Part of being a dating coach is that we talk a lot about sex. How to get sex, how to be good at it, how important it is to relationships… it’s an evergreen topic. And to be fair, sex is a key component to most relationships. It’s what a lot of people want to hear about. When we’re not careful, however, that focus on getting laid ends up contributing to the idea that having sex isall-important. We risk portraying sex as a cornerstone of a person’s life instead of a component of a holistic existence. That, in turn, helps contribute to and reinforce a lot of unnecessary shame and even fear around virginity and virgins.
The cruel irony of it all is that both virgins and certified sex-havers buy into a multitude of myths and fears surrounding the sex they’re not having.
Virginity is a social and cultural construct, not a universal one. Our fears and concerns surrounding virgins and virginity are equally as much social constructs… which is why it’s important to interrogate them and realize just how nonsensical they really are. Exploring and exploding these fears is an important exercise in self-awareness and emotional intelligence. By looking inward, we can see how much society has indoctrinated us to believe the curious double standards of sexual “purity” in men and women. In exposing just how little sense these fears and anxieties make, we can help de-stigmatize virginity.
Fear: Being A Virgin Means Something’s Wrong With You
One of the most common anxieties I hear from people – mostly men, but occasionally women – is the idea that being a virgin is a sign that you’re inherently defective. If you haven’t had sex yet, regardless of your age, then it’s a sign that people can tell there’s something wrong with you and are reacting accordingly. If you’re abstinent by choice (always with the implication that you’re not, not really…) then you’re a religious nut or someone who’s overly in love with the idea of Their First (and thus a potential bunny-boiler). If someone’s a virgin for too long then they’re just a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode, a la Elliot Rodger and his fan club in various incel communities.
Ironically enough, the incel (or “involuntarily celibate”) community are among the most vociferous of the people who spread this fear. By their own logic, their imposed abstinence is a mark of shame; the fact that nobody has chosen to sleep with them is proof of their inferiority.
But I’ve spent a lot of time talking about why being a virgin isn’t necessarily unusual orsomething to be ashamed of. Instead, I want to turn this particular trope around for a moment and talk about why people choose to have sex. See, contrary to popular belief, someone sleeping with you isn’t a sign of your own genetic superiority or amazing seduction skills.
People – men and women both – pick their partners for a number of reasons. Many times, yes, it is about romance or pure animal attraction. They want that person specifically, chosen out of all of their available options. Other times, the decision to sleep with someone can be summed up as “enh, you’ll do.” Men and women alike are just as likely to decide they’re horny and want to get their itch scratched and pick someone for convenience as much as attraction.
Hell, at times, the decision to sleep with someone is even more banal than just wanting to get off. Some people will have sex with someone because – in the words of Glee – “they had two wine coolers and were feeling fat that day.” People have sex because they’re sad, out of gratitude, out of pity, because they want validation or because they’re just bored. They may choose sex because they don’t have anything else to do.
The point here is that having sex or a lack thereof doesn’t say anything about you as a person. At worst, it’s a side-effect of other issues in your life. Sometimes, yes, you have shit you have to work on to get past the bare minimum. Other times, it really is just a combination of circumstance and shitty luck. And sometimes the difference between having sex and not is simply a matter of not screwing up your chances.
Stop worrying about what it means to be a virgin. Put your focus on being an awesome person people want to spend time with, instead. Your odds of getting lucky will increase a thousandfold.
Fear: Virgins Don’t Know How To Have Sex
This fear goes both ways. Virgins worry that they’re going to disappoint their future lovers. Meanwhile, non-virgins will feel like there’s no way the sex will be worth the effort it will take to “train them”. Guys especially get hit with this whammy. Because male sexual performance is so intrinsically tied to toxic tropes of masculinity, not knowing how to instantly please a woman becomes a mark of shame – especially if she’s had sex before. Women “don’t want to have to teach a guy how to chew his food” and all that. Many men would rather go without sex entirely than face the supposed indignity of learning at the hands (and mouth and…) of another.
Women, on the other hand, run headlong into the buzzsaw of sexual double-standards, especially as a receptive partner. A female virgin will be too hard to please because everybody “knows” a woman’s first time isn’t good. Sure, guys will have the dubious “benefit” of being the biggest and best she’s ever had… but is that enough to deal with the bad head and lousy sex in the process?
But here’s the thing: this fear’s bullshit. To start with: being a virgin doesn’t mean that somebody has never seen a dick or touched a boob. Plenty of virgins know how to give great head or use their hands. Similarly, never having had sex doesn’t mean that they’ve never had orgasms themselves or not knowing how to get themselves off.
Measuring somebody’s skill level by how many penises or vaginas they’ve had access too misses the forest for the trees. The number of partners you’ve had in your lifetime is no guarantee of knowing what the hell you’re doing, as many a disappointed Tinder user can tell you.
