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Please help me to sort out my ideas about relationships, sex and marriage

(32 Posts)
VacillatingViolet Mon 20-Jun-16 22:10:54

Disclaimer: I am not trolling. I know I'll sound very naive, but please do believe me! I have another name on the boards usually, but would prefer this not to be associated... This might be a bit of a ramble, but I just want to know where I fall in the realms of normal. I've only spoken to my best friend about it at university and she rolled her eyes and thought I was overthinking it, so I'd like a few more views.

Basically, I am 23 and have never had sex. I'm also still at university (straight from undergrad to postgrad at the same place).

I was always quite shy and going to an all girls school and having 'girly' hobbies, I never really met many boys. When I went to university I was really a bit shy around boys, but then I got the hang of talking to them quite quickly and now have quite a few male friends. I'm spectacularly bad at realising anybody is interested in going out with me then - a friend of mine laughed and said she'd never seen anybody so good at friend-zoning - but I wasn't doing it on purpose!

Before this year I had been out with one person for about a month - a family member had died, I was upset and he was very kind to me, but I realised that I wasn't going out with him because I actually wanted to go out with him, but because I didn't want to be on my own. I also had a few dates last summer with somebody who I get on very well with, but we realised after a 'proper' dinner date that we are actually just very good friends rather than wanting to go out. I kissed the first one a few times but not the second.

Then in October I met somebody, we saw a lot of each other, got on very well and started going out. I love his company, and I think it's going well, but I'm having a stumble now... We've slept together in as shared a bed (there was a family emergency at home, I was stuck miles away and couldn't get back that night and didn't want to be on my own, then after that it seemed silly to not let him stay again). We been staying with each other probably once a week since early December. There's been some enthusiastic kissing, and a bit of touching, but I know he'd like us to have sex and I just can't - it seems a very big step. I enjoy what we've been doing, and I do trust him, but it just gets to a point where I'm uncomfortable with going any further.

Then there's like this little nagging voice at the back of my head saying "He's only your first boyfriend, realistically are you going to marry him? Why force yourself to do it when it might not last?". There's the risks of pregnancy and stuff - I've never had sex so it's not like I know what I'm missing out on and I don't have to worry about contraception/STIs etc. Also, if I was 16 and had my first boyfriend, it wouldn't be that weird to not be having sex after going out for six months.

My flatmate's told me that sex is fun and a nice connection, and I know it is for most people, but I just seem to have a block. My parents also clearly have no idea that I've even thought about sex - I think they probably had sex before they were married but I don't know (and am not planning on asking!). They also didn't live together before they married, and met, got engaged and married in under a year, although they were quite a bit older than I am. I sort of feel that if I was going to end up with my boyfriend for the rest of my life I might know by now? But perhaps they're the unusual ones, not me...?

Writing this I realise I might be the odd one. Should I just have sex to get it out of the way? I trust my boyfriend and know he'd never force me or anything (he'll always stop immediately if I ask, or ask if I mind what he's doing), but I'm wondering if I should just force myself! He's being very patient with me (he's had girlfriends and sex before), but it can't be that much fun for him. It doesn't help that my flatmate started going out with somebody new a couple of months before I started going out with my boyfriend and they have been having sex regularly together since the beginning. She was very surprised when I said we hadn't had sex yet. And the boy I went on a few dates with is now living with his new girlfriend! I sort of wish I'd got this out of the way at 18 or 19...

VacillatingViolet Mon 20-Jun-16 22:14:01

Sorry, that was so long! flowers (and probably brew and biscuits) for making it through!

Oh and if you want to know what I'm doing on Mumsnet, I got dragged in through Telly Addicts and started reading some of the feminism threads and just sort of stayed...

KeepsAwayTheNargles Mon 20-Jun-16 22:21:30

Do you actually feel sexual attraction, or do you just enjoy spending time with people? Do you masturbate? I'm just wondering if you could be aromantic - i.e. you enjoy a romantic connection with someone but don't have an interest in sex?

Forgive me for the blunt question but the above doesn't seem out of the realms of possibility. Do you want to have sex for yourself or just because you feel you should?

thestamp Mon 20-Jun-16 22:21:52

What would be fun to do? Do what you're curious about and follow your nose in terms of that.

Then there's like this little nagging voice at the back of my head saying "He's only your first boyfriend, realistically are you going to marry him? Why force yourself to do it when it might not last?".

