When most people think of virgins, their brains immediately go to images of young women in their teens and early 20s, not men over the age of 22. In this week’s Sex Talk Realness, Cosmopolitan.com spoke with three men who have remained virgins for a variety of reasons to find out what it’s really like to be an adult male virgin in a world that equates sleeping with a lot of women with masculinity.
How old are you?
Man A: 28.
Man B: 33.
Man C: 27.
What is your current relationship status?
Man A: Single.
Man B: Single.
Man C: Single.
Have you made a decision to remain a virgin until marriage?
Man A: I have. I grew up in the church and joined a Christian fraternity in college, so I’ve had that accountability from others throughout most of the formative years of my life. I’ve been single for a while also, mostly because of work, but I’ve always been conscious of remaining a virgin based on the teachings of the church. My fraternity brothers and their wives who kept their virginity until they were married have all told me it’s worth it, so that encouragement has been helpful.
Man B: No. In southeast Asian culture people are expected to be virgins until their wedding night, but a lot of people still have sex before then.
Man C: No.
If not, was maintaining your virginity a conscious choice or did it just happen that way?
Man B: It just happened that way. I’ve definitely been eager to lose my virginity since college but I haven’t had a relationship that’s been serious enough to reach the sexual stage.
Man C: I didn’t set out to be a 27-year-old virgin, but it just kind of happened. I’ve always been fairly shy when it comes to approaching women and I tend to be very suspicious if someone expresses romantic interest in me. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop or something to come up. My dad walked out on my mom when I was 7 and I’ve hardly seen him since and I think that’s probably been a factor in some of my romantic difficulties, since I don’t think I want to open myself up to that kind of hurt again.
How often do you watch porn? Masturbate?
Man A: I don’t watch any porn. Not much of a desire to watch it, either. I looked at pornographic pictures when I was 12 and got caught and never really had an urge to go back to it. Masturbation is probably 3-4 times a week.
Man B: I don’t watch porn anymore since I feel uneasy with the reality of porn industry. Now I masturbate about one or twice a week, to the images of a celebrity or a friend.
Man C: My habits ebb and flow. Sometimes my sex drive is higher than at other times. Typically a few times a week, often every other day. Other times I can go a week or so without doing it. I actually didn’t masturbate until I was 18. I guess I figured doing it would just make me feel worse about not having a girlfriend. Nowadays, it’s an outlet for sexual frustration.
Have you dated people?
Man A: I have. I would say I’ve dated five girls and three of them turned into serious girlfriends and relationships. I’ve always been picky, probably to a fault, but when I was younger I really liked dating girls who were virgins as well. I’ve stopped looking for that as I’ve gotten older though because I know it’s not realistic.
Man B: I’ve gone on lunch or dinner dates, but it never got to the point where we were holding hands or kissing or changing Facebook statuses. I usually don’t get a second date, so I guess I’m not someone people want to keep dating and I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m just really awkward during my dates. Most of the time we stay friends, but they end up dating someone else.
Man C: I have. I didn’t go on my first date until my freshman year of college. I took her to a concert and she called it a date but then near the end she asked if I was gay. Suffice to say there wasn’t a second date. I went back to my dorm and felt really bummed out.
What was your longest relationship and how did your virginity affect it, if at all?
Man A: My longest relationship was 2.5 years. She was also a virgin, so we were able to hold each other accountable and it was one of the things that I respected most about her. We would be naked together and go down on each other, but it never crossed over into sex. We both stopped each other at times during the relationship because we were coming too close to having actual sex.
Man B: N/A
Man C: My longest one lasted four months. I asked why she was breaking up with me and my lack of experience sexually was one of them. I felt that was unfair because we hardly saw each other and she didn’t make an effort to visit me, I always traveled to her city. She was also pretty incredulous about me being a virgin. I tried to explain that having sex just to have sex wasn’t a high priority for me and that I also had issues with my weight, but she didn’t understand.
