Whew. Everyone take a deep breath now, OK? The reason why I highly advise doing so is because this article is the epitome of what I consider to be the epitome of an emotional roller coaster ride in print. The reason why I say that is because losing our virginity is something that means different things to different people. But before getting into all of that, what I will say is if you're a virgin reading this (because yes, I know that some still exist; I personally know two who are over 45), please take everything that I'm about to share to heart. No matter how much of a "unicorn" you might seem in this hook-up culture of ours, first times can alter you in ways that you'll be tempted to underestimate until well after you do it—if you're not careful, that is.
As far as what you, as a virgin, expect, Healthline broke down a whopping 27 points, including the fact that it will probably be uncomfortable and you probably won't have an orgasm. But because we are complex beings, it's important to take some other after-effects into account as well. Things like the ones below that I can personally vouch for after all these years later. Things that are living proof that yes, whether some of us choose to acknowledge, admit it or not, our first time has a way of impacting us, sometimes profoundly so—even now.
You Can Have an Inexplicable Bond with Your First Partner
I was molested while growing up. That's why, when it comes to my first love, I tend to use the phrase "my conscious virginity". It's because, if I had had some actual say in who I would've shared my body with the first time, it would've been him. Anyway, I've shared before on this platform that it took me over two decades to get over ole' boy. Sure, he was smart and funny and hella fine. But I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a part of what made me feel as if I would be forever bonded to him is the fact that I had sex with him; that he was my first introduction to consensual and sensual sex.
There are countless articles like "How Are the Hormones Released During Sex Like Human Super Glue?", "Why Is Oxytocin Known as the 'Love Hormone'? And 11 Other FAQs", "11 Interesting Effects of Oxytocin" and "Be Mine Forever: Oxytocin May Help Build Long-Lasting Love" that all make it pretty irrefutable that sex bonds you to another person, even from a basic-level scientific standpoint. Then when you add to the fact that first impressions, of any kind, tend to impact us in very memorable and lasting ways—if you still hold a torch for your first, even after all this time, don't stress yourself out too much about it. Your first introduced you to something that totally changed your life. It makes total sense why you would be bonded to him in a way that is unlike…anyone else, really. (Again, that's something to really ponder before giving your virginity to someone, virgins.)
If You Were Under 15, Sex Could Be Synonymous with Lots of Problems and Challenges Up the Road
I know back when we were 15, we all probably thought that we were grown. But shoot, these days, even when I walk on a college campus, everyone looks like they are 13 and under! There's no question that being a teenager is a challenge because while you are no longer a child, you aren't an adult yet either. What I am about to share with you is just one piece of proof of this very fact.
Did you know there are studies which indicate that having sex at the age of 15 and under puts a person at risk of having lower educational attainment and acquiring a lower household income once they become adults? It can also make it much more difficult to find happiness in future relationships.
With recent reports coming out like there are more boys under 13 who are engaging in sex (although it should go on record that boys with mothers who have a college degree are 69 percent less likely to do so), all of this is enough evidence to make us want to be more proactive—and consistent—when it comes to the type of sex education that we provide our own children. It's also a good reason to think back on how old you were and if you see any direct correlations between the study's findings and the current state of your own life.
The Kind of Sex You Had the First Time Might Still Be What You Prefer
Have you ever asked the men in your life about their first time? If you haven't, treat yourself and do. Fortunately, a lot of the men in my life don't associate sex with trauma (no molestation or rapes; including statutory rape. What's up with all of these grown women wanting adolescent boys?). And so, when they tell me about what their first time was like for them, it's basically like they are spending the rest of their lives trying to top themselves. Because most of them were only teenagers, any kind of sex was mind-blowing for them so, they want to make it a "10" for every partner who follows.
That's another interesting thing about how your first time can affect you; how you had it may still be what you prefer. Unfortunately, because I was a teenager having sex with a teenager, our first time wasn't in a hotel; it was in his mom's bed. To this day, though, because we were sneaking around, I still like to be risqué. One of my friends told me that her first time started out with oral sex. All these years later, a man better not even think about sex without cunnilingus happening first.
If there are certain things that you like to do (or not do), have you ever stopped and asked yourself if it's because that's how you were first introduced to sex? It could be. It very well could be.
Your Initial “Why” May Still Be Your Same Reason for Having Sex
For some reason, while I'm typing up this next part, the song that's playing in my mind is Sade's "Never As Good As the First Time". I had sex with my first love in March of 1993. I turned 19 that following June. The last time I had sex, I was 32 (I'm 45 now). So yeah, as far as the mechanicals of sex, he wasn't the best I ever had; not by a long shot (we were basically kids). But based on what I understood about love at the time, in many ways, I still have fond memories of him—and the sex itself. Also, when I look back on all of the guys who followed him, I've never had a one-night stand or had sex with a guy I didn't know pretty darn well. My initial "why" for having sex was I wanted to be with someone I truly cared about and cared about me. Because of that, all of my sex partners were friends (that comes with its own "downsides" but that's another article for another time).
