How long should I wait?
October 3, 2009 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Question’s about my virgin girlfriend pertaining to sex and sexuality.

History: I’ve been dating this girl for about 6-7 months now; it took about 3 months to win her over. I knew going into the relationship that she was a virgin so it wasn’t a surprise that we didn’t have sex right off the bat. What did surprise me is that until very recently she was uncomfortable just making out with me.

I am very much not a virgin (male if it matters). In fact I’d say that sex is about my favorite activity, and as such waiting this long has been a bit difficult. When I think about my ideal woman, the perfect person who has everything I desire, my Girl comes pretty damn close. Obviously there are little things that bother me, but I really want what we have going to work out. I would very much regret looking back five years from now and thinking that I fucked up because I couldn’t wait just a little bit longer.

Pertinent information: My girl admitted she had(s) low self-esteem about her body. It surprised the shit out of me because A) she’s truly, stupidly beautiful, B) it seems to be the only self-esteem issue she has. There has been no long term boyfriend’s before me, although she had a crush on a guy for 6 years through her school life.

There is no history of sexual abuse or mistreatment on either side. We’re both 21 years old. She rarely tries to masturbate, maybe once a month if that. She’s also never orgasmed but that doesn’t seem uncommon for females her age.

My Girl has said that she doesn’t think her libido is naturally non-existent, and there has been improvement on her side of the equation. It’s just taking a hell of a long time for things to get going.

She doesn't want to bring medical help into this situation yet, she doesn't enjoy accepting help on intensely personal things.

Questions: 1: If she doesn’t have a naturally non-existent sex drive, about how long do you think it would take for her to discover her sexuality? I know it’s impossible to give a time-table on this sort of things, but a general guess would help me immensely. Personal anecdotes very much welcome.

2: This is a deal breaker for me and at this point I’m attempting to stay in the relationship to see if things “improve.” Has anyone ever been in my position before, and if so how long did you wait until you were certain you weren’t making a mistake by leaving your SO?

3: I’m going sexually nuts, is there anything (other then masturbation, it’s getting old) a man can do to lower his sex drive, especially in the presence of my very attractive girlfriend?
posted by RawrGulMuffins to Human Relations (48 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
. . .other then masturbation, it’s getting old

It never gets old.
posted by Neiltupper at 11:58 AM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

I want you to listen to me here: don't be an idiot.

There are many spaces between making out and sex. Naturally she is not yet comfortable with the idea. This will come, of course it will come. Who is to say how long it will take? That's her fucking decision.

If she's close to your ideal girl, you already know the answer here.
Everybody can provide some form of sex. Not everybody can provide your need of love.
posted by stresstwig at 12:00 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm confused; why would you suggest bringing medical help into this just because your girlfriend isn't ready to lose her virginity to you? From what you've said, it doesn't sound like there is anything wrong with her physically or otherwise. She just doesn't want to yet. She has that right and you have the right to leave if it's a dealbreaker for you (and it would be for me). I don't think anyone can put a time limit on how long it should take her to put out or how long you should wait. You have to decide that for yourselves.
posted by curie at 12:13 PM on October 3, 2009 [8 favorites]

She rarely tries to masturbate, maybe once a month if that. She’s also never orgasmed -- uh, how often would you be masturbating if you never climaxed?
posted by kate blank at 12:13 PM on October 3, 2009

1. Make sure she doesn't feel pressured, because that just makes it that much harder to feel comfortable.

2. Compliment her on her body.

3. Be gentle. Kiss her in a way that's less "I can't wait to get in your pants" and more "I am very happy to be kissing you right now."

4. All that other stuff - cuddling, fondling, mutual masturbation, oral sex. Talk to her about whether any of those would be easier for her.

5. Be patient. You can't force it, there's nothing you can do to guarantee that it will happen. But people tend to have sex so if you are willing to wait it will probably happen eventually.
posted by mai at 12:14 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are many spaces between making out and sex.

This is true. You say almost nothing about the sort of physical relationship you do have. It sounds like she's recently become comfortable making out. Does she actually enjoy it? Do you do it much? Do you guys engage in other physically intimate activities such as massage, or even dancing?

The way you describe the situation, it sounds like you've had a three month conversation about whether to have intercourse. You'd be much better off having three months of foreplay, becoming increasingly physically intimate over time.

Everybody can provide some form of sex. Not everybody can provide your need of love.

I think this is absolutely backwards. If you get married, your spouse will be the only person in the world who you can honestly have sex with. If your spouse doesn't enjoy sex, actively dislikes sex, or just doesn't relate to sex, then you are screwed for the rest of your life.

There may certainly be some people who have sexless spouses who also happen to be exceptionally generous. If that's the case then you may not have to jerk yourself off; your spouse will do it for you. But that's still a far cry from actually having a rich, satisfying sexual relationship.