Fear: Losing Your Virginity Is Monumental, So You Better Get It Right
Part of the pressure that comes with losing your virginity stems from the fact that the act has become so mythologized. From purity culture fetishizing virginity to coming-of-age stories that see sex as the demarcation of adulthood, the pressure of getting your first time “right” is immense. Even among the well-meaning, there’s pressure to make sure you lose your virginity the “right way”. It should be special and significant, with someone you love and bla de bla de bla.
Similarly, we expect it to be this momentous event. To listen to some people, losing your virginity should be an experience of feeling God smile directly at you. Or, y’know, at least a suitably earth-shaking orgasm. After all, it’s your first time.
Look, straight talk time. Losing your virginity is like seeing Star Wars for the first time. Some people will will have seen it on the big screen with a pristine 35 mm print. Others will have rented it and watched it on the couch at home or caught it on cable. Still others will have seen the Special Editions but not the originals. We can argue about which is superior, but at the end of the day, you’ve still seen the damn movie. You may have different associations with how you saw it for the first time, but the way in which you watched it doesn’t manifestly affect the movie itself.
Seeing Star Wars may have changed your entire life and opened you up to worlds you never knew existed. Or maybe it was decent enough but you don’t get why everyone loses their shit over it. Maybe you loved it but your friend didn’t think it was a big deal. Maybe you liked it enough to give it another try and you realized you liked it more the second time. Or maybe it wasn’t that great but then you saw Alien and that blew your mind.
It’s the same with sex. Some people will want a major production with someone they love. Other people will just want to get it over with and will be fine with a casual hook-up. Some people will have a dramatic first time. Others will have a quiet and sweet one. Other people’s first will be lousy or disappointing. For some, it’ll be such a non-event that they’ll wonder why they even bothered. For others, it will blow their goddamn minds.
Losing your virginity has exactly as much meaning and importance as you give it.
But that fear of its monumental importance leads to this next fear…
Fear: If You Take Someone’s Virginity, They’ll Get Attached To You
One of the stupidest ideas surrounding virgins and virginity is the idea that sleeping with a virgin means they’re going to imprint on you like a baby gosling. Either they’ll decide that you’re so important to them that they’ll never let you go, or they’ll simply be so overwhelmed by the colossal impact of losing their virginity that they’ll simply fall in love.
This particular fear is born out of the cultural idea that losing your virginity is a big deal and equating virginity with maturity. A virgin is so inexperienced and so childlike that they can’t possibly separate sex from love. Even the more benign “you never forget your first” buys into this melange of tropes. Your first, by definition, must be so monumental that they’ll be a significant person in your life forever. Doesn’t matter that you didn’t fall in love. Doesn’t matter that you may not even like them. They’re still that important.
This has nothing to do with sexual experience and everything to do with emotional intelligence. You can have emotionally mature virgins who want to hit it and quit it. You can have people who’ve had multiple sex partners who will cling to you like a lamprey with no self-esteem. And to be honest: the idea that a virgin is so inexperienced or immature that any sex will blow their emotional circuits is more than a little absurd.
Of course, there’s also the issue of just how you ended up sleeping with them. Many times it’s not that you fucked a virgin and now they’re obsessed, it’s that the two of you were on completely different pages about what you wanted. Someone who thought they were on the way to a committed relationship will have entirely different expectations from someone they’ve just slept with than someone who wants to keep it casual. Somebody acting like you’re dating or that your relationship is serious isn’t being clingy when they had every reason to believe that you were, in fact, dating.
(And of course, there are people – usually men, but not always – who will fake being interested in something serious in order to get sex… and then blame their partner for “making it weird”.)
More often than not, avoiding any post-sex clinginess is all about clear communication up front. Being open and honest about your expectations and interests prevents 99% of relationship issues afterwards.
Fear: People Will Judge You For Being a Virgin
Of course, the number one fear that virgins tend to have is the fear of being judged. It’s the fear that people will find out that you’ve never had sex and assume the worst. They worry, not unreasonably, that people will mock or insult them. They worry that partners will reject them because they don’t want the “risk” of dating a virgin.
And in fairness: that can happen. Assholes are gonna ass. Unfortunately, being out in the dating world means that you’re going to risk running into assholes.
But here’s the thing: as much as it may sting in the moment, someone who rejects you because you’re a virgin is someone that you don’t want to date in the first place. They are judging you on one small part of who you are. However, in doing so, they’re telling you everything about them. They’re telling you that they’re a judgy asshole and have self-selected right out of your dating pool.
As with most things in life however, people will follow your lead. Your seeing being a virgin as something shameful or a tragedy means people will respond accordingly. Treating it like it’s no big deal means it’s not a deep dark secret, it’s just a quirk that makes you who you are. Taking ownership of being a virgin – accepting that it’s not good or bad, it just is – pushes the fear aside. In doing so, you’ll find yourself becoming more confident and more self-assured.
This article originally appeared on Doctor Nerd Love
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