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March 06, 2009



The difference is that this woman feels uncomfortable with herself, she hasn't chosen this life path.

She doesn't say she needs to have sexual relationships to be fulfilled, only that it seems unusual to her that she hasn't even been presented with any opportunity to decide one way or the other.

Tom Babcock

It seems Dr. Saltz focused on "being a virgin" as the caller's problem, rather than establishing relationships in a society that minimizes the need for commitment prior to having sex. Since I did not hear the entire exchange, I can only surmise, but does this woman's problem lie in her expectations of how much men should commit to her before she "offers herself" for sex?

Would this woman be better served by exploring what she expects from a date before proceeding to the next step, and possibly complimenting her on her standards while also noting there is nothing to be ashamed about in preserving virginity.

Should one also ask her if her friends, who are not virgins, have gained a faithful and committed husband in the process, or are they simply "not virgins" yet still unsuccessful in establishing a lasting relationship?

Someone Else

Over a year ago, I began dating a 28-year-old who, at that time, was a virgin and had never had a girlfriend. To date, he has been the best boyfriend I have ever had in 10 years of dating, and my personal favorite. There's nothing wrong with him. He just never got around to relationships.

Personally, with some of the "relationships" I had, I ENVY him. Ha.

Robin Goodfellow

This makes me sad.

I myself am waiting because I want to wait for the love of another virgin. I want to have something show her I mean it when I (eventually) say "I love you", because someone you love is worth waiting for.

"Someone Else" makes a point. Someone who's never been with anyone else will treat you as the best thing in the world if you let them, and appreciate them in return.

Whomever that young woman in the article chooses to have a relationship with is a lucky guy.

Luthor Rex

Considering that the mainstream culture has a divorce rate of 1/2, I don't know why anyone would want to measure-up to that kind of "normal".


"Why is it no longer socially or psychologically acceptable to be a virgin at 25? Why is it assumed that virgins are mentally or emotionally defective? And at what age does one pass the point of social acceptance as a virgin?"

I remember when the movie "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" came out, I didn't want to see it because I assumed the whole point of it would be to make fun of the main character for being a virgin. Then a few years later I saw it, and I was pleasantly surprised that the main character decided, despite all the comments from his friends, that there was nothing wrong with being a virgin, and actually didn't have sex until the very end of the movie, his wedding night. It probably couldn't be considered a "modest" movie, but it was so refreshing to see that attitude for a change.

I think there's a very special bond that forms when two people who have never had sex before fall in love and discover sexual pleasure and intimacy together. Sometimes it takes awhile for someone to find that person. A lot of 25-year-olds have spent the last several years busy with college and going to grad school or starting careers. Sex should be something special and important, not some rite of passage that you're expected to have undergone by a certain age.


I agree with Caroline,
the young woman asking for advice has not chosen abstinence, or indicates anything pertaining to it, so it isn't comparable to someone who does chose that lifestyle.

If the columnist had stated these same views towards a person who did chose virginity than I would see such views as being twisted and offensive


I think ChristineMarie and Caroline have a very valid point, but to me, precisely because the young woman is confused, that makes the advice particularly bad. Dr. Saltz is portraying virginity as pathological instead of what the young woman needs to hear, that waiting until marriage is a valid choice--if she chooses that path. (If she doesn't, then fine.) But never presenting it as a valid choice makes her advice extremely biased.

The young woman being "self-conscious" about her status needs to be put in a larger context of what society values these days. Instead, linking her predicament right away to autism and Asberger's syndrom is inappropriate, and merely adds to the pressure.

So while I hear what ChristineMarie etc are saying, I agree with Alyson on this one.


Caroline and ChristineMarie make an interesting point, but saying that this young woman hasn't had the opportunity to have a sexual relationship isn't true. She mentioned in her question to Dr. Saltz that she'd had a relationship in college that lasted three months. I guess I edited that bit out of her quote in my entry, but we can only assume that her remaining a virgin through that relationship was a matter of choice.

