Sex is good. Sex is fun. Sex is even healthy, right? But what happens when you’re just not ready to give it up for a really, really long time? Do you start collecting cats and dry up in the name of virginity? Or do you date in the hopes of finding someone who'll understand? I chose the latter.
I met Chris right after my 18th birthday. He was cute. He was magnetic. He was in a band. And most importantly, he liked me.
Part of me was afraid to get to know him. Having little experience in love (or lust) beyond a few asshole boyfriends in high school, I wondered what he hoped to gain with me. If it was sex, he was definitely going to be disappointed, because I had very specific ideas about how this whole sex thing would go for me. I didn’t want to give myself away on a waterbed, or in a sleeping bag, or any of the other places I found myself with boys who were hell-bent on negotiating the terms of my virginity. I may not have known much about love, but I was pretty sure sex wasn’t supposed to involve coercion or guilt. And not to sound idealistic or anything, but what's so wrong with waiting until you've found The One?
Even though I suspected early on that Chris would be the man to take home my, ahem, lady prize, we took things slow. We held hands a lot, we talked a lot, we laughed a lot, and we settled into each other’s arms in that easy and comfortable way that only comes naturally when you start to really feel things for someone else. We kissed and kissed and kissed and felt and felt and felt. I wanted him, he wanted me, but was it love?
What did love even feel like, anyway? Was there a timeline for it? "You’ve been with Chris a really long time, just have sex with him already!" my girlfriends pleaded. I understood where they were coming from. We were a year into our relationship and I was feeling what could only be described as love, but something was holding me back. "Sex is like a Band-Aid," my gal pals would say, "it sucks the first time. It’s awkward and embarrassing, but the more times you do it, the easier it gets." I had no doubt that it would be great eventually, especially since Chris wasn’t a virgin. He’d had his share of casual sexual encounters and even though he knew what he was missing, he chose to stay with me.
We were plenty physical and he was good (really, really good). I didn’t need to go all the way to feel sexually satisfied. But poor Chris, right? Getting his girl off without the reward of sweaty, carnal, animalistic sex in return? Yeah, I know...but virginity, you guys! Virginity is special.
If you’re wondering just how "special" virginity can possibly be when you’re circling home plate without ever actually stepping foot on it, I don’t have an answer except to say that I just wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be for the next (gasp!) three years.
So we waited. And waited. And waited. Was he frustrated? Sure, but he never showed it. Did he try to go further? You bet, but he always understood. "I love you and I want you, but I want you to be ready even more." Seriously? Is this real life? SWOON.
Sometime around college graduation, as I prepared myself to greet the real world as an educated, adult-type person, I decided I was ready. I had loved this boy-turned-man who patiently loved me back with immeasurable kindness for four long years. I finally trusted that this thing was real and in one singular moment of clarity and decisiveness, I ditched my perfect vision of impassioned first-time lovemaking. I forgot all about the classy lingerie I was supposed to wear. I scoffed at the imagined backdrop of billowy curtains ruffling in the breeze on a starry summer night. I wanted him then and I wanted him as we were.
I removed my clothes and stood before him in that hot apartment wearing white cotton panties and a functional nude bra.
We had sex. Four long years after we met.
It was awkward and honest, yet at the same time, beautifully patient and perfect. It was all the things I wanted and needed it to be, and it was all of those things because I was finally ready.
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