FYI: Your First College Hookup Doesn't Have To "Count"

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
My first college one-night-stand involved way too much vodka and an increasingly sexy game of Never Have I Ever. By the time I fell into the woman's bed, I was so drunk that I honestly don't remember every detail of what happened next. I know now that we never should have had sex that night (because no one can consent to sex when they've been drinking). And I sometimes wish I could take it back.
While I can't erase that night (because I don't have a time machine), I can choose not to count it. "You're in charge of your own sexual story, so you definitely get to say what counts and what doesn't," says sexologist Megan Stubbs, Ed.D.
It's important, of course, to remember that your sexual history has no hold over your worth. So you don't need to feel ashamed of your first few (probably awkward) college hookups. But when college starts, lots of people make sexual choices they look back on later and say, "What the hell was I thinking?" Typically, being away at college is the first time that someone is free of their parents' prying eyes, and that freedom to have sex whenever you want with whoever you want makes it easy to hookup with people you don't find that amazing. So what if you had sex with the frat boy who hooks up with all the freshmen, or you went home with a guy from orientation who came before you even got your clothes off, or you and that woman from Chem lab fumbled your way through awkward sex and never talked again? You don't have to add any of those experiences to your sex number (if you even bother to keep a sex tally, at all). Feel free to think of your sex number like a greatest hits album; only the most fun, adventurous, or educational experiences get to make the cut.
As you get older, friends will likely ask you to dish all the details about your first college hookup. Reliving your experiences in a group can be fun and cathartic. But you don't have to answer them if you don't want to share. "People are so hung up with putting meaning behind the first time you've done anything, especially with losing virginity," Dr. Stubbs says. She'd like us to get out of that mindset, because the first time you have any type of sexual encounter doesn't matter more than any other time. And you certainly don't have to share your sexual history with anyone. If you do want to join in the conversation, but don't want to tell about your actual first college hookup, then it's totally fine to talk about your second, or third, or even to say something generic. "You don't have to say, 'Well, technically my first college hookup was terrible,'" Dr. Stubbs says. "You can say, 'I've had a myriad of experiences that run the whole gamut from amazing to 'Oh my God, never again.'"
If you choose to tell your friends that your first college hookup doesn't count, you might get some pushback because they may not think that you get to choose whether or not sex counts. But how you define sex is really none of their business. "It’s totally okay for someone to redefine what counts based on how they felt about the experience," says Dulcinea Alex Pitagora, LCSW, a sex therapist known as The Kink Doctor. Pitagora does warn against trying to repress a sexual experience, however. "Where it can get problematic is when someone has a bad experience that they try and convince themselves or others didn’t happen at all," Pitagora says. "That usually indicates an unhealthy repression and avoidance of unresolved emotions."
If you're not trying to avoid your emotions, but just aren't thrilled that whatever awkward first sexual experience you had at college will forever be your hookup story, tell a different story. Instead of your first hookup, tell your friends about the first time that you locked eyes with a hot person from across a crowded party and, seemingly by magic, took them home for the hottest sex of your life.

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