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V-Card Diaries: Ashley "I decided I wanted to lose my virginity with him, on the assumption that I might never want to get laid again."

Today we're highlighting 23-year-old Ashley, who talks to us about pheromones, flirting, and the problem with calling virginity sacred. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

Tell us a little about yourself I'm 23 and I live in a liberal oasis in a conservative area, an international college community in the middle of the deep south. I classify myself as a pansexual, but I am very rarely attracted to anyone. So far it's been three males, two females, and one androgynous beauty at the local bookstore. I have no idea whether s/he was male or female, and really didn't care.

How do you define virginity? I don't know that I'd classify oral sex as sex, but it's a question I wrestle with, especially when it comes to lesbian sex. I think the definition of virginity is going to depend on the virgin (or non-virgin) you ask. The entire concept of virginity, particularly the idea that it needs a definite definition in social usage, seems strange to me. We don't have a word for the first time we join a mosh pit or write a novel or eat caviar, unless we actually use "virgin" in some way for it.

Why did you decide to stay a virgin/How did you lose virginity? I stayed a virgin for 22 years because I was never sexually attracted to anyone. I've always been free and easy about sex as far as other people concerned, and I assumed I'd die a contented virgin, possibly in a stereotypical house full of cats. I rarely even masturbated.

When I was 21 I met a guy who changed all that. The interest wasn't just sexual, but that was a big part of it – it was like all those pheromones I'd missed my entire adult life had concentrated down into one individual. I loved him emotionally as well, but I knew it would never be reciprocated (total incompatibility).

I decided I wanted to lose my virginity with him, on the assumption that I might never want to get laid again. I felt so unattractive and insecure about myself that for a year I buckled down and lost 75 pounds. Most people would say I did that for him, but I did it for myself so that I wouldn't spend that time hating myself for how I looked.

I called him up one day and said I might just show up and proposition him one day, and that's what I did. I was nervous, but not during the act – although I was self-conscious enough to keep my shirt on.

How have your partners reacted? The first guy was extremely nervous, despite having been with other women, even other virgins. I don't think men are used to women treating their virginity cavalierly, and I also think he was aware that I cared vastly more about him than he did about me. I didn't feel like I was "giving him a gift," or whatever BS term gets applied to it. I would have poured the same amount of emotional energy into it whether it was my first time or my fiftieth.

The only other man I've ever been with I was mildly attracted to (being attracted to one person opened the gates a little, I guess). I felt like I'd been cheating on my first, although he was by now hundred of miles away and we hadn't spoken in months. I've dated or flirted with guys since and accidentally led them on, only to shy away before sex was initiated.

Any general thoughts on virginity in our society? I've always found the hymen concept perplexing and I feel alienated from the way virginity is perceived. I hate the idea that virginity something sacred, because the same idea rarely applies to men, and that means they get to collect something rare and lovely that we only have once.