Do you view oral sex/hand jobs/genital contact as being different than penetrative sex in terms of whether or not it "counts"?
Man A: I would say I draw the line at hand jobs for what think is appropriate for me. I’ve never had genital to genital contact with a woman. I’ve never stuck my tongue in a vagina, but I have licked around the lips and things like that and the same goes for any girl who has gone down on me (I’ve never had my penis in a girl’s mouth, but had them lick my penis and balls).
Man B: I don’t think any of that stuff counts because it’s not penetration. I see other sex acts kind of as appetizers, while penetrative sex is the main course.
Man C: I think that sex acts outside of penetration make you a virgin with an asterisk, which is what I am.
Do your friends know that you’re a virgin? How did they react when you told them?
Man A: Maybe two or three of them know. One, who’s a female, gives me crap about it every now and then, but usually it’s just friendly teasing. She doesn’t understand my decision, but I think she respects it. There may be a few people that suspect I’m a virgin, but I’ve never been outright asked by any of them if I am still a virgin. Usually when people talk about sex, I sit back and listen and laugh along with everyone else.
Man B: Yes, either because they know I have never had a steady relationship, or because, as fellow Indonesians, they would assume I’m a virgin since I’m not married.
Man C: Most of them know and none of my really close friends were surprised. We all kind of ran in a socially awkward and nerdy circle in high school. There were some people who were surprised that I’d never had a girlfriend though.
Are you friends with any other adult virgins?
Man A: Maybe one. He’s a roommate I had for two years after college and was one of my fraternity brothers. We would have conversations about our other friends having sex and how they had made decisions to stop having sex, but kept doing it anyway. He moved to NYC about a year ago and has had some success on Tinder and Bumble, so I don’t know if he still is or not.
Man B: Perhaps, but not because I looked for them. I think we might just happen to be fellow Indonesians who follow the norm.
Man C: I’m sure I am. I don’t tend to ask them though because it might be a sore point for them.
Do you tell people you date that you’re a virgin? How do they react?
Man A: I don’t feel like it’s something I need to lead with or tell people from the get-go, but I know it will come up eventually and will probably surprise the girl because she’s not expecting it.
The friend who teases me about it now was actually my girlfriend throughout high school and my first three semesters of college. One time we were making out and she started to try and take off my pants, but I stopped her. She let it go at first, but then she tried again and I stopped her again. We stopped making out at that point and she was obviously frustrated. We sat there in silence for about ten minutes and then she said, "I don’t think I’m the girl for you." I still had pretty intense feelings for her at the time, so I didn’t take it well. I walked out of the room and went for a drive for about an hour and a half. I’ve had other girls who were more accepting and understanding of it and we found ways around it. We’d usually do things like hand jobs or the girl I had my longest relationship with would keep her panties on and I would stick my penis between her legs and we would dry hump. Sometimes we would also put a sock on my penis when I would get close to finishing to try and avoid any accidents. I’ve had other girls just let me finish on their stomachs or in their mouth.
Man B: I never say it on a first date because I think saying "I’m virgin" on first date will make my date think I want the night to end with sex. Fortunately, it never really comes up, maybe because other Indonesians want to keep the virginity myth, and Westerners assume by default that Asian guys are sexless.
Man C: Most people didn’t really seem to mind except for the last person I dated who had issues with it. I get that it might be annoying to teach someone the basics of all that, but I’m a quick learner and it’s not like I haven’t read things about the topic. Putting it in practice might be tricky, but I figure the right person will think I’m worth that.
Do you feel like your virginity makes dating difficult?
Man A: I feel like I make it difficult for myself. I’ll tell myself things like, "She wouldn’t want to date a virgin" or "Things couldn’t work with her." It keeps me from approaching women in bars or at events that I think are attractive, which just ends up hurting my chances more than anything. Religiously, I’m not ashamed of it, but socially and culturally, I know that I’m "old fashioned" or "behind the times."
Man B: The hardest part for me is that I don’t know how to keep the date interested or how to make the date end with a kiss. I don’t know how to move beyond the second date.
