As a 25-year-old virgin, there have been many times where I wanted to really focus on abolishing the social construct of virginity, as it is so heavily based around the experience one has with a male identifying person. On the other hand, with so much discussion nowadays around sexual fluidity and the empowerment around it, I likewise really felt a great obligation in contributing to a positive discussion around an absence or lack of sexual fluidity and being just as empowered.
Here are some tips on navigating our ways through being virgins (if you identify as one), and likewise how we can further support and care for our community individuals who are going through these things.
1. Remember there is nothing wrong with being a virgin.
Unless you personally feel an issue with it or wish to change your current situation, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Not having the experience within sexual encounters does not make you any less a great person, nor does it make you any less of a well evolved human. There is plenty to be said around mental and physical areas that stunt us from having sex, due to physical halts, medical reasons, mental health reasons, or trauma. There has to be a sensitivity around these topics and consideration that everyone’s reasonings, situations, and decisions are different to one another. Know that your feelings towards your situation are important. Unless you feel ready or keen on doing something, take your time and learn about yourself even more.
2. Waiting for the right person is ok!
Plenty of people have tried to convince me that perhaps I’d never find that right person, or that even if I do, the act itself is lack lustre or awkward and I “may as well have sex now and get it over with.” By adjusting our mindset to “finding someone I’m truly comfortable with in growing and experiencing these delicate and sensitive experiences with” it may be beneficial to our outlook around this. Sidenote – finding someone who is respectful, understanding, and patient with you is important, as there are plenty of people who just want to experience you as you’re like a “gem in a haystack” to them and don’t have an ounce of consideration for you as an individual….
In an article by Jodi Tandet, she explains how on the other hand her absence of sexual activity may not at all be a product of waiting for the right person, “while I remain open to the possibility that I’d enjoy sexual contact with a person whom I can deeply trust, it doesn’t change how I feel in the present. As of now, I’d be perfectly fine dying a virgin. I don’t need sex.”
3. You can still figure yourself out and find pleasure in yourself.
There is SO much to be said around learning about your body, how your mind works with your body, what you like and don’t like. Personally I can’t even put a tampon in as I find it extremely uncomfortable and don’t feel the need to force that experience as there are plenty of other options! That is the key point – there are so many options around sex, sexual health, bodily health, reproductive health, mental health, etc. If you identify as a virgin, but still wish to learn about yourself and find pleasure, there are so many avenues you can go through: masturbation, toys, audio books, novels, your imagination etc! Not having a partner to experience these things with OR having a partner and developing new ways to explore your intimacy together is very important. Nonetheless, you can experience so much with yourself and through all that it’s incredibly beneficial in the long run.
4. Check in with yourself from time to time
Ask yourself why you’re still a virgin, are you uncomfortable with the idea of sex, is it the people you’re experiencing it with, is it for religious reasons etc? It may be an even deeper thing than we realise, and perhaps discussing these feelings with someone (a professional or trusted loved one) may aid us in freeing ourselves from any constraints we find we have. Personally a lot of the time there is a mental block for me but likewise a physical uncomfort, and something I’m really not comfortable with experiencing just yet. However I recognise it is a journey of working on through my mental state, physical comfort and attraction, and just the ebbs and flows of what’s within me.
Particularly in the male community there is a lot of virginity shaming, whereas within the female community it’s almost praised as being pure or a rarity. This goes back to masculinity upbringings and long traditional norms of how a woman is treated and placed in a societal hierarchy around and under men. By checking in with our friends and communities, and discussing these important – and difficult and sensitive – topics we open ourselves up to be empathetic and kind towards traditional viewpoints which we can challenge, just by communication and thoughtful actions.
In an article on ATTN.com, Sophie Atherton makes a very important point, “The legacy of my lengthy virginity goes beyond independence — I think it has given me extra resilience to deal with life’s setbacks and has taught me about patience,” Atherton wrote. “Our culture might be one of ‘everything now’ but I’ve learned how to wait. […]” I resonate deeply with that as whilst it’s in my nature to be impulsive and experience life to the fullest with no fears – as that does bring me a lot of joy, I still find great strength & peace in being patient within certain aspects of my life. I know life is short, however I’ve found so many deep and meaningful relationships that have stemmed from no sex at all, and that there are so many other ways to experience someone.
All in all, it’s important to just really check in with yourself and not neglect the deep areas that contribute to who you are as a unique individual. Plenty of people will base their understandings off their own experiences – which is fine and common – however extending ourselves to really learn about diversity through everyone’s unique experiences, is life changing. As you never know what may be going on within you or the other person unless you ask. Checking why you feel a certain way towards your body, or why you are afraid or reluctant to have sex, or why your body or mind may be reacting a certain way towards someone or yourself, are all great questions to ask. Even within staying patient and abstaining from sex (whether it’s intentional or not), there is great growth, empowerment, and positivity to be gained from it all.