I agree that she doesn't seem to be morally or philosophically attached to her virginity, but it's clear she places some value on it.

I included a link to the full column at the beginning of the entry if you want to see her question in its entirety.


Wow. Thanks for this article and comments.

I just read the article and felt pretty hurt by the advice. I identify strongly with the young woman, being twenty-six and never having had a steady boyfriend.

I used to think there was something "wrong" with me, too. But recently I've realized that maybe the apparent lack of attention or the "offers," is simply because men respect me and honor my dignity as a woman.

(I'm not sure I would want to attract a guy who was interested in simply dating for fun, or even in a "relationship." I would prefer to attract someone who is seriously interested in staying around for a very long time. By definition, this means less "attention" and fewer "relationships," but it does not mean I will have a less rewarding love life in the long term.)

There's a cute story by Gila Manolson about a woman who worked at a restaurant. She decided to start dressing more modestly. As she did so, she noticed that suddenly the male waiters began to separate themselves from her socially and pay her much less attention. Then one day after the modest waitress had left, her friend learned from the male waiters that she was exactly the kind of woman they wanted to marry. In a sense, then, giving her social distance is a sign of respect.

In this light, the advice the Dr. gives about being more outgoing and extroverted so as not to appear "stand offish" seems dangerous. Women who are more open and friendly with men may receive more advances, but these are almost always the kind that don't mean much because the men haven't had the space and time to decide if they are really serious about pursuing her.

It seems to me that in the past, a woman like this young woman would have been extremely attractive to suitors. They would have lined up at her door because they wanted to marry her, not because they wanted a "relationship" or a "thing" with her to "see if it works out."

I can't help wondering if her being discouraged at the lack of attention from men is really a sign that her modesty is in fact attracting the right guy for her, in its own slow and steady way, if only simply because it is not attracting a bunch of the wrong ones.

Maybe he'll show up at her doorstep one of these days!


I have to agree with Anonymous. When a girl presents herself a certain way most men tend will treat her accordingly. So for the girl who dresses and acts a little bit more modestly, men will treat her more respectfully. Giving a woman a bit of social distance is a sign of respect from men. And those are the types of women men want to marry. The "Girls Gone Wild" type of girl may get a lot of attention from a lot of guys initially, but it is only because they are trying to get her into bed as quickly as possible and then be done with her. There is no respect there. Also, the fact that modesty is so rare these days only makes the more modesty oriented woman stand out all the more. Most guys might even be a bit more cautious around her than is needed because it is such a rare thing to come across such a girl in our culture.


Hey, Alyson! Great thought-provoking article. It's very disappointing that some people, particularly those people we consider to be well-educated in the medical field, categorize virginity as a symptom as opposed to recognizing it as a personal decision. Moreover, I feel bad for the young girl who submitted the questions because she too seems to carry her virginity like a scarlet letter (an interesting twenty-first century cultural shift) when instead I think her concerns stem from her need to compare herself to those around her. When I encounter students who are trying to find themselves amidst the media definitions of what Hollywood thinks is normal and not normal, I want to be able to tell them to be who they are, not what someone else tells them to be. Is this young girl happy? Are her relationships positive and healthy, regardless of her sex life? I think these are much more important questions to ask. Telling someone they're too old to be a virgin is the equivalent of telling them they're too old to respect their bodies, their choices, and their own personal timetables for what is right for them when it is right.


In light of the new info (the caller's relationship, etc) I may change my tune. And yeah, I agree that the idea that virginity is some kind of problem (or sign of psychological unwellness) is flummoxing at almost any age. How funny that no one condemns the kids who lose their virginity in high school as being psychologically unsound when that seems far more foolhardy to me!


I don't think it matters if she has chosen abstinence or not, it's ridiculous of the host to say that there may be something wrong with her because she hasn't had sex. And the fact that she makes a point of saying she's a virgin doesn't really matter to me. I think the girl probably feels like everyone she knows is having sex, having relationships, and she isn't and thinks there might be something wrong with her.