You can get companionship lots of places. You can only have sex with your spouse. You need to resolve this if you're going to have a happy long-term relationship with this woman.
posted by alms at 12:23 PM on October 3, 2009 [5 favorites]

Everybody can provide some form of sex. Not everybody can provide your need of love.

I think this is absolutely backwards. If you get married, your spouse will be the only person in the world who you can honestly have sex with.

That's a fairly narrow viewpoint; not every extramarital act of intercourse involves deception. It may not be relevant to a 21-year-old with a relatively asexual girlfriend, but it certainly isn't the case that "you are screwed for the rest of your life" if you and your spouse opt to not have sex with one another.
posted by ellF at 12:27 PM on October 3, 2009

I'm going to say something that is so obvious, it pains me to even type: sexuality, and sexual compatibility matters a lot, in being happy in a relationship. Like, so many people say things like "this is the perfect relationship... except for this one thing". Well it isn't the perfect relationship then, is it?

It's unclear why she's a virgin; whether she's not ready to have sex, to have sex with you, or if she just doesn't want to have sex at all. This doesn't actually matter. What matters is, if sex is important to you, you need to figure out of it's okay that it's going to take a long time to get to a place where your needs are being met, and possibly never.

You're young. There's a lot of people out there. I'm giving you permission (at some point) to say, "this relationship isn't fulfilling all my needs, and I need to find a one that does." Because sexual compatibility is a legitimate need. And if you sacrifice that because you love her, you're going to end up not loving her real quick.
posted by danny the boy at 12:29 PM on October 3, 2009 [6 favorites]

If it took 3 months to win her over and she's not that into making out with you and has no interest in having sex, maybe "she's just not that into you"?

You might be a perfectly cool guy but not the kind that really turns her on, and so the sex life between the two of you could just be fated to be low level, even if it eventually gets to home base... She may have given in to your advances because she decided being sexually excited by you wasn't that important, because sex wasn't exactly top on her list to start with. If you want her to be really into it, you may have to let her date someone else.
posted by mdn at 12:30 PM on October 3, 2009

This question is not asking "how can I get her to have sex with me" or "when will she" but is concerned about what seems to be her total lack of libido.

Seems like she could use some discussion/counseling about that for herself. Completely independant of her relationship with you.

You're in a tough spot. Kudos on your concerns for both her and yourself.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:30 PM on October 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

IANAPsychologist, but this sounds like way more than just "she's not ready" to me. If she has a slammin' body, but has body issues that are so strong they cripple her ability to be physically intimate, that's a big thing. If she masturbates and never has an orgasm, that's a concern (not like, huge--something like 10% of women never have orgasms), because it only adds to her aversion to sexual activity.

You don't describe what you mean by "making out;" that's a huge range of possible activities. You also didn't say if she enjoys making out. It could be that she loves you as you love her, and she's making out with you so as not to lose you, but she hates it.

You need to have a really frank talk with her. You need to tell her that you love her, and that she's beautiful, and that you're concerned about the fact that she has serious body issues, and that she is so uncomfortable with moving forward into a sexual relationship. You need to explain that you completely understand that she doesn't want to see a doctor (and I don't think she needs to see a medical doctor, at least at this point in what I understand), but she *really* needs to talk to someone about her emotional blocks on this issue. Offer to go to couples' counseling with her, if she doesn't want to go into therapy alone. Tell her you DO NOT WANT TO BREAK UP--really stress that.

Has she expressed as much interest in staying with you for the long haul as you have expressed to us here? That could also be part of it, though I'm just spitballing at this point.

*From what you have told us here,* my strong opinion is she needs to see someone, with you or without you, because this is about more than sex.
posted by tzikeh at 12:41 PM on October 3, 2009

The person on the slower timetable gets to set the pace. Male or female, experienced or virgin - doesn't matter. If one partner is not ready, then it's a no go.

So the question is how to move from where you are to a relationship that includes meeting your physical needs. Have you asked her about things that would make her feel comfortable? For instance, maybe she's always thought she'd wait for marriage. (I know, that sounds as outdated as a Betamax to you, but what is she thinking?) Maybe she feels pressured by you and can't relax. Maybe she's afraid she'll be bad at it. If you haven't talked to her about these topics, you really don't know what the obstacle is.

On the other hand, it's not going to work if she feels browbeat into talking about topics which make her uncomfortable. I'm trying to imagine how someone who doesn't really enjoy kissing you was comfortable discussing her libido and solo habits. Best approach is letting her know that you're open to talking about it and that you want to make this work for both of you.
posted by 26.2 at 12:41 PM on October 3, 2009

I've been in your shoes a bunch of times, and it's tough. I'll try to give some advice, with the caveat that it's just based on my experience.

From the way you phrase things, it sounds like you're putting this girl on a bit of a pedestal.

