I was a virgin for the entirety of my twenties. Now that I’m not one, I keep stumbling upon articles and stories on the ‘late in life virginity’ theme. (Did you guys know that Lisa Kudrow lost her virginity at 32?) It makes me wonder if the phenomenon is perhaps more common than I thought. It certainly never felt common when I was living it.
I was frequently reassured that gay people find love (and sex) later than others, since they have a smaller pool to choose from. I think there’s some truth to that. Still, as the years wore on, these helpful ‘excuses’ offered by my friends became less and less convincing. Surely there was something wrong with me. There had to be! If not, then why couldn’t I make this happen in my life? I didn’t feel particularly repulsive, just sort of ordinary. Maybe boring. But not undeserving of love. And not disinterested in sex.
The concept of asexuality wasn’t really on my radar as I muddled through the long virgin years. Even if it had been, I doubt I would have entertained it as a possibility. I’ve had a strong physical attraction towards women since my teen years, and time only made it stronger. Not even years of romantic solitude could make me question the fact that I was super gay at heart.
I never saw myself on TV. Not a positive depiction, anyway. One thing that pop culture makes abundantly clear is that late-in-life virginity is a thing to be made fun of. If a thirty-something character is never able to ‘get some,’ it’s usually because they’re unattractive, or fat, or both. Sometimes they have terrible personalities, or unforgivable social tics. Sometimes they’re giant dorks.
Normal, well-adjusted characters have sex. At the very least, they date people. Kiss people. Meet people? I was a lesbian who hadn’t met any lesbians. I had met a bisexual chick once (at work), but it wasn’t a love connection. I felt alone. I felt defective.
For most of us, our twenties are the time when we first begin to assemble an identity. We spend our childhoods and teen years discovering and collecting pieces, but it’s in our twenties that we start connecting dots. I was a virgin, and it was really hard for me to separate that (a presumably temporary condition) from the person I was or would become. It was all I knew, so it felt kind of impossible to imagine a future for myself without it there.
Don’t get me wrong. I imagined plenty. I imagined how it might be to curl up in bed with a warm, smiling woman. To feel her hands in my hair, and her lips on mine. My fantasies were always ridiculously straightforward. No cuffs, no costumes, no props. Nothing complicated or outlandish. Just an ordinary woman that wanted to be naked with me.
It felt like an impossible dream. All I could see was the endless list of obstacles ahead. I wanted to be in love before having sex. But how would I fall in love without dating? And how would I date without knowing any lesbians? And even if I knew lesbians, how would I find one I liked that also liked me back? It seemed as though an awful lot of things needed to line up exactly right before I could reach my lady-loving goal.
I was so far from getting started. I was so far from STARTING to get started. According to my disappointing calculations, I was destined to be a virgin forever.
Thankfully, some of my math was wrong. The road, once I found it, wasn’t nearly as long or arduous as I thought. I went on my first real date at age 32, and I was naked-wrestling with a beautiful woman scarcely a week later! (Sorry, Mom!)
I had always assumed that I would need to be in love with a woman in order to sleep with her. Nope! Turns out all I needed was a woman I trusted; a woman with whom I could see myself falling in love and having a future. Before we started dating, Kate was a friend of mine. A newish friend, but someone I felt comfortable with.
I have no idea what it’s like to lose your virginity in your teen years, or even in your twenties. But the people I’ve talked to have suggested that most first encounters aren’t all together satisfying. Teenagers are narcissistic by nature, so it seems unlikely to me that a first time between them would be a caring give-and-take experience where both parties walk away satisfied. I suppose it’s possible, but I suspect it’s rare.
I’m not saying I’m happy or proud that I waited as long as I did. If I had gotten this rite of passage out of the way a long time ago, I’m sure it would have dampened some of the negative self-talk I wrestled with. Even a bad first experience would have been a check box on the ‘yup, you’re an adult’ list. I could have joked about it with friends, who likely had similar stories to share. Instead, I got to feel like a freak.
The age I lost my virginity doesn’t seem important now that I’ve done it, but it felt damn important back when I hadn’t. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how recent those days were. Having zero sexual experience used to feel like part of my DNA, and yet, from the moment Kate and I took that step, it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
I can’t tell you the number of times people told me to just be patient, and wait, and love would come to me. It sounded like some lackadaisical bullshit, but they were kind of right. I took a couple of tiny, deliberate steps (with the modest goal of meeting new people), and before I knew it, there she was. She found me.
I hadn’t seen it coming! This incredible woman had pursued, courted, and wooed me (me!) because she had noticed me from afar and liked the cut of my jib. She’d planned her attack, and made her move, and all I’d had to do was say yes.
Best. Decision. Ever.