It was an exciting start to The Bachelor Monday night, as former NFL star Colton Underwood met the 30 women who will spend a season vying for his heart. But as with his run on The Bachelorette this summer, his virginity was an immediate topic of discussion. In conversation with one of the women Monday, Underwood echoed a conversation from this summer with then-Bachelorette Becca Kufrin.
When Kufrin asked about his decision to stay a virgin, the 26-year-old said his career was a major reason why he’d yet to have an intimate relationship. “I haven’t had that many girlfriends or that many dates because of sports,” he said. “I spent a lot of time working on football Colton, and I sorta forgot who personal Colton is. … And because of that I still am, I am a virgin,” he continued.
Underwood is far from the only person to remain a virgin in adulthood — some do it by choice, while others, like him, just haven’t found the right situation yet. As they did this summer, people reacted pretty strongly on Twitter to defend Underwood and stress that his virginity isn’t a big deal.
Whether virginity makes a big impact on an adult relationship ultimately depends on the couple, David Klow, licensed marriage and family therapist, founder of Chicago’s Skylight Counseling Center and author of the book You Are Not Crazy: Letters From Your Therapist, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Seχ carries a lot of different meanings for different people,” he says. “For some, being a virgin might have one sort of significance; for another it might be something totally different.”
The important thing is for both people in the relationship to be on a similar page when it comes to what this represents to them, Klow says. Couples like Kufrin and Underwood could potentially face additional relationship obstacles depending on what seχ means to them, he says, noting that in some cases a lack of intimacy could cause a disconnect. In others, it’s not a big deal.
But ultimately, this shouldn’t matter, licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go?, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There are not that many people for whom the first time they have seχ both people are virgins,” she says. This is only seen as a big deal because there are societal expectations around when a person is “supposed” to the first time, Durvasula says.
If two people have different viewpoints about virginity, it’s important for them to have open communication about what the status means to them, Klow says. “Better understanding one another’s thoughts and feelings can go a long way toward more satisfying intimacy,” he says. Creating a no-pressure environment around seχ can also go a long way, Durvasula says.
And if one person treats the other’s virginity as a source of shame or makes fun of it, it’s probably better to step away, Durvasula says. “I know people whose first experience was not until their 30s, and they figured it out,” she says. “But it takes communication, a supportive partner, removal of shame and stigma, and a recognition that seχ is a meaningful and connected act.”
Underwood tweeted (in a post that has since been taken down) that “there was 0 intent to be disrespectful” when Kufrin stepped away from their conversation.
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