With respect -- you don't "force" yourself to have sex as some kind of price that you pay for the privilege of someone marrying out. That's not how it works. It sounds like you come from quite a religious family? Do you feel that sex is only for marriage? Please understand that it's a spectacularly bad idea to marry quickly and particularly without having had a "test drive", so to speak. I mean -- sometimes people are very lucky and it works out, but generally speaking, that's how you bugger up a marriage before it even begins.

Sex can be an enjoyable bonding activity. It can be purely recreational as well -- you can enjoy the fuzzy bonding hormones and lovey-dovey feelings without having to marry the person. Or indeed without even being their "girlfriend"!

You sound very unsure of yourself and confused about what sex can mean... which is why I encourage you to see it as a purely physical thing for now, including the fuzzy bonding hormones that may result... and just let your curiosity lead you. If you get to the point where you don't want to carry on with something, just say stop.

Have you ever masturbated? If so, think about how you could teach him to do what you do for yourself. If not, it would be a very good idea just to start there.

MummyTheTramEngine Mon 20-Jun-16 22:23:26

You really don't sound like you want to, so don't. Not everyone has to have sex.

If you do have sex, do it because you want to, not for any other reason.

Hockeydude Mon 20-Jun-16 22:24:12

Not very PC advice I suppose but I'd drink two or three shots and have sex with him.

It would at least rid you of all this worry as it would be done and probably fun as well. It doesn't matter whether you end up with him or not unless you have a religious issue with it.

GloriaGaynor Mon 20-Jun-16 22:24:34

You should never force yourself to have sex with anyone. But I don't see why the relationship has to 'last' or to end in marriage to have sex with him?

I don't think you should have sex to get it out of the way, but to see if you enjoy it and find out what it's all about. That is if you want to have sex with him?

Do you fancy him?

Flatbellyfella Mon 20-Jun-16 22:25:20

Go with your gut feelings on this, there in no right time to have sex for the first time, enjoy your little pleasures, but don't be pressured into the act.

GloriaGaynor Mon 20-Jun-16 22:26:08

A male friend of mine didn't have sex until he was 23, so it's not unusual. And my God he made for the late start.

OhTheRoses Mon 20-Jun-16 22:29:34

You ate having a Nic friendly relationship and aren't ready for sex. That's normal. I'm 56 and have only slept with three men. One for the last 27 years and it was love at first sight and I knew. My DH has only slept with one other. We were late 20s when we met.

Our beat friends met at the same time and were both virgins. Life isn't all w casual sex however much others might want you to believe that.

Good luck. Do what YOU feel is right.

annandale Mon 20-Jun-16 22:30:39

I'm not sure from your post if you actually feel aroused by your boyfriend. I ask because it took me a long time to know what that meant, and I had sex with a few people I wasn't that attracted to because I had no idea what a difference it made! If your physical experiences with your partner are fun, id agree about following your nose and enjoying a particular activity without feeling that you have to move on to the next.

It is ok to make mistakes, have sex that doesn't lead anywhere, it's also ok to decide that sex is for marriage. But don't go for marriage without knowing how it feels to really fancy and want someone, that would be disastrous and unfair.

estya Mon 20-Jun-16 22:31:10

There's lots of fun to be had in the bedroom before you get as far as sex. Take it a step at a time. Do you enjoy the "enthusiastic kissing and a bit of touching"? Do you want to take it further? Explore each other's and your own bodies and find out what you enjoy.

blowmybarnacles Mon 20-Jun-16 22:41:26

Op, you could be me. I never told anybody as I was embarrassed to be a virgin when everybody was shagging about. I finally did it age 26 with a complete git who never called me afterwards. sad I did it more to get it over and done with, although I did fancy him.

Does your boyfriend turn you on? Is there passion between you? Do you want to have sex but are a bit scared (I was, I masturbated a lot, really wanted to do it, worried about it, scared shitless of becoming pregnant).
I think, when you really want to do it, you won't be questioning it.

RiceCrispieTreats Mon 20-Jun-16 22:43:25

Sex is kind of a primal instinct, so if you wanted to have sex with him, you would definitely know. Your body would kind of do it for you, in the course of lying in bed with him kissing and touching.

It sounds like you just don't actually want to have sex with this man, and that's perfectly ok. Maybe it will take a bit more time dating. Maybe it's just not for you. Definitely don't force it, it probably won't feel nice either physically or emotionally if you do.

It's up to you to decide who you want to date, what you want to do with them, whether you want sex to only happen within marriage, whether you just never want to have sex at all.

You are the only judge of what is right for you.

