I’m 23 years old, a guy, and I still haven’t lost my virginity yet, and while I’ve seen some of your stuff on that matter, I still feel like time is “running out” for me, and I’m worried about how others see me, and moreover how I see myself for it.
In summary, I haven’t lost my virginity partially because I’m not a big partier and haven’t sought out hooking up in the past, and also because I turned down two other opportunities.
First, an acquaintance offered to be FWB when I was 20. I had no reservations there, but at the time I was on the verge of a relationship with someone else. That relationship ended fairly quickly, as my ex figured out she was aromantic soon after. I lost touch with the acquaintance for about a year.
About two years later, I had found a girlfriend again. Not long after we started seeing each other, she threw herself at me while she was drunk. I felt that I couldn’t in good conscience have sex with her when she was that drunk, and so I said that we should wait until she was more sober. The next time we talked, she admitted that she may have gotten an STD from a previous partner, and she needed to be tested before we did the deed. She tested negative, but through a cartoonish series of bad luck, things ended before we could.
I usually hear that she wouldn’t be worth my time anyway if she’d reject me for being a virgin, but considering that people like Elliot Roger and Alek Minnassian exist, I have to wonder how much being rejected for being a virgin would be a matter of a woman thinking I was dangerous or a bad person because of it.
The irony I see in this is that I remained a virgin because I felt I needed to do the right thing in those scenarios, and in a weird way, I feel like it has doomed me, even if I know that plenty of people stay virgins beyond my age and lose it then. I guess a big part of it for me is knowing that there are a lot of people who can’t find a willing person, and living in fear that I’ll be mistaken for or worse somehow am one of them.
I guess what I’m asking for here is advice on how to approach it with others, if getting it “out of the way” is a good idea, and if explaining it (in an otherwise contextually appropriate situation with future partners) is a good or bad idea with regard to all of this. Thank you.
Y’know, there’s a weird thing about anxieties and negative fantasies, VS: they make no logical sense. They feel true and real and valid… but that’s only because they’re happening to you. Your brain is making all the leaps over the various steps to get to the worst case scenario and leaping to conclusions that are so absurd on their face that nobody else would ever understand what the hell you’re going on about. In fact, if someone else were to explain those same things to you, you would almost certainly tell them that they were being absurd. However, because it’s happening in your head, you’ve been sitting with the fantasies and emotions for so long that it feels like this is the only way that it could possibly turn out.
I mean, my dude. Seriously. Your own letter contradicts those fears. The fact that you’re still a virgin isn’t some weird catch-22 where you’re unable to lose your virginity because you’re a virgin, it’s by choice. You were propositioned twice, by women that you were attracted to, who knew you were a virgin and still wanted to jump your bones. You chose not to in both cases, and that’s legit. In fact, you unequivocally made the right choice with your girlfriend. But those were both choices you made.
That alone should tell you what you what I’m always telling guys in your situation: you’re being a virgin is just one part of who you are, not all of it. It’s not even the most important part of who you are. It has as much relevance to who you are as a person as whether or not you’ve ever been skydiving or ridden a jet-ski; it’s just an experience you haven’t had yet. That’s it.
Incels — even killers and terrorists like Elliot Roger and Alek Minassian — are irrelevant, especially to your circumstances. Nobody with two brain cells to rub together think that their status as virgins marked them as potential killers. Even the most casual observer could tell that the problem was that they were consumed with hate, resentment and misogyny. The only people who claim to think that their virginity was the problem are would-be pick-up artists and grifters who want to use them to sell bullshit and snake-oil.
And to be perfectly frank: I’ve known people who happened to be older virgins, and I’ve known incels. Incels radiate anger and hate; nobody is going to going to mistake the former for the latter and anyone who thinks you’re weird or a freak for being a virgin has very definitively self-selected out of your dating pool. The last thing you need is to be in a relationship with someone who’s going to judge you for something as ultimately unimportant as whether or not you had sex and how old you were when you had it. Life’s too short to worry about the opinions of assholes and there’re far too many awesome people out there to waste time trying to date them.
Should you “just get it out of the way?” I mean… sure? If that’s what you want. I’m not a big believer that your first time needs to be “special” in that After School Special sort of way; the significance of the act is purely in your head. It can be just as valid and affirming to lose it with someone you met on Tinder as it is to lose it to your high-school sweet-heart on prom night surrounded by candles on a bed strewn with rose petals.
What I would suggest that if you do decide to “get it done”, that you pick a partner who is caring and considerate. That could be a girlfriend, someone you meet off Hinge, a friend who’s up for it or even a sex worker who caters to virgins. You’ll have a much better time with someone who will take your virginity into consideration than a random hook-up who knows next to nothing about you.
By that same token, you don’t need to justify why you’re still a virgin. It’s really easy to go from “explaining” to “justifying” or “excusing” your virginity as though it were it were something to be ashamed of, and it’s not. All you need to say is “never met the right person” or “circumstances weren’t right”; both of these have the benefit of being 100% true without defining your lack of virginity as a flaw that you have to explain away.
