Do you remember the first time?

I was very prim and proper about sex, believing it to be a special, sacred thing… when I was 16.

This may seem a shock coming from a self-confessed, slightly tipsy, slapper and bearer of two children.

But yes, readers, at the age of 16, I declared to my friends that I was definitely not going to have sex before I got married. I wouldn’t even have a tincy wincy go at it, just to see if my betrothed was any good at it. No, my virginity would remain intact until I entered the marital bed for the first time.

Whether this was naïve, idealistic or plain stupid, I will never know. I just remember meeting up with some of those friends after the first term of college and my reaction when they enquired as to how the whole virginity thing was going. I felt my face turning a deep beetroot shade as I confessed I lost it to a 5’5’’ goth bloke (my first time).

It seems that at 18, I held on to my ‘maidenhood’ a little longer than most. According to the most recent figures I can find, the average age to pop one’s cherry is around 16, the UK’s age of consent. But apparently 27% of women manage to do it before they reach this age while this figure for men is just 22% (figures from the 2011 Health Survey for England).

I am aware of two girls who did it at around 14, but if any of my other peers were ‘at it’ they certainly remained very quiet about it.

So what age is the right one? It probably depends on the individual, their maturity, attitude to relationships and their religious beliefs, if they have any. I don’t feel like I missed out by waiting longer – as you can see from these pages, I made up for lost time, anyway.

It would seem different countries – let’s just restrict it to Europe for now – beg to differ on the UK’s idea of when one is ready. Spain has the lowest age of consent in the continent at just 13 while Estonia, Germany and Italy plump for 14 and France, Denmark and Greece are among those to declare it 15. But in Malta and Turkey it is not legal to do it until you reach 18.

But it all depends on how people in these countries behave – children are allowed to have a sip of wine in France or Spain to get them used to it while in this country, we would never do this, but many of us Brits will binge drink, vomit and collapse in the street when we can legally drink. Maybe with a measured, well-informed and calmer approach we would be more responsible about the whole bonking thing. Then again, maybe not. Alcohol adverts often bear the small print ‘drink responsibly’. Could we extend this to clubs, bars and certain holiday destinations with the message ‘fuck responsibly’?

The other bit of that 2011 survey states that women, on average have had 4.7 sexual partners while men have had 9.3. Is this really the average, or did they carefully select who filled out a questionnaire? Regular readers will know that yours truly falls very far above this ‘average’ yard stick. Maybe I should not give my ‘number’ as it is too shocking to confess…

2 thoughts on “Do you remember the first time?

  1. I think for our generation the views you had at 16 were fairly common. In retrospect, it seems quaint and naive but that’s how it was. But then, we were also just emerging from the cultural norm that women didn’t really enjoy sex and only did it to keep their men happy. All very bizarre viewed from today.

    I can’t really remember what my views on sex were aged 16 except confused. I was aware of very, very few people at school who had had full-blown sex. I think that’s changed significantly over the years and sex at school is now fairly normal (as far as I can tell from my comments from my children, with whom, of course I wouldn’t embarrass by discussing such a subject). It isn’t really the age that matters but the level of knowledge and understanding that’s significant. And, of course, that it’s all completely and utterly consensual.

    Like you, I didn’t have sex until I left home and went to Uni although thankfully, in my case it wasn’t to a 5’5″ goth bloke but to a nice girl who had a boyfriend at home who later paid me a visit. Oops.

    That bit about the average number of sexual partners must surely be bollocks by the way. Unless there are a much higher number of gay men than is generally suggested the two numbers ought to be the same. Without wanting to get too technical, they might be distributed differently among the population but the averages should work out equally. Kind of like a football league table… the total number of goals in the ‘for’ column must always equal the total number of goals scored in the ‘against’ column.

    • Hi there.

      Yes you are probably right on the number of partners stats. Also, the exact same survey could be done again with another random group of people and come out totally differently. We all enjoy reading these studies, but most of us accept that a lot of them don’t reflect reality.

      It did once seem that college was the place to have sex for the first time – the freedom of being away from home and meeting new people. I wonder what changed?


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