Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

Help, I’m Obsessed With Virginity

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a very confused and sexually frustrated 22 year old (non-religious) virgin male. Being a virgin this long has had a strange effect on me, simultaneously making me feel both more worthless (obviously) and more special/rare. I’m not at all the “hot” or machismo type and have never felt any pressure to be. I get by with women by being “cute,” sweet” and “adorable.” Therefore in all the times I’ve played out in my head the “Baby, I have something to tell you… I’m still a virgin” conversation, I’ve never imagined it going poorly. I think most girls I’m attracted to would jump at the chance to take my virginity. Ironically, it’s people like my parents who I hope think that I’ve had sex. I can accept a pity f

k, but not conservative Christian parents’ approval. I say all this, Doc, because I’m not sure if the issue I’m about to tell you about really has more to do with my own virginity and my complicated, slightly atypical thoughts around it, or the virginity of another individual.

Here’s the catch that may make me an asshole: it’s not only my virginity I fret about, but also that of the girl I’m currently into. Long story short, I’ve been sexting this girl online for over a year. She’s quickly become one of my best friends and we’ve both developed feelings for each other. We say we love each other and belong to each other. It’s a long distance thing, so we’ve never met in person or put an official “dating” label on our relationship. Last week she lost her virginity. When she told me I was shocked at how nauseous and disappointed I felt. Regardless of how attractive she is, when I think of her body I now struggle to think of anything other than another guy pumping his semen deep inside her, and it makes physically ill. So one of my questions, Doc, is essentially: How do I get over the irrational, sickening idea of “sloppy seconds”? (To be fair, I think even if I were female I wouldn’t like the thought of my man being or ever having been inside another woman.)

I think I’ve read every bit of virginity advice you or a guest columnist has ever written, and I know, rationally, that’s it’s just a stupid social construct. Aside from STD’s I’m pretty sure it’s not scientific to believe in the lingering DNA (read as: semen) of previous lovers, right? However, irrationally, I can’t shake my feeling of disgust. This strong adverse reaction has taken me completely by surprise. After all, I’ve had crushes on non-virgins in the past. Yet in this one particular case I can’t help but be disappointed in an admittedly kinky “I wanted to deflower her” way, but also, I really want to stress, a hopeless romantic “I wanted us to ‘give ourselves to each other’ in a way that neither of us ever had before to another person” way.

Like I mentioned at the start of my post, I’m not sure if this issue really has more to do with her or myself. All week I’ve been having to ask myself tough questions: Why do I care? Am I an asshole for caring? Why has a girl’s virginity status never bothered me so much before? Will I ever (hopefully) go back to my indifference? If not, how will I live a normal adult life? And why the hell am I still a virgin? How much does my virginity mean to me? Etc.

Is there anything you think might help me get over this major turn off? Or perhaps can you pen the definitive, scientifically supported “Virginity Is Not A Big Deal!!” article to end all “Virginity Is Not A Big Deal!!” articles? The older I get the bigger this issues becomes, and the more it seems to entrap me in my own head, mentally separating me from normally functioning adults.

Thanks for your help,

Irrationally Obsessed With Virginity

DEAR IRRATIONALLY OBSESSED WITH VIRGINITY: So, fair warning, IOVW, this is going to be rough. Before we get started, I want you to realize something: I don’t think that you’re a bad person or that you’re an asshole. This s

t is clearly bothering you – a good thing! – and you’re reaching out to fix it. So while this is going to sound harsh, the problem isn’t you so much as what you’ve learned. Sometimes ya gotta take the Chair Leg of Truth to some deeply held beliefs. So brace yourself, ok?

Your problem isn’t with virginity, IOWV, it’s with sexuality. You’ve gotten your head wrapped up in all sorts of bulls

t ideas surrounding sex, virginity and masculinity, and if you want to improve, then you’re going to have to start untangling that mass of complexes that you have floating around in your brain.

Let’s start by pointing out the obvious: you’ve got a doozy of a Madonna/Whore dichotomy going on that’s getting tied up with some shame about being a virgin alongside fairly serious entitlement issues and it’s coloring everything. You have this long-distance pen-pal that you’ve been sexting with and you’re totally cool with the idea of her f

king you…. but if anyone else puts their hands on her and suddenly she’s dirty and disgusting and dripping with sloppy seconds. The problem isn’t that she’s had sex, it’s that she’s had sex with someone else. Somebody else has put their hands on somebody you considered your “property” and now it’s ruined. You’ve had plenty of fantasies of banging other women and that only serves to enhance you – you become a “real man” at the end. Even a pity f

k is ok because hey, “any sex is good sex”, right?

(Spoiler alert: no. No it is not. Trust me on this – there will be plenty of times when even sex you think you wanted is not good…)

Now before we unpack this some more, I want to point out that yes, I totally get the jealousy thing. You’re worried that you’ve lost out on something by the fact that she’s had actual sex with someone who is not you. It’s totally understandable – everybody deals with it and the best thing you can do is let yourself feel it. But here’s the thing I want you to think about: how unfair this is to your friend. She’s opening up to you because she trusts you and because of the emotional (and, presumably, sexual) intimacy you have together. After all, she’s your best friend – why wouldn’t she want to let you in on this part of her life? And here you are getting angry and disgusted at her because of things that are entirely your baggage. This doesn’t affect you in the slightest. She’s exactly the same person she was before she had sex; the only difference is that she’s had a new experience with someone else.