I'm guessing your happiness in the relationship is not coming from having your needs met, it comes from possessing this rare, exquisite creature.

This story is as old as mankind: The beautiful, untouchable virgin is fought for and won like a prize. Unfortunately, the reality of this story is that girls like that are generally not predisposed to being unselfish, giving partners.

She's not exactly going onto metafilter and asking, "how can I become comfortable with losing my virginity to this man?", right? If she's not making you happy then no matter how much you admire her or are attracted to her, it's going to be a tough road for you.

Try this: back off from it. Don't mention it, don't initiate anything, just let her be. Focus on yourself and let her do her own thing. If she comes to you, then it can work. If not, so be it.

Either way, you have to let go. Good luck!
posted by milinar at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

OP say: This is a deal breaker for me and at this point I’m attempting to stay in the relationship to see if things “improve.”

To me, this doesn't say, "I really care about her" it say "I like her, but this thing is making me not like her."

If you care, your goal is not to get her to have sex with you, it's to help he be comfortable with herself. Once you get her there, then she'll likely tear you to pieces.

The goal is not having sex. She may finally have sex with you, not enjoy it, and then you're in a whole hell of a lot worse situation. You need to make sure your focus here is helping HER, not helping your tired hand.
posted by toekneebullard at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2009

First off My personal definition of making out is kissing for more then a couple second, nothing beyond that. Second off I've known this girl for 9 months now. I'm not interested in forcing her to have sex with me and I'm trying my damnest to not pressure her.

That's a very hard thing for me because she arouses me very easily and when your sexual excitement isn't returned for... let's say the 850th time (30 days * 9 months * three times a day minimum) it's a bit of a downer.

I've had a very frank discussion on this topic with her and she basically told me to wait. Thus my question, how long should I wait, will I ever be certain I'm doing the right thing if I've waited that long, what can I do make easier on me?

waiting for marriage is not an issue.
posted by RawrGulMuffins at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2009

What Milinar said
posted by A189Nut at 1:07 PM on October 3, 2009

"I've had a very frank discussion on this topic with her and she basically told me to wait. Thus my question, how long should I wait, will I ever be certain I'm doing the right thing if I've waited that long, what can I do make easier on me."

If you care about sex that much, it sounds like you just need to move on from her.
posted by DonSlice at 1:12 PM on October 3, 2009

I was kind of an asshole in my initial response. I apologize for that, what I meant to say was:

it sounds like you have determined that you like this girl enough that waiting should not be a problem. What I mean with the love/sex quip was that if this is true, keep in mind that you will not be waiting forever, and you will not be waiting until marriage. But nobody can really tell you how long it will be. As far as making it easier, console yourself with an excellent relationship otherwise.
posted by stresstwig at 1:13 PM on October 3, 2009

What's the primary motivation for her hesitance about sex? Is it solely about her self-esteem? Is it for religious reasons? Is it an emotional issue? Is she afraid of the changes in your relationship that may result? Is it painful? Is she worried about what others will think of her if she has sex? Is it because the whole issue's been built up so much she doesn't know where to start? She may not be able to fully articulate what's worrying her right now, but I get the sense that you don't fully understand the whole picture. Ask her what she thinks a normal level of intimacy is in a relationship. Does it match up to yours? In her perfect world, how would you act towards her? Once you guys have had a few frank discussions about this you'll have a better idea about how long it'll be before she feels comfortable opening up to you and having some sort of sexual contact.

This are big introspective questions she can only work through herself. No matter how much you compliment her, she's the only one who can ultimately fix her self-esteem issues and whatever else may be bothering her. You can't (and shouldn't) force her to step outside her comfort zone. Change won't be like flipping a switch, and it could take months or years before she's ready.

On preview: It sounds like your frustration is at least somewhat coming from her unwillingness to talk with you about the issue. I think that's a good marker for how long you should stay in this relationship. Talk with her again. Make SURE you are not saying anything that could be interpreted as "this is your problem and you need to deal with it," but rather "I see this as an issue we both need to work on. How can we try to change this situation so we're both happier?" Do NOT say anything that could be interpreted as an ultimatum. It may make her really uncomfortable to talk about everything openly, but tell her that you think talking about it will help both of you figure out what to do. If she's willing to communicate with you, even open up just a little bit on the issue, I'd say hang in there with her. If she shuts down and refuses to talk about it at all then I wouldn't necessarily expect much progress from her. This will be a difficult conversation. Stock up on tissues and comfort food beforehand. Good luck.
posted by lilac girl at 1:15 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I forgot to link to this answer from a question about a similar problem but different circumstances. It doesn't fit your situation exactly, but it may help give you some insight into what's going on in your girlfriend's mind.
posted by lilac girl at 1:18 PM on October 3, 2009

Anecdote: I had a gf (now my wife) similar in many respects to yours: early 20s, virgin, hot, limited makeouts. It took a long time, maybe a year just to get to heavy petting and boy what a release that was, although even then the reciprocation was lacking to a certain extent (nothing like amateur videos you see on the net) and a lot of me working my magic fingers or if I was lucky some good bumping and grinding. She held off and even after we had a few events that I thought would seal the deal (visiting Quebec City and staying at the fanciest hotel there) still no luck.

