#GirlTalk is SheThePeople’s advice column. Have a question? Send it to us girltalk@shethepeople.tv – It can be anonymous if you’d like it that way. Women from different walks of life share advice and their personal experience to help you overcome your own. 

Dear Girl Talk

Why is virginity such an issue? Is it common to lose virginity before marriage?

Wondering Virginity

Dear Wondering Virginity

First off, everyone approaches their sexuality differently (and approaches marriage differently or not at all!). I have friends who in their early 20s are not sexually active at all, some by choice and some because of constraints put on them by their families and surroundings. Some friends are clear in their decision to wait to have sex until after they are settled in other areas of their life, some want to wait for partners they really care about and some just haven’t for no particular reason. I also have friends who lost their virginity quickly because they didn’t feel it held much importance for them, some who’ve had multiple partners and some who’ve been in relationships that are long and committed all before marriage. None of this influenced my own decisions regarding losing my own virginity because ultimately while other people’s experiences gave me insight into their journeys, what was most important to my own was my comfort level and my partner’s.

Yours is a tough question because issues of virginity and sex in India are simultaneously completely hush-hush and also everybody’s business. A quick google search and some. Scrolling reveals statistics on the matter from many surveys conducted in various regions across India but the truth is that “virginity” is to many people an extremely private matter.

It is also a deeply flawed concept. Virginity as it refers to the hymen has long been completely misunderstood.

The hymen isn’t a barrier as is taught to most of us, it’s more like a fringe of tissue that may stretch or tear slightly at the time of intercourse. We believe in some false sense of consistency and sanctity of a piece of tissue when the reality is that (as with most things to do with our bodies) everyone’s is different. Some people’s stretch or tear in childhood due to physical activity, some people stretch or tear their own in adolescence while exploring or during sexual activity. On the other hand, if we’re simply talking about whether it’s common to have sex before marriage, that remains, as I said before, a difficult question and very much dependant on where you are. I acknowledge though that we live in a country that has a complex, often toxic relationship with sexuality that is not cis male. However as with most things, the situation is complex and nuanced and depends on your own context. If its other people’s experiences you’re looking for talk to people in your life who you trust, ask about their experiences and their views. Doing that might prove much more helpful than a search for a blanket answer about how common or not losing your virginity is because each of those experiences counted in that answer is complex and has its own story. 

What’s most important in a matter like this is not if its common or not but how comfortable you are with the idea of pre-marital sex. At the end of the day your context, your experience and your partners are your own and no one else’s and no amount of statistics or consensus can can make you comfortable with an idea you’re not totally on board with, especially with something that’s meant to be intimate and personal. There’s no right or wrong way or timing to approach consensual sex as long as both people involved have communicated their expectations well enough. 

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