Sex is OK, but love is great

Kate McCarthy

A friend of mine met her boyfriend under supremely cute, college-wholesome circumstances. He’s from Minnesota. She’s from California, and they were immediately smitten with each other during freshman orientation. After a flimsy attempt at being just friends, they dove into a relationship that moved fast but never quite to sex.

Having sex — the actual act of it — is certainly spotlighted by our society. Technically, you can be sexually active with someone for an extended period of time, but if penetration isn’t happening, it seems that intimacy isn’t as highly-regarded.

A peculiar value is attached to losing your virginity, especially for girls. It’s a classic double standard twist that faults the girl and rewards the guy. Traditionally, the concept of losing one’s virginity has been tied to a woman’s worth, leaving little room for a personal definition tailored to experience.

When my friend and her partner recently consummated their relationship, she was stricken by how normal she felt. She didn’t cry. Her childhood didn’t flash before her eyes. She didn’t experience it through the gauzy Sofia Coppola lens that TV and movies have etched in our minds.

Her lack of weird feelings was really the only thing making her feel weird. Sure, sex is considered the main event, but she was more touched in the post-coital moments when he leapt into action to clean up the stained bed linens with Clorox, a thoughtful deed that spoke volumes of their intimacy.

In their year together they showed commitment and connection that transcended the need to fulfill an archetypal, physical end-game. She felt fine about that. She was still herself. I hope we can all learn to speak our own languages of love.