Even if a person doesn't choose to be abstinent until marriage, there is a lot of value in waiting until you're older to have sex, even if you're not going to wait until you're married. It's a shame that it seems like there are two factions: slut and virgin. It's how girls like this caller end up feeling lost.


I did not have a serious boyfriend until after I turned 22. Some people might find that pathological. And you know what? Stephan and I haven't kissed yet. Do you have any idea how many people think that's weird?

Oh don't get me wrong, Stephan wants to kiss me. And I want to kiss him. But he told me that he promised himself that he wouldn't kiss a girl until he was engaged to her.

A lot of people think that's REALLY weird. But you know what? I think it's sweet. My dad had the same rule for himself, and my mom is the only woman he has ever kissed. I actually hoped for myself that I wouldn't have my first kiss until engagement. So far, so good.


Wow, this article from " the caller's " perspective, is how I also see myself. I didn't think that there were many other young women out there like myself. For me, remaining abstinent is a personal choice. I think it's better for me to focus on my education and finding a career, than trying to find a guy who won't want to stick around for a long time. The again, my mother, various relatives, and close friends over the years (since high school) have told me that guys will always be there. "Focus on your education, get a job, then worry about finding a guy. They'll always be there." They've been right so far, but I feel a bit left out, maybe a teeny bit jealous when I see co-workers or people at school walking arm-in-arm with their significant other; that they are receiving all this attention and I'm not. Then again, I wouldn't act like some of my co-workers or people at school. Anyhow, I've digressed, but I think it's great to hear that there are other girls/young women in their mid-20s who are still virgins.


I'm a 33 year-old virgin, by choice. I don't want a man to slay a dragon for me before I "offer myself," but most of the guys I meet/date think I owe them sex or very near it just because they put on a clean shirt to meet me for dinner.

I am constantly amazed at the atmosphere of casual sex we are all marinating in. I recently met a seemingly great guy at a concert. After hanging out with me and my friends and buying all of us drinks until the concert ended, he asked me to go to a bar with him and have a drink or two on our own. I was excited about him, and I gladly said yes. The minute we sat down at a table he began needling me about my favorite sexual positions, my wildest encounter, etc. I didn't tell him I'm a virgin, but I made it clear that I wasn't taking him back to my place, as we'd just met.

He said he was going to the washroom and I never saw him again. He was clearly a jerk, but I'd be lying if I said that didn't really hurt me. Hmm, maybe I need therapy.


just like love line. haha


My daughter is saving herself for marriage. These days, so many young women are in relationships for the "hook up". She and the others of her generation (she is 22 years old) are in the "Hook Up" generation. Look what they have to emulate? "Girls Gone Wild"?? We now have rampant AIDS, HIV, and STDs. Since when is chastity a sin??

Since when does romance play a part in a relationship? Since when do young men love their partners enough....really love them...to respect them and their choices with what they want to do with their bodies? Virginity is a virtue. Remember that. And any man who truly loves his partner will respect them totally. Totally. Like in emotionally as well as physically. And anything less is simply not worth it. Why would any single woman put up with some guy who doles out physical and/or emotional abuse? Really. It's about time single women everywhere stood up to real values in a relationship!

And THAT is what is wrong with society nowadays. It's high time we stood up and told the "Hook Up" society that we aint gonna "hook up" any longer!


Why would any woman put up with abuse? Because it's SO hard to find a better alternative. I personally don't have any family or friends telling me I deserve something better, or know anyone who believes anything other than "take what you can get." It's all well and good to want love and respect, but where can it be found? If you know, PLEASE, LindaC, tell me.


Jillian, you and every single other woman deserves and needs respect. Yep, respect - like Aretha Franklin sings about. And if you can't find it, then just stay single. No woman is deserving of physical and emotional abuse. None.


