Head, Heart and Balls
The penis - Late loss of virginity in menMen, Masculinity and The Penis Home Page
What would you think if you met a man who at thirty years of age was a virgin? What would you think if he had never even kissed a woman?
Almost certainly that he was gay, I imagine, and yet, funnily enough, there are many men who are neither gay nor heterosexually experienced - these are men who have simply never discovered the joy of sex, or been able to establish a relationship with a woman.
In the USA, for example, research suggests that there are about 2,000,000 men over the age of 23 years who are still virgins - men who have never had the chance to get sexual way with a woman.
And there may be as many as 700,000 to 1,000,000 much older men who have not yet made it with a woman. It seems the term " confirmed bachelor" may not just be a euphemism for " gay" , after all.
But why? What is the cause of late loss of virginity - or no loss of it at all? To start with, most of the men I am describing are heterosexually oriented, though they may have homoerotic thoughts from time to time.
The problem is that they are emotionally damaged in some way, and the longer this situation continues, the harder it becomes to escape it.
And it's much harder for a man who wants to lose his virginity than it is for a woman in the same situation - after all, a woman simply has to make the decision and give off the right signals, and she'll find a lot of willing helpers ready to take her maidenhood.
A man has to either woo a woman to the point where she's willing to allow him to enter her body with his penis, which he may not have the skills to do, or to pay for sex, which may simply add to his feelings of inadequacy.
If a man misses the courtship routines and practice of adolescence, he can become ashamed of his lack of sexual experience and start to avoid women more and more - a pattern of behavior likely to lock him into a world of sexual isolation.
There are many reasons why this may happen: one of the main ones is that a man is born with a penile or genital abnormality like hypospadias.
I have worked extensively with men who have hypospadias, and they have almost all had a deep-seated belief that women would find them unattractive or defective as men, and they have often had extreme difficulty establishing a healthy sex-life for themselves.
(By the way, the huge majority of women don't care about such things as penile difference in a man.
Stability and financial security, emotional warmth and supportiveness, and his ability to act as a source of emotional support seem much more important.
Unfortunately this does not make it any easier for a man who has been shamed because of the appearance of his penis to get naked with a woman.)
Another cause of sexual inexperience is a deep-rooted sense of being physically inadequate. This is probably less common for boys and men than girls and women, but it is a growing problem. It's particularly so for boys who are short or slight of build.
Yet another source of emotional and sexual inhibition can be growing up in a household where the emotional and sexual relationships between the parents are not functioning well: the boy may be regarded by his mother as her " little man" who can make up for the deficiencies of her husband, and the inappropriateness of the relationship that results.
That's especially true if it's sexual or involves inappropriate handling of his penis - can produce a deep-seated sense of alienation, if not rage, towards women which serves to keep the boy apart from them during his adolescence and early adulthood - exactly the time when he should normally be picking up the sexual experience necessary for him to function as a man in our society.
It's not hard to see how a man can make a choice - consciously or not - to stay away from women when he has been deeply hurt or invaded by them as a boy.
Remaining a virgin may well seem like the easier option, though I suspect many men in this category resort to sex with men as a compromise: they cannot face the prospect of letting a woman close to them, yet they want sexual experience and some form of physical intimacy - and, of course, men are always available and willing when it comes to sex!
But the problem remains that a man in this situation cannot be truly fulfilled and satisfied. He may wonder if he is gay, he may overtly want a woman and a family, but he just can't make the emotional leap to establish a relationship with a woman. What's to be done?
I think the first thing that has to happen is that he decides to make the change, to find out what sex with a woman is like. This may well only happen when he is in his late twenties or thirties and he has had the rougher edges of his damaging experiences smoothed off by positive life experiences.
Or maybe his desire for sex with a woman becomes so strong that he seeks therapy - in any event, there is a turning point, a moment of clear decision, when the possibility of change opens up for him.
For men who simply missed the experience of adolescent sexual exploration, things tend to be easier than for those who have more challenging emotional issues.
These men usually find a woman who can make up for their lack of experience because they are giving off enough masculine signals to attract a woman: once they get sexual with her, they may have transient difficulties such as figuring out how penile penetration works, or temporary loss of their erection due to anxiety, or learning how to overcome premature ejaculation, but basically all will be well with a little practice.
In many cases they have rehearsed their sexual encounters and know a great deal about the theory of female sexuality - knowledge which helps them when they face the real thing!
To quote from Eva Margolies' book, Undressing The American Male, on which many of the ideas on this page are based, " For the most part a man like this usually reports that if a woman notices his inexperience, she generally does not comment on it or reject him for it.
Whether this is a testimonial to the power of instinct, or the general lack of lovemaking skill among young men, or women's inhibition about expressing what they want and need sexually, I have not yet figured out."
One interesting thing that can happen when men who have not had a normal adolescent sexual experience come to discover the pleasure they can get from sex is that they seek out as much sex as possible.
