Losing Your Virginity: Gateway to Adulthood?

Does losing virginity make you a grown-up? Does it make you feel grown-up? What about being in an ongoing sexual relationship?

There’s so much emphasis on virginity—and on losing it—that obviously it is universally treated as a rite of passage, from childhood to adulthood. But while society may treat it this way, is this what people feel about themselves when they begin having sexual relationships? Do they even go so far as to lose their virginity so they’ll be more grown-up or mature?

In my case the answer is definitely mixed.

First, though, consider the paradox of, say a 15-year old losing his virginity to prove his maturity to his friends. Most people would probably say that that’s too young, and that having sex at that age shows a lack of maturity—a lack of judgment and self-control. That’s ironic given that this kid was trying to prove himself a grown-up. In some cases, at least, waiting, rather than having sex, is the better mark of maturity.

But in that case when, if ever, does sex transform you into a mature adult? Does it happen overnight, or does it take time, during the course of a relationship, or maybe multiple relationships?

I was 17 when I lost my virginity, and I can’t even tell you what I was feeling when I agreed. I do know that my partner, who was 18 and in no way mature, pressured me into it, and that I knew I wasn’t ready and didn’t want it. But wile there was pressure—unfair and I think immoral pressure—I honestly can’t call it rape. I agreed. I think it was a combination of wanting to please him and wanting to prove to myself that I could handle it. But it was all wrong, a mistake. Afterwards I didn’t feel like a grown woman—I felt really slutty. Every time we had sex (which was mercifully few, since he dumped me a couple of months later) I felt like a bigger and bigger slut, ashamed of myself for giving in to him.Losing Your Virginity: Gateway to Adulthood?

Over the next couple of years I had two more partners, both of them steady. The first of these didn’t get all the way to intercourse, though we did other things. This was the first sexual relationship in which I felt confident, or at least somewhat so. It made me realize that sex didn’t have to make me feel all dirty and guilty. It was a good relationship that ended when the guy changed schools.

The second did include intercourse. It was the confidence that I got from the previous relationship that really prepared me for this one, which lasted about eight months. It was this relationship in which sex made me feel responsible and mature. Unlike my first relationship, in this one I was having frequent intercourse, maybe on average once a week for six months. I had to take the birth control issue very seriously—as seriously as I had ever taken anything in my life—and I had to deal with people knowing (or at least suspecting) that I was in a sexual relationship, which for someone like me, shy and lacking in self-confidence, was a big deal. And it was in this relationship that I really started learning how to make love—to please him as well as myself (among other things, it was in this relationship in which I began having orgasms during actual intercourse for the first time.) So it wasn’t until my third partner, or at least my second and a half partner, that sex began to make me feel, well, womanly.

This relationship, to ended—not without regret—when he moved to a different school. I will always fondly remember him, but about a year later I met my current partner and the love of my life.

If I had thought I felt womanly before, this relationship has taken it to a whole new level. My current boyfriend is even shyer than I am, which helps to explain why he was still a virgin. I was, frankly, really hot for him—he had all the qualities that I had been looking for and I really wanted to bed him—but since I myself had been pressured into sex the first tie around, I wanted to avoid doing that with him. My restraint, plus the fact that I was more experienced than he was, both gave me at least as strong a feeling of maturity as having sex had done in my previous relationship.

Finally—when he was fully, totally ready—the night came. Thereafter it actually took a few weeks for it to sink in with him. We’ve talked about it, and it really was an all-at-once coming of age thing for him in exactly the way it hadn’t been for me. But it also made me feel like a real grown up for the first time, like I had just been playing around before. Part of this was how often we had sex—much more often, because of our dorm and living arrangements, than had been the case in any of my previous relationships. Another part was our birth control arrangements—I was on the Pill and unlike my previous relationships we weren’t using condoms, which really concentrated our thoughts on the possibility of an oops pregnancy, given the invisible nature of the birth control. Every time he ejaculated in me was a reminder that we were playing with live ammo. (I’m still on the Pill and we have never had an oops, but the feeling’s still there.)

