Here's The Thing: Virginity Is Stupid
And that person who doesn't treat you like a friend is not your friend!!!
TWO ONLINE CUTIES WITH VERY SIMILAR QUESTIONS:
A) I'm 25 year old male and a virgin. I've been dealing with anxiety and depression since I was 16, and my sex life was sidelined before it even got going. I had to focus on other aspects of my life and never gave dating/sex much of a thought. I'm at a point of my life now where I feel like I'm ready to. I just don't know how to approach it. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed by my virginity, but it is uncomfortable to talk about. How should I handle it?
B) My friend is a freshman in college (this is an actual friend, not a cliché), has been asking me for advice about her boyfriend. He is the same age, and he is a virgin. They have been dating for 6 months with almost no movement physically. They only kiss goodbye. On one occasion he was comfortable enough to receive a blowjob, so he is not totally opposed. She doesn’t want to pressure him, but she’s feeling sexually frustrated. She says the problem is that he lacks confidence. How could she express this without hurting his feelings or pressuring him? And how could she help him build confidence?
I’m going to go ahead and answer two questions that are very similar today because I’m in charge and I can do what I want!!!! (Also, because for a piece I’m writing I recently talked to about 40 people who lost their virginity later in life, so I feel like I’m more prepared than ever to answer these).
One of the best things you have going for you right now is that as you said, you’re not ashamed or embarrassed. That’s huge and that’s helpful! That gives you some extra emotional space to deal with other people’s reactions to the topic of your virginity when it comes up. (Not that you should have to; the normal human response to “I’m a virgin,” should be “Cool! Let me know if I’m moving too quickly or if you get uncomfortable at any point.” But sadly, not everyone is there).
My strongest suggestion to anyone bringing up difficult topics is this: own your own power to set the tone. Most people do not realize, and therefore do not tap into, their own ability to dictate (via verbal and nonverbal cues) how a conversation goes. If you come to the table with the thesis that yeah, you’re a virgin, it’s not a big deal to you, that’s going to help the other person get on that page, too. It’s not going to work for everyone 100%. But the fact that you seem ok about your virginity will signal that the other person can chill, too.
Here’s what I’d do if I were you: I’d wait until you’re pretty certain a sexual encounter of some kind is about to happen. (You can’t ever be sure 100%). And then before you get any clothes off, I would say, “Hey, just as a heads up, I’ve never done this before, so let me know if there’s anything you’re uncomfortable with.” You can add a joke of sorts if you want to, or ask them how they feel about that. Give them a minute to process the information and ask any (kind, pertinent) questions they may have. And of course, leave immediately if anyone makes you feel bad about what’s about to go down.
Here’s some advice for virgins everywhere who are concerned about their ability: A lot of people suck at sex. It’s not like virgins have the market cornered on this. A lot of sexual experiences are a let down, so lean into that and know that any person you’re having sex with has probably had mediocre sex before and it didn’t stop them from having it again. That’s what getting horny is all about!
Now, here’s some advice for your friend: Uhhhh it doesn’t seem like your boyfriend is ready for this (sex especially, but even kissing seems hard for him). That’s totally within his rights (obviously), and you’ve got to figure out how you want to deal with the fact that he might not be ready to have sex for a good, long while. Is that a part of your relationship that you’re willing to give up? It’s ok if it is not. Physical affection is super important to relationships, and even if you love love love love love someone, that’s a hurdle that most people could not get over. Maybe this means that you and he agree to you having sex outside of your partnership. Maybe it means you guys taking it totally off the table for a while. Maybe it means breaking up even though you love him so much. You can’t make someone confident. You can’t be his therapy. And if he is uncomfortable with more than kissing goodbye, there is a good chance that actual therapy with a listened professional would be good for him.
