Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I’m a 24 year old woman. My boyfriend and I have been together for over a month, and he’s the first guy I really fell in love with. Everything seems to be fine except for one thing: I’m afraid to tell him I’m a virgin. We have already done some foreplay but we haven’t had the opportunity to be alone and go further yet, and even if I want to have sex with him, a part of me is happy to postpone the “speech” out of fear of his reaction.
I trust him, but the more I think about it the more I don’t know how to start. What if he leaves me? After all, we’re only at the beginning and we made no promises. What if he’s ashamed of me, if he thinks I’m not enough for him, and to his eyes I’m no longer attractive? Or maybe he doesn’t like the fact that, since I’m inexperienced, he will have to teach me how to please him? What if he tells his friends, or he thinks i don’t measure up to his exes? I even thought I could make up the story of how I lost my virginity years ago with a friend, but I’d feel terrible to lie to him; I could say nothing and just wait until he figures it out, but it would be too embarrassing, and I prefer to preempt the humiliation and tell him the truth myself.
Plus, even if I have no intention to wait, I still have a bit of anxiety about this new experience, especially when I think that it probably won’t all come natural to me and it’ll take time for me to learn, and I don’t see how he can enjoy waiting for me to get to his “level”. I wouldn’t want to ruin our relationship just because I don’t have the courage to open up, and therefore miss this opportunity with a guy I like very much and who likes me back. I want to be able to finally loosen up and enjoy this experience that I have been waiting for so long just like other girls, and make him understand how much I want him.
I’ve tried to report all my insecurities and everything that’s been going on in my head these days. I am probably exaggerating it, so other points of view might be helpful. Maybe I just need reassurance and a little more confidence. Any advice or opinion you have will be greatly appreciated.
The Queen Of Overthinking
I think you hit the nail on the head with your signature, QOO; you’re letting your anxieties take over and creating a cascading number of worst-case scenarios, each worse than the last.
This, to be perfectly honest, isn’t terribly surprising. Even in the year of our lord 2021, society is still really goddamn weird about virginity, especially for women. There’re an absurd number of conflicting messages about sex, sexuality and virginity in general, and those get dialed up to 11 when the discourse turns to women. Kids are having too much sex — blowjobs in middle-school! porn on their phones teaching them that anal is ok! — but they’re also not having enough sex and there’s a sex recession going on! Guys should have as much sex as they can but also avoid masturbating because it’s bad for you and/or not masturbating gives you super powers! Women don’t like casual sex, except when they do. Third wave feminism has been empowering because it encourages women to take ownership of their sexuality, except it’s bad because now women are expected to have a series of kinks or else they’re just “too vanilla”…
And of course, as always, women are caught in the trap of be sexy but not sexual, be virginal but also experienced and the classic idea that while men are valued for the sex they have, women are valued for the sex they haven’t had. It is, needless to say, a goddamn mess.
So I’m not terribly surprised that you’re carrying all this anxiety and that it’s put such a whammy on your head. But I do have good news for you: I don’t think you have anything to worry about.
So, assuming that we’re defining “virginity” as “having not had penetrative sex” (which is a flimsy definition under the best of circumstances), let’s start with the glaringly obvious: there’s nothing wrong with your being a virgin at your age. While you may be a little older than the national average (around 17 years old, as of 2015), it’s not unusual at all. Being a virgin doesn’t say anything about you as a person, any more than having lost your virginity would say anything about you. Virginity is a social construct; all it means is that you have or haven’t had a particular experience yet, that’s all. It doesn’t say anything about your worth as a person. It doesn’t mean that you are more or less virtuous. nor, for that matter, does it mean that you can’t or won’t be able to please your boyfriend.
Here’s the thing: virgins can have mind-blowing, bed-rocking sex just as easily as folks who’ve had partners numbering into the quadruple digits can be goddamn awful lays. Good sex isn’t about numbers or whether you know how to do the swirly-go-round, the Transylvania Twist or the Rusty Venture, it’s about connecting and communicating with your partner. And not to put too fine a point on it: while I can understand being worried about “your boyfriend having to teach you how to please him”, there’s also the issue of, y’know, you having to teach him how to please you. Just because somebody hasn’t had penis-in-vagina sex, that doesn’t mean that they don’t know about orgasms or what makes them feel good. Having a sexual relationship isn’t just going to be about getting him off, nor does his having experience mean that he’s going to know exactly how to hit all of your buttons.
Part of every relationship entails a learning period as you and your partner get to know each other and each other’s bodies — what makes you tick, what makes you scream like a banshee and what makes your skin crawl. There really aren’t any universal sex techniques that work on everyone; what makes one person sing to the heavens can be a hard no to another.
