I never worried about still being a virgin until I graduated from college. Then, I became nervous that I was somehow "behind" everyone else, so I set out on a crusade to get rid of my v-card. I finally did do it at the ripe age of 23, but losing my virginity was nothing like I'd expected.
In high school and college, I put my schoolwork ahead of dating. Finding a job meant more to me than finding a boyfriend. But once I left school and had a sense of stability in my career, I turned to focus on that one area I'd always neglected: my sex life.
Before I did the deed, I'd always considered myself to be a pretty advanced in sexual knowledge. In high school and college I had plenty of friends who were as open as the characters on Sex and the City. I knew every detail of their own sex lives: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then, when I was 21, I interned for Cosmopolitan magazine where I was submerged in everything sex twice a week. I cold-called shops to ask about different types of lube, transcribed interviews about anal sex, and asked strangers about their most-awkward sexual exploits. I thought I knew my stuff, and I felt prepared for when it would eventually happen to me.
I knew real sex was nothing like it is in the movies, but it turns out it was also nothing like what my friends had said. You can know a lot about sex, but every person is different, and I learned a lot about myself when I lost my virginity. Mostly, I learned that you can prepare all you want and arm yourself with an arsenal of knowledge and you still don't know how it's going to go.
Here's what I thought losing my virginity would be like, and here's what it was actually like, I should emphasize, for me.
Expectation: I Might Bleed a Little.
My Reality: My Sheets Were Ruined By A Sudden Flow of Blood.
If and how much you bleed varies depending on your specific situation. (How thick your hymen is, how relaxed you are, how big the guy is, and so on.) But while I'd heard that you could bleed a little (and that some women didn't even bleed at all), I was totally underprepared for the crime scene my bed became after having sex.
Unfortunately, I lost my virginity in a hotel, so I couldn't even take care of the mess myself. Instead, I left a huge tip for the cleaning ladies along with a note that said, "I'm really sorry about everything." I still feel bad about it.
Expectation: Any Bleeding I Have Will Stop Shortly After Sex.
My Reality: I Bled For Days.
When the next afternoon I still looked like I was on my period, I consulted the Internet, which told me residual bleeding is normal for up to three days. (Any longer than that and you should probably see a doctor.) Also, it's possible you'll bleed the next time you have sex. I did, but fortunately less so that time.
Expectation: Things Might Be Awkward.
My Reality: I Laughed So Hysterically I Wasn't Able To Breathe.
Maybe this was just me, but while my poor partner was trying to engage in sexy time, I couldn't stop laughing at how ridiculous everything was. Laughter is usually my response to being uncomfortable, and I was so far out of my comfort zone that I found everything hilarious.
"Why on earth do people do this?" I gasped in between fits of laughter. "This is insane. Who invented this? Why is this fun for people?" (If you have the answer to any of those questions please let me know because I'm still trying to figure it out.)
Expectation: It Will Be Uncomfortable.
My Reality: It Hurt. A Lot.
I was in so much pain that I made my guy stop several times so I could try to relax. It was the kind of pain that I couldn't even push through because it just never got better. (The second time we did it we used lube which made the pain part way, way less intense. I definitely recommend it.)
Expectation: I Won't Get Attached If I Don't Want To.
My Reality: I Got Attached Even Though I Didn't Want To.
I'm a feminist, and prior to my sex session, I thought I could totally be one of those girls who could have sex without it changing my feelings. I mean, I was very firm with the guy I slept with that I was only doing it to "get it over with." (Sure, I liked him. But I thought I could keep things casual.)
Unfortunately, despite all my efforts to not get attached, I did. Because even though I didn't (and don't) think of sex as a woman giving a part of herself away, it was still a really intense experience. Being that intimate with someone does form a bond between the two of you, especially the first time. Perhaps with time I'll be able to sleep with someone without getting attached, but I'm definitely not there yet.
Expectation: It Will Feel Good.
My Reality: It Felt Really Weird.
No part of having sex was fun for me. It didn't feel good, and I had to actively try to keep my face from expressing the discomfort I was in. At one point, he suggested I touch myself to help things along, and I responded that I couldn't because all I could focus on was staying relaxed enough to let this happen.
Expectation: Of Course I'm Not Going to Cry.
My Reality: I Cried.
I never, ever thought I would be that person who would cry during sex. I thought I was stronger than that. But your emotions really have nothing to do with how strong you are. I cried a little, partially because it hurt, and partially because it was really, really overwhelming. No one told me how intense sex is on your emotions. For someone like myself who already has a hard time with new situations, there was only one way for my emotions to come out of me. Apparently, that was through tearing up.
Don't feel bad if it happens to you. Hopefully, you're with someone who will be kind to you, and it's not a sign of weakness or even sadness. For me, at least, it was my body's way of reacting to an overwhelming new experience.
Expectation: It Will Be "Special."
My Reality: What is "Special" Anyway?
Thanks to everything from the movies to their parents, girls are taught to believe that their first time will be special and magical with rose petals and candles everywhere. Perhaps that's true for some, but it wasn't for me. But that doesn't mean my own encounter wasn't special. It may not have been super romantic and cliched, but it had its own unique, fun moments, like when he put the Discovery Channel on (hurray for Shark Week) and didn't make me feel bad for bleeding on him. That was pretty special to me.
Expectation: I Will Not Lay There Like a Dead Fish.
My Reality: Whoops.
I've read all those articles telling women that guys hate it when you just lay there and I was totally like, "I won't be one of those girls," but I was. And not because I didn't care, or I wanted the guy to do all the work. It's just that everything was so overwhelming. And like I said, I was so focused on staying relaxed so it wouldn't hurt, that I pretty much just laid there. And you know what? That's totally fine.
But hey, no one is perfect at anything their first time. I'm eager to get that ball rolling now that I have a more realistic view of what to expect.