Does losing virginity make you a grown-up? Does it make you feel grown-up? What about being in an ongoing sexual relationship?
There’s so much emphasis on virginity—and on losing it—that obviously it is universally treated as a rite of passage, from childhood to adulthood. But while society may treat it this way, is this what people feel about themselves when they begin having sexual relationships? Do they even go so far as to lose their virginity so they’ll be more grown-up or mature?
In my case the answer is definitely mixed.
First, though, consider the paradox of, say a 15-year old losing his virginity to prove his maturity to his friends. Most people would probably say that that’s too young, and that having sex at that age shows a lack of maturity—a lack of judgment and self-control. That’s ironic given that this kid was trying to prove himself a grown-up. In some cases, at least, waiting, rather than having sex, is the better mark of maturity.
But in that case when, if ever, does sex transform you into a mature adult? Does it happen overnight, or does it take time, during the course of a relationship, or maybe multiple relationships?
I was 17 when I lost my virginity, and I can’t even tell you what I was feeling when I agreed. I do know that my partner, who was 18 and in no way mature, pressured me into it, and that I knew I wasn’t ready and didn’t want it. But wile there was pressure—unfair and I think immoral pressure—I honestly can’t call it rape. I agreed. I think it was a combination of wanting to please him and wanting to prove to myself that I could handle it. But it was all wrong, a mistake. Afterwards I didn’t feel like a grown woman—I felt really slutty. Every time we had sex (which was mercifully few, since he dumped me a couple of months later) I felt like a bigger and bigger slut, ashamed of myself for giving in to him.
Over the next couple of years I had two more partners, both of them steady. The first of these didn’t get all the way to intercourse, though we did other things. This was the first sexual relationship in which I felt confident, or at least somewhat so. It made me realize that sex didn’t have to make me feel all dirty and guilty. It was a good relationship that ended when the guy changed schools.
The second did include intercourse. It was the confidence that I got from the previous relationship that really prepared me for this one, which lasted about eight months. It was this relationship in which sex made me feel responsible and mature. Unlike my first relationship, in this one I was having frequent intercourse, maybe on average once a week for six months. I had to take the birth control issue very seriously—as seriously as I had ever taken anything in my life—and I had to deal with people knowing (or at least suspecting) that I was in a sexual relationship, which for someone like me, shy and lacking in self-confidence, was a big deal. And it was in this relationship that I really started learning how to make love—to please him as well as myself (among other things, it was in this relationship in which I began having orgasms during actual intercourse for the first time.) So it wasn’t until my third partner, or at least my second and a half partner, that sex began to make me feel, well, womanly.
This relationship, to ended—not without regret—when he moved to a different school. I will always fondly remember him, but about a year later I met my current partner and the love of my life.
If I had thought I felt womanly before, this relationship has taken it to a whole new level. My current boyfriend is even shyer than I am, which helps to explain why he was still a virgin. I was, frankly, really hot for him—he had all the qualities that I had been looking for and I really wanted to bed him—but since I myself had been pressured into sex the first tie around, I wanted to avoid doing that with him. My restraint, plus the fact that I was more experienced than he was, both gave me at least as strong a feeling of maturity as having sex had done in my previous relationship.
Finally—when he was fully, totally ready—the night came. Thereafter it actually took a few weeks for it to sink in with him. We’ve talked about it, and it really was an all-at-once coming of age thing for him in exactly the way it hadn’t been for me. But it also made me feel like a real grown up for the first time, like I had just been playing around before. Part of this was how often we had sex—much more often, because of our dorm and living arrangements, than had been the case in any of my previous relationships. Another part was our birth control arrangements—I was on the Pill and unlike my previous relationships we weren’t using condoms, which really concentrated our thoughts on the possibility of an oops pregnancy, given the invisible nature of the birth control. Every time he ejaculated in me was a reminder that we were playing with live ammo. (I’m still on the Pill and we have never had an oops, but the feeling’s still there.)
This month we moved in together. Now I’m in his bed every night. We have much more privacy, we make love several times a week, and now when it’s over we can cuddle until we fall asleep and spend the whole night together. Now the sex is part of something bigger. It’s part of me making not only a home but a life with him. This is as grown-up as I’ve ever felt, and still I feel that thrill of being all grown-up when we’re having sex—a thrill that definitely wasn’t there in my first sexual relationship, a feeling that I only gradually grew into. And I wonder if the feeling will persist, or maybe even grow stronger, once we’re (someday) married.
So for me it wasn’t a magic moment but something I grew into. Yet still society treats loss of virginity as THE moment. But maybe society is wrong. It certainly was in my case. What about yours?