“I lost my virginity during a pandemic.
I dated a man in college who believed sex was reserved for marriage. At the time, so did I. I was going to marry him, so I figured it was just an exercise in patience. Turns out, his patience didn’t extend to online sex.
For most of my early twenties, I was single. I didn’t want much to do with what I thought came with relationships: mediocrity and lies. I couldn’t tell which was more repulsive. But during that time of my life, I also drifted from the religion of my youth and started asking questions. I thought about sex a lot, but not in the way many in their twenties think about sex. I thought about history and power structures, about religion, and my family of origin. I kept stumbling into more questions, maybe evidence, that what I was once told wasn’t true. Yet I still held on to my “purity”, because what if I was wrong? You can’t go back from that.
I turned 25, got a promotion, and moved to New York City.
I met him online. He mentioned reading Tolstoy, and I threw my phone across the room, feeling like I had hit the jackpot. We planned our first date for right after work. I had evening plans, so it would have to be quick. Two drinks, max. Hours passed and he called my bluff. I had no other plans. Eventually, the waitress apologetically asked us to leave. They had let us stay as long as possible, but it was already an hour past closing, she explained. Several outdoor dates passed, and we let each other into our “covid bubbles.” He met my roommate, and I saw his apartment. It was cluttered with Russian authors and half-done paintings. Things escalated quickly, emotionally and physically.
“Don’t you see?” he kept repeating. I wanted to see. He grew up in the same faith tradition, but there were differences, too. His Sunday school had no “abstinence contracts” or purity rings for barely adolescent girls. They had no “bend tests” or finger tip rules for shorts. My “purity” had been so fervently preserved, as if it was the thing saving me. The voices of my youth were too loud: You are a flower. Every time you have sex, a petal gets plucked. Now who would want that flower?
Yet, there was someone in my bed. Kind and patient. Wanting me.
I go to my doctor—something must be wrong. Was there supposed to be so much blood? Was I supposed to be that numb? After my exam and several attempts at explaining, she resorts to terms that were neither anatomically nor biologically correct, but clicked. My receptors are inside out. Where I am supposed to have nerve endings, I have blood vessels, ready to burst. Where I was supposed to have feelings, I just have blood.
We break up a few weeks later. He was so confident. He knew how he felt, using words I hadn’t heard in years. I started to pick fights, trying to find flaws: he didn’t do enough, wasn’t adventurous, was too enamored with his favorite philosophers. He couldn’t—or wouldn’t—cook. He lectured too much. Our views weren’t aligned. Some of these things were true. Some weren’t.
It ended with us in Central Park, trying to not touch our eyes, tears rolling into our masks. We both walked away, gutted.
Ultimately, my doctor was right. Where there were supposed to be feelings, there was just blood. “
Sex Stories is an ongoing series focused on the relationship to our sexual partners, our community, and ultimately, to our physical and spiritual self. In this weekly series, we will feature short and long prose, that examines the layers of sex (or none at all) during a pandemic. This series aims to not only demystify the sexual experience for folks right not, but hopefully, narrows in on the reality that sex is an integral aspect of our very unique pandemic journeys. No matter where you are physically, spiritually and mentally, our hope is that by sharing these stories, we will all continue to hold each other, together and apart.