This month we moved in together. Now I’m in his bed every night. We have much more privacy, we make love several times a week, and now when it’s over we can cuddle until we fall asleep and spend the whole night together. Now the sex is part of something bigger. It’s part of me making not only a home but a life with him. This is as grown-up as I’ve ever felt, and still I feel that thrill of being all grown-up when we’re having sex—a thrill that definitely wasn’t there in my first sexual relationship, a feeling that I only gradually grew into. And I wonder if the feeling will persist, or maybe even grow stronger, once we’re (someday) married.

So for me it wasn’t a magic moment but something I grew into. Yet still society treats loss of virginity as THE moment. But maybe society is wrong. It certainly was in my case. What about yours?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I partially disagree with most people here. I speak as someone who lost my virginity at the age of 27 years old. Most people her probably lost their in their teens or early 20s.

    Having sex does not make you an adult. But it can help to mature you. I would say that even though I was 27 years old, I felt ashamed and immature for not having lost my virginity. Looking back, I feel rather nostalgic about sex. I deeply regret not being an asshole and being more forceful in flirting and pursuing women in my teens. I really wish I would have lost my virginity as a teenager. I was a shy kid though.

    With that said, even though I by accident had not lost my virginity, I feel that waiting until I was older made me better in the bedroom. For 20 years I was thinking about sex, reading about sex, educating myself on pleasure centers of the body and technique. I feel because I was more emotionally mature while waiting, I was not lacking in skill. I have never failed at giving a woman an orgasm. On rare occassions I haven't had one, but I had also been able to give a woman an orgasm and sometimes even seen some squirt a lot.

    The point is. Waiting to have sex hinders some aspects of your development. A part of you just isn't whole until you have experienced the joy of sex. At the same time, sex gets better when you are older because you are better able to emotionally and psychologically deal with the consequences compared to when you are younger. You will find that the best sexual partners are middle aged women (or cougars). They are confident, they know what they are doing, they can communicate clearly what they like and dont like. Before you graduate college everything is a blurr of confusion and self discovery.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • Society doesn't treat your first time having sex as THE moment. Religion does.

    Religion is what caused virginity (or female 'purity') to be as big of a deal as it still is in some cultures. Mostly cultures/countries that haven't yet come to realize that women hold more value in society than simply having the ability to bear children/cook and clean.

    My first time wasn't spectacular or particularly memorable, either. I've learned far more about life/myself, and matured significantly more from simply being in my first serious relationship. Having sex for the first time did absolutely zero for me, other than shedding me of the title of a 'virgin'.

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Join the discussion

What Guys Said 39

  • Perhaps it does not represent the bridge to adulthood. In fact, I believe the bridge to adulthood is segmented rather than simple.

    There are many factors which decide whether or not you have become an adult. A stable job, a good education, general responsibility and willingness to take consequences for one's actions. Those are but some of many different mature traits.

    How important of a role does virginity play? I don't know. I haven't lost it. It'll probably take ages before I do, knowing my luck. Might never happen at all, actually.

    As an individual who has extreme trouble losing this unfortunate trait, I can say that it can be quite disheartening. It can definitely make you feel far less mature than your peers. It has tormented me and continues to torment me. I hope only that it gets better once I'm done with my education.

    So in closing, I think it's definitely an important step in growing up. Of course, some of us will never get to experience this step, but this can be compensated for.

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  • HOLY SHIT NO. In my opinion, Adulthood has nothing to do with whether or not you've stuck your dick in someone or you've had a dick stuck in you. Adulthood is a mental journey that even people well into "adulthood" haven't grasped completely. It can't defined by a broken hymen or crap like that.

    It seems like you already know that losing virginity ≠ adulthood. Your experience is a textbook explanation. No matter how many times you've rubbed your body against someone else's, you'll be an "adult" until your heart and mind says you are.

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  • Sex is for adults, the misconception is that it will make you into an adult when you have to be and adult to have it in the first place. An adult is meant to have it, however if you look at our society kids and teens are having it at will. It is quite shocking to think that once upon a time there were only adults who had sex. Unfortunately it is no longer that way any more and teen pregnancies, single motherhood, and abortions are rap ante. Being an adult, and in a adult relationship is where you are both mature and responsible enough to handle a real relationship. Being honest and genuine with each other, not living life as if it was a Lifetime network movie.

