The 26-year-old vir­gin: what it’s re­ally like

Kate Cout­tas felt like a ‘weird, de­fec­tive twen­tysome­thing’ when, at 26, her V-card was still in play…

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Contents -

WHEN I be­came a bor­na­gain Chris­tian at age 15, sex was the last thing I was think­ing about. I’d de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in boys, but it was more in that un­re­quited love, day­dream­ing about kiss­ing be­hind the de­mount­a­bles at school kind of way. My friends and I were still too scared to tell each other when we had crushes, let alone had the kind of con­fi­dence to take any­thing fur­ther than a flirty look and a shy smile.

I got my first boyfriend at 20, and had two years of frus­trat­ing make­out ses­sions that never got be­yond a boob grab. And then, at 24, some­thing shifted. The Chris­tian be­lief sys­tem didn’t feel like ‘mine’ any­more. Af­ter my first trip to Europe (and the only three months I hadn’t at­tended church since I had started), I drifted away from this lifestyle I’d been in for all my for­ma­tive years.

To say get­ting into the stan­dard twen­tysome­thing life was a shock to the sys­tem is putting it mildly. I’d been ab­stain­ing from not just sex, but al­co­hol, par­ty­ing, the lot.

Play­ing catch­ups when it came to long, drunken party nights was easy. But the one area I couldn’t throw my­self into was sex. For some­one who hadn’t even seen a pe­nis IRL yet, that was pretty damn con­fronting. I ba­si­cally put los­ing my vir­gin­ity on the shelf for a year and fo­cused on get­ting my life groove back.

Then I de­vel­oped a deep, all­con­sum­ing crush on a guy I worked with – we’ll call him Re­tail Boy. Af­ter months of danc­ing around each other, we fi­nally hooked up one night, went back to his place, started to get naked – and I blurted out that I hadn’t had sex.

‘Wait, so you’re a vir­gin? Aren’t you 26?’ he said in the kind of shocked tone you don’t want to hear in the bed­room.

‘Uh… yeah,’ I replied, and gave him a bul­let­point ver­sion of my story. We made out a bit more, and I went home as­sum­ing all was fine be­cause OB­VI­OUSLY if a guy wants to lock lips with you af­ter that con­fes­sion, he is to­tally into you.

Wrong. The next day at work, he told me he ‘couldn’t do the vir­gin thing’. HOLY HELL JUST RIP OUT MY HEART, IT’D HURT LESS. It wasn’t just the fact I’d been re­jected by my one true love, it dug deep into my soul and brought up a sneaky lit­tle fear I’d been hid­ing. A fear that said, ‘No one will want you, be­cause you’re still a vir­gin.’

I was stuck. I wanted to have sex, ab­so­lutely, but I also knew that if I rushed into it, I’d risk emo­tion­ally wreck­ing my­self. Even though I’d left my be­liefs from church be­hind, sex still meant some­thing to me – at least, my first time did. Given all my new, nonchurch friends were do­ing it, talk­ing about it and tak­ing a drink for every ques­tion dur­ing Never Have I Ever, I felt like this weird, de­fec­tive twen­tysome­thing.

Turns out, I just had to wait an­other six months. I ended up meet­ing my next boyfriend right af­ter Re­tail Boy broke my heart. I was fully pre­pared for him to have an is­sue with my vir­gin­ity sit­u­a­tion. Sur­pris­ingly, though, when I brought it up on the fifth date he had zero is­sue.

When we fi­nally did have sex, it was noth­ing like what I’d ex­pected. I mean, all my friends had lost their V­cards as teenagers – their sto­ries were about pain and awk­ward­ness and guys or­gas­ming in un­der a minute. The bar was set pretty low, so I was well and truly sur­prised when my ex­pe­ri­ence was a lit­tle bit of dis­com­fort, a LOT of plea­sure and an or­gasm – pri­mar­ily be­cause I was hav­ing sex with some­one who’d al­ready been do­ing it for a decade.

We ended up break­ing up and I was quickly thrown into the dat­ing world – and ca­sual sex. I hon­estly thought, given my up­bring­ing, that I’d have heaps of hang­ups about sex, need­ing it to be with some­ one I love and all that, but I took to ca­sual sex like a duck to wa­ter. I didn’t be­come a sex ma­niac or any­thing, but in the sev­eral years since I be­came sex­u­ally active, I’ve had many ca­sual flings, f*ck bud­dies and one­nighters.

It also took me only a year or so to feel ‘caught up’ to my friends and be able to win (lose?) Never Have I Ever. You know what re­ally threw me? Once I started be­ing open about my re­cently­lost vir­gin­ity, I found out loads of my friends had sex hang­ups sim­i­lar to mine. One had been in a long­term re­la­tion­ship through her early twen­ties, and at 27 found her­self sin­gle again – with only one sex­ual part­ner be­hind her. An­other was still with her first love, and had only ever slept with him. Ba­si­cally, I was never alone in my fear of be­ing the ‘weird’ one who didn’t know shit about sex. There were all these women feel­ing sim­i­larly – we sim­ply weren’t talk­ing about it with each other.

If I could go back in time to when I was 15, get my­self a high­school boyfriend and lose my vir­gin­ity in his sin­gle bed, hon­estly, I would. It’s not a deep re­gret, though – more that it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence I think I missed out on. But that be­ing said, if there’s one thing my story’s taught me, it’s that shit just has a way of work­ing out. And if you think your sitch is weird as hell, a ton of peo­ple are hav­ing a sim­i­lar – if not the same – run in life as you. And that’s com­fort­ing.

‘IT BROUGHT UP A SNEAKY LIT­TLE FEAR I’D BEEN HID­ING THAT SAID, “NO ONE WILL WANT YOU BE­CAUSE YOU’RE STILL A VIR­GIN”’

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