Love, Lindsay

'How Can I Lose My Virginity Without Having A Girlfriend?'

All your relationship questions answered — right here, right now.

Hi Lindsay, 

I haven't had sex yet, and I'm nervous ... but I am 18 and would like to try. Do you know how I can lose my virginity without a girlfriend? 

- William

Dear William,

Losing your virginity is one of the most common human experiences, along with eating, drinking, and sleeping. Literally billions of people have been in your situation before, and even more will be in your situation in the future. So it's important to remember that even when it seems like everyone is having sex except for you, that's hardly the case.  

To put things into perspective, the average age Americans lose their virginity (defined as vaginal sexual intercourse) is 17.1 years old for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, there's not nearly as much comprehensive research on the LGBTQ community, but online health service DrEd.com did survey 1,000 gay people and found the average age was 17.9 years old. The CDC also reports that virgins make up 12.3 percent of females and 14.3 percent of males aged 20 to 24, and that percentage steadily decreases as people age to as low as 0.3 percent for virgins aged 40 to 44. 

But all those statistics mean … absolutely nothing. While many people do feel peer pressure to lose their virginity by a certain age, so long as you're over the legal age of consent (which is 16 in most U.S. states), whenever you feel ready to have sex for the first time is the right time. That's it. 

Once you know you're ready to do it, you need to find someone who wants to do it with you. Contrary to popular belief, this person doesn't have to be a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse. Despite the progress we've made in sex-positivity, losing your virginity is still often considered this special "gift" that can only be given to a special someone under special circumstances. But it certainly doesn't have to be. You can — and many people already have — lose your virginity outside of a committed relationship.

In fact, losing your virginity can be as simple as going out to a party or some other social event, meeting a random person, and having sex with them. You don't have to have some elaborate plan for losing your virginity, despite what you may have seen in every rom-com based around prom night. It can be a spur of the moment decision with someone you never see again, if that's what you want. 

If you want to have sex with someone who's less than a girlfriend but more than a one-night-stand, however, you can do that, too. That's where a dating app can come in handy. Make a profile, make some matches, and then make a date to meet IRL. While you don't need to broadcast that you're on the app just to have sex, you should be clear about the kind of romantic situation you're looking for if someone asks. You're really there to find someone you like and trust enough to be intimate with, whatever that means to you. 

Once you've found the person you want to have sex with and things start to get intimate (kissing, touching, etc.), the first thing you need to do before having sex is: ask for their consent. If they respond with an enthusiastic "yes," then, and only then, is it time for the sex itself. If your first time is with a non-virgin, allow them to take the lead if that will make you feel more comfortable. If you're both virgins, then cut yourself some slack. 

It's important to remember that even those who chose to share this new part of themselves with a long-term romantic partner, the act itself usually isn't "magical." But again, it doesn't need to be. After all, when was the last time you did something perfectly on your first try? Sex is just like any other life skill — it takes some practice to get better. So don't sweat the small stuff your first time because the more sex you have, the more you'll figure out what you're good at and what you like. 

Of course, the best sex is safe sex. So remember to wrap it up. That means condoms, birth control, the whole shebang you need to bang. 

So just to recap...

Losing your virginity can be a nerve-wracking experience, but just remember, it's your virginity. You decide when you lose it, how you lose it, and who you lose it to — that's it. While you should feel confident in that decision, it won't define your life. 

After all, it's just your first time. More likely than not, it won't be the last. 

Love, Lindsay 

Lindsay here, A Plus's resident relationship guru/columnist. While I may not know everything, I do know a lil something about love and our seemingly endless pursuit of it. Having written dozens of A Plus articles about dating, relationships, and sex, I'm ready and willing to investigate all of your romantically-inclined questions (submit here!) — because I've asked them myself. What I hope to bring to A Plus's readers is a sex-positive, body-positive, and most importantly, you-positive perspective on modern love. Consider Love, Lindsay your digital Cupid.

Cover image via  AimPix I Shutterstock

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