    When you are an adult, you have sex, not sex is what makes you an adult.

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  • Lol, no.
    If you don't have to rely on someone else to provide you shelter, food and clothing. You're an adult. There are kids who have sex by twelve, thirteen. And then there are people who still don't in their thirties or so. Kids these days, can't earn a cent but will act like they know it all when they get into someone's pants. Be independent, know the value of your freedom. A person who remotely understands that much is an adult.

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  • An adult, is not necessarily an adult far less someone that has their so called, "virginity" taken. Being an adult is more about knowing who you are, what you're about, and what it takes to get through life without fucking up along the way and learning from your mistakes. It has little to do with sex to be honest.

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  • Take it from someone who started young... it's not. It has nothing to do with adulthood. If anything, since your confidence levels skyrocket after - it ends up making you more immature.

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  • I felt it did...
    And many do feel they have entered a new chapter in their lives once you have passed a very significant millstone...

    --> don't get confused though, it's as if losing it will immediately give you adult tools without experience... it just people get gratification from moving forward and passing milestones in their lives...
    --> but obviously if you have a sensation starting from the age of 12 or something and you never explore that... yea you'll feel a part of you is still a kid... defiantly

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  • @Ozanne just did a Take called Not Losing Your Virginity Isn't Worth Losing Your Mind Over, which has a lot of interesting ideas on this.

    For guys, especially teenage boys, scoring with a girl is kind of a 'dare' thing to prove you're a 'man', and if you aren't, some guys will assume that the guy in question is either a pussy or gay. After a few years, most guys outgrow this kind of attitude.

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    • Thanks for the mention, and in my case it was the same sort of peer pressure. In my case I hung out with the partying/heavy metal crowd in the late 80s/early 90s. My female friends were already having sex, and it was clear that the guys looking for it were already selecting *those* girls because it was pretty much common knowledge they were giving it away. So for me, between the ages of 14-16 (yes, my friends were starting to lose their virginity at 13 and 14 to highschool boys), I was the last of the bunch, and called names like prudish and frigid. Getting teased by highschool girls is the worst thing in the world. In my crowd, if you were a girl-virgin at 16, you were a freak of nature as far as they were concerned. It was just a bullying tactic to try and bring me down since their own experience were less than stellar with our 15-16 year old guy-friends, and I hadn't had one to compare yet. :)

    • @Ozanne - I dealt with some of that, too. I'm not sure if it worked, but I gave you an invite to Virgin Shaming - My Story. If the invite didn't work, you can do a search on it.

  • Whelp, i mean i don't think so, but we have a societal stereotype as we progress further and further into becoming sexual. It's almost as though you don't accept yourself as a man. On top of that, as a man, you are expected to be consistently alpha. Whether we like it or not stereotypes of males play a massive role in why most guy's can go a very long time without losing their virginity.

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  • It's all part of growing up isn't it?
    Too many start too young and they're not ready. Just. Like. You.

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  • I knew that I was an adult when I realized that adults don't know what the hell is going on either.

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  • Losing your virginity doesn't make you more of an adult, it's just an act. Getting a job and working at the age of 16 makes you grow up more than what losing your virginity does.
    Many people say they want to lose it because they think that will magically make them more of a grown up. That's utter stupidity, and shows the lack of intelligence in that individual. Like I said, they'd get better results getting a job, than having sex... but society promotes sex more than it does working hard, that's why so many teens do nothing but drugs and watch TV all day, they don't study or work, they just want to get laid and have fun, which just shows how little maturity they have

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  • lol not it makes you not a grown up at all. i mean some 13 year olds have sex xD they´re not adult in any way.

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  • Virginity is just the name for the phase of life between mid adolescence and an adult relationship.
    It's overvalued

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  • Does society treat it as THE moment tho?
    For men, yes. "Becoming a man" is often used as a synonym for using your V-Card.
    But for girls?

    It's stupid to equate those things anyway, but I mostly heard to related to the first period. First period = woman now.
    And while I find that very off-putting, as I woman is somebody I would potentially wanna have sex with, a 12yo girl is not. But: That's how I've heard it used.

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  • The thing is, most girls say they think virgin guys are weird, so more guys, being a virgin would hinder them in finding a partner the longer they don't have sex.

