thinking of what a fool I was. I was 18, a senior in highschool and looked awkward, had few to no friends, couldn’t afford nice clothes, didn’t even wear makeup yet and just out right had the lowest self-esteem. My friend told me she knew this dude from another school and I added him on myspace (the popular thing at the time) and I thought he was soo ugly at the time but we started chatting and he seemed rly cool and sweet. We moved to talking on the phone and would chat every night but I got quiet and stop responding his calls when he said something about us only ever being friends because he’d just come out of a relationship. I wish I’d have left it at that and never spoke to him again but i did and he invited me to come over. He tried to sleep with me and I refused but he just kept telling me how hot I was..you know..how I was the shit and all that b.s and how he wanted to fuck me soo badly and he even got mean about it talking about how if I didn’t next time I came over, he wasn’t going to talk to me anymore. I did the next time and it was HORRIBLE and painful and he was into it but I didn’t feel anything good and for all the bragging, he really didn’t know how to please me or even care. He just did what he did and we continued talking/flirting on the phone and mind you..I still hadn’t even had a kiss at this point because he really wasn’t looking for an intimate relationship..only to get in my pants. I wasn’t mad about the kissing/never asked because I’d never been kissed and would’ve been extremely nervous. He soon stopped talking to me and got back with his ex-girlfriend. Looking back, I’ve grown and although I sometimes feel bad about my looks, it cannot compare to how unattractive I thought I was then. I sometimes wanna tell him off soo badly because I never got the chance! I just feel like somewhere he’s off thinking he’s the shit because he took my virginity and it pains me! I wish I could go back and stand up for myself. The second guy I’ve been with/am talking too is also not a boyfriend but I really found him handsome and he actually kissed on me and mushy stuff like that/cuddles with me and the first time we were together was a whole different experience. Sure it hurt at first but he was gentle and made me feel comfortable and it felt good. I learned about my sexuality and everything from him, not the other guy. I still feel traumatized about how I lost it though but I was just soooo curious at the time and its a different feeling when your young and have low self-esteem and someone is telling you how hot you are. I was sooo stupid and niave. I hope no other girl goes through what I went through because I feel like it still affects me today and I feel like I don’t deserve as much as I do. I’ve never even had a boyfriend, it’s crazy but I don’t at all regret teh second guy, he actually made me feel good physically and took me out and we joke all the time so yea… My friend ignores the REAL first time she had sex because she says it was awful and whack and claims the first guy she actually had positive sexual encounters and enjoyed being with as her real first..I wanna try to do the same thing but then I have flashbacks of how HORRID the experience with that ugly loser was. Sorry…I ranted

      • rathi

        hi therei went tru the exact same thing..i wish i can talk to you too…u have a skype add?

        cheers

    • Aftab

      Hello

      I Was Just 20 When i have Sex First Time An It was Not A Good Experience An I am 23 Now An Still Unmarried An I have Done Sex 6 to 7 Times An Now I am confuse Is It Effects On My Married Life Coz The last 3 Or 4 When I have Done Sex My Sperm Will come In Just 3 to 5 Min An Now I Was Scare About It.i Love A Girl Very Much An she Also Love Me Alot An Now May be In 1 Or 2 years We Are going To Marry An I am scare If i didn’t Satisfy Her can U please Help About It iam Tensed…..

    • Chichi

      It hurts loosin ur virginity to some guy u dnt love bt we shuld owez look forward

    • Jacob

      Wow. Thank you for sharing this article. It really helped me feel better about some issues I was having.

    • Kim

      I think that after it lost the great meaning it had to you, you should consider taking that GREAT MEANING back. Just the way you thought it was before, it indeed is.
      I thought of sex just the way you think about it now, and now I promised to myself to be a virgin again and give it the meaning it truly deserves, everything in this world is indeed magical but all things are so corrupted and we fall in the “it’s okay” trap.

    • Hayley

      I will be 20 years old this year and I am also a virgin. As of lately, I have really been upset over this. Partially because people really do judge me, and thats upsetting. But i will also be moving out of my parents house in about a year, and I would like to feel good about having sex with someone and not stress over it, so I do want to lose my virginity soonish. Im not dating anyone either, but I have a very close friend; we have lots of fun together, but we just don’t mesh dating wise. (Im that way with many people; I’ve fooled around with other people but most of them were not relationships and I found that much easier.) Anyway, we’ve gone back and forth about weather or not i would be okay with sleeping with him, and he has been very patient with me and understand on the occasions where I decided it just wasn’t time yet. Now, I’ve had a change of heart, but I still have some concerns:
      1.) I know its going to hurt, but i REALLY don’t want it too. :(
      2.) Although I am not prepared for children right now, I am not comfortable with using birth control, because I do want children someday, and I know that depending on what kind you are on and how long, it can affect your ability to have children or not.

      Its not that I don’t feel ready, but I think (at least I hope) its normal and okay to still have some questions and nerves over the situation. Am I wrong?

    • das

      I lost mine at 22 to a hooker, and thats ok, at least i got to feel what sex is like..

    • Marian

      You guys are noobs. I’m 25 and still a virgin. Why? I studied in a Catholic Church, but I actually think that’s just the top of my issue. I was taught over and over that I should be “perfect”, that my value as a person was proportional to my success in school and life. In others words, they made me a perfectionist. People familiar with perfectionism will know that this is actually the contrary to success. I’m way too afraid of making any mistakes. And what do that has to do with my sexuality and virginity? Well, that, to me, having sex with somebody I don’t love would be an A- score. I MUST get a A++, do it with somebody I’m crazily in love with, and that ge loves me back, and all that stuff. It’s really, really difficult to me to get over the fact that having a A- is OK. I’m in real pain here since my body asks me to have sex, since, well a lot time ago, and I want to, but my teachings and psique scream and run at the thought. I openly talked about it with a guy I liked his looks, and he told me “Oh, then we shouldn’t do it! You should totally do it with SOMEONE YOU LOVE! It’s WORTH IT!!.
      You can imagine how that got on my nerves.
      So there. I’ll be 26 on exactly 20 days, and still a virgin. If you have any advise or thoughts you want to share, please do so.
      I’m not ashamed anymore to admit I’m desperate.