Well, eventually we went all the way, I'd be hard pressed to remember when, since we've been together ten years now and married the last few. She eventually came around and sex was more frequent and more experimental, but never like most of what you see in porn. In many respects that's a good thing, but it does leave some fantasies on the todo list.

Since marriage the frequency has decreased, once a month is pretty normal. I think my biggest mistake is not letting her know that she can release my sexual tension without her having to have sex with me.

She's a wonderful person in so many other ways that I'm willing to live with this (masturbation makes up for a lot), and I love her with all my heart, but my lessons for you would be:

1. With time you'll get yours, and it will mostly be worth it.
2. Current circumstances may be a key indicator of how things will be when she does finally put out.
3. Location can be important. We used to have wild makeouts when I had a car where the front bench was like a big velvet sofa. Make sure that you have the right location and that your livingroom and bedroom are privite and not seedy.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 1:36 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Many people are not aware of the growing asexual visibility movement. I am not saying your girlfriend is asexual, merely raising the possibility. Dan Savage has some thoughts about asexual-identified people dating "sexuals", that is, people with an interest in sex, that have gotten him into a bit of trouble with the asexual community. Needless to say, he doesn't think it's a very good idea unless there is excellent communication and the "sexual" member of the relationship has an outlet for his or her sexual needs.

Whatever is going on, it seems clear that your girlfriend has an acute lack of awareness what it is she wants out of sex, if anything. She sounds like a lot of women I have met who are "late bloomers". At 21, for whatever reason, they were not at all interested in sex, but at 28 or 29, they enjoy active sex lives. FWIW, some of those women were going through sexual identity issues and are now happily sexual lesbians. Again, not saying this is what your girlfriend is going through. Only she gets to say what she is going through.

Her sexual awakening can only be her journey. In other words, she must be the one who decides if, how, and when she wants to experience sex. You can listen to her, ask her relevant questions, suggest therapy, and be there for her, but it is my opinion that this is her journey and hers alone. You as her boyfriend are in a very difficult place. If I knew more about you or your girlfriend, I'd be tempted to say you should break it off for the time being and work on having a trusting friendship with her while she works out her sexuality issues. Being the partner with a sex drive and "waiting" can be very damaging to your self esteem. This may give her the space she needs to figure out more about herself.
posted by Lieber Frau at 1:41 PM on October 3, 2009

A quick note: for a long, happy relationship, the person you are with needs to be an emotional partner and a sexual partner, unless you are willing to have a fairly non-standard (or not very fulfilling) long-term relationship. If you had a fabulous sexual relationship without a good emotional relationship, we couldn't answer the question about how long it'll take either. Ultimately you should consider her as a whole, complete human being, and if she's not enough for you, it's really only in your control to decide if you're willing to stick around to see if/when she becomes closer to enough.
posted by davejay at 2:02 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

If it took 3 months to win her over and she's not that into making out with you and has no interest in having sex, maybe "she's just not that into you"?

As a datapoint, I had an experience that matches this quite well. We did eventually have quite a bit of sex, but I got broken up with not too much later.
posted by trevyn at 2:08 PM on October 3, 2009

how long should I wait,

Until you start looking elsewhere.
will I ever be certain I'm doing the right thing if I've waited that long

You won't know until you get there.

what can I do make easier on me?

If she's constantly turning you just by her presence, then spend less time around her.

Move on, you two are in different place and at different levels of intimacy. You're ready for sex and understand a lot about it can enhance a relationship, but (and I'm politely guessing here), you don't have the maturity and experience yet to really let the issue go and just enjoy here as she is now. There's pressure from you and she can feel it. It may be quiet pressure, quietly or silently applied, but it's there, right? I'm guessing that you're driving her away a little bit or turning her off with this pressure and it's probably not going to be a real happy time if and when sex does happen, which it probably won't. She's not comfortable with her body to have sex and pushing the issue isn't going to help. She'll be ready when she's ready and there's no time table for that. Hell, to even expect a timetable probably messes the timetable.

None of this makes either of you bad people or one more right about the issue. You're just of two different minds about this issue and there's no way to bridge the gap from the tone of your post. Break up, then go have the sex you really want. Don't be surprised if it really isn't that satisfying.

That said, if you really want to work things out, then drop the issue of sex. Seriously drop it. Based on what you've wrote about the situation, spend six months not bringing up the sex issue. During that time, only kiss her, whatever way she's willing. Don't worry so much about complimenting her body, because she has issues about that, so every time you say something about her body, her inner critic is probably going to rear its head and that's someone that's hard to compete with so don't even try.

