Give Virgins a Chance
You finally meet that special someone. They check all your boxes. Smart. Attractive. Funny. No felony arrests. And you have so much in common. It’s like space aliens cloned you, but changed just enough so it doesn’t feel weird when you bone. Except there’s one little thing.
They’re a virgin. And they’re almost thirty.
Some might pass that up. But you shouldn’t. I’m glad I didn’t. Like most labels, sexual history only shows you one part of a person.
Specifically, their past.
Labels like “virgin” tell you nothing about their present, or they’re future. The only way you can tell if someone’s right for you is to actually date them. Pay attention to how they make you feel.
We get so wrapped up in profiles and personality traits. We forget that people are messy, contradictory, and surprising.
Let’s rewind. A few years ago, my friends and I sat in a bar, browsing a potential bae’s Facebook page.
I was swiping right on his photos, symbolically.
He was friends with my friends, and they wanted to hook us up. Despite our radically different backgrounds, they thought we’d be perfect for each other. It was almost funny the way his virginity came up — as if my friends were describing real estate. Why was the asking price so low? Well, someone ran a meth lab in the basement.
To be clear, I don’t think virginity looks or smells anything like a meth lab. But that’s the way we talk about it now, in the mainstream.
We don’t quite hold virginity in such high esteem anymore. Back in the day, the townspeople demanded to see those blood-stained sheets after your wedding night. Otherwise, you might die.
Almost the entire world placed a premium on virginity. Mainly for women, of course. The pendulum has swung the other way now. Sure, there will always be the Bible belt. Promise rings. Chastity vows. Purity balls. Those creepy photos of dads caressing their daughters.
But you’re just as likely to get mocked for being a virgin. According to a recent article in The Journal of Sex Research, “both romantic and sexual relationship formation is normative in adolescence and early adulthood.” That means “sexually inexperienced adults are likely to encounter negative social consequences,” like public shaming.
I’m a little disappointed. The term “slut shaming” had such a nice ring to it. The alliteration really made that insult roll off the tongue.
I’ve spent most of the night trying to come up with a comparable slang term, and I’ve got nothing.
No kidding, the script has flipped.
Virgins have dwindled to a minority now. Sluts are the new orange is the new black. The Center for Disease Control estimates that most men and women make “their sexual debut” at the age of 17, in the U.S.
Sexual debut, that’s a great turn of phrase. Almost like a Netflix special. Meet Amanda. She debuted in the back of her boyfriend’s Dodge Dart in 2004. There’s already buzz about a second season.
Anyway, virgins are right to feel stigmatized these days. A new preference has emerged in dating culture for partners with some experience — though not too much. We’re a little like Goldilocks.
For me, inexperience didn’t matter. If things went well, I had no problems giving someone a crash course in sex ed. Even if it meant demonstrating how to slide a condom over a banana.
Lucky for us, things did go well.
My friends introduced us at a pub crawl. A week later, we started dating. He told me up front about his lack of experience in bed, and asked if it was okay. We had a direct but casual conversation about it.
At one point in his life, he’d planned on waiting until marriage. That was before he left his church, and scared the hell out of his family, by taking on the terrifying label “agnostic.” I approved.
His sexual debut happened about a month later, to rave reviews. He wanted it to be special, so we got a nice hotel room. There’s just something about sex on a bed that you don’t have to make later.
The headboard was cushioned.
The first time was simple, but slow. Deliberate. Come to think of it, I’d never had sex with a virgin before. It was kind of exciting.
After that, he became more adventurous than I ever was. I’m talking positions. Toys. Illustrated books.
It turned out he’d been wanting a sex partner for almost a year. But nobody took him seriously. They heard “virgin,” and closed up shop. Nobody would give him a chance.
What a mistake.
Sure, I’d had more sex. But that meant almost nothing. Quantity doesn’t equal quality. The more we made love, the more I realized something. I’d never focused on sex before. Not really.
For many people in their 20s, sex just happened. When behavior becomes normative, you do it without thinking. Just lie on your back, and act the way couples do in movies.
Now I had someone who did research. Showed me videos. Wanted to try new positions. Actually talked with me about what we both wanted. A few months later, the virgin had become the teacher.
That was fine with me. His studious attention to sex made me realize how complacent I’d gotten.
I’d been taking sex for granted.
Before him, it was just humping. Now it was an event, a shared experience. Something for us to actually build together — a sex life.
Since then, we’ve both improved dramatically. We actually debrief in bed and talk about what could go better next time.
It took a virgin to show me just how much I didn’t know about sex.
I’m not that fussy about my partners. They just need to be attractive, smart, employable, stable, and considerate.
This combination’s surprisingly rare. It more than makes up for any perceived shortcomings. If someone’s confident and emotionally healthy, then they can learn and grow. Your partner doesn’t have to arrive fully assembled.
Women and men both might be missing out on a great partner by giving into the virgin stigma, or any other stereotype.
Just because someone didn’t have sex at 17, that doesn’t mean something’s wrong with them. A hundred stories could explain why someone hasn’t done the dirty deed yet.
If you’re single, here’s some advice. Stop nitpicking. You’ll always find one or two things that can grow into a deal breaker with enough water and sunlight. Don’t nurture your relationship hangups. Think about what prejudices you might carry, and how they hurt your dating game. What you see as a red flag might be the opposite. Unless you think they’re going to bury you in their back yard. In that case, trust your pepper spray.