I lost my virginity when I was 21. A late bloomer, I would say. It was a few days after my birthday, and I just so happened to be drunk and a friend was flirting with me. It wasn’t at all like in the movies — there were no rose petals, no candle-lit room, no sexy R&B music in the background. It was no muss, no fuss; it was terrible and it hurt a lot, which is to say that I did not enjoy it at all. I can’t definitively say that it’s the same for everyone, but a quick Google search of “virginity” will tell you that your first time won’t really have you spewing rainbows and butterflies.
But what exactly is the concept of virginity? The obvious answer, of course, is that a virgin is someone who has not yet had sex. However, “sex” doesn’t just mean penises entering vaginas, and that heteronormative definition is, well, limited and outdated. The definition of being a virgin varies from person to person. If you’re a girl, even your hymen isn’t a surefire way of determining whether or not you’re a virgin — you can pop your cherry by riding a bike, so I’m told. In Catholicism, virginity is defined by two elements: the material and formal. The material part refers to your body and whether or not you’ve indeed popped your cherry; the formal element is about a personal resolution of abstinence.
But that’s not why we’re here.
Who cares whether or not you’re a virgin anymore, anyway? We’re long gone from the days of arranged marriages and trophy spouses, and being a virgin isn’t necessarily a special “feature.” I think you should be more wary if a guy or a girl is only looking for virgins — case in point, the character Telly from Larry Clark’s Kids, who only has sex with virgins to avoid STDs, when he, in fact (spoiler!) is the one infected with HIV. It’s fiction, but hey, it’s possible.
Besides, sex is just sex. While it is true that doing the deed with someone you care about is more special than a hook-up, having sex for the first time and losing your virginity is not as make-or-break as you would imagine it to be. Planned Parenthood’s website says it best: “Figuring out if you count as a virgin or not is much less important than how you feel about your sexual experiences.” Unless you want it to, your virginity and how you lose it won’t define you or your sexuality. And whether or not you lost it to a special someone probably won’t matter in the long run; it’ll be just another funny story to tell your kids (when they hit puberty).
I’m not exactly an expert on sex — or virginity, for that matter — but let me tell you this: losing my virginity didn’t make me feel any more or less than a man. It was only when I became more comfortable with myself and with exploring my sexuality that I began to feel like I wasn’t a virgin anymore. And no, I did not feel dirty, impure, or like I was a slut. During that drunken night on my birthday week, I wasn’t forced because I was inebriated, nor was I pressured to just get it over with because I seemed to be the last virgin on earth. It just happened naturally, with no bells or whistles and no mariachi band to cheer us on. There were no bro fist bumps or brunch gabfests over what happened. By the end of it, all I thought was, That’s it?
Even though it wasn’t the mind-shattering cherry-popping experience that the movies had told me to expect, it was nothing more than a speed bump. What I realized was that what I learned to do after my first time would hold more significance in my future sex life. My biggest takeaway was that I learned how to take control of my body and my sexuality. After that I discovered what I liked and didn’t like, what kind of person I’d like to do it with, and that it was okay to just do it when hormones are getting the better of you (it happens; don’t deny it). You don’t learn these things all at once — practice does make perfect *wink* — but these lessons are way more important than thinking about having sex for the first time.