I was 29, single again after a five-year marriage, and a virgin. When I met my now ex-husband Mike, I had just turned 21. We met at small Catholic liberal arts college, and even though I no longer believed in Jesus, the Saints, the Bible, God, really any of that, I was a virgin then and I was a virgin when we divorced.
When I was younger, I wanted to stay pure and had managed to protect my virginity despite all the high school guys I'd went out with, and the ten or so guys I'd dated in college before going out with Mike, my future husband. My policy was to wear a Virgin Mary pendant on dates, just to be sure the guys I dated knew I was waiting.
Granted, I still almost lost it in the front seat of David Horowitz's car the summer before junior year of high school. I almost gave it up for him, and I let him put his hand down my pants, but I had to draw the line. I certainly wasn't going to do it with some guy who was going away to college in a few weeks, and I wasn't going to lose it in his dad's beat-up Ford Escort. That wasn't how I imagined my first time at all.
Every guy I went out with wanted to sleep with me by the third date, and every one of them lost interest when I wanted to wait.
By the time I met Mike, I was starting to wonder if date three might be good enough, even for me. But after our third date, he told me he wanted to wait until we were married. I couldn't have been more shocked but as I got to know him, it made sense. Mike was a Christian, I mean a real Christian: the kind that goes to Mass every Sunday, the kind that fears God, the Little House on the Prairie kind. Plus, he was a supportive friend, so much kinder than anyone I'd ever known. He volunteered at homeless shelters and sang in the church choir. He read all the right books, led several community groups and wanted to teach less fortunate children.
We got along great and naturally, I wanted to make out. I wanted a repeat of what happened with David Horowitz in the Ford, only I wanted it with a good guy, someone who loved me. But making out with Mike always felt so mechanical. Though I wasn't that experienced, the other guys I'd been with usually got me so excited and lost in the moment that all that stood between me and his penis inside of me was that Virgin Mary pendant. None of that ever happened with Mike. I was always able to concentrate, think clearly and keep my cool. It was so refreshing not to be the teary, hysterical mess I was with the other guys that I thought, maybe this friendship is better than sex. And how would I know? I had never done the deed.
During our make-out sessions, I always felt like I was directing a blind actor on a cluttered stage.
"Go to the right, no a little more, no back to the left, wait, too fast." It was always stressful, and over time, it became tedious. Mike had no creative ideas of his own. I'd never been with anyone so asexual. It seemed like if I hadn't climbed on top of him on our third date, nothing would have ever happened. But I kept thinking he was the best person I'd ever known, and maybe things would get better after we got married. And I just kept thinking: what was a great sexual relationship in comparison to all this? It seemed so shallow of me to dump someone who had become my best friend just because he couldn't get me off without a world atlas.
Finally, after two years of dating, our wedding night came. Of course by now, I'd sort of lost the anticipation. So that night, we tried and failed. While he was getting ready for bed, I put on a transparent white nightgown my mother bought me for my big night. As I waited on the bed, with a fireplace roaring in front of it, I felt like I was in a play, only all my stage directions were missing. What was I supposed to do? Lie down and wait for him to take me, missionary style?
The entire time we'd been dating, I had felt in charge of our sexual relationship, but I had no idea how to make sex happen. Apparently neither did he, because he simply started kissing me awkwardly as he positioned himself on top of me. It was not erotic; it was forced. He had not done anything seductive in the hours, let alone minutes, leading up to our big scene. I stopped him and told him I just couldn't do it. Michael didn't seem upset, only slightly disappointed that things didn't turn out differently.
We kept right on trying for weeks, for months, for years, and kept right on failing.
He could never stay hard long enough to get inside of me. And I could never get excited enough to let him in. I began thinking, in my obsessive way, maybe I was just too small. Maybe I had some impenetrable vagina that only the strongest, hardest penis could penetrate. Maybe my hymen was like a personal Great Wall of China. But really, between his giant penis, his premature ejaculation problem and my tight-as-a-virgin-because-I-was-a-virgin problem, well, the whole thing was pretty much doomed.
After five years of marriage, we broke it off. We had tried couples counseling and everything else: lingerie, candles, massage oil. Nothing worked. I would have thought I was hopelessly frigid, except right around the time we started counseling, I started spending time with an old friend, Sam.
