Hotel rooms are where all the best sex happens anyways.

To everyone who’s been leaving their stories in the comments, thank you so much. They’re all so different — some are heartbreaking, some are funny, some are blase, and all are definitely worth the read.

I know a lot of you have been talking about how inaccurate the idea of virginity is, and how it not only sets up a weird idea of “purity” or that there’s something to be lost, but that it also doesn’t at all accurately describe peoples actual, often very fluid, first experiences with sex, especially if we move away from the hetero-normative way of defining it.

While this next story still deals with pretty traditional man/woman/penis/vagina sex, as I read it I couldn’t help but think of these discussions. It speaks to the idea that there is more than one way to lose your virginity, define sex, etc etc.

    Ok, so I’m still not exactly sure how I decided to lose my virginity. I was thirteen at the time, and didn’t have a serious boyfriend. My frenemy, Rachel, who had stolen away my biggest crush, kept bragging about how she’d had sex with a 35 year old. Looking back I have no idea if that was actually true, but at the time I was intensely jealous, thinking of it as another life accomplishment she’d beat me to. Of When you’re thirteen you feel like the most grownup person in the world, or at least we did. It didn’t even occur to us to think we were too young.

    So when my camp friend’s neighbor declared his love for me, I went along with it. When he proposed we have sex after two weeks of dating, I shrugged and said sure. I lost my virginity on a mattress in his basement, while his mom was dealing with contractors upstairs and my friend waiting in the next room. We used a condom, it lasted maybe ten minutes. Afterwards I couldn’t say why, but I was so angry I almost cried.

    I broke up with him soon after, but stayed sexually active. Skip ahead to when I was 20, sitting in my University’s women’s studies class, talking about orgasms.

    Up until then I’d assumed that’s what I’d been feeling during sex, too embarrassed to even consider the possibility that during the seven years I’d been sexually active I had been missing out on the most important part. I’d had sex before I started masturbating, and as a result thought the only way women got pleasure was from penetration. But that class, and the “if you’d had one, you’d know” advice made me really start to wonder. Had I had an orgasm? Was I missing out?

    I did my research, reading about the clitoris, masturbation, and everything else I could. When my flight home over winter break got delayed, I realized this was my chance. It was me and an empty hotel room for the next twelve hours, and I decided I wasn’t leaving until I too had experienced the earth-shaking in-your-toes feeling my classmates described.

    Two hours and one cramped hand later, and I got it. And once I knew what I was looking for, it was almost easy to find it again – on my own and also with people I was sleeping with.

    So officially, I lost my virginity in junior high. But in my heart I’d like to think it was in that hotel room, by myself, when I was 20.

PS – As I mentioned in my first post — Planned Parenthood of New York City has some great guides on how to talk to your kids about sex, and is currently running a campaign to make sure all kids in NYC are taught accurate, age-appropriate sex education.

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16 comments for “Hotel rooms are where all the best sex happens anyways.

  1. June 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    It took me a little while to get the hang of sex, honestly. I think I was probably 20 or 21 before I was able to have enough experience, plus the good fortune to have patient, but instructive lovers who were very specific about what pleased them. Repetition, too, helps. I’ve noticed recently that every time I have sex with my partner that I get a bit bolder and I learn a different position or tactic that I never had tried before.

    I learned something useful from every lover, but I think what helped the most is developing confidence in myself. It was the certainty present that told me I KNEW what I was doing and that I shouldn’t second-guess myself.

  2. benvolio
    June 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I never thought of having sex as ‘losing’ anything. I considered it more like a developmental milestone. You know: first word, first tooth, first step, first time on a two-wheeler, first period, first kiss, first broken heart, and first time having sex. I always framed it as an experience gained, not something irretrievably lost. Don’t know why, exactly, but that’s how I saw it.

    Now, I first had sex at 18, and in college, which is a fair bit later than girls do now. I don’t remember feeling left out, so I’m guessing it was on par with kids of my cohort, more or less.

