I lost my virginity at a fairly young age. Two years below the national average, in fact. According to national statistics, approximately 13 percent of my peers and I got that whole experience over and done with around the same time, and that was that.
To most of us, virginity loss is just an awkward or weird or silly or happy story we sometimes tell about our past. It’s neither inherently significant nor extraneous to your adulthood, but it is one of the largest parts of discovering your sexuality, regardless of the conclusions you make about sex as you get older. For some, it is the funnel through which they see sex and sexuality for the rest of their lives; for others, it was just a footnote of adolescence.
For me, it was the latter, and the best case scenario for my personality and history: I was dating a guy who treated me with incredible kindness, we used multiple contraceptive measures, I felt safe with him, nothing hurt, we went in mutual accordance our levels of comfort, and after we broke up, I was young enough that things didn’t devastate me for life. I got over him and bounced back, as teenagers tend to do. It was a good experience, I remember it fondly and I never regretted it (really, never). I genuinely believed that if I didn’t judge myself on how young I was, nobody else would either.
Naturally, I was wrong.
I’ve been fairly weird about sex and romance for the last few months, but right after I moved to New York, I decided to go on a date with a guy from OKCupid (I know, I know, but I’ve had generally swell luck with the site). He was funny, intelligent, polite, and the conversation didn’t take a whole lot of effort. But when we got to our upbringings, he mentioned that sex was something he had never experienced until he was well into his twenties.
I must’ve looked a little bewildered — not because sex after the teen years is something weird by any means, but because it is unfamiliar to me. He responded by asking me what age I was when I lost my virginity. I told him, to which he replied with very wide eyes.
“That’s…different,” he muttered. Being an awkward person already, I just sort of nodded and giggled because I had zero idea what else to do. He went on: “I don’t understand people who can just…do that. At that age. Where were your parents? And…why would you do that to yourself?”
I think it was the “do that to yourself” thing that got me, but throwing shade at my parents’ parenting skills was ridiculous, too. First of all, kids are kids and unless you lock them the hell up, they’re going to figure out a way to get around your rules. My parents weren’t excessively permissive by any means, but I was very strong-willed. I didn’t go get wasted or sneak out my window or vandalize property; I just had sex.
For several of my teenage years, sex was not only something I enjoyed, it was a means by which I was able to process the bad things that had happened to me when I was younger. Instead of my only memories of and feelings toward sex remaining negative, I wanted to cover those up. It sounds unhealthy, sure, but I do not regret beginning my more positive experiences at a fairly young age whatsoever. I firmly believe it helped me recover for the better.
Obviously, that isn’t the first nor only time that somebody had reacted negatively regarding this topic. I’ve had people look at me with a bizarre, pitying look of, “Oh, your poor childhood.” I’ve seen others shake their heads, wondering “what must have happened” to teens who start having sex early. But while I may be a survivor, I know so many people who began experimenting and experiencing sex in their teens, sans any traumatic past.
In fact, I asked people via the Internet to tell me about their experiences with virginity loss, age and judgment. The stories flooded in fast.