And for you: Be there for your friend, but don’t add on to the pressure for her boyfriend. When you said he is “not totally opposed” to sex, I have my doubts. He had to be convinced to receive a blow job. It sounds like your friend (out of love and horniness, not out of cruelty at all) is still putting some pressure on him. And I guarantee he’s putting pressure on himself. This frankly doesn’t sound like a good relationship for her, but you cannot make her learn that, and you can’t advise her to pressure him into sex acts too early in order to make the relationship good. Don’t encourage her to push him out of his comfort zone to sex when he clearly doesn’t seem ready to even make out. Your job is simply this: Listen to your friend. That’s all you have to do. Listen and be compassionate towards both of them.
SOME BIG SWEETIE PIE:
I’m a junior in college (about to be a senior!) and have been close friends with a guy one year ahead of me pretty much since I was a freshman. When we were first becoming friends we hung out a ton and I kind of got the sense he liked me, but I wasn’t really interested and we continued being close friends. About a year ago I realized I had developed feelings for him, and about 6 months ago I told him. It was terrifying (I was sober and had never shot my shot like that before). He was really shocked, asked for some time to think about it, and then disappeared for about two weeks, including standing up multiple plans that he had made with me to “talk.” Eventually we talked and he rejected me, which I understood, and he said explicitly (I agreed) that our friendship was so important and we needed to preserve it. The next few months were weird, but we both tried our best and acknowledged the weirdness. Our mutual friends didn’t know that I had told him about my feelings, so we tried to keep things normal and they (mostly) didn’t seem to notice anything.
Fast forward a few months, and our friendship has really fallen apart. He started dating someone else and didn’t tell me about it, even though I heard about it from all our mutual friends. He never reaches out to me anymore and rarely responds when I reach out to him. I tried to talk to him about it at one point (told him “I feel like you don’t put in effort anymore and it hurts because I thought we wanted to stay best friends”) and he got incredibly defensive, told me about all this shit going on in his life that he had to deal with. I get that! But since then he has told me multiple times that he has dealt with the stuff he was stressed about and was looking forward to spending more time with me, only to never try to do that.
He graduates in a few weeks, and while I no longer have feelings for him romantically, I’m devastated at the idea that our friendship is withering away and he might graduate without us fixing this. Is there any way I can fix this? Is there anything I can do—or, honestly, anything I could have done better in the past? I feel like I did something wrong but I can’t figure out what, and I’m sad about the idea of losing a close friend just because I told him how I felt.
[siren emoji] THAT DUDE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND [siren emoji]. I don’t think you need to be mourning what you think you’re mourning (that you lost a great friendship); I think instead you need to be mourning that what you had with this doofus was not as good of a friendship as you thought. Which is heartbreaking in and of itself, outside of the whole liking him thing.
For whatever reason— “shit going on in his life” will work if you want to pin it on something, but he’s also a 22 year old man I’m guessing— he is not capable of being a good, mature friend. Maybe he is to other people who consider the zenith of friendship to be sitting on a couch playing Madden. But for someone with emotional maturity and honesty, he’s not there. Which sucks for you, but is not your baggage to carry; it’s his.
This is going to sound incredibly harsh but: I would expect this man to never make any effort to contact you again after graduation. Sure, he’ll answer your missives. But I would be shocked if he put any real effort into talking to you in the future. He had a friendship with you of convince, which is shitty, but also, sadly, the reality of adult friendships sometimes.
I know this is going to sound very sexist to the boys I’m about to roast, but allow me to make a sweeping generalization about young men about this man’s age: they kind of suck at friendship. At least at the version of friendship most women your age adopt easily, one that presumes the other person will put in effort and want effort in return. At this age (and sometimes for the rest of their lives) men tend to seem to preference “easy” relationships rather than complex ones. We all do this sometimes!!! This is fine and not a mark of bad character (usually!) Just be careful who you pour time and effort into.
Please do not let him be a lesson that you should not open up to people or tell them how you feel or put in effort. Listen to people’s actions (not showing up to talk to you) rather than their words (“yeah sure let’s meet up to talk”).