I’m very sorry you have lived in a social group of young people that doesn’t understand enough about how the emotions included in sex and love actually work—and that you can’t just make them work out the way you want them to. It must have been awful to find out you were exposed to many of your guy’s friends, even though you both agreed to keep your casual sexual relationship secret. Boys just like to brag about their success in sex, and they like to brag about their girlfriend if they really like her and think other guys will think she’s desirable too. Apparently you didn’t know that you—like the majority of young women—wouldn’t be able to have sex and cuddling and maybe sleeping all night together with a boy without starting to feel really safe in his arms—and gradually begin to love him. Yes, Love him, even though your social group has given you labels to use, like hooking up, that keep the word Love and all that it means out of your mind. So you didn’t know what was happening inside in your feelings, didn’t know that you were going to want him to care for you the way you care for him.
When I taught my Psychology of Relationships at an Aviation Technical university in Florida, I talked with lots of young women who tried out the casual sex scene. Since there were over 6 times as many boys as girls going to the college, a girl could hook up with a few different guys, not go all the way in sex, and get a reputation around campus as a hot chick that everybody would like to hook up with. Then she could use that reputation to become very popular, and perhaps even get the boy she wanted most to ask her out. But most of the girls didn’t end up liking the hookup style of messing around, unless they were into heavy drinking and just being popular. Girls, even more than boys, learned that having sex with one person was like lighting a fuse that would start the chemical reaction of Love, and that love would start to change them into a couple who felt much better when they were together than when they were apart. Sex ignites loving and loving leads to longing to be together and missing your guy when you’re apart.
Some boys can learn to have sex without starting to have feelings of longing and love—especially if they learned when growing up that loving leads to unhappy relationships or divorce, so they’re scared of it. But for girls, even if they’re scared of love, they’re likely to start feeling it sooner than boys. So once you gave yourself to your boy sexually, you were bound to start wanting him more and missing him, and expecting him to feel the same way you did. But you both denied that it was love, because the social group around you has agreed that hooking up doesn’t have anything to do with love, so you can have fun sexual experiences without much longing or getting your feelings hurt. The opinion-leaders in your group, who are too young to know how love really operates, are saying that sex can be casual and fun without anybody getting hurt.
Now you’ve learned that you can’t just hook up with a boy you’ve liked for a long time without “having feelings for him.” Those are the words my students used to say, since the word Love was taboo because there were too many emotional things that could happen if you really had Love. Your boy was probably afraid of having “too many feelings” toward you, so he backed off and started fooling around sexually with another girl instead of you. So you just have to learn the same thing every other girl has had to learn, unless her mother or her friends taught it to her before she started sexual foreplay with boys: You can’t afford more than a few “casual” sexual encounters with a boy without your love feelings being ignited. So about the time you start looking forward to being alone with him again, it’s time to ask him what his intentions are towards a relationship. And if he wants to fool around and NOT take responsibility for prioritizing you and your relationship, then you’ll need to turn down his moves toward sex, even kissing. Your feelings are too important to pretend they won’t grow if you don’t want them to. And the strange thing is, that for every one or two boys that will leave you alone if you tell them you don’t want to fool around anymore without making agreements about being a couple, there will be another one or two boys that will WANT to try a relationship with you, even though it’s scary when you haven’t had much experience. And having to break up later on when you leave school to go to the next stage of your life is going to hurt. But spending quality time alone together is always going to heat up any romantic feelings that could arise. And each time you get involved with sex and feelings you’re going to get better at it and be able to go deeper and further with a relationship.
You have an exciting love life ahead of you. Hopefully you’ve learned from this trial that it doesn’t work well for you to have sex with a boy and not tell him YOU need him to make some commitments to a relationship with you and to being sexually active with you only. Your social group may think there should be no rules about sexual relationships at all, which is what some boys think THEY want. But traditionally girls have been taught they needed commitments to protect their feelings from being hurt, and you’ve had that experience now. If your boy should ever decide he wants you sexually again, I hope you’ll tell him what you’ve learned. Because he’ll have to learn that too some day.