Tracey Cox reveals why men are losing their virginity much later than ever beforejuillet 1, 2020
‘Tell a woman you’re a virgin when you’re over 25 and expect to be mocked, ridiculed and shamed.’
That’s the view of most of the men I interviewed for this article.
It’s one stigma that’s held fast – yet it’s far more likely you will encounter a late life male virgin than ever before.
The 2018 Next Steps study (which charts 16,000 millennials) says one in eight British 26-year-olds are still virgins: some estimate it’s more likely to be one in six.
In previous generations, that figure was around one in 20.
Research done by The University of Chicago reported that the number of young men who report being virgins has tripled since 2008.
Why? A combination of factors have created a perfect storm.
Hook up apps and social media has made sex a little too available. This culture of hypersexuality makes young men feel intensely anxious about performance and online porn adds to the pressure.
Lots of young people think the world is bleak and the future uncertain. They have low self-esteem, high anxiety and depression.
None are great libido boosters or encourage us to seek intimacy.
In the past, meeting a guy aged 25 to 35 who turned out to be a virgin would ring alarm bells.
But if yesterday’s late life virgins were all loners or geeks (or thought of that way), today’s aren’t.
I spoke to four men who all lost their virginity later than the norm to find out their experiences.
Their stories might surprise you.
British sex expert Tracey Cox interviewed men who lost their virginity late in life. Stock image
I was traumatised by my mum’s affair
I was a virgin until my late 20s even though I’m very social, tall and not bad looking.
I live in a predominantly female household: there’s my mum, my two sisters and me. My mum had an affair which lasted a few years – I found out when I was 15.
The affair didn’t last but she left my dad eventually and I think that left me feeling insecure about women. She’s a nice person, my mum, but she still hurt my dad badly. If she did that to him, a woman could do this to me.
Her affair happened around the time everyone else was losing their virginity. Looking back, it’s obviously the reason why I didn’t. At the time, I wasn’t aware this was the reason. I simply wasn’t interested in having sex at all.
As time went on and no girlfriend appeared, it was clear my mum thought I was gay. She instigated some clumsy and obvious conversations about how it didn’t matter what sex I was attracted to, she would still love me. It was excruciating and made me feel like a freak.
It’s not that I didn’t have any sexual encounters. I had a girlfriend when I was 14 and touched her breasts and did all the adolescent fumbling. But the sex didn’t end with intercourse and after Mum’s affair, I withdrew and didn’t even masturbate for years.
To be honest, I didn’t think about it that much. I didn’t feel great about being a virgin but it didn’t define me. I had faith that, once I met the right person, it would all sort itself out.
MYTHS ABOUT LATE LIFE MALE VIRGINS
Does it mean there’s something wrong with him?
No. It’s easier for a man to end up a virgin than you think. Sometimes it’s deliberate: for religious or moral reasons. Other times it’s that they didn’t have a first sex encounter when everyone else did and it’s made them nervous about doing it since.
Does it mean he won’t be any good in bed?
No. Some women claim being the first to introduce a man to the pleasures of sex is the ultimate in sexual head-games, unlike anything else they’ve experienced.
There are a lot of guys out there who think they’re great lovers – but they’re not. Tell them they’re doing something wrong and they get offended.
With a virgin, it’s usually different. They pay attention and listen. They look to their partner to teach them and with time and patience, could mould into your idea of the perfect lover.
Is he a bad risk because he’ll want to go off and do it with other people?
It depends on the person. It isn’t uncommon for male virgins to move on quickly once they have done the deed but not necessarily because they want to make up for lost time.
‘I associate my first time with embarrassment, feeling inadequate. I’d rather forget the person who witnessed that,’ one man who lost his virginity at 27, told me.
Am I morally obliged to stay with him for a while, after we have sex?
If he’s chosen you specifically to lose his virginity with and/or made it clear it’s a big deal for him and he wants a serious relationship, then yes, I do think it’s the ‘right thing’ to not go there unless you intend sticking around. Other guys will be more than happy for you to exit left having done the deed (see above).
As always, it’s entirely individual. Trust your instincts but do remember that he is likely to be sensitive about it and anything you do afterwards, will have tremendous significance. Be kind.
And it did.
I started working for a marketing company and I fell for a co-worker. I was 27, she was 23. After we’d been seeing each other for a few weeks and played around a bit, I felt safe enough to tell her I was a virgin.
She looked pretty surprised, but didn’t make me feel bad.
The first time was predictably quick: over and done with within seconds. But we kissed and laughed and that was a few years ago.
I still battle with trust but losing my virginity late in life hasn’t had a drastic effect on my sex life now. It’s pretty good!
I’m a virgin for religious reasons
I’m 34 and Muslim. Sex is not discussed in my family. If it is, it’s something to be ashamed of and hidden.
I am religious. Not as devout as my parents, but sex is a big deal for me.
Most of the kids at our school lost their virginity drunk at a party. I probably could have gone down that path but I didn’t want to do that. I also wouldn’t want to have sex with the type of person who will swipe right and do it with a stranger.
