The 39 year old semi-virgin
November 23, 2012 4:29 PM   Subscribe

I'm dating someone new who is 38 and considers herself to be more or less a virgin. She's nervous about sex but also pretty interested. How can I make this ok for her? Total NSFW oversharing below...

I'll try to skip all the snowflakes and give you the meat.

I've been out 5 times with someone I like a whole lot. She's 39, and confessed to me the other night that she's had sex only a few times, never with the same person. She's fooled around a lot with some partners while in long term relationships (she was formerly religious, so PIV sex was not on the table). Sounds to me like she was in the sort of late 30s thing of trying to find a partner and being frustrated, a little picky and maybe just never moving forward very much.

She came over my house the last night and we had some pretty awesome naked making out. I felt like she was meeting me more than halfway in every sense. But as far as actual sex goes, she was way too nervous to do it.

So I'm just looking for some suggestions on how to handle this. I'd like her to be comfortable. I do find it difficult to be totally rational and supportive in that situation because my own hormones are going into total high gear, but I'm doing my best, and she's expressed that she feels really comfortable with me.

Something I noticed is that she's super, super easily aroused. I never saw someone who could almost climax just from gentle touching of her pubic hair. Breasts, likewise. She said everything felt great, and she looked like she was very much into it, but she said that she feels like she's losing control, and she's not totally comfortable with that feeling.

She volunteered that she has not been abused. I really do feel like she desires to figure all of this out. And she has a nice, natural way of being physically affectionate...not awkward at all. It was really enjoyable being with her. I have a personal problem moving too fast with sex, which has been a tremendous relationship killer in the past.

If I didn't feel a tremendous amount of chemistry between us, I would probably not choose to date someone who considers herself a virgin. But I like her quite a bit, and she seems to feel similarly. So, I'm looking for thoughts or advice on how to make her more comfortable. I can only imagine how nervous I'd be about sex if I hadn't really had any at our age. That said I feel like I can only dig in so deep with someone in a relationship before I'm wondering what sex would be like between us.

Fundamentally there's just a basic question on making her feel relaxed enough to be able to try to have sex. She was saying that she feels like it might help her to get really drunk, which is not really appealing to me. Maybe a valium or something might help. But she definitely is pretty nervous about the basic sensation of sex and that's manifesting itself physically.

Anyway, thoughts, observations, anequdotes would be very appreciated.

posted by mockpuppet to Human Relations (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I get that "really drunk" is not appealing, certainly. How about "tipsy," would that be OK? Or: is pot an option? A socio-muscular relaxant does not necessarily make things any less "real," so long as it's OK for both of you.
posted by thisclickableme at 4:37 PM on November 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

She was saying that she feels like it might help her to get really drunk, which is not really appealing to me.

There's a middle ground with alcohol; a couple glasses of wine can leave you nicely relaxed without the problematic issues of serious boozing.

But I was caught by this:

I have a personal problem moving too fast with sex, which has been a tremendous relationship killer in the past.

Because the serious answer here is to just slow down and move at the speed she is ok with, knowing that it might take quite a while. If that's not something you can do, that's not good; pushing too fast is bad news, and more so when the other person is seriously nervous. I don't want to read too much into one sentence of a question, but that's not a healthy approach.
posted by Forktine at 4:41 PM on November 23, 2012 [8 favorites]

Talking about this out of bed, when you are relatively sane, might be good. What does she want? How does she see things unfolding? What do you want? etc.

Taking a step back and spending less nekkid time together would build some trust which would also help with the relaxation.
posted by bunderful at 4:43 PM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Forktine...I don't want to thread sit but I did. I agree about the speed thing. But she wants to at least explore things. While we haven't really entirely set up the rules of engagement as such, she told me that she'd wanted to come over and make out without me having to ask.'s a little tough to take things totally slow because she's taking off her own clothes and seems to be enjoying things quite a bit. I didn't feel like I was pushing her, and she said the same.

It's just a bit of a scary zone for me, being turned on and naked with someone who is turned on and naked and not having sex. But it was actually pretty pleasurable and not all that frustrating. So...a good thing for me and good practice.
posted by mockpuppet at 4:48 PM on November 23, 2012

It sounds like she's okay with where things are now, but doing more would be too much. So keep doing what you're doing -- and regard it as good practice for you -- and do not push things further, let her be the one to initiate it going further if that happens. She'll become more comfortable with the scary feeling of no control that she's at now, and eventually curiosity will overcome.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:54 PM on November 23, 2012

I also fear losing control and for me it's because I've yet to find a guy who I feel won't judge me for what I look like when I'm climaxing or if I inadvertently make some weird sound or like have some weird rush of bodily fluid that grosses him out. I worry about how I look during sex a lot and it makes me stressed enough to avoid it sometimes. Maybe you could ask her to elaborate on what aspects of losing control concern her most, and then take extra steps to show her how you respect her and love her no matter what and want her to let go and feel good?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:55 PM on November 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

"Really drunk" is a bad idea. For me, at least, it makes it impossible to reach orgasm. Which, of course, makes the experience far less pleasurable. I would definitely recommend the "a couple glasses of wine" strategy, if alcohol is to be involved.
posted by Because at 6:22 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I heard somewhere that relationships should always move at the pace of the slowest member. So whether it's conversation (not interrupting), comittment, shared time, physical intimacy, or emotional intimacy, the respectful thing to do- and the thing that makes the other feel safe- is to wait at their level as long as neccessary until they are ready to move forward. It's hard to remember when you're excited and eager, but it seems like pretty great advice when practised.

More specifically, are you two 'in a relationship' or are you still 'dating'? Are you at the stage where you love each other? Personally, I would not be able to feel safe and relaxed having sex with someone unless it was in the context of a loving, commited relationship; it's too intimate of an activity for me to want to share with someone who is still testing me out and might leave at any moment.