Man C: Absolutely. Part of a dude’s value is related to how well he does with women. If he doesn’t have those types of skills he’s viewed as weird and sad. The older I get, the worse it seems. Like, "This guy is nearly 30, there must be something wrong with him if he hasn’t had a girlfriend or had sex by this point."
Do you feel a pressure to lose your virginity at a certain time?
Man A: I’ve felt that pressure a little bit, but not too much. I know that it’s a decision that I’ve made personally and I stand by it.
Man B: Yes. My western friends in high school and college talked about having sex like it was going to movie, so being a virgin after 25 seems to be ridiculous in the west and in developed Asian countries. Still, I am my worst critic. I never tell anyone that I have never been in a relationship or kissed anyone. Even my friends here have been kissed and been in a relationship.
Man C: Yeah, but I’m pretty much to the point where I feel like if it hasn’t happened by now, it’s probably not in the cards for me. Before, every time I hit it off with someone and they appeared to like me, I would think, "This is it, it’s finally going to happen! I’m going to have sex!" but now I know that sex isn’t the be all end all in my life. Emotional intimacy has a much higher value for me and I’m not lacking in people who love me.
Have you ever come close to having sex, but you didn’t?
Man A: The closest I ever came was last summer in Canada. I had a waitress at one of the cafes leave me her number at breakfast, so I texted her later in the day. We met up at a music festival and then later we started making out and went back to her place. It was the first time I had ever gone home with someone because of what the implications are when you head home with someone. We picked up where we left off and eventually moved to her bed. She climbed on top of me and started to reach for my penis, but I stopped her and told her I was a virgin. She seemed understanding because she’d grown up in the church too, but she was disappointed.
Man B: One time after a party an older Japanese woman brought me to a bar, but after she left the bar, she just ended up getting a cab home. I still think that I blew my first chance of having a one night stand, but I don’t know why. I think maybe she was tired or just lost interest in me.
Man C: The closest was when I fooled around with this gal I met on OKCupid during senior year of college. We rounded a few of the bases, but never slid into home. I ended up breaking things off with her because it was a purely physical relationship and I felt like I was using her and I wanted an emotional as well as physical relationship.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about adult male virgins?
Man A: I think when most people think of male virgins in their late twenties they think of a guy living in his mom’s basement playing video games and searching message boards all day. They also think that male virgins haven’t ever dated anyone or are totally inexperienced. I own my own place, I working on my career, go out when my time allows, and participate in a lot of social groups. Remaining a virgin until marriage a choice that I’ve made that’s as simple as Coke vs. Pepsi, but because I’m in the minority, people think it’s dumb.
Man B: I think male virgins are seen as total losers, which is weird because I can’t see how guys who have a lot of sex with people they’re not in a solid relationship with are better than guys who haven’t.
Man C: That we’re losers. I mean, I’m kind of a loser in other ways, but not because I haven’t slept with anybody. I’ve done a lot of cool stuff and I have a lot of good qualities and I think I’d make a great partner, but finding one has been really hard.
What advice would you give to other male virgins out there?
Man A: I would say just be true to yourself and be at peace with the decision you’ve made, if it is a decision. If you feel like it’s holding you back or that you’re "missing out," then go ahead and have sex. I don’t have any of those feelings to the point where it would change the decision I’ve made, and there’s not anything that could happen that would change my mind. It’s part of who I am and it’s shaped who I’ve become, and I kind of use it as a test for the women I approach and/or date. If they don’t respect my decision, then I know that it’s not going to work out, and that’s OK.
Man B: Lose your virginity to someone you love, who you’re in a relationship with, and consents to sex with you. Stop feeling sorry for yourself about being in the friend-zone or not having lost your virginity yet even though you think you’re a good guy. Remember that there are adult virgin women who also want the same thing you do.
Man C: Stay true to yourself and your beliefs. And find ways to enjoy your life that aren’t centered on whether you have sex or not.