Instead, compliment her mind. She has a brain, help her use it, play with that part of her. Have Scrabble, chess, poker nights with her, whatever she's into. Find out what poetry or written word she likes and read it to her. What kind of music does she like? Find more of it and dance to it with her. Explore other types of music, books and/or movies. Go hiking and explore the outdoors if she's into that or do sports. Engage with and seduce her mind, because all this low self esteem is coming form inside and until she's feels better there, in her interior space, she's not probably not going to A) want to have sex or B) have sex and actually enjoy it.

If you do all the above, it has to be done selflessly, not with the expectation of sex at the end. In short you have to love her and be willing to put her happiness above your own at times. You would do these things because it's fun and you want to, not of pity for her and the low self esteem or thinking it'll make her want to fuck you. If you think you can do that, then sure, stick around and do it. If not, then it's time to move on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:09 PM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Thus my question, how long should I wait

You wait as long as it takes for her to be comfortable (and you do a lot to expedite that process by not pressuring her, not shaming her, not pathologizing her, and not badgering her), or you move on to something else. You are not in control of her decision, but you are in control of your contribution to the trust and communication in your relationship, so focus on that and respect the boundaries she needs.
posted by so_gracefully at 2:09 PM on October 3, 2009

OP: There is absolutely nothing wrong with your SO not being ready for sex. There is also nothing wrong with you wanting to be in a relationship that has a healthy physical dimension. Don't let anyone tell you differently on either front.

You have a decision to make. You're asking us how long you should wait. The answer is that only you can make that determination. There's nothing morally wrong with waiting for years. There is also nothing morally wrong with breaking up with her and looking for a relationship that meets all your needs. So this is purely a practical and emotional decision, not a moral one.

How long do you want to wait? That's how long you should wait. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either waiting or not waiting, so long as you are not a jerk about it either way.
posted by Justinian at 2:42 PM on October 3, 2009

She's at a statistical outlier for her age group and gender. It's just not that common to wait that long, either for the loss of virginity (I hate that phrasing, but "commencement of sexual union" sounds weird) or for a woman to get down to business with her SO ... unless Other Issues were afoot. Draw a bell curve (the distribution may not actually be a normal curve) and notice how it gets flat at the ends. Yeah. Once you're out there, there's not a particularly rapid decrease as you get further out. In other words, if you've waited this long, that's no guarantee that you will not be waiting awhile longer. Unless it was just some wacky luck of the draw, either she's got libidinal problems at the physical level, or other issues from the neck up.

You're her boyfriend, not her therapist. It's nice that you've waited a while and helped her get somewhat more comfortable, but it's not to be demanded.

Put another way, if the genders were reversed and the querent was asking about her boyfriend, who would only say "wait" in response to questions of engagement, marriage, and so forth, how many votes of "ditch the ..." would we see? Lots and lots. She's not obligated to have sex with you, but you aren't obligated to wait for, well, whenever she feels like it. People are more than happy to be in a comfortable place while they waste your time. And when it comes to who is getting what out of the relationship, she's in the catbird seat. Of course she'd like you to wait. This is a pretty good deal for her right now.

It's her body and she gets to decide who does what with it. It's also your time and you get to decide with whom you'll spend it.

Give yourself a limit of how much longer you are willing to wait (because you control your actions). Do not tell her this. Do not hint about this. Do not turn on the pressure. If you pass that point, pack up your stuff and bail, and do not look back. Most especially if she offers to "go through with it." You go through with it when it comes to getting your wisdom teeth yanked. If you're asking me to pick a number for you, I could do that, but you might as well roll some dice. You're already rolling them.
posted by adipocere at 3:02 PM on October 3, 2009

Have you seen this thread?

I agree with those who say that this is probably going to take too long for you to wait. Careful not to pathologize or pressure her.

One thing you might try is to encourage her to find her own desires, in this and other parts of life. If she says "I don't know, I kind of think I might like to maybe get some pasta? unless you want something else?" you could say, "oh, you should definitely have some pasta" (you could either eat pasta or go to a different restaurant in the food court). Knowing what you want, and getting it, are underrated in some parts of our society.
posted by salvia at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sounds like she's:

A lesbian

Maybe both?

Really, if she is having a hard time even you, it doesn't make her a bad person, it makes her a really unfun person to be in a sexual relationship with.
posted by kathrineg at 3:45 PM on October 3, 2009

Also, damn, you're NOT her shrink and there is only so much you can do before this relationship becomes skewed and weird as hell.

She can't expect you to wait unless she's really, really working on it--and no therapist or doctor really doesn't seem like she's working on it.

