Only 3% of all married women married the men who deflowered them. A dream borne at dawn is not necessarily that which comes true at dusk!

"We were separated by time, reason and location. I know not where he is now or what he has become." Said Mary Takora, a South African 62-year-old mother and grandmother, who was among the 200 women interviewed during research for this article. I might quite be safe to say that every woman reading this article would have a similar or slightly different reason as Mary T., for the article's title.

This is essentially the world of women, the secrets of their earliest romance. While some resolved to comment with soft ease, others talked with emotions and tears; a few bluntly refused to speak on the issue: why they aren't with the men who first knew them. Nevertheless, I continued my research and amazingly, a good number warmly and curiously responded to my invitation for interview.

They confessed no other avenues had opened for them to express the episodes of their early love lives. One question produced a book's chapter response, and there I went collating reports upon reports.

My very first question for every woman interviewed was: "At what age were you disvirgined?" None gave a downright response. With a head dropped or tilted, eyes lazily closed, and the tape rolling back; taking time to play out what had been recorded years ago. Some spirit of reticence, regret or shyness; always dominated the mood, before the first word is eventually muttered: "I was 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, when it happened.

Close to 69% of my interviewees gave the above age range. Another 19% claimed losing their virginity between 19 and 21. Only 8% crossed age 25 with their virginity intact. And scarcely 4% got married still virgin.

And then, this question that got almost a unique answer from all: "As a fledgling girl, did you ever wish to marry the man who would deflower you?" "Oh yes!" They would exclaim. And truly, I discovered that between the ages of social awareness and the first intercourse, every girl has this dream of a nice and saintly boy/man who would be their first and only all through their lives. But is this girlish reasoning another naivety? Perhaps, but these our teenage sisters deserve no much blame. I tried to see through their eyes that it's simply a pure and innocent wish of one about confronting an unknown world.

But why is this wish mostly never comes to pass? From my findings, a better part of the female folk is initiated at an age too tender and unprepared to foster ambition for solid love and courtship. Their commonest reason for accepting a lad's advances lies within frivolousness, curiosity and vogue. And as they mature in age, they either grow away from their first love and get entrapped in other amorous discoveries; or are simply pulled along as parents change bases.

Analytically, the value women attach to maidenhead dwindles as they transit from early teens to spinsters. This is either because the treasure they had all the while safeguarded had been lost, or they no longer foresee any golden difference between a virgin and a disvirgined, in a present word dominated by amoral standards. Virginity is neither a guarantee for a good marriage nor a security against horrible marriage. Why then must I strive to preserve it.? It's the mentality that's long taken the stage.

Shella, a 34-year-old Australian mother, said her devoutly catholic parents exalted her to safeguard her virginity until her wedding day; that her future husband would see himself the luckiest amongst men and would cherish her forever. This she did reverently, but the luckiest man didn't cherish her forever. After their first child, he abandoned her for a pub's waitress. Shella categorised to me "Men won't value your virginity for long."

Another group of women believes some men are wary of girls tagged to be virgins because they prejudge them raw and unskilful in bed. And even when tolerated, such girls might grow wild and uncontrollable in a bid to make up for the juvenile spree they never tasted. So by precaution, men wouldn't mind girls that have seen enough and now set to settle down.

But researching the men's angle to confirm this belief produced opposing views. There exist a great number of men who still wish to cling to an untouched woman. "Hard to find nowadays though", nearly all would confess. Otherwise, if they had a choice, they would prefer a virgin for wife. But in the absence of this miracle, any girl goes even if she had known fifty men in the past. The most important thing is: faithfulness henceforth, darling!

"He tore me, caused me to bleed and stole my pride." Brenda Harris, 42, from Lakewood, California (USA); recalled this incident (shared also by some women) as a reason not to be with her first man. She said the event made her horrible rather than joyous; consequently, it left in her a lingering repugnance for him.

Instead of love, honor and respect like I ever imagined all women owed their first lover, arrant abhorrence is what some harbor for their first men. This category of women felt and still feel they were preyed upon, abused and even maimed by their initiators- who in wise deserve their perpetual kind- heartedness. It is another reason, a bit ridiculous like some women joked, why this earliest romance never consolidates. According to Brenda, her first true lover was her third boyfriend and not the first that wounded her.

Preservation of virginity is being perceived in some world circles as awkward and outdated sexual ethos. Young girls now deem it obligatory to break their virginity in order to break into the class of refined and sociable sisters they desire to belong. What was once esteemed by families and communities as a pearl is now jeered at as a stinking reproach. A virgin girl is shy and uncomfortable to confide her status to her peers for fear of mockery. Who then would fight to preserve her 'pure nature' when no reward is envisaged?

Liberia is one of the countries where these circles liberally exist. Girls there told me that "It would be a villainous deprivation of variety if a girl has to know only one man all her life."

To an extreme conviction, some folks there consider it even cruel admonishing a daughter to keep her virginity. As a result, some daughters and sisters get the freedom to "Experiment with men, gaining experience in the process until they are hooked in a marriage." Explained a 40-year-old mother.

In Libya, like in most Islamic lands, where religion and customs still strive to curb the infiltration of loose sexual attitudes via foreign media, virginity remains almost sacred to all folks. Girls still strive to honor their husbands and families by keeping themselves undefiled till marriage. And most men would not tolerate a girl who's opened when she had all along been assumed closed.

There was a story of a groom who knifed his bride to death during their first intercourse upon discovering that she had lied on her virginity. Female kids and young girls are still being betrothed in these parts of the world. Love, life and marriage still hold high regard for virginity and sane morality even when there are reports of growing number of escapees. In no guess, women from these worlds constitute a better part of the meager percentage that makes it to marriage with their virginity intact.

Pragmatically, modern women no longer prioritize this sex factor in their quest for a man to be bound to. The character factor now dominates their assessment plot. No girl off late is prepared to abide by a wild husband even if he was her initiator. Experimenting with numerous sex partners until a Mr. Right is fetched out has been a standing formula. Virginity and its imaginary glories have since been deposed. Nothing is in virginity; virginity is in nothing.

Almost all men today, believe no nubile girl could ever be virgin. And so women, knowing that their prospective suitors and husbands are not expecting them to be virgins, feel free to use their nature as they wish. But how many men or relationships would a moralist counsel women to know before getting married? And how would he warn them on tackling the consequences of promiscuity and the twists and turns of love affairs: running from heartbreaks, abortions, illegitimate children, single-parenting to STDs and temptations?

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