Is it irrational to fear telling a girl I’m a virgin?
Choosing to share anything about your sexual history can leave anyone feeling vulnerable. If what you’re sharing is that you haven’t had a sexual history, it can feel even scarier.
This can be further complicated if you’re a guy; stereotypically, men are supposed to have an insatiable sexual appetite and are supposed to stop at nothing in order to have sex – you may feel that, by not having had sex yet, you’re an anomaly. A lack of experience can be especially anxiety provoking since men are traditionally supposed to initiate and direct most sexual encounters, and a lack of experience might therefore be more evident when you interact with a partner.
Truthfully though, many people think that others are having far more sex than they actually are. For example, research suggests that lifetime sexual partners for men are seven and women are four, with 20% of American men and 31% of American women having had only one sex partner in their lifetime.
Importantly, this effect is even more exaggerated when it comes to incoming freshmen. A recent survey done at Harvard with over 1,300 respondents from the class of 2017 suggested that only 35% of the incoming class had had sex before starting undergrad. Of that 35%, the large majority (62 %) said they have only had sex with one partner.
I can understand why you’re nervous, but it is important that you know that you’re not alone. Whatever the reason you have for being a virgin – religion, moral belief or a lack of the right situation for you – if/when you do decide to have sex, the ideal situation for you would probably resemble that of any other newcomer. In other words, you would probably want to date someone for a while and reveal this fact about yourself when you feel secure.
In the interim, if you’re looking to gain some confidence to make your first experiences better, there’s nothing like doing some personal research on the topic. For an exhaustive (but fun) read on any sexual topic, the “Guide to Getting it On” (Paul Johanides) and the “Good Vibrations Guide to Sex” (Cathy Winks & Anne Semansare) are both great first steps.
Additionally, the two books by sex researcher and therapist Ian Kerner are great for more specific knowledge of female (“She Comes First”) and male (“He Comes Next”) sexual functioning. The most important thing to know is that, regardless of your age, there are other people who are in the same boat as you, and that the most important aspect of a first sexual encounter is feeling secure enough to try and enjoy the experience.
I feel like my girlfriend and I never want to have sex at the same time. I have encouraged her to be proactive and initiate, but so far it is always at inconvenient times for me, so I just go along with it until she’s satisfied and then I give up. Is there anything I can do to fix my sex life?
Based on your description, I’m guessing you’ve had some sort of conversation about your conflicting times in desiring sex. What’s not clear to me is how explicit you’ve been. For example, saying something to your partner like “you can initiate too” or “I’d love it if you initiate sometimes” isn’t really the same as highlighting the problem of “we want sex at different times.”
I know it’s not the most fun conversation in the world, but sitting down and having a direct conversation about the different times in which each of you want sex is the only way you’re going to get to the bottom of what’s driving/preventing her from wanting sex at the times you do.
I’d start with a positive frame highlighting how much you enjoy your sexual time together, but then say how you feel especially in the mood when… and that you’ve noticed she’s less interested under those circumstances. You might be surprised at how superficial and external some of the reasons she may not be accepting your advances could be – for example, if you’ve been initiating sex in the morning, worrying about having less-than-fresh breath, looking as attractive, or having bathed could all be factors in her decision to refuse your advances.
This type of direct conversation also gives you a way of addressing these issues so that they’re no longer obstacles (e.g. keeping some mints on your night stand, reassuring her that you’re clearly very attracted to her without her showering). I’d also make sure to highlight that, although you enjoy when she initiates, when she does it at certain times (e.g. the night before a big exam), it makes the situation less appealing for you.
To clarify, it’s worth explaining why the times she previously initiated aren’t ideal for you, as she may be suffering from the same confusion as you are about why you seem disinterested in sexual activity when she feels the urge. Your girlfriend probably doesn’t have any idea that you’re not enjoying yourself, and if she cares about you, she’ll want to try and work with you to find a compromise so that you can both feel more satisfied.
Estrada is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Clinical & Social Psychology.

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