This appeared on The Debrief August 2015
Like a documentary I’ve seen (was it Louis Theroux?) which looks at women who got pregnant by chance when they lost their virginity, I happened to find ‘The One’ when I first ventured into dating. In fact, you could say I missed the dating boat altogether as when I met my now fiancé I was 14 and he was 16 and our idea of a date was being dropped off by our respective parents in town to go see a movie at the local cinema and giving three rings to my mum’s mobile as a sign that it was time to come and pick me up please. I was out of the dating game before I even got started, and having to kiss (or shag) a few frogs before you meet your prince? Nope, skipped that, too.
I’m not saying you have to be in a relationship to have sex, of course you don’t, but that’s the way things have panned out for me and I never made it passed that first boy at school who told me he liked my eyes and my smile.
So where does this leave me? As a twenty-something who’s only slept with the one person and never been on a date in her life. Well, I’m fine with that. But if life has taught us all one thing it is that opinions are like arseholes, everybody has one.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I go around offering this information up on a need-to-know basis, but more often than not, when I meet new people and we chat about boyfriends and girlfriends, and I mention I’m coming up our ten-year anniversary and hope to go on holiday and so I ask their advice on the best city breaks, I can see them doing the maths in their head, and before you know it they’re muttering something along the lines of, ‘Oh. So you were, like, young when you met. Like, you guys, must have… have you only slept… with each other? You’ve only slept with one person?’
My answer to this is met with varied reactions. Some are kind and sincere, others deem it ‘cute’, there are those who say they wish they’d only slept with their current partner, too. Some are sarcastic and smirk, and on the rare occasion there is an idiot who scolds me as if I’m going against nature in some way, that I am some ridiculous child who lives in a fairy-tale world. Well, I do apologise for not meeting your quota for bonking. And what would an acceptable number be anyway?
Perhaps oddest of all in reactions was when I declined the offer of a Chlamydia test at my University health clinic. The nurse I was seeing was taken-aback when I told her I didn’t need to take the test, as my partner and I had only slept with each other, ever. She was sure it would be of some benefit to me and the fact that she went on to offer it me a second time ‘just in case’, because ‘you’re saying that you’ve only slept with one person, but what about him?’ Well that was just plain rude. She implied that to that my boyfriend in all likelihood was cheating on me. She was probably just trying to look out for me, but I was really offended. Why is the only accepted and ‘normal’ sexual behaviour now to sleep around? Why am I the hermit for seeking solace in just the single pair of arms?
I really want to stress that I’m not judging people who’ve slept with more than person – but at the same time, please don’t judge me for not joining in or label me ‘boring’ for not conforming to some sexual standard I never knew existed.
From what I can see, some people just can’t wrap their heads around the idea of never dating again (or ever in my case), of missing out on that period where you’re messaging someone knew and the unknown is exciting and they pity me for not experiencing this for myself – and I admit that I’ll happily spend an hour flicking through my friends’ Tinder account out of sheer curiosity. But if you’re signing up to a dating website, aren’t you essentially looking for what I have already? Isn’t having one person to sleep with for the rest of your life the inevitable outcome of a succession of successful dates? And, therefore, is it such a big deal if I’ve skipped the middle part and gone straight to the nights in where I’m not wearing a scrap of makeup and aren’t embarrassed to reach for the last slice of pizza because I know he’ll still fancy me come morning?
My relationship status baffles some, and I just can’t see why? If I turned this on its head and asked others outright why they have slept with more than just the one person, wouldn’t that be rude? Isn’t that slut shaming? When did we all get so obsessed with each other’s ‘number’, anyway? I don’t care about yours, so why does everyone care so much about mine?