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  • It's sometimes seen as a gateway for boys/men, since it usually takes them quite a lot more effort and social skills than girls/women, and they're on average, then girls/women too. But of course it's not really a gateway to adulthood.

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  • Of course not. There are so many non-virgins who behave like children that it's not even a plausible idea...

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  • I don't think having sex makes you a grown up.

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  • The gateway to adulthood was filing my taxes for the first time.

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What Girls Said 18

  • Nope! I lost it in my early twenties all that changed was that I was now having sex. Going aways to school, moving out on my own, making my own doctor's appointments etc those were steps to adulthood sex not so much. There are people who choose to go their entire lives abstaining from sex it doesn't make them any less an adult, and I have yet to have met a person who actually matured when they started having sex unless a baby was produced and they had no choice. As for virginity it is a social construct you don't lose anything. It exists purely because men wanted to ensure they weren't raising someone else's kids.

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  • I don't want any man who doesn't take sex and virginity seriously. That's my stance. People should wait and marry early if they so desire sex. But if people won't listen, then more shall suffer. Society, in general, has always been screwed up.

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  • The story of when I lost my virginity was pretty similar to yours, I didn't really feel different or changed after, all it made me realize is what a shitty insensitive guy my boyfriend was. It's being able to support and care for yourself, and even another person that makes someone an adult.

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  • honestly in my opinion i dont think your virginity matters to anyone except yourself. when i lost my virginity i didn't feel like an adult mostly because the boy i lost it to and i only did it for the heck of it. we where friends with benefits for a while. although i grew up in the church i didn't regret losing my virginity to him instead of my husband. i dont feel like it turned me into a women or anything like that. so i guess its just different for everyone

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  • I don't have anything to add, I just wanted to say that this was a really beautiful story.

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  • i don't think anything can make me an adult

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  • Being as young as I was at the time (14), I definitely don't think its the 'gateway to adulthood', because I was still considered a child

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  • I'd hope sex doesn't make you a grown up since I don't plan on it until marriage and I'd rather be considered an adult before I'm married.

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  • I d agree

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  • no. i talked like a wise 60 year old man sicne i were 10.

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  • Not really..

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  • In all honesty religion has totally fucked up my future sex life so i no longer really practice it.

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  • This was beautifully written and it is nice to hear someone talk about what it's genuinely like for them instead of what people want to hear or think you should say after or before you've had sex.

    It's sad though that so many people emphasize sex as being some true marker of you being an adult. No one knows anyone has had sex unless they have some biological children running around. Even if someone tells you they had sex, there is no real proof because people lie about it all the time because they feel the pressure to say they have so they won't be seen as immature or inadequate.

    Sex is such a personal thing but people treat it like it's on an open public forum for all to know what it is you do or don't do in the bedroom, and they judge you for it no matter what's happening. So many of my friends have said they regretted jumping into bed with their first partner because they weren't ready or were too young and I think it's about time, we make people feel more okay with waiting and saying no, rather than just wanting to get it over with so they can convince themselves, well I must be an adult now because I've had sex.

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  • First I want to tell you that the way you told your story was beautiful. I could almost feel the progression as you described it. I'm happy for you and your current partner. Sounds like you have a really beautiful relationship.

    For me, I wouldn't say that the moment I lost it made me feel any more grown up. In fact, it hardly made me feel any different at all. This was surprising because I had wanted to wait until marriage because I thought that would feel more special but it turned out wonderfully anyway. It happened two months ago and I'm 21 so I waited a little longer than seems to be usual these days, but I had been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a year and a half when it happened and we had already decided we will get married in the near-ish future so I knew I was getting what I truly wanted which was the right guy. I felt very comfortable with him, more comfortable than I've ever felt with anyone and I may have felt some surprise at the fact that it happened, but overall I felt so happy like I had connected with my soulmate and I never would've believed this before, but I have no regrets. So I guess I'd say that it didn't make me feel adult, it made me feel complete.

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  • Losing your virginity is a personal thing and should only happen when that person is comfortable

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  • Having sex isn't the rite of passage into adulthood. There's plenty of irresponsible non virgins out and about

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  • Interestin

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  • I think it depends on the person

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