But be prepared to accept that what works for you might not work for potential partners, and to let them go if that's the case.

RiceCrispieTreats Mon 20-Jun-16 22:48:43

I wonder whether this might not be a self-esteem thing?

Do you automatically rule yourself out of other things? Like jobs, or friendships : "Oh no, such-and-such couldn't possibly want to hear from / hire unworthy little me"

You talk about friend-zoning men without realising it. If deep-down you don't believe that you are worthy of anyone's romantic interest, then that could be one reason why you are blind to anyone's interest, and so confused when you are in a relationship (since neither of those things are "supposed" to happen to you).

Very often we act in ways that confirm our deepest fears.

Does this ring true for you?

knightsmum Mon 20-Jun-16 23:04:23

Every person is different, you need to listen to your inner voice and do what is best for you. It's your life, you don't want to do something when you are not ready and then regret it. I know lots of people that lost their virginity when they were older than you. Tell him how you feel and see, if it is meant to be he will wait.

VacillatingViolet Tue 21-Jun-16 01:34:02

Thank you, it's nice to have so many replies. At university it feels like pretty much everybody is having sex, or complaining about not having it! I think I've probably become a bit sensitive to it recently...

I'll answer some of the questions and try to work through how I feel about it a bit. I feel like I've got into such a muddle around it and am trying to straighten it out here! Your questions are really helpful.

I probably feel like I should more than I want to. For most people my age, having a boyfriend/girlfriend = having sex. Tbh, most people probably think we are if they were to think about it!

My family isn't particularly religious, I definitely don't think sex before/outside marriage is wrong. I think I think of it as a very 'adult' thing, and don't really think of myself as being that grown up... perpetual student issue there grin I would say that when I went to university I was pretty sheltered - I was grown up in some ways, but pretty young for my age in others.

I definitely find the whole pregnancy/STD thing a bit worrying - I remember at school being told the success and failure rates for contraception and an experiment where we simulated sexually transmitted diseases with test tubes of sugar and starch solutions. We were told that abstinence is the only 100% effective protection against either.

I do masturbate sometimes, yes. I tend to grind against a pillow (very glad I namechanged...) rather than touch myself. I use a Mooncup though, so I have a pretty good idea of my anatomy. Sorry for the TMI, but he has touched me down there a few times, but that's when I tend to feel uncomfortable - it does feel nice at first, but I struggle to relax. I have also had dreams about people - often celebs (or random acquaintances) but it doesn't go further than snogging - probably because I don't know what comes next grin So I do have sexual feelings, but whether they're as strong as other people's I don't know.

I think the whole marriage/long term thing might be because I've got it into my head that sex is a big thing and that you should be quite 'committed' before you do it. Which logically I can see is wrong (people have ONSes, FWBs or as an extreme example there are prostitutes) but at the moment to me sex seems so intimate, that I wouldn't want to lose control in that way unless I knew the other person very well.

The question about being aroused is interesting - there are definitely physical things that happen when he kisses me or strokes my back or whatever. I like him very much and really enjoy spending time with him, and I enjoy the kissing and cuddling and experimenting. I've never been close enough to anybody (or thought about them in that way) to feel aroused by them before I don't think! So I think I am, although he seems to get more excited than I do - I don't really lose control, there's always a part of me that won't let go completely.

It might be a self-esteem thing, yes. Or linked to not thinking people want to go out with me at any rate. I mean, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with me that would stop people wanting to go out with me (if we put aside the ideas I'm trying to work through at the moment...) but until I was 18 I'd only really made friends with girls, who I'm not interested in in that way (the only boys I knew well were family friends who I knew from us all being little). So I tend to make friends with boys in the same way as I would with girls, I just think 'potential friend' rather than 'potential date' and presume other people do the same in reverse.

The other thing is that we are dance partners, paired up in October. So we spent a lot of time together very quickly and had a lot of physical contact even before we started going out. I think maybe that's made it go a bit faster than a relationship where you might only see each other once or twice a week at first.

I'm glad though that lots of you are saying I shouldn't rush into it, but also that it isn't such a big deal as I've been building it up into. I think I need to try to get it into perspective as a fun, nice thing to do and work towards it slowly and see if we get there, and not worry as much about it.

GloriaGaynor Tue 21-Jun-16 08:19:08

To think that sex is a 'big thing' and that you want to be committed before you do it, isn't 'wrong' logically or otherwise, that's how you feel therefore it's right for you.

Thinking about it, a female friend of mine didn't have sex properly, bar a one night stand, until she was 25, with her first serious bf. She went on to marry him, so technically she's only had 2 sexual partners in her life.

