By Sophie Rosen
Until age 39, I had sex with one man and only one man, my husband. We met in high school and fell passionately in love. However, my first sexual experience was far from romantic. We were fooling around on my bedroom floor, and it kind of just… happened.
I cried afterwards in the bathroom, staring down at my blood-stained underpants, thinking, “what had I done.”
Not long afterwards, I experienced spotting between my periods and my mother took me to her gynecologist. The doctor, who was in his forties, had a daughter my age. He appeared to be just another dad.
I don’t know of any woman who enjoys a trip to the gynecologist, or any girl who isn’t nervous about her first. The sterility of the room, the uncomfortable table, the stirrups, the speculum; it was all so antiseptic, and as a teenager, I was petrified.
The doctor had advised my mother and me beforehand that he would prescribe birth control pills only if I was already sexually active, as my periods would likely regulate naturally. When my mother left, the doctor asked if I was sexually active, reminding me that anything I said would be strictly confidential. So I told him yes.
As he inserted the speculum, I squirmed in discomfort and told him I was afraid. Instead of reassuring me, he was abrupt: “I don’t have time for this.” Then he stormed out of the room. There I sat – alone, cold, feeling fragile – in that paper gown that adds to feeling so vulnerable. When the doctor returned, I composed myself, and I stared straight up at the ceiling, completely still, as he examined me, roughly.
When he finished, he asked, “Do you climax?
I was frozen, unsure of what to say.
“Excuse me?” I whispered, not because I didn’t understand what he asked, but because I couldn’t believe what he asked.
He repeated, irritated, “Do. You. Climax.”
“Excuse me?” I managed to croak.
“I just want to know if the sex is worth it.”
Stunned, I remained silent as I watched him walk out, letting the door slam behind him.
I dressed quickly, leaving that office and hoping never to return. In the hallway, my mother emerged from another room, tears streaming down her cheeks. The doctor had told her. Disappointment was written all over her face.
Back at home, my mother was still crying as was I, as she scolded me for having sex and ordered me to stop immediately. It was a de facto cease and desist order. I felt cheap, like I was “one of those girls,” even though I wasn’t. My mother was a single parent and presumably felt she needed additional support. She rushed to fill in my grandparents, her friend, and the cleaning lady.
I was humiliated.
My boyfriend and I continued to date (and have sex) until we married when I was 22. Our sex life was the only one I knew. It was safe and comfortable and, as the years passed, altogether boring. I rarely craved sex and could easily go months without it. I loved my husband very much, but was no longer in love with him or attracted to him.
So, when I found myself suddenly separated at 39, I was still very much sexually inexperienced, despite a 24-year relationship that included 16 years of marriage and three children.
My next “first” occurred when I met a man online and went out on my second first date as a newly single woman. He was my polar opposite as far as sexual experience goes. Never married at 46, he had nearly 30 years of experience under his belt, literally. Although highly educated and clean cut, he oozed sexuality in the way that only a “bad boy” could. We had sex on our second date, and for me it was a rite of passage into womanhood. It wasn’t romantic; it was thrilling.
This man represented everything that married life was not. He lived alone in a Manhattan apartment equipped with not much more than a flat screen TV, a bedroom without a lamp, a bed with no headboard, and a nightstand filled with condoms. He was charismatic and could make me melt with the flash of a smile. At first I thought he was elusive but, in reality, he was emotionally unavailable, which made it impossible to get to know him.
On and off, over the course of 20 months, he became the college fling I never had. The problem was college flings are meant to come and go, and this one lasted well past its expiration date. He finally kicked my ass to the curb when he announced he met someone only days after we were together last.
Since the day I laid eyes on him, I lusted for this man. But he never wanted an exclusive relationship with me, so as time wore on, I came away feeling sad and empty after our visits. What I truly lusted for was love and intimacy. Naively, I hung on to the hope of that happening, which it never did.
His purpose in my life is now clear: he drew me away from the man I loved and toward the woman I am growing into, a woman who is confident and comfortable with her sexual identity.
Ironically, even today, whenever I have sex with a new partner, and there have been very few to date, I inevitably revert back to my teenage self, feeling a slight tinge of shame for my transgression. I imagine it’s because I have yet to find the right man. I know when I do, and there is that perfect combination of love and lust, I will feel no shame at all. Only joy.
© Sophie Rosen
When not chauffeuring her three kids to and from extracurricular activities, Sophie Rosen blogs at MiddleAgedMan-ia where she discusses issues relating to divorce, dating and single parenting. She is a graduate of a large national law school and has spent time living abroad in Hong Kong. Visit her Facebook page here and follow her on Twitter at @MiddleAgedMania.
Part 7 in a series on first sexual experiences.
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