If I was a late bloomer, I was also slow. I know that some of the kids around me - I was 17 at the time - were sleeping with their boyfriends. But for me - and for my boyfriend, Jeff, too - it wasn't an issue.
But holding hands with Jeff was dynamite - electric, thrilling, warm, exciting. It was the first physical contact we had - before our first kiss, before we hugged, before anything. And we kept it at that for a while. I was totally green when it came to anything to do with sex or even physical affection between the sexes, so I let Jeff take the lead.
I've seen this from the boyfriends I've had since Jeff: The incredibly wonderful way it feels to hold hands with someone you really like only feels that way before you have had sex with them. Once you go all the way, holding hands changes. It's still nice, but it doesn't embody that thrill, that excitement. I think that's because when you're still pre-sleeping together, all your longing, desire - all the sexual feelings you have towards each other - is concentrated in the contact between the skin of your palms.
We held hands all the time. There was something very sexy about walking on the beach or at Pacific Ocean Park with our fingers interlaced. Or feeling the warmth of his hand on my leg when we were at a movie. I loved the way he would take my hand and put it on top of his on the gear-shift while he was driving his red TR-4.
Once, about two years after we broke up, we went to a play together. We weren't boyfriend and girlfriend anymore but we hung out with the same crowd, so we still saw each other a lot - and we still liked each other.
Anyway, I had my hand on the armrest of my chair and Jeff started kind of lightly running his fingers over my hand. I can't even describe how incredible that felt. I just closed my eyes and let myself sink into the feelings - I can't even tell you what that play was about.
And sometime during that same year, we were at a party together. Someone had put on a slow dance and Jeff and I danced. I don't know if to this day - and it's lots of years later - I ever felt such intense feelings just dancing close with someone as I did with Jeff that night.
Now a lot of this, of course, has to do with my liking Jeff so much. And the two-years-later stuff also probably had to do with the fact that he wasn't really available to me anymore.
But all of it also had to do with the fact that we hadn't slept together
And it's the same way with kissing. At least from my experience, kissing is so much more intense before you ever "Do It." It's the same as the holding hands thing - that kiss becomes the focus, the microcosm of all your sexual feelings. It can go right through you. Before you have sex, you can hold hands and kiss all night and it stays exciting the whole time.
Maybe that's also because it's not a prelude to something. We knew we weren't going to sleep together - it was just an unstated agreement, I guess. So all of our sexual energy went into those kisses.
Just last year, I got to know a guy, about 21 year old, and we became good friends. I'm married now, with kids and Sam is way, way younger than I am, but we just really hit it off. He's incredibly good looking, smart, funny, warm, and communicative. He was a visiting student in my town for the year, and he would stay with my family sometimes on the weekends. He had quite a few adventures that year and at the end of it, he told me he decided he wasn't going to have sex again until he got married.
I couldn't believe it. Here's this amazing guy who all these girls were crazy about. But he told me that that's what he had learned that year: That he wanted to keep sex something very special, and didn't want to cheapen it by doing it with just anyone.
You have nothing to lose by waiting. And you have a lot to gain. Aside from knowing you're doing exactly what YOU want to be doing and not what someone else is pressuring you to do, you get to experience the joy of holding hands, of kissing, of touching in a way you never will once you go all the way.
And that's worth the wait.