Being a virgin does not mean that you can not be intimate — with yourself

By Avery Timmons, Copy Editor

Lucas Martinez


In college, being a virgin can feel lonely, as if you are the only one around who has not had sex. With hookup culture being so common, and especially when everyone around you seems to assume that you have had sex because of your age, it can almost feel embarrassing that you have not.

When you are not a virgin by conscious choice or if the opportunity to have sex has not presented itself, searching for a relationship or a partner that you trust to have your first time with can feel impossible.

But this does not mean that you cannot explore intimacy, even if that means taking the time to be intimate with yourself before finding the right partner.

I was a late bloomer to a lot of firsts compared to most of my friends. At a certain point, I just started looking for someone – anyone, really – who would fulfill those experiences for me, like they were nothing more than bucket list items to be checked off.

Self-intimacy, growing closer and more familiar with yourself, provided what I needed. It can be a mental, emotional or sexual process.

Masturbation is likely the most obvious form of self-intimacy, and not only is it beneficial — it is fun, too. It lets you get familiar with your body in a sexual manner; you learn what you like and what turns you on, and eventually you can communicate that to your partner to make the experience of being with another person for the first time all the better.

You can also be intimate by doing things to get comfortable with your body in a more general sense. The Center for Relationship and Intimacy WellBeing recommends spending time naked, wearing clothing that makes you feel confident, taking the time to look at your body in a mirror or even taking sensual photos of yourself.

In reality, virginity may not be that big of a deal, but it can be easy to overthink it and have anxiety about having sex for the first time, especially the older you get. So, anything you can do to build your confidence will benefit you in the long run, whether you have a partner or not.

When you do not have that connection with yourself, it is almost natural to search for validation from a partner that can tell you the things that you do not see in yourself.

Speaking from experience, this can lead to some less-than-ideal situations — especially when you are rushing things with someone simply because you feel like you are missing out on something that everyone else has experienced.

That is another reason why it is important to build confidence and grow comfortable in your own skin first by practicing self-intimacy – which does not even have to be a physical process. It can be as simple as being kinder to yourself or journaling to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings.

Self-intimacy is an important stepping stone – and a fun one, too – on the way to being intimate with another person for the first time. But it is not “one size fits all.” What makes someone else feel good about themselves may not make you feel the same way, and it is more than okay to take time to figure out what works for you.

It is not linear, either. Even though I am much more comfortable and connected with myself than I was years ago, I still have days where I find myself criticizing my body or comparing myself to others. That is okay, too, because I have gotten to the point where I know what self-intimacy processes work for me and what to do to make myself feel better.

Whatever paths you may choose, do not be frustrated when it does not happen overnight. Just like with other relationships, connecting and growing comfortable with yourself is a long, but worthwhile, process.

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of the Chronicle’s annual Sex Issue which will be published mid-February.