Dear Alice,

I'm a twenty-year-old male. I grew up in a very conservative household and community and never really dated much in high school. Now I've been in college for a couple years, am much more confident, and have matured a lot. I'd feel perfectly comfortable having sex now, but everyone assumes I already have. How do I approach this topic with a girl? When the last girl I dated found out I was a virgin, she dumped me because she said she didn't want to be the one to de-virginize me.

Sincerely,
an annoyed college male

Dear an annoyed college male,

There is nothing wrong with being a virgin or not having had intercourse at all or yet. Everyone is different and has his/her own path. Having said that, you are also in good company. Both men and women in high school and even in college act "as if" they have had intercourse, when in fact they have not. Understandably, people want to save face. They foolishly believe that not having had intercourse means they are not popular enough, attractive enough, mature enough, or smart enough to get some. Clearly, you are still a man, even if you have not had intercourse.

You feel burned by the last woman you dated. You trusted her, and she dropped you. It's not clear what she thought was the matter with "being the one to de-virginize [you]." Some women would consider it an honor to be chosen.

So for some reason this woman didn't want to continue dating you. You signed your letter as being "annoyed." What is annoying you? That you were dumped when this woman found out that you were a virgin? That she didn't want the "responsibility" to be with the virgin you? What if you tried on another word? How about "hurt"? Your feelings were probably hurt, but the other side of hurt is usually anger, and it's important to deal with your hurt and angry feelings before you venture out and about again in the social/dating world.

Whenever you reveal something about your personal or sexual life, it's a risk. As a result, it's important to be judicious about when and how you disclose, and to whom, as well as to identify your expectation(s) as a result. All that aside, sometimes you are just going to be hurt. You'll hurt for a while and then you won't.

Quoting flirting coach, Fran Greene, "When someone rejects you, or chooses not to see you again, s/he is giving you a gift — the gift of time. You don't have to waste one more minute of your precious time on this particular person who, for whatever reason, doesn't want to be with you." You are free to move on, if you see it that way, to get closer to the person who you want to be with, and who wants to be with you, regardless of your sexual experience or inexperience.

So the best thing to do, and the only thing you can do, is to be yourself. If you are, you can be certain that whomever you eventually have sex with will want to be with the real you, and not with the someone you are pretending to be. And that is the part that's emotionally fulfilling.

In fact, your sexual experiences or the lack of them are part of who you are, yet they are only one part of who you are. People are virgins at college for a number of reasons, and the reasons really don't matter.

Remember, the more you get to know and trust a person, or a potential sexual partner, someone with whom you can talk openly about yourself and your sexuality, about sex and all the feelings that accompany it — what you are afraid of, embarrassed about, curious or excited about — the more vulnerable the two of you can be with each other, and the more satisfying and pleasurable the sex will be.

Alice!
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