    Anyway, it was with a boy in my circle of schoolfellows. A few drinks at the campus bar (legal then, I hasten to add), a little making out in a booth, and then I happily accepted his invitation back to his room. Such a good kisser! I didn’t have an expectation that we’d go all the way, but I was fine with it if it happened. He had a condom, so: yay! and Onward! He was considerate and eager (such a winning combo), and although I didn’t orgasm (and wouldn’t for another year and a half), it certainly was pleasurable. We saw each other a time or two afterward, and he married the next girl he dated.

    I remember it fondly. A good first.

  3. Danielle
    June 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Like the last commenter, I view sex as an experience and a milestone. One which I have yet to achieve.
    At 22, I’m still a virgin. I’m also a liberal, atheistic, sex-positive heathen. But it simply hasn’t happened for me. In high school I wasn’t ready. In college, I was too focused on my many jobs and my classes. I simply wasn’t looking for a relationship. Now that I’ve graduated and I’m in the real world, I feel ready. The last eight years or so have been difficult for me. I’ve had sexual desires that masturbation simply can’t fulfill. But, while the first time doesn’t have to be mind-blowing, I have determined that it has to be with someone that I genuinely care about and who I will always remember.
    As a sex-positive, 22-year-old virgin, I feel a lot of shame. I feel like a hypocrite for avoiding sex so long. But even more, I feel judged. I don’t tell people. If the question can’t be avoided, I answer honestly and then feel like I’m being judged. I’m not a virgin because I’m waiting for marriage or because I hate myself or because I think sex is wrong. It just hasn’t happened for me. Believe me, I’m frustrated. But isn’t part of the sex-positivity mantra the idea that you should have sex when you feel personally ready?

  4. June 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I wrote a post much like this a while ago titled “When Was Your Real First Time.” I got interesting responses both at my place and at Feministing.

    In the post, I gave my answer:

    “I’ve been thinking about my answer since I woke up this morning and I’m not entirely sure of it. Certainly it was not the first time I had PIV intercourse, which didn’t seem like a milestone to me. It was with a long-time FWB, we were not good for each other, and it was physically pleasant but I think emotionally distant for me and probably alienating for her. Besides, by that time I’d been in an MFF and a MMF threesome and identified as a kinkster; I hadn’t had PIV intercourse mostly because I was busy doing other things. What makes the most sense to me is the first time I gave a partner an orgasm. It felt like what adult sex feels like for me. I wasn’t in love, certainly, but I wasn’t using her and she wasn’t a conquest. I cared about her; I wanted to be sexual with her in large part because I wanted to be intimate with her, I cared how she reacted to my touch and I wanted her to come because she would enjoy it. I’m not saying that sex must be about or defined by intimacy; just that that connection, whether the context is romantic or more situational, is much of what I look for in sex, and that’s the first time I found it. So there we are.”

  5. June 23, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Danielle, you can’t make the right opportunity just appear for you, and just because you’re ready in the abstract doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have standards or preferences or wait for a situation that works. Waiting both until you’re ready and the situation is right for you is an act of self-determination. I hope my daughter has the kind of sex she wants, when she’s ready and when the situation is right for her — whatever kind of sex that is, and whenever it’s right.

  6. Zoe
    June 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    I know from the earliest times I’d had sex, I was never sure whether I’d had an orgasm or not. Guys love to ask “Did you come?” or just go ahead and insist that I did. It wasn’t until after my first boyfriend gave me a vibrator (at age 15!) that I realized how it felt. Then, it bothered me that I couldn’t get this feeling during sex. When I took my first Women’s Studies class and learned that the vaginal orgasm is a myth (or at the very least not as common as the clitoral orgasm), I felt relief that I wasn’t weird. It wasn’t until this very past weekend that I finally experienced my first clitoral orgasm during sex at the hands (and tongue) of someone else and not my vibrator. A serious accomplishment and a reminder that there is a lot of learning involved in sex and relationships.

  7. June 23, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I had to laugh because my first orgasm was also in a hotel room, all by my lonesome, and with a cramped hand. Only difference is I was 23 and just wasting time after a job interview earlier in the day.

