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Last week, I wrote about how I was turning 25 in a matter of days, making me a 25-year-old virgin. Most of the response was full of birthday wishes and personal anecdotes about post-college years virginity, which I love. But I also received a sprinkling of responses that were subtly or blatantly congratulatory that I was still a virgin.

I know it’s all well meaning, but please, don’t congratulate me on my virginity status.

Why? Because this column started out with a clear declaration that I’m a virgin by circumstance, not by choice. This isn’t about me taking some sort of strong stand; it’s about normalizing a lack of sexual experience of women in their twenties and beyond. Too many virginity narratives about women are shrouded in a piousness that feel foreign to me. I’m not waiting until God has given me the okay to experience the sensation of a penis sliding in and out of my fucking vagina. At a time when grown ass women are still providing their fathers with virginity certificates on their wedding day, I think it’s important that I make that clear. Finding my one true love before getting it in wasn’t part of the plan either; my only prerequisite was that I did it with somebody I knew and liked enough.

People ask me how or why I ended up being a virgin at 25, and my response of, “Oh, it just sort of happened” isn’t exactly the loaded answer they expect. I think they’re a little disappointed, honestly. Whether we’re talking about women who don’t have sex or women who have a lot of it, it’s as if we can’t separate a woman’s sexual journey from some kind of agenda, attaching meaning to every single morsel of agency one exhibits. Maybe someone doesn’t have penetrative sex just because, maybe someone gets all the dick ever just because, period.

(Related: Accidental Virgin: WTF Is Virginity Anyway?)

Thanks to being a late bloomer in the romance department, I never even looked at relationships, sex, or even making out at a gross dive bar as things that could actually happen to me until last year. But now that I’ve made out in a gross dive bar, successfully entered a relationship, and have engaged in sexual intimacy–chronicling it all for the Internet to consume–I’m really invested in making it clear that all this shit happens at a different pace for everyone. So it feels like a massive derail to twist this into a story of maintaining purity or not succumbing to urges or pressure. That’s, like, not what this is about.

Aside from attributing meaning to my virginity for me, congratulating me on not having sex almost feels like pouring salt on an open wound. I’ve tried to have penetrative sex and, unfortunately, I physically cannot. This is something I hope to overcome, so I hope this isn’t the case forever, but patting me on the back for a psychological and physical hang up doesn’t feel all that great. I’m certainly not proud that I can’t engage in a pretty common act of intimacy without feeling like my vagina has been set on fire.

On a more petty level, it just comes across as a little strange.

So, in conclusion, if you’re going to congratulate me on anything with my sex life, congratulate me when I finally get that D. And make sure to laugh heartily at all of the relatable dick jokes that will follow.


Read more Accidental Virgin here.