Wanted to add Jillian. I have seen way too many bruised and battered women in my lifetime to ever condone abuse. I have played too many Battered Women's benefits (I am a musician) to feel that any woman deserves to be treated like that. Also, my mother was good friends with a woman who was murdered by her husband. No woman deserves that. If it was between that and staying single, I'd go for staying single.


Wow, I am about to turn 27 and I have never had a boyfriend (not even a short relationship lasting 3 months...). Only only four guys have asked me out, only one of whom I was attracted to and wanted to get to know. But, of course, he was the least attracted to me and never bothered to call me after our date. Personally, this is something that is hard for me and is a source of insecurity. I can relate to the caller, I feel weird being this old and never having had a relationship... I see my friends and younger sister get asked out, go on dates, start relationships, get engaged etc and I am still waiting to have a second date with someone!! I do feel as if something is wrong. There must be a reason I get so few guys asking me out (and it doesn't help that the ones who have asked me out- a part form the one- have been socially off and are actually pretty difficult guys to even just be around sometimes).

Alyson posted this:

I used to think there was something "wrong" with me, too. But recently I've realized that maybe the apparent lack of attention or the "offers," is simply because men respect me and honor my dignity as a woman.

I have heard this before, but honestly I have a hard time believing it. Like I mentioned, my friends get asked out... not on a frequent basis but, still most of them have had maybe one or two relationships, and one just recently got engaged, I am the only one among them that has not had a relationship. But my friends are also modest, self-respecting women and like I said, they have had relationships and will not become a 27 year-old who has never had a relationship. For me, my social status is what is hard to deal with here, and this is not about virginity!

I do not feel ashamed or weird about my virginity; it's about the lack of attention I get from men. I do not feel weird for being a virgin, I feel weird about apparently not even being worth asking out (or going out with more than once). It might have something to do with the fact that I don't come across as an easy lay, but then again, neither do my friends, and they get asked out. So I don't know, this has been a bit of a rant, I really don't have anything all that constructive to add, except to say that I can relate to this sense of there being something socially wrong with me, simply because of a lack of relationships / attention, rather than sexual activity....


Thanks for your comment, Perseus!


completely agree with Linda C.

What I seem to come across a lot on this website and in the general culture of abstinence is the idea that you are either a totally promiscuous person with no self-esteem, or a slightl holier-then-thou, strong virgin till marriage. That are just two outer ends of the spectrum people! Like all people, girls and women like attention, also & especially of the opposite sex. If a man shows that he likes you, not just your company but also the way you look, it can give an enormous boost to your confidence. And vice versa, never getting any indication of being liked and found attractive can be just as cruhsing to the ego and damaging to the psyche as hook-ups gone awry. I mean, people like the Amish still get asked out, and they are paragons of modesty in behaviour and dress.

Also, the comment about the waitress dressing more modest, and the other waiters turning out to want to marry her (kind of woman)left me with a nasty taste in my mouth... Don't you think that once they're married to their nicely pure wife (mainly to satisfy the standards of their community and mom&dad, not so much their own evolved and pure standards) they will keep on lusting after the 'unmodest'waitresses and women like them?
Also, does this mean that the price of being marriage material will be an attention-drought untill the age of ay 25, when men seem to finally mature enough to appreciat 'wedding material -like' women?

But at the end of this rant ;-) my main message is: people, don't forget there is a third way! It's not Either purity Or all the horrible evils of modern society. You can say yes to some men, and no to others, you can have very modest stages in your life, interspersed with an un-serious fling here or there, sometimes you think you are totally ready for love & home-making, only to find that three years on, you want to run around the world a little bit more and have adventures... Most people get by perfectly well somewhere in between....


Not all people who were sexually abused as kids are promiscuous. I was sexually abused and can't stand the thought of anyone touching me. I'm nearly 40 and have never had a boyfriend cos of what happened to me.

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