On this week's 'So You Think You're An Adult', one listener is not sure what to do - about his virginity....
The listener's problem
I'm gay and in my mid-20s. I enjoy my life, have great friends and family and all that but I have always been lacking in terms of romance, so much so that I am still a virgin.
I can't really explain how this has happened.
The last few years I just haven't seen it as a priority to meet people in that way but I'm at an age now where I'm starting to feel insecure about it.
The best comparison I can make is that it is like learning to drive when you're older.
I'm so much more aware of myself than I was a few years ago and the fact I haven't had sex yet just makes me feel more and more anxious.
COVID has put any possibility of an intimate relationship on hold for a while, but when things return to normality, I want to be able to feel more confident and enjoy an active sex life.
I would love your advice on this from listeners if they are in a similar situation.
Declan Buckley's advice
"I think the terminology that this guy's using is part of the problem that he's got. Banging on about virgins isn't putting him in the right headspace.
"The terminology is kind of being distorted to kind of shame and control people.
"The only people you hear talking about virgin's these days are the virgin's themselves or people in some kind of religious or violent context - I'm talking about terrorists talking about meeting 72 virgins... that kind of thing.
"Nobody really cares if you're a virgin when you're an adult - nobody can really tell if you're a virgin anyway.
"So by focusing on that whole point, this guy is creating an atmosphere of - I suppose - shame around the whole issue, and that's not obviously helpful.
"Maybe if he reframed the whole thing in his mind he might be a bit more relaxed about it.
"If he kind of acknowledges that he's an adult - and what we're talking about is his willingness, readiness and desire to participate in sexual relationships.
"In that context, he's a person who's entering into a scenario with other people.
"When you're talking about being a virgin, you kind of own that for yourself and it's all about you - but when you're talking about sexual experiences, you're talking about interacting with other people - and each of those sexual experiences is unique".
"Each of those experiences involves having a kind of an individual - I don't want to say 'negotiation' but I do kind of mean negotiation.
"You're talking about negotiating consent, about what's pleasurable, what's not, what's on, what's not - that's for him to decide with whoever he's dealing with.
"There is no Gay Central Command that issues gay licenses that's going to send him out an 'L' plate."
Referencing the Channel 4 programme 'It's a Sin', he said: "The point is that they're all different people, and there's no one way to live and to love.
"It's just to make sure that what you're doing, you're doing it safely - [that] you're safe and you're sure, I suppose".
Barbara Scully's advice
"The first thing I was going to say to him, going back to his comparison of loosing his virginity with learning how to drive a car is that fact that loosing your virginity is definitely way less stressful and less likely to kill you than learning to drive a car.
"So hopefully that'll cheer him up a little bit.
"This is something that's happening because we're all living these very restricted, very small lives at the moment.
"This has become this big thing in his head - he's thinking about it a whole lot.
"And I think, therefore, everything becomes a much bigger deal than it actually is.
"I think Declan's right: nobody really will care that much, he's not the only 20-something virgin I'm sure.
"And nobody's actually going to care that much at all.
"I think he just needs to know that he's not alone, and that nobody really cares and that it'll all be fine".
She added: "Anytime you embark on a sexual relationship with a new partner, there is a level of stress anyway.
"It's somebody new and there's all the things you used to do and will you do them again - getting to know somebody else's body and what somebody else likes, and all that kind of stuff.
"So the confidence he's talking about usually comes when you're a little bit into a relationship and you've got to that stage with somebody.
"So it's not about whether you've ever done it before or not ever done it before".
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