Virginity Lost, Experience Gained
Your expectations may determine how losing your virginity will affect you down the line.
The 'Gifters' Seek Romance
The people Carpenter calls 'gifters' anticipate virginity loss in romantic
terms with a significant partner. Their virginity is a gift to be given only to
someone special. Often they've been reared with strong religious convictions
and believe it's a sin to have sex before marriage.
Gifters typically want the experience to be perfect. How satisfying it is
depends on reciprocity from their partner and a sense that the relationship has
been strengthened. If the experience doesn't meet their expectations, they can
be disappointed or even devastated. Some seek to become "born-again
"A lot of people want it to be special, and I respect that," says
Carpenter, who is assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University in
Nashville, Tenn. "But you can get past the idea that because something went
wrong you're doomed forever."
She advises thinking of the experience as a chapter in your sexual
education. Consider what you can do differently the next time with the same
partner or with a different partner or what can make this better for you.
"People who can think about it in those terms ended up being a lot
The 'Stigmatized' See Virginity as a Burden
The stereotype portrayed in the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin is
often true. By a certain age it may be embarrassing to be a virgin, especially
if you're a male. Carpenter says the 'stigmatized' care little about romance
and relationships. They want to shed the burden of virginity, and they engage
in sex for physical pleasure.
Most of the stigmatized people Carpenter interviewed had positive
experiences of virginity loss. But because they were trying to hide their
inexperience and because they were with a casual partner, the stigmatized were
the least likely of those she interviewed to have protected sex. Most of them
altered their view about virginity loss later on and adopted the view of
The 'Processors' Are Most Satisfied
About one-third of the people Carpenter interviewed considered virginity
loss a rite of passage or a step in the process of growing up. Processors are
likely to plan their virginity loss and to use birth control or condoms.
They're also better equipped to take a bad first experience in stride and move