I get so much anguished email from young people. Anguished because they feel like they have made the ‘wrong’ decision about their first time. In response, I find myself name checking Laura M. Carpenter’s book, ‘Virginity Lost’ once again, because in it, she pins down the different approaches that we have to our virginity loss. Having listened to many of your stories, I can concur with Laura’s conclusions about ‘the gifters’ as she calls them. Gifters see their virginity as something special, something that they will only ever have once and as such, they want to give it to the ‘right’ person. This approach, as you can imagine, is fraught with problems. How are we to know who that special person is? Will they be holding a sign with your name on it – like when you arrive at the airport? Or will you just ‘know’? And what, exactly does ‘just knowing’ entail? Is that the first time you feel ‘love’? Or ‘lust’? And how are you supposed to distinguish between these two very intense emotions? Do you see where I am going with this?
We should cut ourselves some slack because this is fresh territory for a newbie – gifter or not. Could we not forgive ourselves for being unsure and diving in feet first in order to find out? Today’s storyteller is a great example of such an approach.
Bryony is a classic gifter but she is also a practical woman. I often say to the people that write to me, the ones who are bashing themselves metaphorically around the head for making the ‘wrong’ decision that mistake making is part and parcel of growing up. We have to experiment in order to find out who we are and how we feel about any given situation. We have to work out what our personal deal breakers are and the only way to do this is via experimentation. ‘Mistakes’, as people insist upon calling them, might be made along the way but I prefer to call it ‘experience’ and the journey toward becoming a more rounded human being. Bryony is totally down with that. She has experimented and found out exactly what sort of person she is. ‘I don't do one night stands or casual sex because I abhor it’. She only knows that because she has tried it. She can speak from experience. Try it some time, it can be incredibly educational.
‘I'm 23 years old, British, female, and an anthropologist. People's stories and the way they tell them to you fascinate me, in particular the way they're so free with letting you know their thoughts. Whether its sheer curiosity or academic theory, I'm hooked! But unlike so many other Internet websites I feel the need to contribute my own story, even thought it isn't particularly original, but to me, I suppose it was.
I met Simon at my friend's joint 18th Birthday Party. It was at their country party just when the marquee, free bar and tent trend was just beginning. I had just finished boarding school, of which 2 years had been spent being teased and laughed at by ‘the cool posse’. It didn't particularly affect me but it just meant I didn't get a huge amount of male attention. The interesting thing is that before I went to boarding school I'd had two long term boyfriends, but until this party I was a virgin, and from what I gather from gossips; I was quite famously a virgin.
Being 18, free to have fun, and going to one of the last parties before I started Cambridge made me the most carefree I think I'll ever be, and when I sat down at the table for the main course, one champagne down, Simon’s cheeky glint, sarcasm and ‘cool boy’ looks and attitude instantly attracted me to him. It wasn't long before I was turning on what I thought was ‘the charm’ although in retrospect was probably just a mass of signals conveying the message ‘I want to sleep with you’ and soon we were chatting and joking. Clearly a popular man, Simon never needed to look for attention that night, he seemed to have everyone's and I liked, just for once, being a part of that. Whilst on the dance floor it became pretty clear that something was going to happen and soon enough we were outside kissing drunkenly, furiously.
Now at this point, with any other stranger, I would always laugh, joke and go back into the party. Even though I had, like many teenagers done everything but - even with past boyfriends, I never felt ready to have sex, in many ways I don't think it was anything I ever wanted. We went back to my tent and jack pulled out a condom and I think he said ‘Shall I?’ And even though I was a little tipsy, I remember thinking why not? Oh wait I shouldn't, but why not? Go on, why not?
And then I said ‘Ermm, yes, ahhh, yes, YES, go on’
And at that point I gave my consent and on we went. There was no foreplay, no romance, just a rather timid me who was trying to get her head round the enormity of what she'd agreed to. Brought up within an Anglican community the emphasis was always on being in love, and I had always thought that I'd stick to my guns on that one The irony is that after so many years of nearly doing it, it was painful, I think I was rubbish, and after about ten minutes I got quite bored and pained. So even though it wasn't ‘over’ I think I just pushed him off and said ‘you know what? I think that’s enough.... sorry’ and something along those lines, and when he protested I think I just said ‘that's enough!’
I know that I did lose my virginity. My stained knickers and pain were the proof of that. Afterwards when I went back to join my group, I met up with my friends and I did tell a lot of them (I often need to bounce things around with other people to ascertain how I feel about things.) They were shocked, surprised and I think a little disapproving, also disapproving that I'd even told them! I felt relieved, defiant and a little like I'd blown my one chance, one virginity that I would never have it back. I wanted Simon to be more appreciative of what he'd just had - as others in the past had certainly tried to get - but not knowing me from Adam, he didn't really understand. And I quickly realized my telling him these details said a lot more about me, and what I wanted from that person.
As a hypochondriac I went to town the next day to get the morning after pill even though there was no real reason. It took me the next couple of months to work out how I felt about everything. Because the experience wasn't really pleasurable at all I was glad more than anything I did it with someone I didn't know or really care for, because I don't have to associate it with someone I really do love and care for. The Simon thing bit me in the ass months later when a new university friend showed their friend Simon (THE guy) a picture of me on the computer, and the whole thing came out. Luckily I was just about able, to laugh about it, and was able to take the teasing. I've never seen Simon since, it doesn't bother me - I don't tend to date people who smoke...
I've had a string of boyfriends throughout university and after, most of whom I've slept with. Overall I'm comfortable with the decisions I make. I don't regret losing my virginity that way, and it felt like the right time to try it. In many ways my ‘spontaneity’ on the night was, I think, a small precursor to the kind of person I've become (I'm an aid worker) although I struggle with my Christian morals and teachings, alongside having sex and outside of declared love. That being said, I don't do one night stands or casual sex because I abhor it. My body and mind won't let me do it! Probably because I feel sex is better with someone who wants to be with you, not someone who just wants a shag, even if it is from you.
I'm aware that this isn't original but there are very, very few people who know this story and you are now one of them. I wanted to contribute, to feel less like a passive spectator in this giant forum in which all of mankind plays a part in their own way.‘