  8. Kathryn
    June 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I always thought it was weird that we call it “losing” your virginity, but that phrase used to make me really scared of the idea of having sex. I was conservative when I was younger. I would never have dreamed of having sex before marriage when I was in junior high. When I got to high school I started to experience the desire for sex for the first time, and as I slowly went from being moderate politically to liberal and I became less and less religious, I began to genuinely want to have sex.

    Small problem. Wanting to do it didn’t make me comfortable with the idea. My boyfriend in my junior year wanted to have sex. Now that I had the opportunity I couldn’t do it, so I told him I was waiting for marriage. It was strange since I hadn’t thought that way for a while, but in retrospect I think it was just a way of protecting myself from having to have sex with him. I didn’t want to. I couldn’t even let myself kiss him.

    So I didn’t date again until my junior year of college. That’s four years. By that time I was thinking I would never meet anyone, I was unlovable, and from some issues with severe bullying and my high-functioning autism, I thought that everyone I met would hate me and they would either want to hurt me or feel sorry for me and just try to avoid me. The immature friends I’d been hanging around unceremoniously dumped me and I was isolated. I started talking to a friend of a friend, who I had met only once but had friended on Facebook. I was 20 and he was 28.

    He liked me, and I was so socially oblivious that I didn’t realize it. I was accidentally leading him on repeatedly, and I convinced myself I didn’t want to like him. But I got into the habit of going over to his house every day because I enjoyed spending time with him. And one day we kissed. Not he kissed me or I kissed him, it just happened. And I realized I was extremely happy. A week later he threw me a 21st birthday party. I’d been worried because I no longer had any friends to celebrate with, but a bunch of people I barely knew showed up, and we had a great time. I realized I had spent time around people who were holding me back before.

    He told me I didn’t have to have sex with him, and I knew he meant it. But I realized that I was okay with it now. I didn’t know if we’d stay together but he understood how important it was to me for my first time to be a pleasant memory. So the next weekend I stayed over at his house. It didn’t feel like losing anything. I do feel like it helped me mature, though.

    I’m not sad that I waited until I was 21 to do it. I would have felt cheated if I’d have wasted my first experience on my first boyfriend–I know some friends feel very differently about how important that is and I think it’s okay for them but I needed it to be this way. And now I’ve been with my boyfriend for nine months and we’re living together. I’ve never been happier. I kind of think of “losing” my virginity as the beginning of changing my life. Because now I’m getting over my issues with thinking everyone hates me, I’ve moved from my tiny little town to an actual city, and I have friends who don’t use me and make fun of me.

  9. Kathryn
    June 23, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Danielle, just read your comment, and I was TOTALLY in your shoes a couple months ago. I don’t think you should be ashamed. A lot of people rush into the experience and you have decided to wait for your first experience when you were older and wiser, and that’s really positive, I think. You shouldn’t feel pressured to do it before you’re ready, and when the time is right you’ll have sex for the first time.

  10. June 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I had just turned 15 when I lost my virginity. I was in full-on puppy love and I felt so grown up and responsible. Sex was never taboo in my house, so at least I felt prepared. This boy was my first everything and I felt so comfortable with him. It was after my dance banquet, we were all dressed up and his parents weren’t home. We had been dating 6 months…which is “forever” in teenage years. He had a condom, we dimmed the lights, and I cried the whole time. It was more painful than I thought it would be. He was slow and patient and never finished. He didn’t like the fact that he was hurting me. So afterward we snuggled up on the couch and he wrapped a blanket around me and we didn’t seem any older. We went on to have some of the best times…sneaking off to have quickies during family gatherings, and feeling each other up in movie theaters. We’re still really great friends and he’s getting married next summer. I don’t regret a thing.

  11. J.
    June 23, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    I became aware of my sexuality early, and had my first orgasm (though I didn’t know what to call that feeling at the time) when I was about 11 or 12. I continued to masturbate all throughout middle and high school.

    As I grew up, I began to look forward to sex, but I wasn’t ready until the well into my second year of college. My boyfriend and I would do a lot of fooling around, but I made him wait until I was on birth control. When we finally did have sex, I didn’t feel the physical pleasure I had come to expect from all of my years of masturbating, and I felt lonely and used afterwards.

