Miss Information

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Why do guys complain about my high libido?

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Dear Miss Information,

I'm twenty-one years old and I'll be graduating from college this May. As graduation approaches, I'm getting increasingly self-conscious about the fact that I'm a virgin. Last year was the first time I fell hard for a guy and got anywhere close to sex, but when I told him I'd never done it before, he backed off and said he didn't want to be my first because he knew "how much that means to girls." At the time, I thought he was being gentlemanly, but lately I'm not so sure.

Until recently, I was seeing a guy who was also a virgin, and we had both expressed desire to be each other's first, but after we gave it a try and things didn't quite work, he freaked out and ended it and we haven't spoken since. Ever since, my virgin anxiety (perhaps unsurprisingly) has gone into overdrive. Along with all the stupid, irrational thoughts about my only two serious romances ending as soon as sex entered the picture, I can't stop thinking about what that first guy said. I'm terrified that as I graduate and get older, the fact that I'm a virgin is going to be a bigger and bigger problem for men who will naturally assume that a twenty-something who isn't religious has already lost it.

How do I deal with this fact after I graduate and enter a wider and more experienced dating pool? When and how do I bring it up? And how can I keep these two unfortunately similar experiences with guys from making me even more nervous about sex than I already am?

— Losing It Over Losing It

Dear Losing It Over Losing It, 

Though I am now paid to think about strangers having sex, I was also a relatively old virgin. My virginity went from technical to nonexistent somewhere around twenty-three or twenty-four. I honestly don't remember how old I was, because it turns out the whole thing was kind of a non-issue. Virginity: what a hilarious con! 

My point is, Losing It, I get it. And from the other side of the fence, let me just tell you that the whole "virginity" thing is a wacky and unnecessarily terrifying farce. That old chestnut "sex is a big deal to girls" is a trope used by jerks to slip out of responsibility. It's not chivalrous; it's weak. Sleeping with someone won't turn you into a commitment-hungry firemonster, nor will it open the heavens and rain gold coins on you. Who you are on Saturday night is who you will be on Sunday morning. Sex is no big deal, as long as you take ownership of when and with whom you have it. That ownership is a real power: don't let your anxiety undermine your own confidence in yourself. The rest will sort itself out. 

There is also a widely-assumed misconception that sex involves a skill set that everyone must have by the time they graduate college, like a working knowledge about power tools or Foucault. Not so. Every person you sleep with will be a different dialect of the same language — one guy may love it when you bite, the next may recoil as if you just called him "Daddy." The only skill you need for good sex is listening. Listen to yourself (what feels good for you?) and listen to your partner (what feels good for them?) If you find yourself mentally reviewing Cosmo or Maxim, you're having bad sex. Stay present, and think about sex like a collaboration, because it is. If you've got trust and comfort, the rest should just flow.

Your virginity is not a liability, Losing It. In a backhanded way, it sounds like it actually benefited you. It weeded out two partners who, frankly, sound unstable and lame. So go forth confidently and date who you want to date. When it comes up, it will come up — but just remember that you have nothing to apologize for. Any guy worth his salt will be into you for you, and the issue of virginity will be exactly what it should be: a footnote in your personal history, rather than a neon sign on your forehead.

Dear Miss Information, 

I've had one long-term boyfriend and a few flings/long-term almost-boyfriends, and, with the exception of one, all of them have commented at some point in the relationship that I seem to be overly interested in sex. This started when I was nineteen with my first boyfriend, and the statement felt like an accusation and caused me a lot of anxiety. As we began to have a few problems, sex happened less and less often, and I felt less and less desirable. While trying to get over that relationship, I wrote it off and told myself that there was nothing wrong with me — I just needed a guy with a similar libido. But since then, I've had two or three men muse aloud on the same thing — or they've openly rejected me, or asked me if sex was the only reason I wanted to see them.

I'm not sure what I'm doing to send that message to men. I would say that I do have a high sex drive, but it's not as though I leave all the pressure on the man I'm seeing to initiate, or that I can't take no for an answer. I initiate at least fifty-percent of the time, and I consider myself a pretty open and "sex-positive" person. I've been told that I'm very caring, loyal, and considerate, and I love and participate in non-sexual affection as well.

Also, I only start getting these comments after the initial few months of an exclusive relationship. Am I just not sexually compatible with these particular men, or is something in my actions or language sending a message that sex is my only motivation for spending time with them? And even if I have a high sex drive, what's so wrong with that?

— Sexy Time All the Time

Dear Sexy Time All the Time, 

If you hear something over and over, it's hard not to assume responsibility. Are you habitually attracted to the wrong guys? Are you propositioning guys at the worst possible times? Or are you habitually attracted to people with zero brain-to-word filters? (If it's #3, let me know. Your club membership packet will be in the mail.) 

I'm most interested in your use of the phrase "long-term almost-boyfriends," who you then say you're in exclusive relationships with. So, which is it? What's standing in the way of these guys being boyfriends, if they are both long-term and exclusive? If there's a semantic difference here, there is probably also some emotional distance — i.e. you hold a non-boyfriend to a lower standard than a "real" one, both in terms of commitment and communication. Without commitment, someone might put less thought into what their idle musings do to you emotionally, given the casual nature of your relationship. 

I would wager that these past problems were just about compatibility, compounded by poor communication skills. It sounds like you and these guys haven't had much discussion around the issue. That might be the real problem. Did you ever ask them to elaborate on their statements? Bombshells shouldn't just be "mused aloud," especially if they leave you baffled.

If you find this happening again, turn it into a conversation: "I am so sorry you feel that way. What do you mean?" Focus on talking through the source of stress — odds are you and your libido are just a convenient scapegoat for something else entirely. I can speculate all I want, but only the guy himself can tell you what is really going on.

P.S.: Commenters, here's a game called "What's the most fucked-up thing a date/partner has ever mused aloud to you?" I wish I had a prize to give the winner.

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