When we were young we had this idea of who we’d become by a certain age. We never worry; we just assume everything will fall into place. However, life has a way of surprising us. Things we thought were a given are never guaranteed, nor do they come in the packaging we expected. Our vision of reality is a mixture of personal history and background, with added hues provided by friendship, peers, and of course, media. We look to our favorite movies and TV shows to find our inspiration and aspirations regarding our day to day and our biggest dreams. But what happens when some situation doesn’t happen by a particular time? What happens when a sure thing never comes along? In this case, I’m talking about sex, particularly when you’re still a virgin long after the age society and culture assumed you’d stopped being one.
It’s one thing to be in college and be the only person in your dorm or group of friends to not have had sex. I mean, just about every character in TV and film over the age of 21 has this unspoken air about them that lets us know they’ve gone through that rite of passage. Still in real life, it’s understandable. People get it. They won’t judge you. But once you’re over your mid-twenties, you’re not only afraid that your friends will judge you, but you start wondering if they’ll think there’s something wrong with you. You yourself start wondering the same thing. However, the continuous back and forth probably makes it even less likely that you’ll be able to leave the virgin status, since you start having anxiety about how you’ll be able to perform and whether you’ll be rejected by a partner. It gets to the point where you start losing hope and thinking you’re the only person above the age of (insert age) who’s never had sex. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We’ve contacted sex therapist, Leidy Constanza, a trusted source in clinical and educational sexology, to help us navigate this topic. According to her, “In our current time and social culture, we expect it to happen by a certain age. But there are plenty of cases where that does not happen.”
“Among one of the reasons behind this can be the fact that the person is not interested in engaging in any kind of sexual activity. But it can also be a choice based on waiting for a particular connection, rather than paying for sex. There are also situations where the person just hasn’t had the opportunity because of one thing or another.”
“There are some people who might avoid sex altogether because of fears. Most of these fears are related to having an unexpected pregnancy or contracting an infection. People with anxiety or OCD have a hard time becoming sexually active because they're afraid and have particular demands and ideas concerning hygiene and having control.”
When we asked about how to deal with keeping this secret with our close friends and family, as well as that fear of being judged, she explained, “When we’re out with friends and everyone starts talking about sex, about their experiences and what they like and don’t like, you’re supposed to 'know' and be part of the conversation. And many times, it’s just assumed or expected for a person to have had some experience. And it can be overwhelming, especially if it’s not due to a personal choice but because they haven’t felt confident enough or they’ve had issues when they’ve tried to have sex before. The choice to have or not have sex is not something you share easily. To say whether you’ve had sex or not is a completely personal choice.”
Then, what happens when someone just wants to get it out of the way? Just have a one-night stand and be done with it? But even though they want this casual encounter, they don’t want to come off as amateurs or, honestly, virgins?
“It’s completely unnecessary to pretend. I’ve had several men write to me, explaining how they’ve never had sexual contact. They tell me they’re going to have an encounter with so-and-so and that they want to come off as experienced. Obviously when the time comes, there’s no way they can prepare or pretend. It’s an experience that is completely new for everyone. Anyone who’s had experienced it knows that the first time is not easy. So to try to come off as an expert before you’ve ever even undressed with someone else is certainly not going to work.”
“If it’s a first encounter, so it’s completely valid to be open and say, Hey, this is the first time I have an encounter with someone. And then it’s up to the other person to know how they’ll react. If we have some sort of connection, they might be understanding and help us out. If it’s a casual encounter they might also be willing to help or they might choose not to get involved. But there is no need to try to pretend to be experts simply because society says we’re supposed to know.”
So, if we’re having or have had some sort of issue with sex, how can we learn about ourselves and our bodies? How can we start to understand our own limitations and obstacles and go for that pleasurable moment?
“It’s important to think about what are your questions or doubts. If I haven’t experienced this situation, despite reading about it, but I am interested, I need to do some self reflection. Maybe I need to ask myself if there is some personal reason that has kept me from going with the flow or making my mind. Do I have some unresolved fears? What are my thoughts regarding sex?”
“For anyone who has fears, it’s important to know that it can be an enjoyable experience that can also be safe. There are plenty of forms of protection available.”
“If I’m able to identify certain self-doubt, insecurities, or ingrained myths that are keeping me from seeking pleasure even with myself and my own body. What if I won’t even allow myself to touch myself, discover my own body, masturbate, or even have an orgasm on my own?”
I think it’s important to be open to work these issues out with an expert in sexuality, whether it’s with a sex therapist or a clinical sexologist, in order to dig deep into the obstacles that are keeping me from enjoying my sexuality and my body. Ask yourself, what was I taught growing up? What experiences did I hear about? Was I punished when I was caught masturbating? Any issue that’s kept someone from leaving their fears behind.
You can also check out these images that challenge your taboos on sex and gender, as well the photographs that will change your perspective on male nudity.
Images by Jamie Noise