Consider that you two should go your separate ways, no anger or hatred or blame.
posted by kathrineg at 3:47 PM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

if ever there was a questionthat would be better answered by Dan Savage, this is it. Check his podcasts and columns.
posted by chuke at 5:02 PM on October 3, 2009

Wait as long as you feel like waiting. Do not pressure her in any way, don't even ask her or talk to her about it again, because believe me, she already knows you want to have sex and she already feels bad about not being able to just do it. I remember being in her place a few years ago - not being comfortable to do sexual things, and feeling bad about it - and if the guy I was dating even brought it up at all after the initial talk about it, my instinct was to say no. What helped me was dating a bunch of guys, and with each one I got a little more comfortable. As I got comfortable I actually wanted to do things and wanted to have sex, instead of just doing it because "the guy has been treating me OK so far, so I guess I should, right?"

So if you want to stick it out with her, be the best boyfriend you can be, make out with her so well that she'll WANT to do more with you. When you get to touch her 'down there,' tease he so she'll WANT to do more, so she'll go home and wonder what this masturbation thing is all about, because her body will be practically crying for more. Once she's more comfortable with herself, and knows that you're not pushing her, and once her body actually wants to do more, it'll be pretty damn hard to say no.

That's really all it is - I've had sex and done stuff with guys just because they were alright, but it was when I got more comfortable sexually and started actually feeling horny instead of always being on guard about having to say no, and when I learned what my body liked that's when I started enjoying everything. And that was around the age of 21, when I had my first good long term relationship. So just because she hasn't figured all this out yet at 21 doesn't mean she's a lesbian or asexual, because I am definitely neither of those.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 5:12 PM on October 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

There's a pretty big difference between a 21-year-old virgin dating a sexually experienced person for 6-7 months without intercourse and two sexually active people dating for 6-7 months without intercourse. I think the assumptions that she must be either asexual or gay are extreme. It sounds as if she's a young woman with zero sexual experience (particularly if she's only recently become comfortable with kissing) and some self-esteem/body image issues who has enough self-knowledge and self-respect to express that she does not yet feel comfortable and ready for sex.

So, you can decide how long you're willing to wait, and it doesn't make you a bad person if you decide you'd rather find a relationship with someone who is more comfortable with her sexuality. However, if you do decide to wait, I think you should consider it less of a countdown to intercourse than you seem to be implying. Either it's worth waiting until she feels comfortable, and worth working with her to build up the physical aspect of your relationship (not so much passively waiting for her to be ready as actively learning what makes her feel safe, comfortable, sexy, and loved), or it's not. To be honest, I think that needing to put a deadline on this indicates that, for you, it might not be worth it.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:43 PM on October 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Null Pointer and the Exceptions: "...(nothing like amateur videos you see on the net)...but never like most of what you see in porn."

Who ever said porn (even amateur) was an accurate representation of real-life sex?

. . .other then masturbation, it’s getting old

There are people a lot older than you who have not had sex with another person and we're not shrivelling away and dying.

Meg_Murry hit it right on the head.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:02 PM on October 3, 2009

Is she on antidepressants? Because that could explain a lot...
posted by Slinga at 7:50 PM on October 3, 2009

you are not her shrink. MOVE ON. if it takes more than a few months (god forbid a half year!!) to see eye to eye on something as fundamental as affection and sex, then you are NOT the perfect match. It's hard to admit this to yourself, but will save you several agonizing AskMeFi sequels in the future.
posted by mezamashii at 8:33 PM on October 3, 2009

I am EXACTLY like your girlfriend. When I first started dating my last serious boyfriend, we were both virgins. A year later, we still were. I was hesitant about anything heavier than kissing, about getting fully undressed, about going down on him (that was about 8 months in), etc. He was unbelievably patient with me, if baffled, even though his frat brothers ribbed him for it and though his ego took a hit because he thought he was somehow inadequate for not turning me on. I'm still not able to sort it all out, but here's some of what went through my mind. Obviously not all will apply to your gf, but take from it what you will.

First, what guys might find hard to believe, is that the penis is not exactly the most beautiful thing in the world. Seriously. It's like beer. Many girls have to get over their initial squeamishness and develop an acquired... erm, appreciation for it. So part of it might be a certain prudishness. Don't take it personally. Unless she really does not find you as attractive as you find her.

Second, it sounds like your girlfriend tends to be on the more private side ("she doesn't enjoy help with intensely personal things"), as am I, irl. I really had to struggle with the idea of emotional intimacy, and with it, physical intimacy. I mean -- literally exposing myself to another person, letting go of my inhibitions and barriers. It seemed too raw and honest for me, and I felt vulnerable. The prospect of being "naked" in multiple senses with someone I frankly hadn't known all that long scared me. I've had relatively few body image issues -- that doesn't mean I was not insecure on some other level about being physical with another person. I think this is shared by many other girls who are repressed about their sexuality.

