Recently I asked a group of women what they are curious about around intimacy. One woman asked, "How do I tell a man I'm a virgin...when it's not for religious purposes?" Another woman asked the opposite, "How do I tell someone that I've been promiscuous?"
First, let me say that this can be a very hard subject to talk about. You are expressing something extremely personal and that comes with a lot of emotion. Sexuality can define you, scare you and give you freedom. There is so much energy and power tied to sexuality and sensuality. The debates surrounding virginity, the virtue of virginity, and the sexual responsibility of men and women are much deeper than a single blog post. My goal in this post is to bring a different perspective to what you may be experiencing in order to bring more light into what can be a very dark, lonely place to be.
We’ve all felt judged, inadequate, or somehow not “right” in conversations around sex or even the moments leading up to sex. By most movies or TV show standards, the first time you have sex it’s perfect, magical and maybe awkward for a split second. According to the Kinsey Institute the average age for first timers in America is 16.9 for males and 17.4 for females. I don't know about you, but there was nothing perfect about that age for me. I was unsure of myself, totally consumed with body image, and completely inexperienced until I lost my virginity. And, I wasn't comfortable with talking about something I had no idea about.
One of the reasons people don't feel comfortable talking about sex is because it's a way you can express yourself with another person that may not reflect how you express yourself in other parts of your life. It can be an absolutely amazing energy exchange between two people, simply a lot of fun, or really awkward!
However, when you are deciding whether or not to be sexually intimate with someone there are a lot of triggers that can come up. You want to understand the expectations. And, if you're hoping there will be a continued relationship afterwards, it's also important to know what you're getting into with the other person.
So, getting back to the questions for a second, if you have decided not to share that part of yourself with someone, that is totally ok! Whether you are ready now or waiting until marriage or waiting to meet someone you feel really safe with, it's important to know why you've made that decision. What I mean is whether it was made from a place of fear or made from a place of love. Do you love yourself the way you are and value that part of yourself as a gift to someone special or are you afraid of the experience and what will happen?
On the other hand, if you're someone that's slept with multiple partners, that's also totally ok! You, too, want to get clear on if it is because you're totally comfortable in your sexuality or because you need the attention for a self-esteem boost (or you perceive it as the only way someone else will love you). Whatever comes up for you is exactly what you need to hear.
Once you know the why behind your decision, keep that in mind when you are having the discussion. If you can communicate from a place of love for yourself and with the intention of creating an understanding between you and your partner, the outcome is more expansive. Sharing this information could change their perception of you and end the relationship, in which case that person is not right for you, or it could strengthen their respect and build a deeper connection. Either outcome is desirable because if they’re not right for you, their departure will create space for a person who is.
If you are a virgin, I encourage you to start with the intention of expressing yourself and your needs, not about not having sex. That may sound counterintuitive, but stay with me. It's about letting the other person in on a decision you made, your intention behind it and how you want to move forward with them. It's important to be gentle with yourself in the moment and stay strong in your convictions. Here is an example of how that conversation could go:
"I really enjoy spending time with you and am very attracted to you. I've thought about what the next level in our relationship would be and I need you to know that I'm a virgin. I’ve decided not to have sex yet because _________, and it's important to me that you understand that."
Make sure to use words that feel comfortable and be open to hearing how your partner feels about what you just shared. If you have found the person you want to be sexually intimate with, they will be understanding, patient, and excited that you’re ready to share that part of yourself with them.
If you’ve had previous partners, this is a conversation that can give you a lot of insight into each other’s preferences, how you each view sex and might lead to either flirtation or frustration. It's less important to talk about numbers and more important to talk about experiences or generalities. If you start mentioning names or specific identifying details it can make the other person feel uncomfortable or judged. Starting with the intention of sharing your past because you think it's important keeps it away from making it about your satisfaction or lack thereof with the current experience (another blog post on that later!). In a neutral environment (aka not the bedroom), think of using this example (in your own words):
"I really enjoy spending time with you and would like to explore having sex together. I've had some great experiences and some not so great experiences. _________ is something I've really enjoyed. What about you?"
Your experiences have made you who you are today and with this partner they may be totally new!
Regardless of your sexual past, remember that as hard as it is for you to bring up these topics with your new partner, it’s probably just as hard for them to talk about it with you. It’s important to explore the physical side of the connection with your partner (whether that’s simply holding hands and kissing or having sex) and starting with the emotional bond you create together can make a huge difference.
Did that help you release some judgment around your choice and why you made it? If so, let me know in the comments. If you are still unclear or this brought up more feelings for you, contact me and let's work through it together.