Why Do I End Up Feeling Used After a Hookup?

I lost my virginity at sixteen.

Up until that point, I told myself and anyone who asked that I would wait until marriage to have sex. But when I dated an older guy in high school, he always talked about the woman he could never quite get over. The one he lost his virginity to. The one with whom he always had mad, passionate sex.

I wanted to erase her memory from his mind. I wanted to be the only one he thought about. So I had sex with him. Even after months of telling him I didn’t want to because I wasn’t ready.

But, despite what I thought, that didn’t make things with him any better. Even after we started having sex, he still barely talked to me and would withdraw from me constantly. Often it would even be right after we had sex.

I thought I just needed to have more sex with him. But spending any time I had with him having sex didn’t bring us any closer, either. And he rejected me soon after.

This relationship started a subtle, downward cycle in which I used sex as a way to deal with any feelings of sadness or inadequacy.

I told myself  stories to convince myself that this behavior was anything but what it really was: an unhealthy method of coping. I’d tell myself: I am just having sex because I enjoy it. Sex is fun. I can have no-strings attached sex because I am a cool, laid-back girl.

But really, using sex as an emotional band-aid meant I wasn’t expressing my emotions in a healthy way. It made it almost impossible to form truly intimate connections with anyone. I continued to feel lonely, sad, and inadequate because I could never truly express myself to a guy. Each time, I hoped having sex would fill that void. It was a vicious cycle.

Let me give you an example. Once in college, I was sitting on the couch with someone I was sleeping with. We were just hanging out, watching TV. It should be a perfectly normal thing to do with someone with whom you’re in a relationship. But we weren’t technically in a relationship. I really didn’t know him that well.

I was only accustomed to being around him while we were hanging out with his friends, drinking, or having sex. I never spent time with him in a setting that would allow us to actually get to know one another. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I climbed on his lap to engage in some foreplay. He actually groaned and pushed me off.

I had started having sex to bring a guy closer. I had gotten to the point where sex was pushing guys away.

I finally recognized that I had a problem when, soon after the end of a committed relationship, I had a one night stand. I was sad that my boyfriend had moved away, so I went out to the bars and found someone to have sex with.

I felt horrible the next day, both from a nasty hangover and the feeling of emptiness that was still there. When I could finally get out of bed, I picked up the phone and called my campus’s psychiatry clinic.

So began the long, winding process to restore my original intent for sex—as an expression of love between two people in marriage. I didn’t get back to that immediately. But slowly, surely, I was able to express myself to the person I was dating. Without using my body.

Now I know my fiancée loves me for who I am rather than what he can do with my body. I’m sure when we are finally married, the sex will be better than I’ve ever experienced. Because we have formed an intimate connection through emotional bonding and communication.

Johnna

Johnna

is a four-time half marathon and two-time marathon finisher who became Catholic during the 2017 Easter Vigil. Both of these facts would have surprised me and anyone I knew growing up, but I have learned that – just like in the plot twists and turns of the romance novels I devour – surprises like that are common in real life love stories. I believe in love because true love has given me the strength to keep fighting.
Johnna
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