I nth all the above advice about being really, really gentle, patient and understanding... never pushing her any further than she feels comfortable, never making her feel guilty or pressured. Believe me, she already knows it's not easy for you. You don't need to drop any hints. You are much more experienced than her... you have to guide her and be slow and almost tender about it.... whatever will help her to learn to enjoy the experience. My ex couldn't be this way as much as was needed because he wasn't much more experienced than I was, but his whole caring attitude helped a *lot.* And he was honest with me about how he felt, which encouraged me to be (more, but not completely) honest with him in turn, and we kind of felt our way through the dark together.

It doesn't guarantee that it would move things any faster (and remember that "progress" is relative -- it might seem slow to you, but not to her), but she will appreciate your patience, and in any case behaving the opposite will if anything reinforce her own hesitance. If the fact that this is no guarantee doesn't sit well with you, then... you should probably re-evaluate your true feelings for her. If you like her as much as you claim, the goal is not to get her to have sex with you. Right...?

On a final note, you might not be able to do it all yourself. I had 2 very close guy friends I turned to, to get a second opinion of what might be going through my ex's head, if it was that excruciating for him, and to gauge if it might be a deal-breaker for him. And of course my girl friends, who shared their own experiences with me, introduced me to vibrators, answered some of my stupid basic questions, and were just generally super supportive. So don't put all the burden on yourself. If she's truly willing to overcome her reservations, she will be enlisting other support.

Hope this was somewhat helpful...
posted by amillionbillion at 9:01 PM on October 3, 2009 [5 favorites]

I think you need to be clear on whether she isn't ready to have sex, or isn't aroused to any significant extent and thus doesn't want to have sex. There's a huge, huge difference between the two. Maybe you don't know and you need to ask her first. Either way, you'll get better advice once you clarify that.
posted by Nattie at 9:51 PM on October 3, 2009

From my understanding of the situation it isn't aroused to any significant extent. That was very helpful amillionbillion. At this point in time I'm not interested in leaving this person, if it was possible to measure happiness I'd definitely say that she makes me a much happier person then edge wise. The not being sexually compatible thing is starting to gnaw away at that, but the whole point of asking this question was to see if I thought I was a strong enough person to tough it out.

also she is not on anti-depressants.
posted by RawrGulMuffins at 11:41 PM on October 3, 2009

I was (and am) a very slow-starter in the sexual component of relationships. A lot of my original reluctance had to do with straight up not knowing what to do!

My first ever proper boyfriend, in college, ended up cheating on me for his sexual release, instead of bringing it to me first. After being bitter and upset about this for way too long, and a few boyfriends later, I've sort of figured out what he SHOULD have done (but was obviously incapable of, considering how much of a jerkwad he was).

He was sexually experienced and I was not, he was aroused by me and I thought he was cute but didn't want to throw off all my clothes and rub myself all over him or anything. I told him right away that I wanted to take things slow, that I was a virgin, and he seemed okay with this. But the relationship stalled. He saw my lack of sexual willingness as a sign that I thought he was disgusting, that I didn't want ANYTHING and that he should NEVER mention it. But that wasn't it!

I'm proud and really hate to be wrong. I'm nervous about everything. If he had *taught* me, things might have worked out a bit more for the better. There is a fine line between pushing your GF and enlightening her, but maybe if you took charge a little bit, sat her down and asked her if she's curious about anything, if she wants to know what you like and how things are done, some things she might enjoy, and all those little, weird, unspoken details that they never include in movies, she might be more willing to give things a try. The mystery of the unknown can be extremely scary, and extremely weird. If you express to her that you're completely happy to try anything, anything at all, and happy to explain *anything* in unrelenting detail before you try it, it might help dispel some of her qualms, and encourage her to think more sexually.

Does your girlfriend ever talk about thinking fictional guys or celebrities are cute or hot? A lot of girls find the distance and unattainable quality of celebs or characters to be a safe-zone for them to feel sexually attracted to a man. If she's never had a crush on anybody like that, ever, then there might be something more to this than a late-bloomer. Pro tip: Show her Hugh Jackman, in Kate & Leopold, as Hugh Jackman in X-Men. If she's not at least a little titillated by ONE of those, either she hates white dudes, she's gay, or there's some serious baggage to work through. (Kidding, kidding...)
posted by Mizu at 1:45 AM on October 4, 2009

I stayed in a sexually incompatible relationship for a year and a half or more (after a year and a half of being together) "waiting" for things to change. If this is truly a libido issue and you have a high sex drive, it ain't ever going to change.
As a female with a high sex drive with a man with a dwindling libido it was hard to deal as our culture assumes it's the other way around. I stayed that long (3.5 years all together) because it was my first real long term relationship, and I thought I could "make do" with sex every few months. Turns out I can't.

