DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a 24 year old woman. My boyfriend and I have been together for over a month, and he’s the first guy I really fell in love with. Everything seems to be fine except for one thing: I’m afraid to tell him I’m a virgin. We have already done some foreplay but we haven’t had the opportunity to be alone and go further yet, and even if I want to have sex with him, a part of me is happy to postpone the “speech” out of fear of his reaction.
I trust him, but the more I think about it the more I don’t know how to start. What if he leaves me? After all, we’re only at the beginning and we made no promises. What if he’s ashamed of me, if he thinks I’m not enough for him, and to his eyes I’m no longer attractive? Or maybe he doesn’t like the fact that, since I’m inexperienced, he will have to teach me how to please him? What if he tells his friends, or he thinks i don’t measure up to his exes? I even thought I could make up the story of how I lost my virginity years ago with a friend, but I’d feel terrible to lie to him; I could say nothing and just wait until he figures it out, but it would be too embarrassing, and I prefer to preempt the humiliation and tell him the truth myself.
Plus, even if I have no intention to wait, I still have a bit of anxiety about this new experience, especially when I think that it probably won’t all come natural to me and it’ll take time for me to learn, and I don’t see how he can enjoy waiting for me to get to his “level”. I wouldn’t want to ruin our relationship just because I don’t have the courage to open up, and therefore miss this opportunity with a guy I like very much and who likes me back. I want to be able to finally loosen up and enjoy this experience that I have been waiting for so long just like other girls, and make him understand how much I want him.
I’ve tried to report all my insecurities and everything that’s been going on in my head these days. I am probably exaggerating it, so other points of view might be helpful. Maybe I just need reassurance and a little more confidence. Any advice or opinion you have will be greatly appreciated.
Queen Of Overthinking
DEAR QUEEN OF OVERTHINKING: I think you hit the nail on the head with your signature, QOO; you’re letting your anxieties take over and creating a cascading number of worst-case scenarios, each worse than the last.
This, to be perfectly honest, isn’t terribly surprising. Even in the year of our lord 2021, society is still really goddamn weird about virginity, especially for women. There’re an absurd number of conflicting (and inaccurate!) messages about sex, sexuality and virginity in general, and those get dialed up to 11 when the discourse turns to women. Kids are having too much sex — blowjobs in middle-school! porn on their phones teaching them that anal is ok! — but they’re also not having ENOUGH sex and there’s a sex recession going on! Guys should have as much sex as they can but also avoid masturbating because it’s bad for you and/or not masturbating gives you super powers! Women don’t like casual sex, except when they do. Third wave feminism has been empowering because it encourages women to take ownership of their sexuality, except "it’s bad because now women are expected to have a series of kinks or else they’re just ‘too vanilla’”…
And of course, as always, women are caught in the trap of be sexy but not sexual, be virginal but also experienced and the classic idea that while men are valued for the sex they have, women are valued for the sex they haven’t had. It is, needless to say, a goddamn mess.
So I’m not terribly surprised that you’re carrying all this anxiety and that it’s put such a whammy on your head. But I do have good news for you: I don’t think you have anything to worry about.
So, assuming that we’re defining “virginity” as “having not had penetrative sex” (which is a flimsy definition under the best of circumstances), let’s start with the glaringly obvious: there’s nothing wrong with your being a virgin at your age. While you may be a little older than the national average (around 17 years old, as of 2015), it’s not unusual at all. Being a virgin doesn’t say anything about you as a person, any more than having lost your virginity would say anything about you. Virginity is a social construct; all it means is that you have or haven’t had a particular experience yet, that’s all. It doesn’t say anything about your worth as a person. It doesn’t mean that you are more or less virtuous. nor, for that matter, does it mean that you can’t or won’t be able to please your boyfriend.
Here’s the thing: virgins can have mind-blowing, bed-rocking sex just as easily as folks who’ve had partners numbering into the quadruple digits can be goddamn awful lays. Good sex isn’t about numbers or whether you know how to do the swirly-go-round, the Transylvania Twist or the Rusty Venture, it’s about connecting and communicating with your partner. And not to put too fine a point on it: while I can understand being worried about “your boyfriend having to teach you how to please him”, there’s also the issue of, y’know, you having to teach him how to please you. Just because somebody hasn’t had penis-in-vagina sex, that doesn’t mean that they don’t know about orgasms or what makes them feel good. Having a sexual relationship isn’t just going to be about getting him off, nor does his having experience mean that he’s going to know exactly how to hit all of your buttons.
Part of every relationship entails a learning period as you and your partner get to know each other and each other’s bodies — what makes you tick, what makes you scream like a banshee and what makes your skin crawl. There really aren’t any universal sex techniques that work on everyone; what makes one person sing to the heavens can be a hard no to another.
The other thing you should keep in mind is that your virginity is just one aspect of who you are; how he reacts to your being a virgin, on the other hand, will tell you everything you need to know about him. If you tell him that you’re a virgin and he decides he’s ashamed of you, laughs at you, or decides he doesn’t want you any more and you break up… that’s a good thing. That isn’t a tragedy, that is a f--king bullet dodged. That sort of negative reaction is all you need to know, because he will have shown that he is not somebody you should want to have sex with, regardless of whether he’s your first partner or your fiftieth. That’s not the sign of a caring and giving lover who’s considerate of their partner’s comfort and pleasure, that’s someone who’s revealed themselves to be a Crouching Nice Guy, Hidden Douchebag and you should kick him to the curb with the rest of the trash.
But I don’t think you need to worry about that.
While obviously there are no guarantees in life, I think you’ve already gotten clues about what to expect… and that’s that he seems to be a good guy. Y’all have been fooling around for a month or so and — even allowing for the lack of opportunity — you don’t mention that he’s been impatient or pushing for more. That’s a good sign; a partner who’s willing to go at the speed of the other person’s comfort is someone who’s going to care about their partner’s desires. It sounds like this desire/anxiety combo is coming from you, rather than his trying to move things faster than you’re comfortable with. That’s completely understandable, and it’s ok. But the easiest and most reliable way to resolve this anxiousness is to take a breath, clench your fists and just tell him.
Don’t frame it like something you’re ashamed of or like you’re rolling out some deep dark secret — because it’s not. What you’re doing is telling him exactly what you just told me: you really like him, you want to relax and be open with him and enjoy this experience you’ve been looking forward to.
If he’s as good of a guy as it sounds, then hey, you have absolutely nothing to worry about besides feeling a little nervous and awkward trying to spit it out, and that will fade so fast, you’ll wonder what you were worried about. On the other hand, if he reacts badly? Then while it sucks and will undoubtedly hurt, it’s a good thing for you. You’ll have kicked a dude who was absolutely wrong for you out of your dating pool, and you’ll be free to find someone who’s right for you and worth sleeping with.
But like I said: I don’t think you need to worry. I think this is just anxiety f--king with you.
Good luck. And write back to let us know how it all goes.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com