I am like most of my British friends, who haven’t grown up with religious parents, in all ways except for this. And drinking.
I think this has a lot to do with me being a virgin. Because I don’t drink, women feel self-conscious drinking around me and, from what I can tell, it’s when people get drunk that sex happens.
None of my friends know I haven’t had sex (they think I don’t broadcast my relationships because my parents might get upset if she’s not Muslim), so they talk to me about sex assuming I’ve had experience.
I am jealous of the experiences they’re having. I want to know what oral sex feels like, what it feels like to be inside someone. What it feels like to sleep naked with someone.
I am open to having a relationship and sex with a woman who isn’t Muslim. But I will probably end up losing my virginity to a Muslim woman because she is the only one who will understand why I am still a virgin at 34.
This upsets me. I want to have a healthy, explorative sex life, like my non-religious friends have. I worry that if I do end up with a deeply religious partner, she won’t be open to doing the things I would like to try. I don’t want to have the soulless, joyless experience of sex that my parents have.
I was an accidental virgin
The stereotype of a male virgin is someone who is desperate and ugly. That’s simply not true.
I was 32 when I lost my virginity (I’m now 35) and while I’m not the life of the party, I’m certainly not shy. I have a wide social circle and lots of friends – both male and female – and I’m certainly average looking, if not better than that.
I really don’t know why or how it happened that I was a late life virgin. Maybe I didn’t get the girlfriend who put out. Maybe I didn’t push hard enough for sex. Maybe I’m too nice or maybe my libido isn’t as high as other men’s, so I didn’t have the same incentive.
Tracey (pictured) also dispelled myths about late life male virgins and offered advice for their partners
Whatever happened, when my other friends starting sleeping with girls in their early to late teens, I missed the boat.
Then suddenly I was over 20, had never had sex, and felt highly embarrassed about it all.
The longer a guy stays a virgin, the more difficult it becomes to lose it. You have no confidence at all with women. I was fine being friends but once a woman let me know she’d be up for more than just friendship, I’d retreat.
I was terrified I’d do something that would expose my hideous secret.
I’m not stupid. I’ve watched enough movies and porn to know what I was supposed to do. I had lots of couple friends, so I know how to behave in a relationship. I just had no personal experience of it.
It’s very, very easy to be a virgin today. If you find dating and sex stressful, there’s porn. Men no longer need to go out and pursue women to satisfy themselves sexually. They can stay at home and explore all their sexual fantasies online with no risk of rejection or ridicule.
When you celebrate your 30th birthday as a virgin, you pretty much give up hope.
I certainly had.
I was even starting to question my sexuality: more than a few people asked if I was gay, because I never had a girlfriend. Maybe I was.
Then I met my now girlfriend. I’m not sure why she succeeded in reaching me when others had tried and failed, but one reason is she’s just so obviously kind. I think I was so attracted to her both physically and emotionally that it gave me the push I needed.
I asked her out and after a few weeks, we had sex.
She instigated it and I followed her lead. I was incredibly nervous and wanted to wait longer but I knew if I did, she might have twigged it was my first time.
I told her six months later that I’d been a virgin and she smiled at me and said, ‘I thought so.’ She asked why and we chatted about it, but it wasn’t a big deal to her at all.
If I could say one thing to other guys out there who are terrified to go there because they’re a late life virgin, it would be this.
If you find the right person, it really doesn’t matter. Take the risk.’
One man was traumatised by previous affair, while another abstained for religious reasons. Stock image
People tell me I’m an oddball
All of my life, I’ve been told I’m an oddball. Maybe I am. I had two opportunities to lose my virginity when I was 16, both with the same girlfriend.
She drank alcohol, I didn’t, and she asked me to do things to her on several occasions. I refused because she was drunk. I didn’t want her to wake up sober and regret what she’d done. I also didn’t like that she seemed to have to get drunk to want to do it in the first place.
She broke up with me and told all her friends there was something wrong with me because she’d ‘handed it on a platter’ and I’d knocked her back. But I still think I did the right thing, even though my friends have accused me of having the moral compass of someone born in Victorian times.
I’ve been set up on dates by friends, but it’s so obvious that the woman knows my entire history and it’s a pity date. Or maybe curiosity is what makes them want to go out with me. It never lasts more than one or two dates and they’re always pretty awful and awkward.
I wrote to a sex advice columnist and she suggested I pay someone to have sex with me. I can see her logic – you won’t be judged, you’ll have less performance anxiety if you’ve done it before – but it’s humiliating and it’s not what I want.
I want someone to want me, for me. I want her to know me really well before sex happens so I know she is there for the right reasons, because she wants to be with me. Not doing it to get some perverse kick. Or doing it as a dare.
If that sounds paranoid or immature to you, maybe I am both those things.
I don’t know why I don’t think about sex the same as everyone else seems to. but I just don’t. Until I meet someone who thinks the same as me, who thinks it’s special, I’ll remain a virgin.
Tracey’s new book, Great Sex Starts at 50, is out now. You’ll find more info on sex at traceycox.com and her product range at lovehoney.