She is unlikely to all of a sudden switch it into high gear permanently. I was a virgin until I was 20, but I have always had a strong libido and known it. I feel like you would know if she was just "bottling it up" instead of really honestly having some issues with this for whatever reason (even if that is being mildly asexual, generally low libido or if she maybe has some deeper repressed stuff).

My advice - get out of this relationship as soon as is convenient and comfortable.
posted by smartypantz at 5:39 AM on October 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I am EXACTLY like your girlfriend.

This may be the case, but none of us can interpret your girlfriend's reasons simply from the info you provide. There are many possible motivations - she may be sexually timid, she may just have a low sex drive in general, she may be sexually unattracted to you in particular. Maybe amillionbillion is right and you can be attracted to someone and still be unable to engage, but it's also the case that a person can like someone but not be sexually interested.

If she is getting what she wants from the relationship - companionship, care, perhaps flattery and gifts - she may simply not want to add anything more, and even if you eventually convince her to add the sexual component it may never truly be what she wants. You need to work out whether the sexual aspect is something she honestly desires but is having trouble bringing to fruition, or if it is something she does not really want to start with.

Does she fantasize about you? Does she stare into your eyes and tell you you're attractive? Does she (or did she initially) get nervous around you? Does she not want to make out because she isn't sure what to do, or because she isn't really enjoying it? There are details of the way you interact that I think can help you work out whether she is working through something, or basically what from the guy's perspective might be called leading you on... (not that she's doing it intentionally, but if she isn't going to become sexually excited, you're better off moving on sooner rather than later)
posted by mdn at 9:07 AM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

First, what guys might find hard to believe, is that the penis is not exactly the most beautiful thing in the world. Seriously. It's like beer. Many girls have to get over their initial squeamishness and develop an acquired... erm, appreciation for it.

Please understand that you are speaking for yourself here. And perhaps for some other women, but there are millions of other women in the world who think penises are awesome, and did so from the first time they saw one.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:33 PM on October 4, 2009

Agreed, I generally find penises quite awesome.
posted by kathrineg at 9:23 PM on October 4, 2009

This story is as old as mankind: The beautiful, untouchable virgin is fought for and won like a prize. Unfortunately, the reality of this story is that girls like that are generally not predisposed to being unselfish, giving partners.

She's not exactly going onto metafilter and asking, "how can I become comfortable with losing my virginity to this man?", right? If she's not making you happy then no matter how much you admire her or are attracted to her, it's going to be a tough road for you.

Man, that was one of the most messed up things I've read in a while. She's not selfish; she's just not ready. My guess is that it's just because she's a late bloomer, as I was. I didn't enjoy sex for a long time because I did it with the men I thought I was supposed to be having sex with, not men I was attracted to. If a man was nice to me and complimented me and was patient and asked me out over and over again even when I said no, I eventually felt like I was wrong and "selfish" for saying no to him, and I would sleep with him and hate it. If I dated one of those men for a while, I would do or say anything to get out of sex and felt resigned when I couldn't. If a man pressured me or begged me enough, I would just give in. I went to therapy to figure out what was wrong with my libido, the same way some of your are suggesting the girlfriend do, at which points my therapist helped me to understand that I could say no for as long as I damn well pleased and that it didn't make me an ice princess or a tease or "selfish." Eventually I learned to enjoy sex because it became about my enjoyment and not only about the man's. It took me a long time to realize that, though, because I was so busy being unselfish that I didn't realize the problem was that I was forcing myself to date men I wasn't attracted to in order to be a "good girl."

I don't know what to say about this case. Maybe she just doesn't find you attractive. Maybe she does but her libido hasn't kicked in yet. I don't see any evidence that she's asexual or a lesbian and am very confused by the responses that suggest those things. In any case, no matter what you do, don't pressure her to seek medical help or therapy. That's her choice. The only choice you have is whether or not to wait. Making her feel like something's wrong with her might make her sleep with you eventually, but she also might wind up hating you for it in the long run.
posted by coffeeflavored at 10:41 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't think this is all that strange. She may just want to really know you and be certain that you two are love. She may be smart enough to know that she doesn't know you that well yet. How many people have had sex early on in the relationship only to end it less than a year later?

I have had several female friends who waited until they were about 25 to have sex. They were all just women who knew what they wanted or rather what they didn't want. Besides, plenty of people who are not virgins wait several months into a new relationship before having sex.

Are you really in love with this girl? Or do you just think you are? If this is all you can think about and it's a deal breaker then I think you should move on. It sounds like you two are very different in how you think a relationship should unfold.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 10:45 PM on October 4, 2009

I_love_squirrels, no where in my post did I say if I love this woman. I frankly have no clue and I'm not willing to say that if I'm still on the fence about it.

Thanks everyone for your advice and time. I didn't quite realize how varied the responses would be to this question but most of what was on here has given me things to think about.
posted by RawrGulMuffins at 11:22 PM on October 4, 2009

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