Sex is a big deal, if you hadn’t heard. Everyone’s always talking about it- on TV, in books, even in school. It can be overwhelming. When it comes to down to it, sex is personal, sex is private, and sex means something different to every single person. It’s important to define what sex means to YOU.
It seems like people love talking about virginity almost as much as they love talking about sex. This idea of “losing it,” or “taking it,” or “having it.” But what does all of that really mean? And how can you even define virginity? The truth is, your “virginity,” cannot be defined in general terms because it means something different to everyone.
I once took a class on sexual health and they really emphasized the idea of a “sexual debut.” It really stuck with me and ultimately changed the way I thought about sex. A lot of people define the moment of having penetrative sexual intercourse for the first time as a “milestone”, a turning point in their sexual lives. And for a lot of people, it may really be that. For me, it wasn’t.
After I had “sex” by this definition for the first time, I didn’t feel any differently. I didn’t walk out more graceful, mature or experienced like every movie had told me I would. It was fine, it was fun, but truth be told it was not significant to me. It felt so...anticlimactic and that’s because it was. Based on the way everyone talks about sex, I was really expecting to come out of that experience changed - I was not.
It made me realize that my sexual experiences, and their importance, will never be the same as other people’s experiences. While having intercourse for the first time did not affect me as I expected it to, I have had other sexual experiences that have shaped me significantly. This concept of a “sexual debut” can help us reshape how we think about our sexual development. You can have one, or you can have many sexual debuts- these are moments that are significant in your own personal sex life and are defining moments for YOU, as an individual.
When I was 16 I had a huge crush on one of my friends and we started hanging out. This in a lot of ways feels like one of the most significant turning points in my sexual life- while we never had sex, he was the first person who I liked and experimented sexually with and I felt comfortable sexually around him. That was way more defining than the random guy I had sex with for the first time and never spoke to again.
As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, having everyone tell you how you should feel/think about your own sex life definitely doesn’t help. Your sexual life is exactly what it sounds like- it’s YOURS. It doesn’t matter “what” you’ve done, or “who” you’ve done it with, it matters how YOU feel about it and that you are gaining what you want out of your sexual experiences. There is no “right way” to be sexually active. Only you can define what sex means to you.
Take the time to learn about sex from yourself- what you like, what you feel comfortable doing, what you’re interested in learning. This can be with partners or on your own. Everyone always says you are your own best teacher….