I have always hard a fairly liberal attitude towards sex. I was young when I started exploring my body and asking questions, and I developed a sense of sexual aesthetic early on. My dolls and action figures had an active sex life, and I had an active imagination, populating my fantasies with ideas inspired from the inevitable exposure to sexualization that every American kid enjoys.
When I was older, and began to fully understand what sex entailed, I became more conservative in my expectations. I began to experience the dark side of sex, being bullied for my perceived sluttiness in the way I later learned many lower income girls with curvacious figures are singled out, despite having almost no actual experience. I decided in junior high that I would wait for marriage to have sex, and in high school adjusted to waiting for college. When I met my first boyfriend I decided that waiting for love was enough, because he and I were going to go to college together anyway, get married, have kids and start our own Montessori school.
After we broke up I waited a year before developing feelings for someone else, and eventually had sex with a second person. when I first started sleeping with my high school boyfriend, the enjoyment of sex had been a revelation that led to insatiability. The second partner was a new revelation; legitimate orgasms, and the realization that sex could improve my mood!
After that the flood gates opened and I developed a "just say yes!" attitude to most sexual experiences, learning a lot about what I did and didn't like, and slowly and fumblingly teaching myself about my own value through the backwards process of seeing how various partners treated me. It was heady and enlightening and regularly awkward. My early twenties were filled with experiments that yielded hilarious anecdotes and a couple of romances. By the time my heart was broken again, by the second boy I loved, I found I couldn't go back to the same adventurous coupling. I slowed down, looked around, and started that long searching dance all us monogamists do.
At twenty six I fell in love again, with a charismatic narcissist. We raced down the aisle in secret, and I spent five years learning what it meant to be married, to blend family traditions, and to see the same dang penis day in and day out for year with no end in sight. I had always been worried I would get stir crazy with out the adventure of finding a new experience to add to my list, but it turned out my wild twenties had done exactly what they were supposed to; I could cozy up with my memories and feel satiated, content in the knowledge that I had tried a little bit of everything, and could make it a netflix night without fear of missing out.
When that relationship did finally devolve into broken hearts and splintered belongings, I knew exactly what I wanted. Monogamy, which had terrified my 20 year old insatiable self, sounded like retiring on the french riviera, relaxingly decadent. I fell in love with a new man, whose stable quiet strength calmed me. We talked about sex openly; it had been years since I felt any shame about my past, and as a recent divorcee I felt like my monogamy credentials were in order.
A recent work trip has clarified that for me when I spent the better part of the weekend explaining to my calm, level-headed beau the details of an evening out with friends. His suspicion, laid out with mathematical precision, was based on a society of sexual liberalism, my own personal open-mindedness, and my personal history of both liking sex a lot and, when single, pursuing it actively.
It took me a long time to figure out that I was hurt by his accusation. I still maintain I did nothing wrong, but it took me a while to remember how it felt to have to defend my choices, even my past choices, to someone. Especially to someone I love.
But, the fact remains, I do love sex. And I love monogamy. they are not mutually exclusive, and my past is not my present, nor is it my future. I have no reason to feel guilty about my past. I own it openly and honestly, and I will not let anyone else color it with their shame or misunderstanding. I am an adult woman, and my sexual history is part of what has made me who I am.
Take it, or leave it.