Jenna* had always thought that she would wait for the one. She had grown up with a strong Christian faith, making the decision at a young age to wait for her future spouse before she became sexually active. That changed after she met Adam.*
Jenna met Adam in university. He was charismatic and charming, and he was interested in her. From the moment they met, she was drawn to him. After their first date, Jenna couldn’t wait to see him again. That was the beginning of an angst-filled, on and off relationship that lasted for a year.
On their third date, Adam cooked dinner for Jenna, and they ended up in his bed. It was the first time Jenna had ever fooled around with someone. She admitted to Adam that she had never been sexually involved with anyone before, and Adam was supportive, reassuring her that they would never have to do anything she wasn’t comfortable with.
“I left feeling weird about it,” Jenna says, pronouncing each word slowly, deliberately.
I ask her why.
“I think at that point, that’s when I was like, ‘Okay, Jenna, you can just jump into things and do it casually like it’s not a big deal.’ And so then I started kind of getting that mentality. But I should’ve just known that I can’t do that,” Jenna answers.
I ask if she feels as though she pressured herself, and she nods.
“I just wish I wouldn’t have done that right away.”
Things changed between Jenna and Adam after their third date. He became unresponsive when they were texting, and they hardly spoke for a month. On Adam’s birthday, he invited a bunch of friends out to a local bar, and Jenna came to see him. But she hardly got a word in—he spent most of the night talking to a different girl.
They went another month without speaking after that.
Finally, Adam apologized to Jenna, and they started back up. They fooled around again shortly after. Jenna admits that she feels stupid when she tells this part of her story.
“He apologized in person and said he was sorry, but like, I apologized too? And I was like, ‘Why the fuck would I apologize?'”
When I ask Jenna how she felt then, she tells me that she wanted to be better than she was the first time with Adam. Even now, she struggles to understand why she felt so powerless against him.
As soon as Jenna left Adam’s house, she felt all wrong. She texted him to tell him how she felt, and he grew defensive. He stopped responding.
Another month passed until Jenna contacted Adam in an attempt to fix things between them. He began texting her constantly. He called her drunk when she was on vacation, he tried to sext her, and he grew mad at her when she made plans with friends instead of with him. Jenna went along with it, half-heartedly. Adam made her uncomfortable, but his attention was addictive.
After several months of this, Jenna told Adam that she didn’t want a casual relationship with him. He agreed, saying that he wanted to be with her.
Finally, they had sex.
Jenna was a mess afterward. Even though they had used protection, she was terrified that she would become pregnant. Paranoid, she peppered a friend with questions, wondering out loud if there was a chance that Adam had removed the condom during sex.
The next day, Adam texted Jenna to tell her that he didn’t want to be in a relationship with her. If they were going to continue seeing each other, it would have to be casual.
“What a dickwad,” I mutter, interrupting Jenna’s story.
Jenna told him that they couldn’t be together at all after that.
The two went back and forth, following the same pattern for months afterward. They would go weeks without communicating, but then they would reunite, sleep together again, and return to silence.
The last time Jenna and Adam had sex, Adam invited her over to his house. She waited on his doorstep until his roommate answered the door. Confused, she walked through the house alone and let herself into Adam’s room. He was on his computer. He didn’t get up.
“Sorry I’ve been so busy with this paper,” Adam said. “I’m so glad you could come over though for a little bit.”
Immediately after they slept together, Adam turned back to his computer.
That was the moment when it became clear to Jenna that this was all Adam would ever want with her. She finally called it off.
As we talk, nearly a year after Jenna ended things, I ask her how she feels now about their relationship. She tells me she’s not bitter anymore.
“I’m actually really glad how it worked out,” Jenna says. “I’m so much more confident [as] a person…I realize what I will not put up with anymore, and what I need to say to people right off the bat, like how I feel and how to express that.”
She no longer feels insecure or small when she bumps into Adam on campus.
Jenna has decided that she won’t become sexually involved with anyone again until she is either married or in a committed, long-term relationship. She doesn’t regret her sexual involvement with Adam. Instead, she feels as though it reinforced her former beliefs about sex.
“It made me realize…I need to have [a loving] connection…and that love and support [in order to become sexually involved with someone].”
Thanks for your contribution Jenna! Keep holding out for someone who supports your needs—and actually means it!
*Names have been changed