How Long Should I Wait to Lose My Virginity?

I lost my virginity a week after my 18th birthday, with a guy I knew I would never marry.  He was in and out of jail, had no goals for his life, and couldn’t commit to a long-term relationship.  Despite so many strikes against him, or maybe because of them, I fell in love and I fell hard.  My decision to have sex was not one that “just happened” in the heat of the moment; I thought it through beforehand and consciously decided that it was something I wanted to do as a type of commemoration of my first love, one I knew wouldn’t last forever.  I saw in it all a sort of tragic beauty, and the excitement of that trumped any anxiety in my heart.  I was convinced that since it was a premeditated decision, I would never regret it.

But I was wrong.  After having sex the very first time, I promised God that I wouldn’t do it again until I got married.  I don’t even think that promise lasted a week.  We saw each other off and on for a few months, and as time went on it became increasingly obvious that he didn’t (and maybe couldn’t) feel as intensely about me as I did about him.  By the time it all came crashing down, I felt lied to, manipulated, used, and tossed aside.  Gone was the sense of tragic beauty, now all I could feel was heartache and humiliation.  I thought I would be able to give this enormous part of myself and not expect anything in return, but I was wrong.  I thought I could enjoy it while it lasted and then gracefully move on when the time came, but I was wrong again.  I spiraled into a pit of depression and spent months clawing my way out.

Not only did I break my “promise” to God with the first guy, but when I got into my next serious relationship it seemed pointless to try to uphold it this time.  That relationship also eventually crashed and burned and, though it was more reciprocal than the first, it too left me emotionally bruised with painful scars.  So I was left with a shattered heart and a twice-broken promise.

Shannon2Eventually, I was able to pick up the pieces of my life and put myself back together again.  I took two years off from dating and used that time to develop my spiritual life, cultivate deep friendships with other girls, and get counseling. Eventually I married the man who is now my husband. I wish that our wedding night had been my first time I had sex, mostly because I wish I wasn’t bringing all my emotional baggage into our most intimate times.  I regret that I still sometimes have negative connotations regarding something that should be sacred and wonderful.

Perhaps my biggest regret of all is realizing how I sold myself short.  Having sex with someone who wasn’t committed to me for life, who wanted to pick and choose what parts of me they wanted and didn’t want, was doing an injustice to myself and to my own worth.  Now that I have the exact opposite type of relationship, I realize that much more acutely.  So, sorry 18 year-old me, but you were wrong.  You’re going to regret that one a lot.

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