The Virgin Diaries: How I Became a Relationship Guru

photo by eflon

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?


  1. Katherine, you self important fool. Your friends ask you questions about sex and that makes you a guru, OMG, all it does is make you someone youyr friends feel comfortable talking to. As Madamoiselle L said, your friends ask your advice than go do whatever they were going to do anyhow, only they did it after talking to you. Has anyever said you were wrong? Of course not, because in your position there is no right or wrong. You really need to stop thinking of yourself as a sex guru and stop giving your friends advice and if you do that you will see your friends continue to do whatever they want, they will continue to be happy and you can lament that you had nothing to do with it.

  2. @Madmoiselle L:

    Is sex really the only important thing in your life? The only thing that takes up your time? Personally, I have a life outside of sex- just because I’m not currently ‘getting any’ doesn’t mean I’m sitting at home knitting in my rocking chair, surrounded by 15 cats, just waiting for the phone to ring with some news from the amazing, exciting (sex) lives of my friends.
    Sex isn’t quantum physics, and in an area that doesn’t require specialist training, like relationships, an outside perspective is always valuable. Katherine isn’t suggesting that virginity bestows divine advice-giving power, merely that as someone unaffected by those issues, she can offer something different.

  3. I’m afraid that I have to disagree with Caroline, and side with Katherine. I, too, am a virgin by choice. I could get into reasons, but there’s no need at this particular moment and place. And, I have refrained from dating for my entire life (except for a few months back when I was in fourth grade). I could get into those reasons but…no point. Anyways, because I have kept myself out of the dating/sexing circle, I have maintained an objective stance. And, I have had more than enough time to observe relationships. I’ve seen some work and I’ve seen some fail. Through watching, I’ve learned, in theory, what makes a relationship truly work. My serial dating friends can’t step far enough away from men to see anything that I’ve seen.

    So, that being said, I totally understand where Katherine is coming from. When one refrains from certain things, one can learn a lot by just watching.

  4. Katherine, please, let’s stop the self denial. You may be a “relationship guru” (although I have my doubts) but if you are, it is NOT because you are a virgin.

    It is because your lack of your own sex-love-relationship status that you have THE TIME to listen to your friends cry about theirs.

    I’m sorry. But, not knowing how to do things, doesn’t make you an expert on them. It doesn’t make you “objective” it only causes you to have the time to listen.

    Most people who ask for “Advice” only want others to tell them what they wanted to hear and give them permission for what they wanted to do in the first place. My guess is, you LISTEN (not a bad thing) and offer small condolences and then your friends go off and do whatever they were going to do in the first place. Which is what so many people do.

    Does my little nothing about Quantum Physics make me the person MIT is going to go to when they have a question about String Theory they can’t solve, because my lack of knowing much about it makes me “more objective?” No. Same with sex, only more so. I can learn about String Theory by reading about it, one can really only learn about relationships by HAVING them.

    Anybody can nod and offer a shoulder to cry on. Some just have less time in their own busy lives (because much of that time is taken up actually LIVING THEIR OWN SEX LIVES AND RELATIONSHIPS) to always be the one everyone goes to with their problems.

    You might be the person people go to, but my guess is it is because you have more time for your friends due to a lack of a relationship of your own. Not that you know more than those of us who actually have had them and are in them.

  5. Yeah, you know a lot about sex in theory. But once you actually do it, everything kind of changes.

    You’re missing out on a whole lot of life. Sex is a great thing. No one should do it before they’re ready (then it wouldn’t be that great)…but no one should ever deny they’re missing out on one of the best things about being alive.

  6. Wow, you know… I noticed that many of my non-virgin friends come to me for sexual advice as well. Like you, I’m a virgin who knows a lot about sex… at least, in theory. I suppose that the knowledge of sex combined with a lack of objectivity is why they seem to come to me, just like your friends come to you.

    I also wanted to add, thank you for your articles. 🙂 I am a 22 year old virgin by choice, and although, as I stated, some of my friends are still virgins, we don’t share the same reasons. I’ve been reading your articles, though, and I find myself agreeing and saying, “me too!” very, very often. 🙂 So thanks! I don’t feel so alone anymore.

  7. Great Post! This is absolutely true, I can say from experience. Or lack thereof…

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