Words by Samuel Barson Art by Elyse Willemsen
Popping the cherry. Swiping the V card. Dropping the skittle. Losing your virginity.
There are many terms used to describe your first time having sex, but regardless of how you want to refer to it, it’s become one of life’s most controversial experiences – especially among the ranks of young people. Details of who you lose it to, where you lose it and how you lose it can have heavy, emotional ramifications that remain a long time after that ‘first time’.
Why is there a pressure for your first time to be absolutely mind-blowingly awesome? For it to be within the typical constraints of a relationship or with someone ‘special’? For it to be when you’re at a particular age, or specific location even? I sat down with a group of young people (who are no longer virgins) to chat about their ‘first time’ and to see what we can learn from each other and from ourselves about the concept of virginity (and losing it).
Do you think you lost your virginity at the right time? Did you feel any pressure or rush to lose it?
Issy, 21: It was the right time for me 100%.
Grace*, 22: I felt ready for it, but I also felt a bit of pressure to satisfy. He began the
relationship by saying that he wants sex all the time, which was an unbelievably shitty
Mitch, 22: I lost my virginity at 14. At the time, I didn’t think about it too much, but now in reflection it seems too young. I didn’t feel any pressure to lose it because I was still very young, so those pressures weren’t even around yet.
Ashleigh, 19: I think it was the “right” time, so to speak. I was comfortable with my partner, I was okay with who I was. Looking back there was perhaps a little bit of pressure because of what was happening with our other close couple friends and perhaps he had rushed it a small bit considering that I’d had no sexual contact at all 8 months prior.
Was it important to you that it was lost within a relationship, or did it just naturally happen that way?
Issy, 21: I wanted it to be with someone special, partly because my parents told me that’s
what I should do.
Mitch, 22: I lost it to a girl I’d been dating for like 5 months. So, I’d say it just happened
naturally. But, I think it was very important I lost it to someone I was in love with and at least cared about, and who I know cared about me.
Ashleigh, 19: At the time, yeah. I think it was the right choice for me because there was
support and understanding and mutual trust. Also, because my views on sex were slightly more conservative at that point.
Any regrets about how it happened? Would you have changed anything?
Issy, 21: No regrets. I love the man that I experienced it with and don’t think I’ll experience it with anyone else. I’m very content in that knowledge.
Grace*, 22: I think I would have preferred to get to know the person more, someone who
respected me, not necessarily loved me, but was kind. If there were any red flags like the
pressure that I initially had, I’d hope that I’d have the strength to just cut that person out.
Mitch, 22: I don’t have any regrets about how it happened because at the time it’s what her and I both wanted and we both truly loved each other. And that’s something not everyone is fortunate enough to say. I’d say maybe in reflection if I could change anything, maybe I would wait a bit longer into the relationship. But, this is for no other reason than 14 on paper seems objectively early. However, it would only be delaying the inevitable and so I’m not sure waiting would have achieved anything. Having sex didn’t change the dynamic of the relationship drastically enough to warrant any concerns.
So, none of these experiences were worthy of research material for a Nicholas Sparks novel. However, the experiences for these young people have continued to grow and reshape their views on the concept of virginity and what comes with doing the sex for the first time. Relationships evolve and mature, and the sex gets better – you would hope so. Therefore, it’s okay if there aren’t fireworks and a James Blunt album playing in the background the first time. There’s plenty to learn, and most excitingly… plenty of sex to be had.