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Is everyone having sex? Starting uni as a virgin

29th August 2013

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So, everyone in the entire world is having sex. Amazing, mind-blowing, knee-quivering, extremely erotic and highly charged sex. Celebrities on camera, scarily flawless teenagers on 90210, your friends, enemies, acquaintances, hell, even your dog is getting some and all he has to do is go for a walk in the park. Everyone is having sex 17 times a night, every night, with array of beautiful and impeccably toned members of the opposite sex, and then they’re ALL talking about it.

Except you. You’re not having sex. You’ve never had sex, and in the depths of your mind, where you try not to look too often, there is a lingering fear that you never will.

Stop this right now.

If you’re worrying about being the last virgin on campus you should stop seeing it as something ‘other’ – because it’s not. In fact, it’s entirely normal and healthy.

Let us throw a few stats your way in order to persuade you that this might, actually, be true.

Various sex surveys put the number of student virgins between 11% and 15% (we’d conjecture that this is a conservative estimate because, hey, people lie.)  So, if you break it down, that means that if you meet 10 friends in freshers’ week one or two of them are almost certainly virgins. Especially because 31% of students admit that they’re not actually having sex at all.

The most popular age for popping the proverbial cherry is 18, with 21% of students claiming that this is when they first had sex.  Maybe this coincides with the start of university, or maybe not. Maybe it’s your age; maybe it isn’t. 15% of students lost their virginities when they were older than 19. 39% have had one sexual partner whilst at university; 23% have only had one sexual partner ever.

So, we’ve established that it doesn’t make you different. But possibly you’re still worrying about when the time will come. This, too, is utterly normal.

Here are a few questions you might be asking yourself.

Should I lie about it? The first question asked by most virgins. When you make new friends, be prepared to talk about it. Not that you should uncomfortably blurt it out over a mid-morning cuppa, but you get the idea – the subject of sex will come up, and it probably won’t take long. Maybe the people you meet are in long term relationships, or into casual sex, or are virgins too – a university campus is a mixed bag. Ask questions, but keep them general and don’t ask intimate or personal things unless the other person brings it up first. Talking about it will open your eyes to new experiences, and if you’re unsure about how your virgin status makes you feel this is the best way to get some clarity.

How do I say no to sex? If you’re not sure whether you want to have sex, you probably don’t. It can be hard to vocalise the word no, but it’s absolutely the best way to end the questioning there and then. Whether you’re in a club or drunk with a friend or in a relationship but just aren’t ready, declining firmly should be the first step. In all cases, this should be enough. If it isn’t, walk away – whether it’s to the other side of the bar or out of their life completely. People might try to take advantage. Do not have sex if you don’t absolutely want to.

The expectation is that I’ve already had sex, right? Not necessarily. It’s true that there does come a time when even minor sexual experience becomes expected, but owing to the number of students who aren’t having sex we’d say this isn’t during your first year.

Is freshers’ week the perfect opportunity to get it over with? If you’re not enamoured by thoughts of waiting for ‘the one’, freshers’ week might seem like the perfect time to get it over with with minimal consequences. There is nothing wrong with wanting it out of the way, but consider whether freshers’ week, with its haze of alcohol, constant, vaguely sick feeling and relentless pressure to make a good impression, is really the best time. We’re not suggesting that rumours about you being the campus tramp are going to follow you all year (and who cares if they do?) but think about whether you’ll regret it a couple of weeks into term, when you’ve lost the uncertain-about-decisions glaze that freshers’ week brings. Chances are if you’re just looking for a body to offload the perceived stigma with it’s better to do it later, when there’s less pressure.  

When the hell is it going to happen?

Owing to the fact that there isn’t a pre-set date in one’s life when sex begins, we can’t answer this question. The only thing that we can say with utter certainty is that if you want it to happen, it will. It might be tomorrow (hey, these things are sometimes unexpected), or in a month, or in a year, or in five. Repeat this mantra: there is no rule. Television lies.

Once I’ve finally done it, should I try to make up for lost time?

If you like. There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of sex, but just make sure the fact YES IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING isn’t clouding your judgement when it comes to issues such as contraception or your other relationships. Use condoms, and don’t shag your new flatmate’s girlfriend/boyfriend just because you’ve been provided with the opportunity. This is how reputations get made, not by having the occasional/frequent shag that you genuinely wanted.

Do people really lie about their sex lives? Let’s cast our minds back, for the briefest of uncomfortable seconds, to Jay from the Inbetweeners. Whilst a sexless eighteen-year-old boy who brags about threesomes in Swanage caravans might be an ever so slight exaggeration, we can all learn something about society from Jay. Jay is not having sex. Jay wants everyone to think he is, so he outright lies. Spectacularly. He is a caricature of a person (male or female) who feels in adequate and thus labours the point. People do this every day, and whilst some might be having amazing sex, others will be having mediocre fumbles. And some (the majority) will be having no sex at all. So yes, in short: lies happen. Take all sex stories with a pinch of salt.

I’ve never done it, so how do I know what is acceptable?

If you don’t feel comfortable, it’s not acceptable.

Gayathri Kanagasundaram, a graduate who remained a virgin throughout her entire time at university, says: “Just remember, it’s your body and nobody can pressure you as to what you want with it. Most of all, you need to the confidence to say “I’m a virgin, deal with it” or “I think I am ready to lose my virginity now.” If you have these two things in mind, then you should be fine.”

Good advice, we think.

For more tips visit the Terrence Higgins Trust.

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