And when you do meet someone who’s worth sleeping with and circumstances line up for you? All you ultimately need is a willingness to take direction without your ego getting in the way and the ability to communicate your own needs clearly and succinctly.
Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I am a thirty-five year old male virgin, and I have no idea how to go about changing that. Looks-wise, I think I’m fairly average — pudgy without being significantly overweight, anyway. My main problems are inside my own head. I’ve struggled my entire life with depression, anxiety, low feelings of self-worth, and difficulty with making human connections. I know all that indicates I should work on myself first, and that having major relationships would be more likely to fuck me up more than anything… but I’ve been trying to do that my entire adult life, and I haven’t gotten nowhere. So I don’t know what to do with myself.
(Before you ask — no, I’m not an incel. I own my shit. I know better than to blame my failings on women being choosy or conspiracies or evolutionary biology or feminism or whatever. The root cause of my problems is me. And I refuse to put the onus for that on anyone or anything else just to salvage my own ego.)
Anyway, let me try and get to the point here. It’s hard to pair down an entire lifetime of issues into just a few questions, but here’s my best attempt:
– How do I overcome my insecurities about my lack of experience with love and relationships for my age? Is there still hope for me at this point?
– Is there any way for me to get where I want to go without pretending to be someone I’m not?
– How do I avoid sabotaging myself? I have a long history of only developing attractions to women who are clearly out of my league. Any advice on how to stop doing that, and how to stop my brain from nitpicking or expecting a perfect match?
Big questions without any easy answers, I know. But that’s where I am right now. That’s where it feels like I’ve always been.
Thank you for your time.
Lost, Alone, and Frustrated
Hey LAF: I paired your question with Volcanic Sacrifice’s because of how much your issues overlap and how the many of the answers you are looking for can be found by addressing the core anxieties surrounding the way that you’ve adopted “OLD VIRGIN” as an identity. Like I told VS: the fact that you’re a virgin doesn’t say anything about you as person. Your virginity isn’t the source of your problems; if anything, it’s a symptom of a lifetime of dealing with anxiety and depression. It has nothing to do with your worth as a person, it’s a side-effect of your struggles to love yourself and to connect with others. I also want to drive this home: you’re not alone; I’ve known virgins of all ages and all over the gender spectrum; straight, gay and bi, cis and trans. And you know what? There has been hope for every single one of them.
And there’s hope for you too.
The first thing that I would suggest is that you read the excellent article “Embracing Newbiehood: How to Approach Dating and Sex in Your 20s With Little or No Experience” by Cass Bell over at Scarletteen; they have a lot to say that’s relevant to you and Volcanic Sacrifice. One part that I think is especially relevant to you is that you don’t want your being a newbie — or feeling like you’re “behind” — to push you towards relationships where you don’t bring your whole, authentic identity to the table. Your being a virgin isn’t something that you need to hide or be ashamed of; it’s simply one part of who you are, and not even an important part. But if you’re approaching relationships as though it’s something that you need to hide, then you’re going to be coming to them from a place of fear and anxiety; you’re always going to be waiting for that sword to fall, and I can tell you from experience: that’s no way to go through a relationship.
Similarly, you’re allowed to be discerning in who you choose to date or what relationships you choose to pursue. Some folks — especially guys — will pursue toxic or even abusive relationships solely because they feel like that’s “all” they can have; it’s their “best” or “only” chance to lose their virginity, so they’ll grin and bear it and suffer through it because they think they have no other options.
Other folks — like you — will chase after inappropriate partners, people who are ultimately unavailable because they’re unavailable. It’s not that they represent an impossibly high standard so much as that they represent guaranteed rejection. People who take this path do so because they feel like they don’t deserve happiness, and so they kneecap their own chances before anything could possibly happen.
And while I’m on the record as saying that you don’t necessarily have to tell people that you’re a virgin… I think it’s far better if you do. It takes a lot of courage and strength to be vulnerable to others, but in doing so, you’re living your authentic and genuine truth. That’s important, both in what it tells others… and what it tells you. It lets others know who you are and filters out people who are clearly wrong for you. But by the same token, it reminds you that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a virgin. You have nothing to be ashamed of LAF; you haven’t done anything wrong, you’re not deficient, you’re not broken and you’re not lesser than someone who has had sex.
I think you would do well to think of yourself less as a virgin and more as a newbie. You’re not deficient, you’re simply new to sex and sexuality and that’s fine. You have just as much of a right to discernment, to have and maintain boundaries, to advocate for your own needs and pleasure as someone who’s had one partner, ten partners or a hundred partners.
Like I told VS: if you decide you want to just get it out of the way, then that’s cool; that’s as equally a valid choice as wanting to lose your virginity in the context of a long-term, committed relationship. But however you decide you want your first time to go, make sure it’s with a partner who’s compassionate, caring and giving — someone who’s invested in your experience and who’s willing to listen to you.