And even though my abstinence is now a "preteen" and I'd prefer for my next time to be with my husband (keep prayin', though; abstinence is a superpower sometimes!), if I were to decide to get me a lil' sumthin' sumthin', I still can't see it being with someone who I don't know their middle name, we haven't been friends for at least a year and I don't feel emotionally safe around. My initial why for having sex was to experience physical pleasure with someone I have an emotional connection with; that hasn't changed.
When you think about the whys of your first vs. the whys of your partners who followed, what do they all have in common?
Bad First Times Can Lead to Continual Dissatisfaction
Here's something that's really sobering. Did you know that 1 in 16 women say that their first time was rape? Some of my friends can personally vouch for this. When I asked one of my girlfriends about how it affected her later in life, she said that it's what caused her to continue to settle for men who would mistreat her; not so much physically but emotionally and psychologically. One of my Black male friends—some who I've never romantically seen with a Black woman—says that while he finds Black women attractive, he doesn't feel comfortable with them in the sexual sense because his first molester (he had a few) was a Black woman. Another friend of mine, who wasn't raped but did have sex with an immature and selfish partner, faked it to "get him off of her"; she still fakes it to this day. Someone else told me that, although their first time wasn't shrouded in trauma, their partner was a horrible kisser; they still hate kissing during sex because of it.
What all of these examples have in common is the fact that, I don't care how casual one's approach may be about sex, sex itself is anything but. And if we don't make the time to reflect on the good, bad and even ugliness of our first time, we could look up and find ourselves in less-than-great sexual situations now; ones that, whether we realize it or not, are semi-repeats of our first time. Even if it's been years ago and several partners later.
Your First Time Tends to Instill Subconscious Physical and Emotional Patterns
Just from my own sexual journey, I'm a firm believer that your first time can oftentimes set the tone for what your other sexual experiences or even preferences are like. Something that both my molester and my first love had in common is they were a deep chocolate and over 6'. Although my late fiancé and final boyfriend (you can click here to see why I say "final") were the opposite of these things, a tall, dark and handsome man is still my utmost preference.
I've read articles and studies on the fact that if a woman's first was an adult, she tends to prefer older men. If her first was violent, sometimes she still looks for "rough sex". Or, if her first time was rooted in shame (like if she was highly religious and felt bad for having sex as a single woman), she will still feel guilty, sometimes even once she gets married.
It's for this reason and so many more that I totally agree with an article thatElite published several years back. It stated that, according to research that was conducted at the University of Tennessee, "a person's first sexual experience can set the tone for the rest of one's sexual life". If you think that sounds ridiculous, take a moment to think about your first time and your sex life as of late. Are there any distinct parallels that you are able to make? I'd be close to shocked if you said "no".
(Also check out "Study: How We Lose Our Virginity Shapes Our Entire Sexual Life" if you'd like more information on this particular point.)
Waiting to Be in Love Can Raise Your Standards in Future Relationships
Recently, we published an article with this title—"Tamera Mowry-Housley Says Waiting Until 29 To Lose Her Virginity Leveled Up Her Sex Life As A Wife". For those of you who read that and was like, "Whatever, girl", there's an article that The Atlantic published earlier this year that basically echoes Tamera's sentiments—"Fewer Sex Partners Means a Happier Marriage". According to the Institute for Family Studies, women who have 6-10 partners prior to marriage have a tougher time being happy once they've said, "I do".
I've had 14 sex partners. Reading that study didn't bother or offend me in the least because, in many ways, I get where they are coming from. Say that you're single and you've had eight partners thus far. If you're the type of woman who only has sex with people who you're in a relationship with, but they've all ended in heartbreak, that could make it harder to trust men, right? On the other hand, if you're someone who is able to have casual sex with no drama or fallout, things could boomerang in another direction; it could make it more difficult to long-term bond with an individual if you're not cognizant of what you are doing and/or you're only thinking about the present and not the future. But if you wait until you're more mature and have a greater sense of self, it could result in you being much more selective in the partners that you choose which can result in your heart being guarded (in a good way) in the process. And that could up the chances of you being more whole for your future husband and future union (it could make you less jaded or disillusioned when it comes to sex as well).
Whew again. Take a deep breath. I told you this was all gonna be a bit much. And now that your mind is processing—and quite possibly spinning—what should you do? Well, we both know that if you have regrets, what's done is done. That wasn't the point of penning all of this anyway.
The purpose was this—our past oftentimes has more control over our present and future than we realize. But once we make the time to "connect the dots" when it comes to things like your first time as it relates to how you live your life now, you can assess what you like and what you want to change; if anything. As a bonus, you can share articles like this with any virgins that you know so that they will take giving their virginity seriously because, for so many reasons, it is.
Our bodies are priceless—past, present and future. Pondering how your first time felt to you physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and even spiritually can be the difference between how losing your virginity affects or infects you. It's worth doing the self-work. You and your future sex life will thank you for it.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Feature image by Shutterstock