Mike and I had recently moved to a new town and Sam happened to live a few blocks away. Ever since college, I had been attracted to Sam, but one of us was always attached when the other was single. Sam was flirtatious, sensual and confident. He was extremely open about sex and obviously experienced. My feelings for him became overwhelming and I worried I'd have an affair with him — or at least try to. I stopped seeing him, but because of him, I knew that I was capable of feeling that way. And after so many tries with Michael, I knew we just weren't meant to be. He cried horribly when I told him it was over, but he also didn't seem surprised. Six months later, we sold our home and a month after that, our divorce was finalized. I was 28, divorced and, worst of all, still a virgin.
After the divorce, I couldn't wait to meet someone who would have sex with me.
But I was still worried about my dysfunctional, overly small vagina. I was absolutely certain that there was something wrong with me. I mean, how could a penis have never gotten in there? I had to be sure that when I found someone that sex would "work" and that I wouldn't find another premature ejaculator with an abnormally large penis.
I'm a teacher, so I made myself a syllabus. I might not be able to fix the vagina problem, but I could at least know what I was doing. I read the Kama Sutra and I bought several instructional DVDs and several vibrators. I figured I could start with the non-threatening Pink one and work up to the more intimidating white one and then I'd be ready for the real thing, no matter how huge it might turn out to be. When I finished my self-imposed syllabus, I began looking for a man.
I went online and met Joshua. He seemed perfect on paper: part Native American, spiritual but not religious, and newly divorced. I knew I would never fall in love with him — perfect. I wasn't ready to start loving again; I just wanted to have sex.
I invited him to my house for dinner, figuring it would take quite a few dates before we actually did anything. Of course I didn't mention the virgin problem or my possibly impenetrable vagina. We ended up talking on my couch in front of my fireplace. He asked if I'd like to hear him play some Native American flute music. Then he started showing me his tattoos, all very tribal. Before long, we were making out. I didn't stop him when he took his pants off, and I didn't care when he took mine off. It didn't occur to me that he wanted to have sex.
As he started pulling off my panties, I reasoned it would probably take several attempts to get inside of me, and I highly doubted he could penetrate the wall. I was certain he'd have to do something special, something that I hadn't learned or Mike didn't know to do. It didn't even dawn on me that he wasn't putting on a condom.
Within about two seconds, he was inside of me.
It was shockingly simple. Nothing could have prepared me for it. How could something that had evaded me for this long, something that had ruined my marriage to an otherwise great guy, something that I feared and longed for, something that had driven me to go on anti-depressants and take up hobbies like beading and dancing and learning Spanish — turn out to be so simple?
And then it was over. He came within a minute. By the time I got used to how it felt having a man inside of me, he was out and lying on his side. It didn't hurt like I'd expected but it didn't last long enough to feel good. I wanted more. I wanted the positions I'd memorized; I wanted it to not be over. But all Joshua said was, "Wow, that was great. Wish I had a cigarette." I scanned his face for some look of recognition, something. But he didn't know he just had sex with a virgin.
The next day, I asked him to have breakfast with me, but he said he had to go. I felt rejected, but I also knew that having sex on a first date was not the greatest set-up for a relationship. I also knew that I had no real connection with Joshua. He called me a few days later but the conversation was awkward. We never saw each other again. Still, I felt relieved, and I looked at the entire incident as a rough draft attempt at the real thing.
At least I wasn't a freak of nature and at least I knew it wasn't me all those years.
Six years have past since then, and I've had a lot of sex with a few different men. But I still haven't managed to put love and sex together in the same person. I wish I could tell you that it doesn't matter, that I'm not waiting any more, that great sex is just, well, great. But I'm still hoping for something that doesn't resemble a poorly written romance novel.
Sometimes I still feel a pang of regret about Mike because we had a real friendship, and I loved him. He was someone I could laugh with, cry with and fight with, a true best friend. I want, more than anything, to combine something like that with a physical connection. I keep being drawn one or the other, but neither one is satisfying if you don't have both.
We don't mean blurting something out after you've had too much merlot, but the desire to tell him intimate details about your life means you trust him—a major component of successful long-term love.
More juicy content from Yourtango:
- 9 Totally Normal Breakdowns Single Women Have
- Dear Mom & Dad, Thanks For Setting the Marriage Bar Way Too High
- 6 Dating Experts Tell Me Why I'm Still Single