How big of a deal is adult virginity in a relationship, really?

Korin Miller
Colton Underwood (Photo: ABC)

Bachelorette star Becca Kufrin had to make several emotional decisions when it came to picking her top four on Monday night’s show, but a solid portion of the episode was focused on the fact that contestant Colton Underwood is a virgin.

Underwood, 26, is a former NFL player who told Kufrin that his career got in the way of his relationships. “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. Kufrin looked surprised and even excused herself from their dinner for a few minutes, seemingly to get her thoughts together. While Underwood got a rose, it was pretty clear that Kufrin wasn’t sure how to handle his revelation.

Underwood is far from the only person to remain a virgin in adulthood — some do it by choice, while others, like Underwood, just haven’t found the right situation yet. People reacted pretty strongly on Twitter, defending Underwood and stressing that his virginity shouldn’t be 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. “Sex 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 sex represents to them, Klow says. Couples like Kufrin and Underwood could potentially face additional relationship obstacles depending on what sex means to them, he says, noting that in some cases a lack of sex 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 sex 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 have had sex for 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 sex 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 sexual 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 sex is a meaningful and connected act.”

Underwood has since tweeted that “there was 0 intent to be disrespectful” when Kufrin stepped away from their conversation.

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

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