She's very happy and very much in love with her husband. I guess she doesn't have a very strong sex drive, and neither does he according to her, so they seem to be on the same page.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Tue 21-Jun-16 10:00:37

You need a rabbit smile

IfNotNowThenWhenever Tue 21-Jun-16 10:02:54

I think you just haven't explored your own desires enough. You sound a bit sort of...distanced from your own body, if that makes sense? You say you don't use your fingers? Maybe you should, just to get a sense of the sensations that can happen. That way, someone else's fingers won't feel so odd?
I definitely don't think you should force yourself, or feel obligated to have sex, but maybe the longer you remain sex free, you bigger deal it becomes, and the more of a block you will get.
If you like this man, I would also suggest talking to him about it. Tell him some of the fears and insecurities. Be in it together-experiment together with what turns you on. Because you need to be turned on to have sex, even if it's a mixture of turned on and nervous!

blowmybarnacles Tue 21-Jun-16 14:06:37

How about reading some erotic literature? Then maybe masturbating? Sorry if TMI blushbut agree with poster to know your own body and reactions to sexual desire and you may feel more confident with how to handle your emotions etc as they move on, or not.

I recommend sleeping with a man you like thoughsmile

Autumnalleaves Tue 21-Jun-16 19:40:55

I have a bit totally dissimilar story - had one boyfriend when I was about 18-19, but he was a 2hr train ride away, and although I'm sure he would have had sex if I wanted, I just didn't feel it was the right thing to do at the time. I also felt that sex was quite a big commitment, and not for any religious reasons either. I just think that for me personally it is important that it happens in the context of a serious relationship (not necessarily marriage though). I find it sad that you describe that idea as "wrong" - for me, whilst I completely respect other people's choices (eg to have ONSs etc), that's not for me and I see having sex as part of a commitment.

Personally, I think if your gut feeling is that you don't want to have sex right now with your BF, you should stick with that. You might change your mind tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or never. All of which would be fine. I think you will know when it's right.

I eventually had sex aged 20 with a new BF who is now my DH, after going out for 6 months (again, we didn't live in the same town, although less than 2 hours apart). In retrospect, I am really pleased that I didn't sleep with BF1, although he wasn't a bad person, the relationship was perfectly healthy - it was the right choice for me at the time.

So I'm probably way less sexually experienced than most women, but who cares - it's my life and I've lived it how I choose. I think I'm quite private when it comes to sex and relationships and so fortunately I've never had to discuss any of this with my friends, who would know not to ask!

On contraception, the pill is pretty reliable as long as you take it properly. Combined with condoms against STDs and you really should be fine.

I'd just keep enjoying seeing your BF as it seems like it's going well, and don't focus on whether or not you've had sex. Either it will happen or it won't (easier said than done), maybe he's not the one to have sex with, or maybe he is. IMO you need to give it a bit more time, since you are feeling conflicted about it right now.

Autumnalleaves Tue 21-Jun-16 19:41:48

The start of that post should have read "a bit of a similar story"!! Seems to have autocorrected to read the opposite!

MichaelGovesGlasses Tue 21-Jun-16 19:59:01

OP you sound a lot like me, so you are not alone. I haven't got the boyfriend bit yet though. I know what you mean about sex being really intimate. I struggle with being open to people in a more general sense, like I don't let people in easily and only make friends with people I really trust and I think that extends to relationships and sex for me. So I couldn't have a ONS, or at least not at the moment.

I have several friends who are very open about sex and say things like 'Argh I'm so horny' in general conversation and I really don't know what to say. Sometimes I think I could be, but I'm not 100% sure.

AyeAmarok Tue 21-Jun-16 20:30:17

I would agree that it sounds like you're building it up to be a much bigger 'thing' than it needs to be, but I also think absolutely don't force yourself to do it if you aren't feeling it. Are you comfortable being naked with him?

Have you thought about why you feel so uncomfortable with your BF's hands/fingers touching you down there? Is it that it just feels totally alien? Do you feel self-conscious? Do you feel like you can't relax and enjoy it? Is it painful? Do you know if you get wet? (sorry if that's too graphic). Has he ever made you orgasm touching you there?

I suspect the answer to that last question is a no, as a) you say you feel uncomfortable when he does it which doesn't really lend itself well to orgasms, and b) you say you've never felt the urge to go further which I would imagine you would have (although I wonder if it's your head that's holding you back there and actually overriding any desires you have).

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