IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Was a 26-Year-Old Virgin Because I Was Ashamed That I'm Into Bondage

All I wanted, more than a boyfriend, more than long walks on the beach, was to be tied up. I felt like a prude and pervert at the same time.
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Publish date:
August 12, 2015
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love, bdsm, IHTM, virginity, bondage, sex

My earliest sexual fantasies had nothing to do sex. They were all about getting kidnapped.

I imagined a car stopping short beside me as I was walking home from school. Two men—always two—jumped out and grabbed me. I imagined a dark, dank basement made even darker by the fact that I was, of course, blindfolded. I imagined a wet rag stuffed in my mouth and my wrists tied behind me.

This detail, my bound wrists, was the most important thing of all. My wrists had to be tied. This was the sun around which all other details revolved.

My attackers had shifting, indistinct faces: unclear and anonymous. They didn’t need faces. The fantasies weren’t about them. They were props. I didn’t understand what I was feeling as I imagined all this; I just let myself enjoy it.

This isn’t to say that if a car had actually stopped short beside me, I would have welcomed my faceless attackers with open arms. My fantasies were satisfying because I was in control. Every choice was mine.

Fortunately, the world of children’s media is incredibly kind to the burgeoning bondage enthusiast. It seemed like no matter what I watched or read, characters got tied up right and left. So many obliging villains!

I thought Nancy Drew, girl detective, was pretentious and stuck up, but as she seemed physically incapable of getting through one of her mysteries without being tied up, I stuck with the series.

One of my favorite books was about two sisters searching for treasure. In the third act, the bad guys caught them and tied them up with twine. Twine? Twine! Here I was imagining being tied up with rope, like some kind of neophyte, when twine existed for the taking?

Back in the real world, sex—actual sex—had begun to make itself known. It was the disgusting thing grown-ups did to produce a child. I never got a formal Talk. My parents, incredibly loving and somewhat strict, were happy to let me live in ignorance.

And why not? I was clearly too distracted by thoughts of restraint to seduce the neighborhood boys. Sure, I had a few “boyfriends”—a “boyfriend” in this case being whichever T-ball teammate I had just kissed against his will, but this didn’t titillate me as much as, say, asking my two best friends to tie me to a chair. With belts! And hey, while you’re at it, stuff a kerchief in my mouth!

They did it, too. None of us understood that I was totally getting off on it.

In fifth grade, I was in a friend’s basement rec room and we set out to find naked people on the SPICE channel. Does the SPICE Channel still exist? Does it have to? Probably not.

My friend’s parents didn’t get SPICE, so we had to “watch” it through static. We couldn’t see the naked people, but we could hear what they were doing. Those sounds of rough abandon triggered something inside me I had until now known only in those dark basements of my imagination. This was my big bingo moment.

“Oh,” I thought, trying to reconcile this tickle in the underbrush with the longing of my poor, lonely wrists. That’s what my fantasies meant. They were about sex, even before I understood what sex was.

I was turned on by submission and danger and the threat of pain. Maybe even, actual pain. I didn’t want romance and love. I wanted fear. I was one of the bad guys.

In that moment, I thought I understood myself and I was ashamed.

I made it to 26 before I cashed in the V-card. High school? Nothing. College? Zip. Years of being a real adult, out in the working world, living in my own apartment, paying my own rent? Not a single, sorry dick planted its weary flag.

My friends wanted to know why. One day, we were all on the same page talking about the movie stars we wanted to sleep with. Now they talked about the guys they actually were sleeping with, while I sat still, chewing on my straw, contributing nothing.

I felt like a prude and pervert at the same time.

It would be easy to blame my trepidation on any number of things: my Catholic childhood, my parents’ reticence, my own fear. A life built out of saying no. I didn’t know that there was an entire community of people who felt the same way I did.

“It’s called BDSM,” a friend told me. We sat together, safe in the bosom of our mostly-women’s college. “A lot of people are into it. I’m into it.”

Over the course of one lunch in the dining hall, we unburdened ourselves to each other. I told her that all I wanted, more than a boyfriend, more than long walks on the beach, was to be tied up. Nearby, a table of campus maintenance workers floated a few inches closer.

I wish I could say learning about BDSM provided the missing link, that all I needed was a simple equation: knowledge + community = happy sex life. This wasn’t the case. I wanted to be tied up. I wanted to feel my face pressed hard against a wall or a mirror. I wanted to be choked.

As a teenager, I was sure I would wait until I fell in love, but love proved hard to find, so I decided to settle for trust. I had to trust the guy, whoever he was. I had to know him well enough to know his birthday and his middle name and where he grew up. I wanted to feel safe with him. But even this was hard to find. So, time kept going by.

Adult virgins and people who enjoy bondage get a lot of the same questions. There’s the big why? The assumption that something happened. Something broke. Why else would we be this way?

For all of our progress, women are still largely judged in terms of men. Virginity is not real. It’s a construct, but we’re still not considered adults until we “lose” it, in some safe, socially sanctioned way. Any variation is regarded with suspicion.

There were times I didn’t think about it, times I was happy to be exactly as I was, and times I was so lonely, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.

I was told to get it over with. Sex is no big deal. But sex is the act of literally letting another person inside your body, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal, but it can be.

I made out with kind, thoughtless young men. I wanted to ask, “How do you feel about pinning me down?” but I never did. There are clubs and parties that exist for people like me, but I’m an introvert. Clubs and parties make me anxious. Strangers unnerve me.

One night, while visiting a friend in Spain, I kissed a man in a bar. Which you only ever do so you can say, “One night, in Spain, I kissed a man in bar.” We barely spoke beforehand.

One minute he was looking at me; the next we were kissing. He kissed me with an intent that bordered on desperation, bending me so far back over the bar, we impeded the drink service.

He bit me. He lifted me out of my shoes. He pulled my hair. He slammed me against the wall. Over and over, he told me he hated me. We did just about everything you can do in public, and all the while, I wondered, “But how will I tell him?”

I kept waiting for him to ask me home, or at least into the bathroom. He didn’t. In the morning, I had a bruise the size of Texas on my lower back and felt it every time I moved.

Here, I had my hint; a taste of what I wanted. I thought it was just as well this man didn’t ask me home. I couldn’t be sure if his rage was real, or just passion taken to its extreme.

Exactly one a year later, I brought a different man home. A kind man I had been dating for about a month. A man with whom I felt incredibly safe. After a few drinks, I told him I had never had sex. Without missing a beat, he said, “Fine. We won’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable.” He never asked me why.

He and I lay side by side in my too-narrow bed and I asked him to be my boyfriend. He did not run for the hills. He was happy I asked. And so, I decided, what the hell? “How do you feel about tying me up?”

No matter where we are a year from now, he will always be the man who never judged me. The man who took the secret that had been my silent companion, held it in both hands, and helped me carry it into the light.

I am neither prude nor pervert. I am not broken. I am only me, myself, and I like what I like.

We joke that Sunday is the day of restraint. I don’t always get tied up (sex is wonderful without it), but I do a fair amount. Every time it is exactly what I hoped for and yet still surprising.

Sometimes he will tie me up and then leave, for half an hour or so, and I’ll wait, growing in anticipation. Then when he returns, he’ll tell me that he didn’t go far. He just stood outside and watched the window, to make sure nothing happened; that I was safe.