If we were to believe everything we saw in movies, we would think that virginity was worse than the bubonic plague. Thanks to sex-centered teen flicks like Mean Girls, American Pie, The To Do List and more, many of us collegiettes have grown up thinking of virginity as some backwards, juvenile label we need to shed before moving on to the mature world that is the college campus (to which we have to say: there’s so much wrong with that sentence). We find some cute guy or girl at a party, we lose our virginity and voilà! We become women. Problem solved, right?
The reality? Tons of collegiettes, not just freshmen, are still carrying their V-cards—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Still, some collegiettes can’t help but worry about the way it’ll affect their love lives (and what guys think of girls who are still virgins). In truth, many of them do struggle in the hypersexual college hook-up scene (as if we really need to tack that onto our list of freshman-year worries about roommates, picking classes and if our mini fridges will really keep our Ben & Jerry’s pints icy fresh). We asked collegiettes to share their real-life experiences as virgins so we could get the scoop on the good and the bad of waiting to have sex (and losing it when you’re ready).
How Many V-Card Carriers Are There on College Campuses, and What Do Others Think of Them?
While it may seem like everyone around you is DTF on any given Friday night, the truth is that virginity is way more common than collegiettes think. According to Her Campus’s Ultimate College Girl Survey 2012, which surveyed over 2,500 college women across the country, 43 percent of girls were still virgins at the time that they responded to the survey. Twenty-two percent lost their virginities between the ages of 18 and 19 and 4.5 percent did between ages 21 and 23, which means that more than half of all the girls were likely virgins for at least part of their freshman year, if not longer.
These stats may seem wild when you consider the hot-and-heavy hook-up scene at your own college, but it turns out experts have come across similar findings. Kathleen Bogle, Ph.D., author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus, says, “What [college students] do not realize is that approximately 25 percent of college students in the United States are virgins. And, even for those who have had sex, the most common number of sexual partners to have had in the past year is one.”
So though there are plenty of ladies who do sleep with different people on the reg, they actually aren’t in the majority. With these facts in mind, we can’t help but feel a little frustrated with Hollywood for leading us so astray in our understanding of virginity.
Since it seems like so many collegiettes are holding onto their V-cards for their first forays onto campus freshman year—or longer—we had to ask: exactly what do guys think of virginity? We asked real college guys to share their opinions:
“I can respect the fact that they’ve waited so long because I’m sure they’ve been tempted. I don’t know if I’ve ever hooked up with a virgin, but I don’t think it’d be a complete game changer. I’d rather someone to be a little experienced, but I wouldn’t mind showing them the ropes. I would much rather her tell me beforehand than to go into it and find out that she was a virgin. It wouldn’t be a make-or-break [thing]. If you’re a virgin, don’t be too scared to put yourself out there or think that you have to have sex.” – Nolan*, a sophomore at Skidmore College
“There’s no problem with being a virgin, it’s just that there’s something sexy about a girl who knows what she’s doing, I guess. But obviously you don’t want a girl who knows too much what she’s doing... she’s been around the block a few times, and that’s just dirty.” – Silas*, a junior at Middlebury College
“If a girl wants to hold onto something important to her, I’m going to respect that. I would definitely date a girl who was a virgin, but I’m not sure if I’d hook up with her randomly. That’s a lot of pressure, to take her virginity.” – Gabe*, a senior at Reed College
“I wouldn’t want to sleep with a virgin because their lack of experience could be a major turnoff at some points. Having to explain to them what to do wouldn’t be something that would get me aroused. It could get messy. Normally they can cling because after the first time they might get an emotional attachment, and that wouldn’t be wanted.” – Stephen*, a senior at Boston University
While it’s great to get guys’ opinions on hook-ups and sexual experience, it doesn’t mean we have to take their preferences on the matter into account when making those decisions for ourselves. What we do with our bodies should depend entirely on what makes us feel comfortable, not on social pressures! Still, it doesn’t hurt to hear what people on the opposite side of the hook-up scene are thinking. With the facts and guys’ opinions in mind, we figured it was time to hear from the silent majority: the virgins themselves. Check out their testimonials below for the truth about virginity in college!