The other thing you should keep in mind is that your virginity is just one aspect of who you are; how he reacts to your being a virgin, on the other hand, will tell you everything you need to know about him. If you tell him that you’re a virgin and he decides he’s ashamed of you, laughs at you, or decides he doesn’t want you any more and you break up… that’s a good thing. That isn’t a tragedy, that is a fucking bullet dodged. That sort of negative reaction is all you need to know, because he will have shown that he is not somebody you should want to have sex with, regardless of whether he’s your first partner or your fiftieth. That’s not the sign of a caring and giving lover who’s considerate of their partner’s comfort and pleasure, that’s someone who’s revealed themselves to be a Crouching Nice Guy, Hidden Douchebag and you should kick him to the curb with the rest of the trash.
But I don’t think you need to worry about that.
While obviously there are no guarantees in life, I think you’ve already gotten clues about what to expect… and that’s that he seems to be a good guy. Y’all have been fooling around for a month or so and — even allowing for the lack of opportunity — you don’t mention that he’s been impatient or pushing for more. That’s a good sign; a partner who’s willing to go at the speed of the other person’s comfort is someone who’s going to care about their partner’s desires. It sounds like this desire/anxiety combo is coming from you, rather than his trying to move things faster than you’re comfortable with. That’s completely understandable, and it’s ok. But the easiest and most reliable way to resolve this anxiousness is to take a breath, clench your fists and just tell him.
Don’t frame it like something you’re ashamed of or like you’re rolling out some deep dark secret — because it’s not. What you’re doing is telling him exactly what you just told me: you really like him, you want to relax and be open with him and enjoy this experience you’ve been looking forward to.
If he’s as good of a guy as it sounds, then hey, you have absolutely nothing to worry about besides feeling a little nervous and awkward trying to spit it out, and that will fade so fast, you’ll wonder what you were worried about. On the other hand, if he reacts badly? Then while it sucks and will undoubtedly hurt, it’s a good thing for you. You’ll have kicked a dude who was absolutely wrong for you out of your dating pool, and you’ll be free to find someone who’s right for you and worth sleeping with.
But like I said: I don’t think you need to worry. I think this is just anxiety fucking with you.
Good luck. And write back to let us know how it all goes.
It hurts for me to state the fact that I’m a 30 year old virgin. I’m very eager to start dating and form a relationship, but I always feel like that all women will find me disgusting and unfuckable with my lack of to no experience. I don’t know how I can become confident in myself when I read subreddit posts of all women being disgusted on dating virgin men and youtube vids of women saying “virgins aren’t sexy” and “virgin men need to do a world a favor and off themselves.”
I don’t know how I can regain my confidence after reading and watching posts of women’s negative opinion of virgin men like me. The only positive feedback that help me get over my insecurity as a virgin are my close friends. They know that I’m a virgin and they don’t see me different at all. They even told me that I’m a good looking guy with great jawline, they say that I’m funny, very nice, well dressed and down to earth.
But I still think that me being a virgin at 30 trumps everything about me. It trumps me being handsome, funny and nice. I don’t know what would happen if I started dating a woman. Would women sense that I’m a virgin very easily? Would they be so harsh at me for having expectations of me for not being a virgin? If they find out, will they tell everyone and humiliate me for being a virgin? Do I have to lower my standards so low like very very very low to date? I don’t know what to do and me being humanities greatest joke of me being a virgin is humiliating. I’ve read your articles on virgin men, but when I look at other sources they say the opposite of what you said. So how can I go out without them knowing that I’m a virgin?
So, FT, before I get into this, I want you to take a look at the letter from Queen of Overthinking. Take all that in. I want you to realize just how universal these worries you have are; women are just as anxious and worried about What It Means To Be A Virgin as men are.
It’s important that you absorb this, because you’re a dude with a lot going for you. You’re a good looking dude who’s got caring and supportive friends who are vouching for you. They’re telling you that you’re a great guy, that you’re funny, well dressed and great to be around. Those are all marks in your favor and speak to your overall appeal. This is why letting anxieties about being an older virgin negate all of those good things in your own mind is a damn shame.
As I’ve said before: being a virgin doesn’t mean anything. Not having had sex doesn’t say anything about you except that you haven’t had sex. That’s it. It’s an experience you haven’t had yet, not a moral barometer or a measure of your worth or desirability as a person. And yes, having not had sex doesn’t measure your desirability. People have sex for any number of reasons, many of which that have absolutely nothing to do with the person they’re having sex with. If somebody gets laid because he met a woman who wanted to prove a point to her shitty ex-boyfriend and picked the nearest warm body that seemed acceptable… does that mean he was the best option around? Or the one who happened to be closest?
The more you can disconnect the idea of being a virgin from measure of worth and toxic and restrictive ideas about masculinity, the happier you’ll be. And the first step towards this is going to be “quit reading Reddit posts by shitty people”.
