Accidental Abstinence

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Something I’m yet to do has consumed the last few years of my life, surrounding me like a bad stench I just can’t seem to shake.

One wretched little word. The negative connotation far worse than the definition.

Virgin.

Most people don’t believe me, assuming I’ve done the deed. It almost feels like I’m letting them down when they realise I’m not who they thought I was. To make the curious individual less uncomfortable with my own choices, I ramble on about some excuse or reason for my abstinence.

As if I have to justify my decision not to participate in society’s construct of what it means to be a woman, a millennial, a human. Excuses include but are not limited to: I grew up in a religious environment, I’m insecure about my vulva, I’m never horny when someone wants to stick their tongue down my throat.

I could blame a few things too: being on the pill from a young age can decrease libido, my dad never loved me, bad timing.

It’s not something I try to hide: my lack of sexual experience or daddy issues. Sometimes it can be easier not to say anything at all than to try and explain my decision. The vast majority of reactions usually involve a look of pity or surprise. The worst reaction is when a potential lover makes me feel like a child for my non-existent experience – that’s always fun.

Despite not having sex, it seemed to be a topic that followed me wherever I ventured. God forbid a person over the age of 16 hadn’t been fucked by a pimple-faced bogan, or some stranger they’d met at the popular girl’s 19th birthday party.

A friend recently suggested I just get married, as if that would solve my problem.

It’s not all bad. Aside from constantly getting asked by every friend and family member if I’m finally seeing someone. And the recommended Bumble ads reminding me that my life doesn’t have a purpose until I find the one. Why is that important? Am I not allowed to be happy without a poor soul to drag along to Christmas lunch? Can it simply be because I’m not interested in relationships at this point in my life?

I shouldn’t have to apologise for my life being fulfilled in ways other than sex.

Like everyone else, I know what you’re thinking – “Maybe you’re just not ready.” The thing is, I think about sex a lot. Always have. But I suppressed my natural instincts so much that the shame I felt as a young teenager has stayed with me well into my young adult years. My prime time to get down and dirty.

Sure, I used to wonder whether I was missing out. Maybe something was wrong with me. Because when it seems as if everyone is telling you that you should be doing something, it’s hard not to question yourself for your lack of participation. However, I’ve slowly come to the realisation that I’m not alone, there are others yet to have their sexual debut. Turns out it’s pretty normal not to be having sex.

In the last six months, my view of intimacy has changed drastically. I admit that growing up, I was afraid to be vulnerable in more ways than one. As I’ve grown into an adult, the experiences I’ve had have made me realise that our connections to one another are far more intimate than any penetration. I’ve felt closer to people I’ve known for merely a few days than to guys I’ve kissed in nightclubs. Having a deep conversation with a stranger or dancing in the moonlight with friends is the intimacy I crave, and always knew I wanted. That’s enough for me.

For now.

Cover by Viktor Talashuk

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