Doing the popular dance with no pants for the first time is a huge issue for many people. There are increasing societal pressures to lose one’s virginity sooner rather than later and thus, doing what is best for you tends to get overlooked.
Knowing whether or not you are ready to have sex is important to determine. For some, this sense of readiness comes quicker than others, but for others, there are different factors at play. “Society’s views on virginity have a big influence, especially on men,” said sex therapist Bernard Ouellet. “Even as young teens, many go around telling their friends about how much sexual experience they have, when really, they have none at all. They get it in their heads that being a virgin is a bad thing, when in reality everyone has to respect their own path.”
Some guys have a more judgemental look on 20-year-old virgins.
This is not the case for Jake Smith*, a Concordia student majoring in history who is also a virgin. Since he is a Jehovah’s Witness, he cannot have sex before marriage.
“I have religious reasons, but also I haven’t found the right girl. My beliefs do not allow me to have sex, but obviously I do want to do it, it’s not like I am wearing a chastity belt or anything. I have a Â level of self control due to my respect for my religion.”
As a therapist, Dr. Ouellet works largely with teens and young adults. He stresses to his patients the importance of making the right personal decision, advice others have taken to heart. External influences such as movies, television and peers are commonly cited as dominant factors for deciding when to first have sex.
Some official statistics do show that not all youth believe that it’s important to engage in sex at the first opportunity. A study in 2005 by Statistics Canada shows an increase in the number of young people trying to abstain from sex until they are ready.
Planned Parenthood Toronto found that between 2006 and 2007, five per cent of sexually active teens were 13 years old.
“I feel that in today’s overly sexual society, that young people who are in a relationship feel pressure to have sex earlier just because they think other people are,” said Kayla George*, a second-year history student at Bishop’s University. This eagerness to keep up with others can lead couples to have sex before their relationships are mature enough to handle it.
“It can cause a breakdown because those involved don’t have a strong enough foundation that encompasses communication and trust,” said George.
Abstaining from sex is a way to work towards creating the strong foundation that many couples strive for. Despite the difficulties that may arise throughout the effort, one Concordia student couldn’t be happier with the decision.“Not having sexual relations helped us to discern if we were really the right person for one another,” said Miriam Reis Jorge Bergo, a member of the Catholic Student Association. “Sometimes sex can mask many things because we get emotionally attached and cannot think straight,” she said.
She admitted that she has been saving herself for marriage, after contemplating when the best time would be to have her first experience with her boyfriend and what the idea of sex meant to her. “Not having sex allowed us to mature our relationship. We learned how to express our affections in different ways and we grew in friendship, complicity and intimacy,” she said. “Sex is not going to be the centre of our relationship, but a crown that celebrates everything else, and I am sure we will grow in love more and more, especially when we will be too old to have sex.”
Despite all the positives that come from waiting, Dr. Ouellet feels that the effects society has on those who are still virgins don’t go unnoticed. “I see patients all the time who feel frustrated because they are still virgins. I try to show them that it’s not something to be upset about because they have chosen to explore other areas in life and many have found success. When the time is right, it will happen for them. There’s no rush.”
* Names were changed due to the personal nature of the article and to respect confidentiality.