This is partly because I am someone who wants it to be 'making love', and partly because I could never relax and enjoy myself if we were still in the noncommital dating stage; my particular insecurities and issues would make me feel like I was performing, like it was a test that was going to make-or-break the person's decision to be with me. I'm not saying your ladyfriend is the same way, it's just a viewpoint to consider. She might have somewhat similar feelings.
posted by windykites at 7:07 PM on November 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

I sincerely hope this relationship goes well for you, as you sound like a decent, sensitive person. But since you asked for anecdotes... I've known five women who have presented themselves as sexually-inexperienced-yet-wildly-responsive to new beaux. In each instance, their end goal was pregnancy; this presentation made it easy to get "carried away in the heat of the moment" and not use birth control. If you're letting her set the pace, be mindful your chemistry doesn't have unintended consequences for you.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:55 PM on November 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Keep doing what you're doing. Naked. One day or night you'll find yourself in a situation to ask "is this OK with you?" and she'll say yes and you'll both be happy. Doing it drunk is a bad idea and a prescription for regret and possibly anger the next morning.

Last comment - from somewhat similar personal experience - if you do this, you should be prepared for a very serious commitment. It kind of like what Cuba Gooding Jr says to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire - " A single mother, that's a sacred thing, man... A real man does not shoplift the pootie from a single mom." I'm not saying that's what you're planning to do just emphasizing that this sounds like a really really big deal for her. If you decide in a couple of months or even years that its not for you, you should be prepared for her to be very upset and angry.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 9:57 PM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

she was formerly religious

Speaking from experience here, you will want to explore in conversation how she feels between the intersection of her own feelings of sexuality now versus all the years of her religious devotion / discipline / restrictions and residual feelings she may be carrying into the present.

This takes time to adjust thinking against the newly awakened feelings.

This can happen somewhat on autopilot (as good advice has already been given) to let things continue organically, but you will want to have this conversation. It can take different directions and should be a welcomed one at that certain stage of a relationship where spiritual interests are discussed, compared, debated and explored.

Sounds like you've got a real "keeper", as there are quite a few benefits to having a person who was formerly religious as a life partner. Best of luck!
posted by scooterdog at 6:29 AM on November 24, 2012

I had a boyfriend in my teens who did naked makeout without sex before we ever slept together. For me, that hugely helped put me at ease and helped me feel trusting -- and I had boatloads of baggage. So I think you are off to a good start.

As for penetration, I would think if there is enough orgasm and non-penile vaginal penetration (tongue, fingers) before you get to penile penetration, it might become a minor detail at that point.

As for her nervousness, I have two thoughts:

1) I used to have some mild-to-moderate sensory issues and orgasm left me feeling overwhelmed, like I would float away. Being held snugly during and after orgasm helped with that piece of it. I used to fear this was psychological but I am now clear that it was physical. Logistically, dealing with this physical piece of the equation wasn't hard once my husband and I figured it out, but my fear that it was psychological and that it said something bad about me would have caused problems for every new relationship had I not married young and stayed married a long time.

2) I was frigid when I was younger. I am generally pretty responsive these days but I can still be completely frigid in the absence of an emotional connection. So there is still some correlation between how I feel about a man and how responsive I am. I have responded really strongly to five men. Two were absolute jackasses about the whole thing. One was generally really good to me but still developed foot in mouth disease about this detail of our relationship. Another was somewhere between jackass and just unfortunately undiplomatic. Only one man made me feel actually good about being so responsive to him. I carried a torch for him for about eight years after we went our separate ways.

I think one issue is that we basically don't have any nice words in English for a woman who is highly sexual. You can call a man a "stud" and it can be a compliment but similar words for women are pretty uniformily derogatory. So I think part of the problem (though by no means all of it) for a couple of the men who insulted me is that they were kind of caught off guard and just didn't have a readily available means to positively characterize it. Nonetheless, I basically never forgave them. For me, it was experienced as "oh, so I really, really like you and the evidence of my strong feelings is good reason to spit in my face?"

So I would encourage you to think about that piece of general cultural baggage -- that assumption our language expresses that a woman who really likes sex is unworthy of respect -- and think before you speak. This has become a huge personal hang-up for me. Given how society characterizes women who like sex, I don't think I am merely being neurotic and I suspect most women would also be nervous about being treated negatively for responding strongly to a particular guy.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 6:56 AM on November 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

So one thing I'm not clear about from your question is whether she's not comfortable enough to have PIV sex, or whether oral sex, handjobs, and other activities that might lead to orgasm but not insertion are also making her nervous.

Because honestly, I've had relationships where PIV was off the table for various reasons for weeks or months, and everybody involved was feeling plenty satisfied during that time, and there were no weird surprises when that actually happened. It was pretty much exactly as expected from everything else that came before.

Especially if it's primarily the physical sensation of insertion that makes her nervous, can you try telling her you're 100% fine with PIV being off the table until she's completely comfortable with it? You may honestly be surprised by how much really fun, awesome, creative sex you have in the meantime.
posted by psycheslamp at 11:39 AM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Getting it on, and Joy of Sex.

And, ahem, fingers first.
posted by xm at 9:32 PM on November 24, 2012

I regret my earlier answer. My knowledge of a handful of troubled women has no bearing on your situation, and I'm sorry for mentioning it. I'd rather I'd posted something along these lines: You're involved with a formerly religious, sexually inexperienced person in her late 30s; it's good you're letting her set the pace. Just make sure you're on the same page with regard to contraception (and, abortion) and are suitably prepared.

Best of luck to you both.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:08 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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