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V-Card Diaries: Helen "Although I was physically no longer a virgin, psychically my virginity was still intact."

Today we're highlighting 40-year-old Helen, an expat Kiwi living in the UK, who shares the differences between her physical and mental virginity loss. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. I found the American Virgin website on a link wander as part of my interest in how the fourth wave of feminism is developing. I’ve got a pretty different idea about virginity which has developed over the last few years, where I realised for around 14 years ago that although I was physically no longer a virgin, psychically my virginity was still intact. Despite having 7 lovers, it was only with my dearest soul-mate that I finally lost my virginity, when I learned to make love, instead of having sex.

The fact stands that I waited till I was 22 before I completed the physical act of penis-in-vagina intercourse. I won’t delude myself, like I did at the time, I had waited for Mr Right. He turned out to be Mr Personality Disorder and I had a miserable 7+ years with him. Sexual intercourse with someone with a personality disorder who is bent on destroying your self-esteem is a good way to develop sexual inhibitions, but I look back now and realise I never fully gave all of myself to him. For all the pleasure I gave (and received, as I do enjoy sex) it was just that – sex – not love making.

Once released, by him running off with his 19-year-old-assistant, I set about finding out what I had missed and I had fun, having sex with a string of men, many of whom I am still in contact with and even friends with today. Some I knew before my divorce, others I met along the way. I had great sex, but never made love with any of them. I held back a part of myself, perhaps more than I did with my ex-husband, because of my emotional scars from that relationship.

There was one man who was different from the rest – a professional colleague, someone who was my intellectual equal. Someone whom I had intense conversations with about many things, including spirituality. A married man. We both struggled with the issue of his being married. Becoming lovers was not on either of our agendas, both of us valued fidelity within a marriage relationship. One night, before he was going into a disciplinary hearing at work, and I was resigning from my job, we came together. I started as I had always done with my lovers – to have sex with this man, yet at the point of seeking his pleasure, I found my own and it suddenly became something new. We were making love. We were both vulnerable and exposed, and in doing this we found a new freedom of expression.

The happy ending was not possible at this time – were we to be together, he would lose his daughters in an inequitable family court system which granted custody to the female parent almost without exception. We parted, and agreed no contact was the best approach, him to return to trying to be a husband and a father, me to work out what I wanted from life.

Eight years on, our paths cross again. He is divorcing, I am single. Biggest problem; we live in different countries. Both of us assumed that eight years would have changed who we were, how we were.

No, there was no change, it was like there had been a pause, then a breath of eight years and we were still connected and attuned in a way neither of us had experienced before or since. We now navigate a long-distance relationship and when we are together we make love. I’ve talked to him about my thoughts and feelings on this, and we both share a wicked enough sense of humour that we have been known to say after love making “Damn, we failed to have sex, that was definitely making love.”

If someone had asked me what a virgin was at 20, I would have given a strictly physical definition. Now at 40, I know that there is a mental and psychic dimension I’ve been glad to learn and understand.