Oct 31, 2014

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The Virgin Diaries: Vicky’s Story [Part II]

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To read Part I of The Virgin Diaries: Vicky’s Story, click HERE.

“How are you still a virgin?” I think a number of factors played a part. Like I shared above, I was resolved in my decision while in college, I was rarely drinking and definitely wasn’t getting drunk at parties (thereby not allowing for those random hooking up experiences to occur), and among my guy friends, I was seen as one of the “guys” for the most part. Also, I was uncomfortable with sexual intimacy due to unpleasant experiences as a child, my parents were fairly strict about my free time and had a policy of no dating until I was 18 years old which I rebelled against once or twice, but I was mostly obedient and very into school.

My mother is actually a very open-minded person and as soon as I graduated high school and I was 18 (finally), she gave me her blessing to have sex if I wanted to. Yes, you read that correctly! I chuckle every time I think of it now. There is a huge bridge of experience between virginity and non-virginity. So instead of jumping for joy at the newfound freedom Mami was verbalizing that I had, I felt completely let down, angry and sad, knowing that I was not prepared for any of it. I felt that bridge was practically impossible to cross. I even told her so. I told her I barely had any experience holding a boy’s hand let alone knowing the first thing about how to move beyond that to sex. She thought it was all very funny, endearing and cute, offering that I would learn these things along the way. Ay ay ay! As for my faith, at the time I was a practicing progressive Catholic. I wanted to remain a virgin for my duration in college, it never occurred to me to want to wait until marriage. Who knew when I would get married?!

Between the ages 22 and 24, I was no longer the proud V-Trooper. I was frustrated (sexually and otherwise) and preoccupied with my virginity. I hadn’t reached that point in life where I recognized the fullness of my inner beauty or appreciation of my outer looks so being a virgin felt like an affirmation of unworthiness at times. Also, when most of your friends are sexually active and sharing stories, it can feel very isolating, lonely and of course awkward and uncomfortable. I even questioned my original decision to remain a virgin while in college, feeling regret sometimes of “holding myself back.” I began to feel I had developmentally stunted myself. All in all, I had a lot of maturing to do when it came to love, sex, and intimacy. I was extremely book smart about these things, but I was quite the “adolescent” learning the ropes.

A neighborhood friend and I started hanging out and soon we became an item. I was 24 years old and he was my first boyfriend. We were together about four months when I asked him, “are we ever going to have sex?” Here I had a boyfriend and I still could not get rid of this dreaded virginity!? It was a comedy of errors, but an experience to remember nonetheless. And did having sex finally, help me feel better? Yes and no. I was happy I finally joined the other club but still felt I was behind on experience. The good thing was, I no longer felt rushed to get the experience.

My experience showed me that there’s more to losing your virginity than being a virgin one day and not being a virgin the next. Maybe you can relate to this and can see how “virgin” doesn’t really just mean, “never had intercourse”, it really means so much more. It might mean, “pride in keeping something precious to myself until I am ready” or something along the lines of, “haven’t had many experiences that allow me to gain confidence in intimacy building that would then bring about comfort and safety to share in something so significant and potentially meaningful like the act of sexual intercourse”, but that’s a mouthful so it is reduced to, “I’m still a virgin.”

Being On the Virginity Bridge
Again, you have your own story. You are walking your own unique journey And whether you or someone you know is an adult virgin, a former adult virgin, or has travelled in the territories of abstinence and celibacy, this might resonate.

When I took a stand about wanting to remain a virgin that was empowering. I felt good about myself, smart, and in control of my life. Similarly, young people in various religious and secular communities have taken virginity pledges of abstinence (not having sex until marriage), which is done publicly. The strength in making a promise to yourself or pledge with others is that it becomes a solid part of your identity, who you are for that part of the journey. This is also the case for those who choose celibacy, a lifestyle choice committing to no sex- more visible to us are the religious who take vows of chastity, but regular folk also make this decision. Joining with others who support the same values is a way to strengthen your resolve. I urge you to find those places and communities of support where you are welcomed intact-hymen and all!

When I had fulfilled my promise of virginity, remaining a virgin was no longer my wish. I believe many adult virgins are in this boat. I felt an urgency to experience the powerful experience of sex, but I didn’t know where to begin. The problem was now I had to be vulnerable. Before, I could hide behind the bravado of empowered Super-Virgin, but now I had to face my anxiety, intimacy issues, insecurity, and areas of low self-esteem and low body-pride. I think, Mami, knew that I wouldn’t just have sex with anybody when she “released the reigns” long ago, because she would always say in Spanish, “Listen, it is not an easy thing to lay naked with someone.” She was right! How was I ever going to show this body to any other body? So, if you are here in your journey, acknowledge where you are and know that is okay. As Dr. Wendy Walsh, says, “After decades of never seeing or touching an opposite gender body, the whole experience can be terrifying for adult virgins…” There is support out there for you!

Bridging The Gap
The answer is not to go have sex, no matter what camp you are in, “Proud Chooser of My Virginity” or “Can’t Wait Until I am a Non-Virgin. The answer is addressing what you really want and getting to the core of what is keeping you from it. If you are an adult virgin who is abstaining from sex until marriage and expressing wanting the dream of a family soon, but not practicing the social savvy skills of what it takes to attract a person of interest, sustain rapport, and build intimacy, then you can expect to not be that successful. Here I will employ some tough love. You will not get anything, if you do not give anything. You will not find a partner, if you do not show up. If you are now in your 30’s and continue to do what you have done and it has not resulted in a romance that can possibly lead to marriage, that would lead to a healthy sexy life, then it is time to do something entirely different. Do not go out and have sex. Go out and practice body closeness with dance partners. Make sure you attend social events as part of your homework and commitment to yourself. Give yourself an assignment for each event. “I will talk to one man tonight”, “I will tell one man a funny story”, “I will get close enough to a man that my shoulders will touch his”, or for the adult virgins who have experienced being sexual with romantic partners, you keep pushing your own boundaries.

Having safe boundaries is important but when addressing healthy relating and interacting, you need to recognize if your boundaries are holding you back from what you really want in life or if they support it. You can make empowered healthy lifestyle choices that honor your virginity and or help you transition from virginity to nonvirginity. I encourage to make empowered choices versus fear-based choices. In this case, for all adult virgins, learning to build intimacy and practicing healthy positive affection is key, not sex.

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Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Angélica Pérez-Litwin

Dr. Perez-Litwin is the Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, a multi-platform professional development organization designed to advance the careers and leadership of women. She's the creative force behind the LATINAS THINK BIG™ national tour, sponsored and live-streamed by Google.

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