Hear Their Stories: V-Card Carriers Share Their Experiences
Why They’re Virgins
While some girls show up to freshman year with their V-cards in hand because they simply haven’t found the right opportunity to have sex, others have made a conscious decision to abstain from sex until something special comes along—be it a consistent hook-up, love or marriage. Our five collegiettes share their reasons:
“I didn't leave high school with some grand plan of waiting until marriage or remaining a virgin forever. It just happened that the people I was meeting out at parties or even going on dates with weren't the people that I wanted to wake up next to in the long run.” – Rachel*, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“I didn't realize I was choosing to be abstinent until I was in a situation where I had to choose whether to go further or stay put with a guy [mid-hook-up freshman year]. He actually asked me when I told him that I didn't want to go any further, ‘So, why don't you want to do anything else?’ That was a question I had never encountered before. In that moment I realized that hooking up actually meant something to me, even if it didn't mean anything to the guy I was hooking up with. And until it meant as much to him as it did to me, I wasn't going to go any further than making out.” – Sasha*, a sophomore at the University of Missouri – Columbia.
“I was a virgin because I'd never had the opportunity to have sex before. I was embarrassed about that, but it happens to a LOT of people.” – Caroline*, a sophomore at Northwestern University.
“I think because I had an older brother in a frat and heard about his experiences, the whole casual sex thing didn’t sound super appealing to me. I really didn’t have the opportunity in high school, and I didn’t have any serious relationships prior to college. I think I maybe looked forward to coming to college to hopefully have something serious for the first time, but nothing happened. I wasn’t like, ‘Yes, I’m going to be a virgin the whole time.’ Ideally, I was waiting for someone I was in love with.” – Layla*, a senior at a liberal arts school in the Northeast.
How They Feel About Their Virginity
So, since these collegiettes have found themselves surrounded by the hook-up scene, has it changed the way they see their sexual experience? Most say it’s a bit of a struggle, but that it doesn’t define them.
“I lost my virginity at the end of my sophomore year, so I was a virgin for a good two years of college! I definitely was self-conscious about it because my two best friends were both having sex on a pretty regular basis. But then I had sex, and those two years spent as a virgin didn't seem like a big deal anymore.” – Caroline
“I've met a lot of people who see being a virgin as a bad thing, as something to get rid of so they can be like ‘everybody else’ and enjoy casually hooking up. But I've never been ashamed of being a virgin. In some situations, I'm hesitant to admit this because I feel like some people will see me as a prude or overly innocent because of it. But I'm not. I just don't want to waste something that I see as special on some random guy who may not even remember my name the next morning.” – Sasha
“It feels like a burden sometimes, or like something I need to get rid of before it hinders me more. You don't want to have to explain how you're 40 and it's your first time (unless you're Steve Carrell and can pull it off). On bad days, I feel like the longer I cling to my virginity, the harder it will be to get rid of it. But overall, it's really not like that. It's not an identifier. I'm not ‘the virgin’ in my friend group; I have other things that make me who I am.” – Rachel
“I valued [my virginity]. I didn’t want to dumb down the experience [of sex] at all. I was fine if it wasn’t going to be the guy I was going to marry, but ideally [I] wanted to be in a relationship or have a connection where strong feelings were involved. It’s been a struggle, I’m not going to lie.” – Layla
How Others React to Their Virginity
As awesome as it is for a collegiette to feel comfortable in her skin and with her own decisions, the sad fact is that peer pressure can really affect the way you see your sexuality and experience. Since Hollywood makes it seem like virginity is such a social no-no, we asked these real-life ladies to share how others—love interests and friends—react to their V-card-carrying status. We already know that guys have differing opinions about your un-popped cherry, so do those reactions make collegiettes question their virginity? Luckily, it turns out that social pressure isn’t strong enough to shake their confidence! Hear what the ladies have to say:
“Most of the guys I've been with have been surprised for whatever reason to find out that I'm a virgin. It's like they've found some sort of rare flower or something. And that's usually the way my friends in college have reacted to my V-status. I went to an all-girl, private, Catholic high school where 80 percent of the girls in my class were virgins. So it wasn't a weird thing to me to come into college without any ‘experience’ under my belt. It wasn't until I came to college–a large, public university–that I was seen as some sort of entertaining anomaly.” – Sasha
“Sometimes it weirds guys out, but overall, it's not something I flaunt or feel the need to discuss with people; I'd rather talk about my latest Netflix addiction. If we have to have ‘the talk,’ I mention that I want to feel comfortable and respected, and that ultimately it's my decision.” – Rachel
“I'm a sophomore and I'm still a virgin. When I graduated high school, I was one of the only virgins among a lot of my close friends. But once I got to college, I was actually surprised at how many other people I met who were also still virgins and even said they were waiting until marriage. It hasn't really been difficult for me as far as dealing with guys; my friends usually have more to say about it than guys do.” – Jamie*, a sophomore at the University of Georgia
“The problem I’ve had is guys I’ve hooked up with really want to do it so they almost want to set a deadline and wait for it to happen; there’s a pressure there. I feel like guys build it up, like they have to do so much more work [to earn you] than what really needs to be done, [so they walk away]. We just need a little bit of emotional satisfaction and we’re on our way, but they don’t even want to give that. Then why should we give? I feel like I haven’t gotten a guy willing to put enough of the work in.” – Layla
What it Was Like to Lose it (if They Did)
While three of the five collegiettes we interviewed haven’t had sex at all, two others were virgins when they arrived at college but lost their virginities later. Both of them say they’re happy about their decisions to go all the way. Since there are so many myths floating around about what it’s like to lose your virginity, we wanted to share their real experiences. Check out what they have to say:
“When I did have sex (with a guy who was also a virgin), it was great. We went for it two weeks into our relationship, right before I went abroad for six months. I trusted him and wanted to do it. While I would say that wanting to ‘get it over with’ played a small part in my decision, I also really liked this guy, was extremely physically attracted to him and felt safe with him. Some of my friends weren't happy with my decision, but I wanted to do it and [I] didn't regret it (which is the only thing that matters!).” – Caroline
“Deep down, I know that the feelings were there, and that’s all that matters to me. I wouldn’t take that back. There was time involved; there were mutual feelings involved. I wasn’t just a one-night stand. I’m so happy I waited [as long as I did]. For the next time I have sex, I want to be in a relationship for sure.” – Layla
Advice They Have for Fellow Virgins
If after reading all this you’re still worried about having your V-card, these collegiettes say to let your anxieties go and enjoy it!
“I would tell girls who are still virgins to remember that it will happen. You're not the only one, it doesn't make you weird and you should decide when to have sex on your own terms. Don’t worry about it! Sex is a very personal thing, so make the decisions that feel right for you – and that might mean deciding not to have sex, even if you have the chance.” – Caroline
“Don't sweat it. It's seriously not as big of a deal as you may think. A good partner will respect your choices and whatever reasons you have for making those choices. Just because you're a virgin doesn't mean you'll end up as a spinster in a bonnet.” – Sasha
“There’s absolutely no need to rush. Honestly, I don’t think I sold myself short, but I think I would wait until you’re dating someone or in some sort of long-term thing. Something where you know that the feelings are mutual, ideally. Guys will get the picture. You have to make it known because guys automatically infer [that you’re willing to have sex] if you go home with them, which isn’t always the case, and I’ve definitely learned the hard way.” – Layla
“If you're worried about remaining a virgin, seriously—it’s not a big deal. It's not something that comes up in everyday conversation, and if it's a huge, insurmountable turnoff for someone, they're probably not the people that you want to have your first time with anyway.” – Rachel
How you feel about your own sexual experience depends on so many factors: your morals, your beliefs, your past experiences, the people you surround yourself with and your feelings about sex in general. Still, it’s nice to know that whatever you decide to do—and whatever your level of experience—you’re far from alone!
*Names have been changed.