And that’s where things start getting f

ked up. You say you wanted that “Share something special with each other” moment with her, but it’s less about the two of you than it is about you; you wanted to be the one to take her virginity. I mean, you’re totally cool with pity f

ks or these random fantasy girls jumping at the chance to make you a man because hey, it’s you. The fact that you wouldn’t be a virgin with anyone else wouldn’t degrade or lessen your relationship with them, would it?

I realize this is sounding kind of harsh, and I want you to realize I’m bringing all of this up not because I think that you’re a bad person but because I want you to think about these things. You have a whole lot of assumptions and beliefs surrounding sex and sexuality that you’ve let go unchallenged without realizing how f

ked up they are – and it’s only by confronting them that you can get past them. For example: let’s break down the whole “sloppy seconds” issue you’re having right now with a thought exercise. I’m going to make the (admittedly, relatively safe, statistically speaking) assumption that you watch porn and have gotten aroused by it; perhaps you jerked off while watching it, or used it to fuel a fantasy for later use. You’re watching someone else pound away at this person you’re interested in f

king… do you have the same sloppy seconds revulsion, or are you able to ignore the dude and just insert yourself in his place in your fantasy?

(There’s also the possibility of getting aroused specifically because someone else is f

king someone you want, but that’s a different subject all together…)

If you’re like most men, heterosexual or homosexual, that other person doesn’t phase you even though they’re f

king someone you want to f

k. They don’t interfere with the fantasy because you’re not caught up in being the first or only person to have sex with the person you’re thinking about. You just want to bang ’em.

Now, with your friend, you’ve fetishized taking her virginity. Why? Because that’ll make you special. It’ll make you different from any other guy she dates. Except… how, exactly? Why does being the first person to stick your penis into her make you more special than being the person she most wants to see at the end of the day? Why is your boner being the first she sees more important than being the person she most wants to share her hopes and dreams with?

I’ll tell you why:

First, because you don’t believe you can stand out – or compete, for that matter – in any other way. If you’re somebody’s first, they have no basis for comparison; you are by definition the best f

k they’ve ever had with the biggest, most magical dick. It’s bulls

t of course; just because somebody is another person’s first doesn’t mean that it’s the best or even all that good. In fact, the sex they have with themselves may well be far better than the first time they have sex with someone else. But hey, as long as you can say “yup, I was first”, it gives you an overinflated sense of being “special” for no real reason.

(If you ever want to see this mentality in action, watch Chasing Amy. Ben Affleck’s character Holden has no issues with Joey Lauren Adams’ Alyssa having had sex with other women… but as soon as he finds out that she’s not only been with men but she’s had kinky, experimental sex with dudes too he freaks the f

k out. Why? He was cool with the women because hey, he’s Going Where No Man Has Gone Before and that makes him Special with a capital S. But once he learns the truth, he doesn’t feel like he can measure up with the fact that she’s more experienced than he is and the fact that she loves him doesn’t make him special enough.)

This gets tied up in your own issues with being a virgin. You don’t feel like you’re a man – as you put it, you get by on being “cute” and “sweet”, diminutives that carry the connotation of childishness – and so her having had sex means that you can’t prove that you’re “good enough” to deflower a virgin. Now you have to “compete” with all of her other lovers. Never mind the fact that we don’t base who we date or sleep with on how they stack up to everyone else we’ve ever been with.

And second, because it imparts a sense of ownership. It’s part of the f

ked up ideas that our sex-negative culture teaches us about sex and virginity: first one to stick it in someone owns them for life. You see this in the Abstinence Only educational movement and in the ha-ha-no-but-seriously anxiety “jokes” about virgins imprinting on their first partner like a baby gosling. By being their first, you’ve planted a flag on them like Columbus in the New World and everybody else who comes later has to acknowledge your supremacy… even if the only reason they slept with you in the first place was simply to get the whole “first time” thing over.

That’s part of the issue you’re having with the “sloppy seconds” and how it’s ruined her for you: someone else “owns” her now.

Except they don’t. They never did. Neither did you. People don’t own other people.

(Also: semen doesn’t even stay in her that long; gravity gets rid of most of it, the vaginal tissue’s capability for self-cleaning and basic hygiene gets rid of the rest. The oft-quoted “semen stays in her seven days” is a misunderstanding of how long sperm stays viable, not how long actual seminal fluid stays in a woman’s vaginal canal.)

The thing that makes you special to somebody isn’t about being their first or doing things that they’ve never done with other people, it’s being the person they care about. Being that someone special to your partner means far more than who touched how many peenors or hoo-hahs… and is far more difficult.

Talk to some women, find out how many of them don’t see their first time as “special” or “magical” but “a thing that happened” or something that pales in significance with the times they had sex with someone special later on. And work on decoupling your belief in your own manhood from whether or not you’ve stuck your dick in someone; the sooner you’re able to do that, the sooner you’ll be on the path to true manhood.

Manhood isn’t about sex, it’s about maturity.

Good luck.

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