Our contributor Katherine Chen, who is a sophomore English major at Princeton University (check out her personal site here), is penning a series of confessions for EMandLO.com collectively called “The Virgin Diaries.” Here’s her fifth installment:
A few months ago, I was working on a paper at home when the phone rang and on the other end of the line, I heard what sounded at first like a combination of gasps and moans.
“Katherine!” The voice broke off into a series of heart wrenching sobs. “He called me a whore!”
Long story short, my friend had recently announced her engagement to a young man she had been seeing for a little over two years. She had mistakenly spilled the happy news to an ex-boyfriend who she still kept in touch with, and he had without warning showed up at her doorstep in an attempt to sweep her off her feet (literally). Her fiancé, of course, was none too happy that someone was trying to steal his future bride. But instead of channeling his anger at the ex-boyfriend, he decided to vent his displeasure by blaming her.
For the rest of the evening, I was on the phone trying to calm my friend down while she begged me to speak with her ex-boyfriend about leaving her alone. Eventually, with encouragement from me, she stood up for herself, confronted her fiance about his disrespectful behavior (he apologized) and called her ex herself and insisted he keep his distance (he has).
And this wasn’t the first time a friend has come to me for advice about some big romantic issue.
Since I was in high school, I have been approached with questions and problems ranging from losing one’s virginity to having anal sex for the first time, neither of which I have ever experienced before. A few weeks ago, a former roommate of mine complained to me over green tea at a local cafe about how her boyfriend refused to get tested for STDs. Days later, she called me in a state of hysterics, asking me whether she should break up with him. Having read many articles on the necessity of practicing safe sex (and knowing they haven’t been), I advised her to cut off all intercourse until he began taking a little responsibility for their sexual health and peace of mind (she did and he has).
It’s ironic that I’ve become, in a way, the relationship guru within my circle of friends. My best friend tells me that I am a good listener, but I think there’s more to it than that. I believe that my utter lack of sexual experience enables me to get to the kernel of these various relationship issues — it allows me to be more objective.
Oftentimes, the problem has nothing to do with sex. A friend who was worried about getting “experimental” in the bedroom ended up realizing, after talking it through with me, that her insecurities were all founded on the fact that she was unhappy with her body. Yet another friend wanted to know why her boyfriend never went down on her, and after a few conversations, we came to the conclusion that he was just not a “giving” sort of person, not only in bed but also in everyday life. (He forgot her birthday on two occasions and in an attempt to make up for it, took her out to Hooters three nights in a row!)
While I do not consider myself a relationship expert, I realize that there are advantages to viewing and understanding a relationship outside the complicated realm of sex. Listening to my friends, I am more concerned with their happiness and security than their prowess between the sheets. I am less prone to chastise or judge them if they confess to feeling pressured in bed or worried about their bodies. And despite the fact that I am not one of the “initiated,” my friends tell me that I have a healthy outlook on sex and an even healthier understanding of happiness and success.
To some, seeking advice from a virgin about anything sex-related may be ridiculous, but I would say that wisdom does not always come from experience. Usually, the friends and acquaintances who turn to me for help already know, deep down, what they should or should not do, or what choice would benefit them the most. But sometimes it just takes someone with an open ear and mind to help them realize it, regardless of whether or not that someone has ever been in their shoes. After all, what good would it really do to get into technical jargon about sex positions when the real issues at stake are ones of trust, love, and happiness?