I've come to believe that it's a normal part of male adolescent development (and maybe female development too) to have a phase of " screwing around" - and it seems to me that men who come to sex late need to go through something like this to make up for the emotional and developmental deficit they experienced.
However, what of the men who are more persistent in their lack of sexual experience? What of the non-gay man who is still a virgin in his thirties? These men break down into various groups.
First, there are men who are shy and lack social skills, and who often give off a slight sense of " weirdness" that puts people (especially women) off them. This sense of difference is down to their lack of trust in other people, a lack that produces a guarded closed-ness in their relations with others.
These men may also have a deep-rooted sense of inadequacy - often because of negative experiences in their family. The challenge for a man like this may not be being sexual in itself - once they get around to it they often make very good lovers, perhaps because they've spent their lives putting other people first - but may be more about establishing the confidence to get into a relationship. Good psychotherapy is needed here.
Second, there are men who appear socially normal but who remain virgins because of deep conflicts about women and intimacy. You can split these men into two groups: so-called " inhibited heterosexuals" and so-called " heterosexuals with homosexual inclinations" .
Inhibited heterosexuals are focused on women, both in life and in their fetishes and fantasies. They desire women but have unresolved fears and anger towards them which make it impossible for them to get sexual.
Many of these fears and angry feelings come from the fact that they did not have a stable and dependable mother (or sisters) rather they had a mother who was unpredictable, abusive or unstable, combined very often with a hostile father. Thus they lack an adequate role model for either adult male behavior or a close relationship with a woman.
If you're one of these men, you might recognize some of these traits in yourself:
You're obsessed with the physical attributes of women.
You want to please women and are quite conciliatory to them but can be extremely angry if not rageful.
You're a control freak. Sorry, but there it is.
You're frightened of getting sexual with a woman.
You depend on sex with yourself. You might even have made it a specialty.
You have a special way of masturbating which you use most of the time, such as shaking your penis, thrusting it against the bed, or using a special speed or type of hand motion on your penile shaft.
You create a fantasy world which satisfies all your desires.
All of this represents a kind of adolescent sexuality, which is not a thing to be ashamed of, but simply a lack of experience that can be put right with the right kind of help and guidance, which in practical terms means sexual therapy or psychotherapy. You can find a good sexual therapist here.
There can be some more challenging difficulties when it comes to making love for the first and subsequent times. You may have an aversion to the idea and reality of the vagina, which can be a problem if you want to get your penis inside one!
It can also be a problem if you want to give your partner pleasure or she wants oral sex, or likes you to masturbate her.
After years of masturbating by hand, with firm pressure, you may find the experience of intercourse a disappointment, and come to the conclusion that the woman you are with has a large, loose vagina.
The problem, I regret to say, is that your penis has become used to many years of firm, close pressure during masturbation, and the sensations of intercourse are rather different. There may be considerable learning to be done in how to enjoy the pleasures of sexual intimacy with a woman.
A sexual surrogate may be helpful here. Basically, they are women who have the skills and motivation to help men overcome their sexual inhibitions through physical intimacy.
As sex therapists, we have also produced a variety of other websites which we hope will help you improve your sex life and overcome sexual dysfunction.
To start with the most common sexual problem for men after premature ejaculation, we cover male inability to reach orgasm during intercourse, also known as retarded or delayed ejaculation here, while women will find an explanation of how to achieve orgasm during sex and overcome female anorgasmia here. These are two superbly written and detailed websites, simple and easy to follow, yet based on hundreds of cases of anorgasmia in our clinical experience as sex therapists.
Get exciting sex techniques back in your love life right now! This is the site that led all the others, the one that offered you the first full and open discussion of sexual positions using non-pornographic imagery that both men and women can look at without fear of embarrassment or offensiveness.
We take a respectful view of sex as an activity on which men and women take an equal part, and for whom it is (or should be) an equal source of orgasmic pleasure. This discussion of sex positions shows how you can obtain the greatest sexual pleasure in your relationship and bring your lovemaking to a new pinnacle of success and joy!
If you suffer from premature ejaculation, you may well wish to take a look at this website, which offers help on how to stop premature ejaculation, the effects of premature ejaculation on your relationship, and the causes of premature ejaculation.
In addition there is information on simple exercises to help you develop ejaculation control during sex and turn you into the greatest lover your partner ever had, and the secrets about which positions men and women like best, this website might just turn you into a fantastic lover with complete ejaculatory control and staying power (a euphemism for lasting longer before you ejaculate during sex!).
As sex therapists, we have also produced a variety of other websites which we hope will help you improve your sex life and overcome sexual dysfunction. To start with the most common sexual problem for men after premature ejaculation, is not being able to find a date in the first place!
Women will find an explanation of how to achieve orgasm during sex and overcome female anorgasmia here. These are two superbly written and detailed websites, simple and easy to follow, yet based on hundreds of cases of anorgasmia in our clinical experience as sex therapists.
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