The night I lost my virginity my mom was downstairs checking her e-mail. It was a little weird—wrong maybe—but it was high school: you did what you had to.
While one of my friends was busy losing his virginity in a fancy hotel room, another was busy going at it in her boyfriend's car.
From the first moment of our sexual awakenings we fantasize about this moment: the kind of person it will be with, the beautiful place in which it will happen, the perfect time of day for that magical first time.
What we fail to realize in our fantasies are the realities of losing your virginity: the pressure to either "get it over with" or "wait until marriage," the awkwardness of not knowing what to do or how to do it, and dealing with the less romantic situations available to virgins our age. Excitement aside, when it comes down to it, the big V is quite frightening.
What constitutes losing it anyway? I was recently disturbed by a high school friend's confession that she had mistaken the loss of her virginity: "I thought he was doing something with my butt, but actually he wasn't, so what I thought was my first time really was the second." Say what?
Another friend tells a story about a drunken girl, having put a stop to an unwanted first-time, continuing to call herself a virgin until the next time. Last time I checked, insertion constituted loss of virginity. Then again, the last time I checked, when it was happening, you knew you were losing it, too.
Perhaps one of the most-debated big V questions is that of timing. As a 16-year-old contemplating having sex with my boyfriend of a year plus, I listened to an older student declare that she thought sex was "just not something you did in high school."
She might not have been having sex before college because she couldn't get any, but the question stands: to do or not to do?
I have several college friends—male and female—who remain virgins, but then there's also the hallmate who proudly described her first time as the act of a "desperate virgin."
If you are going to go ahead and do it, do you wait until you're in love or do you get it over with? Is it simply a question of waiting until you're ready, regardless of whether it's with a long-term partner, and old friend, or someone completely random?
Just to complicate things, for some folks there are two firsts: there's the first and then there's "the first."
The gay men in my life happily debate with me. When does manhood become official? Are you official once you've successfully pleasured another? Does official have to involve your own cum? Or is it more of a two step process—are you a virgin until both firsts?
In this case, is two better than one? You go through twice the big V trauma, but you also get twice the pleasure:as a straight woman I'm a little jealous. I'd love two shots at the first; hell, if it isn't amazing "the first" time, it's fantabulous the next "first" time.
There are some major physical drawbacks to the big V: namely involving two words—tight and limp.
I'm not sure which is worse, being the virgin or the de-virginizer: as the virgin you're disappointed in yourself for your lack of physical confidence, as the de-virginizer you have no idea how to react.
You go back to the foreplay thing, you try to watch porn, but the situation is fucked—or not. All notions, romantic or otherwise, quickly evaporate; the interactions between virgin and de-virginizer are suddenly awkward and uncomfortable.
Once you do get it in, there are orgasms to contend with. What do you do when one of you can't come? Guys can't very well fake it, and girls shouldn't, but that doesn't make honesty any easier.
The truth of the matter is that the first time is nerve-wracking for all parties involved: guys are often too self-conscious to finish, while the pain girls experience almost always threatens their first chance to orgasm. Many girls never learn to orgasm from sexual intercourse—never mind that the number of fakers I know cannot be counted on one hand.
Losing your virginity holds a different meaning for everyone. Chances are it's not going to be the magical experience of your young fantasies, but that doesn't mean it isn't going to be good. Scientifically speaking, insertion is the definition, but realistically speaking, you define your own experience.
You can't get caught up in emotional or physical difficulties; it happens to all of us. Maybe it has to happen in your dorm room bed; maybe your partner isn't who you wanted it be. It may take a couple tries and you may not be able to come right away.
No matter what, the end result is ultimately the same: good sex is coming your way. The Big V may be a little frightening, but then again, so are roller coasters.
Don't forget to scream.
Miriam Datskovsky is a Barnard College sophomore. Sexplorations runs alternate Mondays.