While the more common path from adolescence to adulthood is sexual activity before marriage, that does not mean it is the only path. So maybe there aren’t huge numbers of older adult virgins, but you are not alone. Not an easy number to calculate, but a 2009 study of 25-45 year olds, found that the percentage of adult virgins in the United States could be possibly generalized to about 9% for women and 14% for men. Still, many people won’t understand and for better or worse will want you to get this virginity thing over with already! And maybe you even feel the same way too. The culture we live in promotes heterosexual oversexualization, making it hard to feel good in our own skin at times, and making us obsessed with our sexual status. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being an adult virgin! There is nothing wrong with you, amiga.
Virginity in the Media & in Real Life
We saw the phenomena of adult virginity on the big screen in the 2005 comedy, “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, where it was poking fun at the clumsiness and cluelessness of virginity and the social frustrations encountered when you are the only one with the V-card. The movie reflected a seemingly popular sentiment, that is if you are an adult virgin, especially the older you are, there must be something off about you. I could relate with the angst and concern and cluelessness that an adult virgin experiences in relationship to potential intimate interactions.
The social skills that allow for savvy relating with a romantic interest do not come automatically. The movie shows the story of a man that is a virgin by default. He would prefer not to be a virgin, but has resigned himself to it because it hasn’t worked out for him having no savvy about how to relate with someone he was interested in.
Most recently, the TLC channel began airing the ”The Virgin Diaries,” in December 2011. Its purpose was to show viewers the lives of “adult virgins who reveal the challenges, truths, and anticipations of losing their virginity.” Adult men and women reveal why they are virgins, including religious reasons, waiting for marriage and simply striking out. The individuals who share their choice to abstain from sex until marriage are expressing that their virginity is an active choice.
Is your virginity an active choice? What are the ways you strengthen this resolve? Or is your virginity a choice by default? What are the ways you seek to empower yourself during this journey to non-virginity? During the time of my adult virginity, it was first an active choice and then a choice by default, but in both cases, while I was a social butterfly, I didn’t have the social savvy skills as it related to intimate interactions and relating. We all have our unique story of how we got to this place. I’d like to share my story.
The Virgin Diaries: Vicky’s Story
The first time I had sex I was 24 years old. Initially, and for a long time being a virgin was a non-issue for me. I knew I wanted to wait. Wait until marriage? No. I wanted to complete college without any unpleasant complications, namely pregnancy. I was fully aware of sexually transmitted infections and diseases, but I also considered myself smart enough to know that when and if I had sex it would be safer sex. The safest sex being no sex, I decided that I would proudly maintain my virginity until I had safely earned my degree. Of course, I wondered about sex, had plenty of sexual feelings and had happily discovered physical self-stimulation at 13 years old completely by accident (masterbation- wepa!).
Sometimes I felt I might be missing out on something, but predominantly I felt confident in my decision. During college, I was supported by a special group of friends who were virgins as well. We playfully called ourselves “The Virgin Troopers” or the “V-Troopers” and we felt strong as a group. I can’t remember if all the members completed college with virginity still intact, but I do remember the sinking feeling I had every time one of the girls reported with excitement, “I’m no longer a V-trooper!” You know how you want to be happy for your friend, and in some ways you are happy, but you can’t get out of your own head about what you wish you had for yourself! I was successful at being a bright college student who would graduate with no worries about STD’s, pregnancy, or boy drama, but after graduation, all I wanted was to not be a virgin!
During most of length of time of my adult virginity there were minimal opportunities for me to express sexual feelings, be sexual with a man or even recognize the potential for intimate moments. At 21 years old, I had still never french kissed anyone! Every time I share this factoid with others, I usually get gasps. “How does that happen?” This is also tied to the question, “How are you still a virgin?” We’ll get to that. During the Summer that I was 21 years old, I was reunited with an elementary school friend that wanted to take me out. He was your typical bad boy, but I was completely infatuated and worried about what my virginity might mean to him, and worse yet, I was petrified of kissing. I’m pretty sure, I had a mantra playing in my head, “I can’t kiss. I don’t know how.”
We went on a double date. My best friend at the time was helping me out and went along as his best friend’s date. My memory is a little fuzzy, but at some point my date and I were dancing to Bachata music, which he was incredibly good at. It was impossible to not feel sexual sensations rising in my body as well as the sparks between us. He took me aside, stood very close to me and held my face in his hands. He went in for what should have been a romantic kiss and I panicked! I blurted, “I’m sorry. I can’t do this!” The chorus played in my head, “I can’t do this. I don’t know how to kiss. This will be so embarrassing. He’ll know I totally suck at this. He won’t like me. I suck!” He asked me what was wrong and I was full of shame, feelings of incompetence, hating my virginity, hating not “practicing” what other younger people seemed to “practice” so easily in their young lives- simple, basic touching, affection, and intimacy.
I confessed, “I don’t know how to do this.” After an extremely embarrassing, but necessary conversation where I divulged how I was a virgin and never even made out with anybody and confirmed his stunned questions with, “yes, honestly, I have only ever tapped kissed a boy before”, it finally sunk in what he was dealing with. I will never forget the gift he gave me though in that moment, “It’s okay. You don’t have to know anything. Trust me. I’ll show you.” I was relieved, but still felt like I was 14 years old again- a kid exploring something new, crazy and that felt so good. I had butterflies everywhere. It was sexual intimacy and exploration in baby steps. To be continued tomorrow: Part II of the The Virgin Diaries: Vicky’s Story