Sleeping around: My moment of truth happened at university

'Until the age of 19, I had never had an orgasm, but I had done some Oscar-worthy faking'

Catherine Townsend
Friday 26 September 2008 00:00 BST

Even during my hedonistic teenage years, somewhere in the back of my mind I had a "checklist" for my life. I'd envisioned meeting the man of my dreams at around the age of 29, and marrying by 30ish.

I did meet the man of my dreams at the age of 29, but I guess we took a wrong turn somewhere, and our relationship ran into a ditch. But if there is any truth in the saying "life is what happens when you make other plans", I think that the same logic would also apply to love.

Sexually, I was an early bloomer and a pretty wild teenager. I had an S&M relationship with my 24-year-old French teacher and held naked make-out parties in my swimming pool on weekends.

But, although I was adventurous and curious, I was much more concerned with having all the right moves when it came to pleasuring the boys than pleasing myself. Because of this, until the age of 19, I'd never had an orgasm (although I did some Oscar-worthy faking).

My moment of truth happened at university, when I went to see a sex educator speak candidly about self-love and show a video of women touching themselves.

The next day, I went to the chemist and bought a Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator (saying it was for "neck pain"), locked myself in my bathroom and came out 45 minutes later a new woman.

Once I realised that I had to take responsibility for my own pleasure, sex and relationships in my twenties were all about experimentation. There were the one, two, and three night stands, the lesbian flings, the scuba diving instructor who gave me my first orgasm through oral sex, the sex parties, and the man who taught me that men could have multiple orgasms too all discovered through random, amazing encounters.

While worrying about protecting myself from pregnancy and STDs, as I approached my mid-twenties I realised that I was also protecting my emotions perhaps a bit too well.

So I let someone in, and experienced my first real heartbreak. But even then, I got over it quickly, since relationships then were mostly about self-discovery and sharing experiences with my friends, with the men in supporting roles.

I'm glad that I did things this way round, before I had children or a husband.

Now that I've just hit my thirties, I'm ready to confine my wild bedroom antics to one (very lucky) man, and am convinced that my sexual exploration will make me a much better partner, both in and out of the bedroom. I'm more stable, confident, and happier than ever.

But dating is harder, because there is more on the line. I'm still undecided about children, but the reality of the biological clock means that I feel I have less time to waste on the wrong person, just in case I do decide to have kids.

Maybe this is because women put too much pressure on themselves to have it all. Despite the fact Cameron Diaz, 36, and Jennifer Aniston, 39, are gorgeous, rich and have amazing careers, they are the subject of constant headlines asking why they haven't already found "the One".

Meanwhile, everyone wants to know who will be lucky enough to finally land 47-year-old George Clooney, instead of questioning the wisdom of going out with a guy whose most intense emotional connection to date seems to have been formed with a pot-bellied pig.

But I think we could all learn something from George. He doesn't care about convention, and is blazing his own trail. I'm hoping to do the same, live my life and eventually find someone who can give me a mix of great conversation and swinging-from-the-chandeliers sex that will be as fantastic at 60 as it is at 30.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in