    For years after I lost my virginity, I struggled to have sex that was truly satisfying and resulted in orgasm. One of the guys I was in a long-term relationship with used to try to insist that eventually he’d get me to come from PIV, but it never happened. He was clearly frustrated, and his insistence that I come via PIV (and my failure to do so) was frustrating for me. I didn’t understand why he didn’t get that it just doesn’t work that way for me.

    I now have a very healthy sex life with a partner who pays attention to my body and how it responds to his touch, and who listens to my guidance. After all, I’ve been successfully getting off for years without a man; who better than me to give advice on how to give me an orgasm. I am grateful now that I waited as long as I did to have sex, because it gave me time to explore my body and learn what feels good without outside forces trying to tell me otherwise.

  12. living1paradox
    June 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I am still not sure when I lost my virginity when comparing myself to other first time stories. When I was in middle school I told my friend I lost my virginity and I meant it, but then my first year in college I told the same friend I lost my virginity again. No I wasn’t a born-again virgin, I just have issue with this definition of virginity.
    Looking back at what happened now I realise the first time I lost my virginity will sound horrible to most, but to me it wasn’t because I didn’t even understand what it was until years later. I lost my virginity at 5. Wow, I know but I did. The strange part was I didn’t lose it to an adult or even a man. I lost it to another 5 year old girl. We both had no idea what we were doing could be considered awful, we just knew it felt good when we licked each other down there. I did have a little concern and would make sure no one else was around when it happened. I think my transition to this came from my early discovery of masturbation, which again I didn’t really understand anything about it except that it felt good.
    I really don’t know what to think about my 5 year old experience. I continued having lesbian sex for years until I reached an age when I found out what I was doing was sex and “wrong.” This leads me to my second loss of virginity.
    I actually didn’t have sex with a male until I 18. Unlike my first time I was extremely nervous. I actually understood what was happening. I also felt like I was re-awakened. For so many years I was ashamed of my masturbating and sex at such an early age. Now that I had a more standard loss of virginity I felt like I could discuss sex and be more open about my desires.
    Both times I feel like I choose to have sex, that I wasn’t manipulated. I feel that in both cases I did lose my virginity, but in different forms. I will however answer when asked that I lost my virginity at 18, because I really don’t want to go into my early details and am concerned about what others will think.
    Virginity is such a confusing word.

  13. Paraxeni
    June 24, 2010 at 2:29 am

    My sexual exploration started young, and after my first orgasm at age 10 I was addicted! I do think of myself as initiating my own awakening, and think of any partnered experience after that as gaining something, not losing it. So that first guy on NYE when I was 21 and drunk? I gained the knowledge that sex with men wasn’t for me. The second guy, on holiday in Turkey, gained a mental acceptance that I definitely wasn’t straight but that it was ok. My first female encounter helped me gain confidence in my body, and a sense of patience that when Ms Right came along I would be a good lover. She did, and I was! So I don’t think I ever lost anything.

