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To disclose or not to disclose?

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FEBRUARY 20, 2018

I sat in front of him, shirtless, trying to figure out how much farther we’d go before I’d feel like I had to tell him. Then the thought crossed my mind: Did I have to tell him at all?

The question pretty much always comes up whenever I have a new sexual partner or encounter — when do I tell them that I’m a virgin?

Once, a partner was poised above me — literally about to stick it in — when I realized I had to announce that I’d actually never done that before and maybe we shouldn’t right now. And that situation sucked harder than I do. So I can confirm that there’s no such thing as a “good time” to tell a partner that you’re still a virgin.

My worst experiences with trying to reveal that I’m a virgin always involve online dating. On dating apps, there’s not really a good way to say “virgin who knows her sex shit.” If telling someone who’s in front of you is hard, imagine putting it in an online profile that will enable people you’ll never meet to make judgments and assumptions about you.

Virginity status is just one of many topics that are generally considered important to discuss prior to any sexual encounter. In my ideal sex-geek world, everyone would be turned on by positive consent and honest disclosure of various sexual statuses.

Sadly, life isn’t this simple, and neither is sex. And to be honest, it’s not just stigma that can be a concern — in bringing up these topics, it’s hard not to worry about ruining the mood, especially since this has happened to me before.

Because of my age, most people don’t think to ask whether I’m a virgin. In an attempt to avoid deep, personal discussions when I’m trying to get off, I get ahead of myself and announce my virginity to potential partners long before we make it to the bedroom — which can be downright awkward at best.

Beyond my virginity, now I have to wonder how partners will react to my vaginismus. I’m terrified that people will view me as “damaged goods,” and I’m not sure how to make them think differently.

Like many people, when I use a dating app, I’m mainly looking for a hookup. I worry that if I label myself as a virgin who literally can’t have sex that no one will be interested in me. And so more often than not, I just never meet up with anyone online.

I’ve had a lot of folks assume that my virginity is a result of my religion. Others figure that it’s because I’m an engineer and have simply lacked the opportunity. It has probably never crossed their minds that I actually have a medical condition that impacts my sex life. The fact is, I’m not a virgin for any one specific reason. All of these facets of my life have contributed at various times to my status as a virgin now.

Although I might be able to hide my virginity, I know going forward that I can’t hide my vaginismus. If I’m with a partner who wants to have sex, I’ll have no choice but to tell them that I can’t — not yet, anyway.

Vaginismus manifests itself by causing a contraction of muscles at the opening of the vagina, preventing anything from going into it. I have to undergo potentially lengthy treatment in order to have sex. I want to have sex right now, but I can’t.

A lot of folks surmise that because I can’t “do the deed,” I’m automatically inexperienced and would be awful at making them cum. Just like the catch-22 of needing to already have job experience in order to get a job, I’ve had partners decide that they actually don’t want to pursue anything with me after all. They thought it was too much effort to make me any good at the things they liked to do. They’d rather find someone “more experienced.”

Choosing to disclose virginity status is a very personal decision, and it frustrates me when people try to make it for me. As a virgin, it’s up to me to decide when, how and why I do or don’t want to disclose to a partner. It’s also my partner’s right to want to know these things from me, just like they would want to know anything else about my sexual status. For those of you who aren’t virgins, please just bear with me and be as gracious and understanding as possible.

On the bright side, if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll never have to have the awkward disclosure talk again — I’ll just drop my future partners a copy of this column instead.

Rebecca Martin writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @beccasexontues.

FEBRUARY 20, 2018