Being an older virgin can be pretty stressful: It’s hard to deal with the judgment of a sex-obsessed society that assumes everyone who’s abstained is a freak, a failure, or just unbelievably unattractive. But shedding that virgin status and experiencing sex for the first time when you’re well into adulthood can be nerve-wracking, too. For some older virgins, there’s a fear of failing to satisfy a more experienced partner; for others, there’s anxiety about potential pain or embarrassment. And of course, there’s also the uncertainty that comes with launching into any new stage of life—particularly one that involves something as hyped-up as sex.
Inspired by this week’s episode of Sex.Right.Now., we chatted with a handful of ex-older virgins about their first times. Below, some of their best advice for exploring your sexuality when it feels like you’re the last person on earth to experience sex.
“I think it’s important to have realistic expectations of the first time. It may be you have difficulties with sex that may or may not be because of your age. For the women and men it applies to, I would have to advise to find a place of comfort with penetration. Whatever that means for an individual, it’s better to go in knowing your physical and emotional limits when it comes to sex and how to adjust those as desired.” – M, 35, from Texas. First had sex at 30.
“I was kind of embarrassed that I was still a virgin, so I didn’t mention it, and in hindsight I regret that. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You build it up in your head, but sex is fun and awkward and doesn’t have to be serious business. Waiting for that perfect person is great if that’s what you want, but if you’re just holding out because you’re worried about your attractiveness or awkwardness or social skills, don’t be intimidated. But do pee after sex. Trust me.” – M, 32, from Austin, TX. First had sex at 28.
“There is no huge before/after shift that occurs. It doesn’t fundamentally change you.” – G, 30, from London. First had sex at 28.
“Don’t take shit from anyone. It’s your body, your choice. I experienced ‘virgin shaming’ from one ex who basically mocked me for not being ready to sleep with her. I experienced the silent shaming from other men who saw an adult who hadn’t had sex as a societal loser; few knew I was an actual virgin, but still, the constant bombardment of the importance and primacy of fucking in our culture can get to you.” – M, 44, from Lehigh Valley, PA. First had sex at 38.
“I was glad we had built our relationship on a foundation of trust and communication. We used resources like Oh Joy Sex Toy and Sexplanations (on YouTube hosted by a sex therapist!), and then would talk about the articles and videos and how they applied to our relationship. We’re both research people, so it was awesome to have resources available, especially for a couple of complete noobs who had almost no sex-ed classes.” – L, 28, from Washington State. First had sex at 28.
“Every older virgin should know that the age you first have sex is irrelevant and is not an indicator of anything, not your level of attractiveness, not your worth. Shame over your lack of sexual experience is something I dealt with for a long time and regret the energy I spent on it for years. Love yourself, get to know your body, everything else will come when it comes.” – L, 28, from Toronto. First had sex at 27.
“Ask a lot of questions, understand your own desires as well as you can beforehand. Your informed consent is equally as important as that of your partner. Also there are various forms of sex besides PiV, so your ‘virginity’ is a construct subjected upon you by religion and society. It doesn’t actually exist.” – M, 41, from Arlington, VA. First had sex at 30.
“After the first time, do not worry if you want to be adventurous quickly. Shock your partner with all your perverted ideas. If you feel you want to quicken the pace in experimenting, do not be afraid to. And the same goes if you want to take it slowly. Do not let anyone tell you that you need to compensate for the ‘lost time.’ Do not let anyone pressure you. You rock.” – A, 36, from Spain. First had sex at 31.