You say that you lose confidence in yourself when you read those posts or watch those videos. Seems to me that the answer here is obvious: quit going to those subreddits and quit watching those videos. It’s very much a “doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this/ well stop doing that” situation. If watching those make you feel awful about yourself, quit watching them. First and foremost: you have no idea who’s actually writing or posting those or what their actual feelings are. There’re plenty of people who will post awful, demeaning shit about folks for clout and provoking reactions out of people. On YouTube, provoking outrage and saying odious shit is actively encouraged by the algorithm; it spurs engagement and pushes people to say more and more extreme or outrageous crap in order to get even more engagement. Similarly, on subreddits, there are folks who will stake out extreme and unrealistic positions for shits and giggles because it stirs people up and — on many occasions — will be rewarded with upvotes by equally shitty people.
(Tumblr has a similar issue; there’re teenagers and young adults who have all the enthusiasm of a college student who just discovered socialism and veganism at the same time, but no experience or perspective. So they will stake out absurd stances or take even more extreme ones in order to establish their bonafides as The Pure and Unproblematic.)
But at the same time, you should consider exactly where you’re going to find these things. There’re a few hints that you drop that make lead me to suspect that you’ve been looking at subreddits and videos about incels. If that’s the case, I’m absolutely not surprised you’re getting negative posts and videos. Even separating older virgins from incels, those are communities that encourage shit-talking and taking extreme positions in response to the equally outrageous and baroque bullshit that comes out of the incel community.
And if that’s not where you’re finding these… well, you’re still dealing with assholes. And life is entirely too short to give a six-legged rat’s ass about the opinions of assholes. Assholes are gonna ass.
The problem is that the inherent negativity bias we have means that you’re much more likely to take shitty people’s opinions to heart. You feel it more strongly because it lines up with what you already believe and fear about yourself. It’s what ContraPoints calls masochistic epistemology: what hurts must be true.
I mean, you’ve got people whose opinions you should care about telling you that you’re good looking and a great guy. Why, exactly, are you willing to call them — people who actually know you — liars, but to take the opinions of strangers as gospel truth? Do you think your friends are honestly going to lie to you just to make you feel better? Or is it just that you can’t let yourself believe them because you’ve drowned yourself in a sea of toxic bullshit that feels more authentic because it hurts?
Here’s the truth: your being a virgin doesn’t trump anything, certainly not to anyone who’s worth your time or worthy of your affection. Women don’t have virgin radar. They’re not going to smell your virginity on you. The odds are that they will never know unless you actually tell them… up to and including if you end up in bed with them. As I’ve always said: good sex isn’t about experience or technique, it’s about connection and communication. Virgins can have amazing sex and be incredible lovers, just as the most experienced cocksman can be a godawful lay; it all depends on the people involved.
And speaking of people involved: will women be harsh at you for being a virgin? Will they try to humiliate you? Only if they’re shitty people. And the last thing you want to do is stick your dick in horrible people, regardless of whether they know you’re a virgin or not. I’m not a believer that your first time should have great meaning or whatever — just wanting to get it done is meaningful enough — but the sex should at least be worth it. And sex with shitty people is never worth it. As I said to Queen of Overthinking, your being a virgin is your filter. It tells people one thing about you and their reaction tells you everything about them. If they are shitty to you about being a virgin, then someone call Oscar and tell him he’s getting neighbors because you’re tossing them out with the rest of the trash. Hypothetical assholes giving you shit for being a virgin is a them problem, not a you problem. They’re assholes who have to live with themselves, rather than getting to know a great guy like you.
Because here’s the thing, my dude: your biggest issue here is that you’ve discounted all of your great qualities. You’ve framed yourself as someone needs the approval of others and that’s wrong; they need your approval. You want to find people who are worthy of your time, people who deserve you and all the awesomeness you have to offer. If they think that your being a virgin is awful… well, congrats, they don’t deserve you, nor should you waste a single brain cycle thinking about them. No matter what your jerkbrain tells you — and your jerkbrain lies — they are neither important, relevant or the majority. There are many, many women — women who have written to this column, women who’ve commented here, who are members of the NerdLove Academy group — who have cheerfully and happily slept with virgin men, including older virgins.
You want to date people who are right for you, people who care for you and want you for who you are. You absolutely do not want to date, sleep with or even spend time with people who will only accept part of you or who will only be nice to you if you lie about who you are. They are not worth your time, attention or concern. Recognize yourself for the badass king that you are, take your friends words to heart and find someone who is actually worth dating.
And quit visiting those subreddits and searching for those videos. Seriously, you only have so much time on this planet, and spending any of it on that negative bullshit is a waste.