  14. Crystal
    June 24, 2010 at 10:27 am

    A friend and I had an interesting conversation last year on this topic. She had been dating this guy for a few months and was entertaining the idea of having sex with him as both of their first times. She new that I had had sex with three women before she met me, and that I was in a sexual relationship with my current male partner. One thing that struck me about this conversation is that she said to me, “I know this [having sex] is not a big deal for you, but..” and on she went about how she felt conflicted about “loosing her virginity” [not a phrase I care for]. She had not had sex for religious reasons, being as her previous boyfriend was very into no sex until marriage, and as a side-effect so was she. I was a little taken aback by this. Sex is really important to me, it is a big deal, every time. I mean, it is fun, and lighthearted, and playful, and the rest sometimes, but it is to me a big deal. This makes me think about virginity, and the idea that if you choose to have sex, you must not take it seriously, it must not be a big deal. I felt that this was linked to the idea of sex as bad, and that by me having sex, in her mind I was somehow trivializing it. In my mind, this couldn’t be further from the truth. What is more of a big deal than celebrating my body, my intimacy with another human being, my sexual health and well-being? What is more important than creating a sexual space for myself and my partners that is a process of talking back to anti-sex feelings, misogyny, homophobia, body hatred and the like? I didn’t get it. Anyway, she also had the virginity is only PIV thing going on, so I don’t know. This conversation stuck in my head for two years now, and I thought it relevant.
    As far as my own definition and story for myself, I think of virginity and when you have sex for the first time as being as intimate as you can be with someone else (or yourself). I like how much flexibility is built into that definition. I think of my own first time as being when I was 15, almost 16, at my boarding school with my then girlfriend. I had gotten out of a bad break-up with the first love of my life and wanted closeness with someone else. I don’t think now that I loved her then, but I do not regret it. She had her lovely moments, and did great things. It ended rough with her, as well after about 6 months.
    Every sexual encounter has been a first for me so far, I feel. Every new partner is a new situation.
    I did have sex with that first love of my life woman, a few months after the school relationship. It was all new again.
    And the next woman was new (if short lived).
    My relationship now with my male partner is a whole new thing, a new side of me. I have the luck of having him be loving, patient and enthusiastic with me, and for me. This current love of my life is great.
    Wow, this was a long comment. I had a ton to say!

  15. ana
    June 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I agree that “losing your virginity” is a lousy phrase. Developmental milestone is much closer for me. A friend of mine refers to her experience as being “sexually activated”–you know, like flipping a switch. Before your first [however you define it–orgasm, intercourse, oral sex, fooling around, experience of arousal], you’re not yet sexually activated. And then, after that, you’re “activated” for life, even when you’re not currently sexually active. This makes a weird, sort of robotic sense to me.

    My first orgasm was an accident that happened while making out with my first boyfriend. I was 17 and a freshman in college. No heavy petting, even… I was aroused, he bumped into me, and bam. This, after years of half-hearted unsuccessful masturbation, was a revelation. I think of that night as my sexual activation–I suddenly had a sense that, ohhh, THAT’S what everyone’s been talking about!

    We engaged in a lot of petting and oral sex, and I finally learned to masturbate to orgasm, but didn’t have intercourse for another year, mostly because I was nervous. When it happened, it was almost unendurably painful. I gritted my teeth, tried not to cry, but kept telling him to keep going, until he was too upset about hurting me and I could no longer pretend that he wasn’t. So although technically that’s when my hymen gave way, it felt nothing like sex, and I really don’t think of it as a transitional experience. I didn’t have non-painful sex, much less pleasurable sex, for another year. (In retrospect: I now know that he had a very large penis and I don’t lubricate well on my own. This, combined with nerves and tension that didn’t exactly get better when I knew exactly what kind of horrible pain I could expect, plus our inexperience, really did not make for a great “first time.”) I felt a lot of shame around the whole thing, just proof that a sex-positive perspective doesn’t guarantee 100% positive feelings. I felt defective, like this was something that was sooo easy for everyone else, but that I couldn’t handle. Everyone else had told me that the first time would be awkward, but only sort of painful (my mom had once described it as “a little pop”), so I didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me.

    It took a second partner (who was smaller and even more inexperienced and way less communicative and not all that respectful and sometimes walked a fine line between “passionate” and “coercive”, but who gave me my first vaginal orgasm–I don’t know, I have no logical explanation) and an older, wiser return to my first partner to actually have what I consider real, satisfying sex, orgasms and all. So really, “losing my virginity”–or, more accurately, becoming a mature sexual person–took about two and a half years. We really do need better ways to talk about that experience.

    Hey, anonymous oversharing on the Internet is fun! I liked reading everyone else’s stories enough to tell mine. Whew.

  16. LC
    June 27, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Danielle, I will add to the “you shouldn’t feel ashamed” thing. I was around your age when I was “activated sexually” (I like this phrase) and definitely think I was the better for it. I had given up trying to force it and stumbled across a lovely woman who turned out to be a not-great first girlfriend but a wonderful first lover.

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