I Lost My Virginity to a Tinder Hookup and My Only Regret Was Not Telling My Mom

I have always been close with my mom. While I am also close with my dad, I am, without a doubt, a mama’s girl. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been able to talk to her about the boys in my life (or, more accurately, the lack of boys in my life) and petty dramas amongst friends. She always listened with a non-judgmental, neutral and, above all, wise ear.

I received the sex talk from her in the third grade after a friend drew a terribly inaccurate diagram in the snow at recess; I couldn’t even say the word ‘sex’ yet—I made her guess what three letter word I was talking about. When I had my first kiss in tenth grade, she was one of the first to know. I even went to her about starting on birth control before I began my studies at Western. So why, then, did I not tell her about the night I had sex for the first time?

I lost my virginity to a Tinder hookup, yes, after a few (but not too many!) drinks in a tiny twin bed in a building with a thousand-something other people. But don’t let this scene lead you to believe that this was a rash decision. After all, a girl’s virginity is undeniably the most precious thing she has to offer—it would be a shame for me to throw such a quintessential piece of myself away so recklessly! No, in my own way this was a fully processed decision that I had come to over the course of a few months. And it was fine; he knew I was a virgin and was perfectly considerate and respectful of this fact the whole way through. He was a nice guy. And, who knows, maybe we could have had a good run if he had spent less time texting his ex and more time taking me on the multiple dates he asked me out on. It wasn’t exceptionally special, but it didn’t need to be. For me, it was simply the first time I had sex, not a life-changing cosmic experience that catapulted me into womanhood. I didn’t need it to be that. I just needed it to be my first.

As progressive as we think we are, we still live in a society that places far too much importance on the concept of virginity. While I understand that teaching youth about consent, safe sex, and the complex emotional relationships that sometimes surround sex is important, I don’t understand the trend of precariously placing a girl’s untouchable virginity on her shoulders like a stack of books, to be carefully removed at just the right time with just the right person in a moment that’s just right.

This is the concept I grew up with: I had to wait to have sex until I was the appropriate amount of time into a committed relationship—too early and you’re too easy, too late and you’re too uptight—and choosing any other path to sexual enlightenment was socially unacceptable. Just look at the media our generation grew up with: most female protagonists were pure and “saving themselves” for the right person (think Rachel Berry in Glee, Elena Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries, Rory Gilmore in Gilmore Girls). They rarely had sex, and if they did it was only ever when they were in a relationship, never casually. On the other hand, female characters who were comfortable with their sexuality were often characterized as the antagonists (Quinn Fabray and Santana Lopez in Glee, Katherine Pierce in The Vampire Diaries, Regina George in Mean Girls). Certainly the characters are more complex than good or evil and pure or sexual, but, retrospectively, there was a definite theme.

So, even though I made my choice confidently, safely and consensually, I hesitated to tell my mom. Maybe it was a hard conversation to have over the phone. Maybe we weren’t as close in the months after I moved out. Maybe I thought it was something we didn’t explicitly need to talk about but that would be implied during my first year away at university. But I think what it really came down to was that, having internalized the message that having sex for the first time casually was dirty and wrong, I was worried my mom would think the same thing. I was worried that she would think less of me for my decision.

In the end, as moms tend to do, she found out anyways, and after a few days of tiptoeing around the subject, we had a good, long talk about it. As I should have expected, she didn’t care who or how or when, just that I had been safe. The worst part was knowing I hurt her by not trusting her to react in a supportive way, as she had for years. I don’t regret anything about the experience of losing my virginity except that I was afraid to tell my mom; that is something I can’t take back and something that will always be much more important to me than sex.

We live in a society that is increasingly sex positive; girls talk openly over coffee about one night stands, sex positions and orgasms. Yet there is still an implicit stigma surrounding the concept of virginity that criticizes those who lose it the “wrong” way. At a time when young girls are trying to figure out who they are, forcing a diminutive label upon them for having made a personal decision in a way that doesn’t fit with perceived societal norms has the potential to be extremely damaging to their self-image and mental health.

My point is this: there is absolutely nothing wrong with losing your virginity to a hook-up, just as there is nothing wrong with losing your virginity to someone special or choosing to wait. What is wrong is the idea that you need to feel ashamed for making any of these choices. The right choice is the one that you choose, and anyone who says otherwise can, respectfully, kiss my ass.

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