I grew up in a household that preached, “No sex until marriage.” There was no real discussion or explanation other than, “because I said so,” or “because it’s in the bible,” so I just accepted this as truth for a long time. I didn’t know there was any other way until highschool; or more specifically, until I joined my highschool’s cheerleading team. In the ninth grade I remember overhearing one of the senior girls saying, “Man I can’t wait until I’m done my period so I can fuck my boyfriend.”
WHAT?! I struggled with this. People are having sex? Up until that point, I had considered kissing with tongue “going all the way.” Oh my God, am I going to have to have sex?!
I lost my virginity when I was 17. It happened one afternoon on my rickety futon at my parents’ house; everyone was home. I’d had absolutely no intention on having sex with him. I was not forced into having sex – I made my decision and actively participated in the process – but I knew I was not ready and did not want to. However, he was not a virgin. I knew he expected sex and I didn’t want to disappoint him.
I didn’t want to disappoint him.
That relationship continued off and on for roughly two-and-a-half years, but ultimately ended. From there I began a string of one night stands with good looking friends until one of them wanted to be my boyfriend. That relationship lasted three years and ended because I met someone else I wanted to sleep with. That quickly went to shit and I resumed sleeping around. I kept my sex-life pretty fast and greasy because sex was easy and felt good.
One day I wanted more. I was surprised by this feeling. So I set a target on the next attractive man I found and I gave myself to him: body and mind. I opened my heart to love and all its possibilities. Unfortunately, he shat all over it. Desperately wanting to hold on to that thing I had felt, I clung to him. He, pleased to have ownership of my body and control of my mind, allowed me to stay. Eight months later I retreated, broken.
I took a three-year hiatus from all things romance and anything remotely physical. I put all my effort into healing and personal growth.
A few weeks ago I started dating again. Enough time had passed and I opened back up to the possibility of connecting with someone. I went on a few dates with a kind man with shared interests. We exchanged stories easily and enjoyed each other’s company. He didn’t try to touch me and I felt safe. On the fourth date we had sex. Hmm, that felt like a mistake.
He still wanted to see me except there was a very distinct change. Rather than asking me out for coffee or dinner or a walk, he wanted me to come over. When I got to his house, we immediately started kissing. Hang on, I don’t want this. I put on the brakes and suggested that we go out. We had a lovely meal and great conversation, but then we went back to his house and had sex. Wow, something is wrong.
Unable to ignore the nagging feeling in my gut, I dissected it. The sex was fine so why don’t I feel good? Sex was my primary source of self-esteem – if somebody wanted me, I must be good. But I am different now. I’ve spent time with myself and I know I am good; my self-worth comes from within. So why did I have sex with him? I was horny. I have not been touched in three years, I was clearing out the cobwebs. Then why did I do it a second time? I like him, I want more than one night of passion, I want something real. Plus, I was able to stop when things went too quickly. But why didn’t I just say goodnight after the date? Why did I have sex with him when I still didn’t want to? Because I knew he expected it and I didn’t want to disappoint him.
I didn’t want to disappoint him.
Thirteen years later and I made the same adolescent mistake. Have I learned anything? Yes. I have learned to listen to my gut and analyze my choices. I have become conscious of my thoughts and feelings. I am cultivating the belief that I am worthy of more. I am not beating myself up for making mistakes. And for the first time in my life I am asking myself: on what planet do someone else’s physical desires trump my emotional needs?
To be continued…