I used to be a prude. It didn’t really bother me when I was younger. I sort of took pride in the fact that I was innocent and inexperienced. Sex brought nothing but heartache (from what I witnessed via my high school BFFs), and I felt like I was above that. I was going to fall in love with the perfect guy and everything was going to be roses and unicorns. Sex was never a part of that dream, not until I was much older. I’m sure it has to do with some Daddy Issues or whatever, but I won’t analyze that now. It’s not even that I wasn’t sex positive, I just felt like it was something that other girls did. Or maybe I wasn’t sex positive, because I never felt like sex was something girls like me dealt with. I was a loner, Dottie, a rebel.
Looking back it’s really sort of sad because deep down I really wanted to experience that intimacy. Not even anything entirely physical, but I wasn’t the hardass bitch I allowed people to think I was. Obviously self-esteem was an issue, but even that was rather paradoxical because I knew I was awesome, just not in every way. So I guess that’s where the prude thing started.
My friends in high school had boyfriends, dudes they gave handjobs to, boys they made out with, and the concept sort of baffled me. Did I want to make out? HELL YES I DID, but I wasn’t worthy of that sort of thing. I’m not sure how I rationalized the idea that they were, but some how it made sense in my head. Boys didn’t like me, for whatever reason (I wasn’t pretty), and I accepted it. My insecurities came out in this weird attitude, like, “Sex scares me but that fear makes me an individual who’s better than you because I’m quirky!” It didn’t really scare me though, it was the rejection that scared me.
This reality I created for myself stuck with me into my early 20s. Online dating was just starting to be a thing, and I figured it was a great way for me to meet guys without having to “put myself out there.” The problem was that I’d hook these guys by using my fucking awesome personality, then totally flake when they wanted to meet because I knew, KNEW that they’d be grossed out. Looking back I feel bad about doing that and I wonder how many really great relationships I lost out on because of my own insecurities. When I’d get some confidence and think that maybe I was pretty okay, I’d meet someone for coffee and then never hear from them again, which just reaffirmed my view that dating and love and sex were not for girls like me. Instead of adopting the fuck ‘em attitude, I internalized it and let it fester. Don’t get me wrong…I didn’t think I was some goblin or someone completely and utterly disgusting; I was basically a non-person. I ignored the fact that these dudes were pretty lame themselves and figured I was the one with the issue.
I did meet a guy (online, of course) who ended up falling for me pretty hard. He wasn’t in the area, so it was easy to talk to him because I knew we’d never meet and I wouldn’t have to deal with the rejection. I really, really liked him, and I was stoked when he wanted pursue something with me, even if it was long distance. At the time, he was a good fit for what I was looking for. However, my insecurities got to me and I told him that I wasn’t interested because I had it bad for someone else. This wasn’t entirely untrue; I was in love with my best friend at the time, but he was 100% unavailable for reasons I wouldn’t understand until much, much later. It was safe though, and rather than get into this potentially awesome relationship with this new guy, I latched on to my aggravatingly aloof best friend.
This insane attachment to my friend was a good substitute for any sort of normal male/female interaction I was expected to have in my 20s. I did have strong feelings for him, too, but you’d think I’d be able to move on after 7 years of unrequited love. I did eventually come to my senses about the whole situation, but it really scarred me. It was like the ultimate rejection; I “loved” someone for years and years and still they didn’t love me back, so it must have been because I wasn’t worthy. Then when it clicked that I needed to move on, I didn’t feel relieved, or free. I felt empty, confused, and sort of helpless.
It took me a while to get back on track. I wish I could tell you how I did it, but I honestly have no clue. And it’s not like I woke up loving myself all of a sudden. It took a lot of work to actively change how I thought. Convincing yourself that you’re worthy of being desired is one of the hardest things to do. It didn’t help that I had this whole other side of my personality that shunned the other side. In so many ways I was (and still am) strong and really independent, and it was hard dealing with weak feelings. For a while I thought I needed therapy because I just didn’t know how to function. I thought something was seriously wrong with me because I wanted to have a healthy romantic relationship, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It finally hit me that it was okay to be like this. It was okay to be a complete fucking mess because most of the people that were in relationships were a million times more fucked up than I was.
Once I accepted myself, things started to change. I didn’t feel like a nonperson anymore. I’d love to spew some shit about not needing attention from others to validate your existence, but that’s not entirely true. I mean, it’s a problem when people solely depend on attention from others, but everyone needs to feel attractive to some degree. So I paid more attention to how I looked, I tried not to be so shy, and I continued to train myself on how to think positively. I don’t mean to sound like some self-help hack, but I actually started to feel REAL.
I gained confidence and started to think that maybe, JUST MAYBE, someone might think I’m as hot as I’m trying to convince myself I am. Up to this point, since I shunned basically any physical interaction, I was a total newb at how any of this worked. So, like any normal, inexperienced person, I spent a year doing everything I should have learned how to do in high school. I’m not going to give you any sordid details, but good and bad things happened.
I was shocked at how natural it all seemed. I felt normal, like a functioning member of society (not that I went around fucking all of society) that had adult feelings and did adult things and isn’t that so adult-like? I had a few FWBs, started my first real relationship (that ended badly), learned what I liked and what I didn’t and made some mistakes along the way. It’s like the two sides of me – the strong side and the off side – finally came together and made me whole.
I didn’t share any of this transformation, really, because it was no one’s business. My friends knew I had started going out a bit more, but I didn’t feel the need to swap blowjob tips. Details emerged here and there, but I was comfortable with keeping this to myself. I was actually pretty okay with being a late bloomer; it allowed for me to mature so I’d be able to handle things like this.
Years have passed and the newness of being an “adult” has worn off slightly, and I’m exponentially more comfortable with intimacy. Still though, I feel that sometimes I can’t quite shake the “Sex makes Rachel uncomfortable” stigma. Every once in a while I get defensive, especially if someone makes a comment about how innocent they think I am. Partly it’s indignation; I sometimes want to be like, “You haven’t done HALF the things I’ve done so shut the fuck up, Puritan.” But I think it bothers me mostly because it makes me feel like I’m becoming a non-person again. Not that anyone should base their identity solely on sex and their relationships with other people, but it took a lot of work to be the well-rounded person I am today. I’ve made so much progress, and there’s even more to be made.
I’ll never be like the vapid bitches on Sex and the City, losing their shit over every minute detail of their latest escapade. I’ll probably only swap sex stories if it’s just too good to keep to myself (believe me, I have a few), and I’m completely okay with that. But I’ve been there, and I’ve done a lot of that, and nothing can shock me anymore. Except your rainboot fetish because what is up with that.