Everyone Is Judging Adult Virgins—Even Adult Virgins

Rachel Jacoby Zoldan
In today's hookup culture, there's some serious stigma towards people who are sexually inexperienced. What gives?
In today's hookup culture, there's some serious stigma towards people who are sexually inexperienced. What gives?

There are certain values which have stood the test of time: honor, trust and loyalty. But the idea of chastisty—or more specifically, virginity—as a virtue has shifted recently, especially in a culture where premarital sex is now the norm. Think about it: Are you married? Have you had sex? If you answered yes to both, which one came first? (One woman shares: "What I Learned From 10 Years of One-Night Stands.")

The reality is, more and more of us are swiping our v-cards before saying "I do"—so a group of researchers from Indiana University set out to see if there was a stigma to staying a virgin, particularly when it comes to establishing romantic relationships. What they found was that not only do virgins view themselves as stigmatized against, they are in fact discriminated against by those who've spent time in the sack.

To come to these results, which were recently published in The Journal of Sex Research Dr. Amanda Gesselman, Ph.D., and her fellow authors used self-reported questionnaires to complete three small studies—one to examine the expected age of sexual debut and perceptions of stigmatization, another to review whether that sexual inexperience limits dating opportunities and a third to further asses whether sexual experience affects one's attractiveness as a potential partner.

Their results showed that the average age at which adults in America lose their virginity is 17; 90 percent of people 22 to 24 have had sex. And that whole pre-martital thing? Seventy-five percent of 20-year-olds are having sex before tying the knot. (How Do Your Sex Numbers Compare?) The report went on to show that being a virgin, especially later in life, can potentially lower one's chances of becoming involved in a romantic relationship. Apparently, sexually inexperienced people were not highly desired as relationship partners. Even more, the study found, sexually inexperienced adults themselves did not find other inexperienced adults to be attractive relationship partners. These negative interpersonal consequences are in stark contrast to the physical benefits of being a virgin bestows, such as protection from all STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

Perhaps the best conclusion to take away from this all? Stop being so judgmental—there's more to someone than their v-card. (And make sure to read this woman's take on "Sex Advice I Wish I Knew In My 20s.")