Non-Sex Reasons For First Sex

Women-with-Vaginal-Problems-after-Sexual-Intercourse-039-Allergic-039-to-Partner-039-s-Semen-2[1]Freud may have named sex drive the primary motivational force among humans, but sometimes you gotta wonder. Because sex serves other aims an awful lot of the time.

How about first sex? According to a 2011 study by Laura M. Carpenter, PhD, many see virginity as a gift to give to someone special, with the goal of strengthening the relationship. Women were more likely than men to have this purpose in mind, though some men did, too.

Men were more likely to have sex to shed the stigma of virginity. Not surprisingly, women were much less likely to state that reason, though some did. But for men, especially, it can be embarrassing to be a virgin.

About one third of those in Carpenter’s study saw losing virginity as a rite of passage, a step toward growing up. By the way, this group was the most satisfied with the experience, perhaps having lower expectations. They typically planned for the moment, complete with birth control, and they could more easily take a bad first experience in stride.

Looking at a 1994 study, by comparison, half of women said they had sex for the first time out of affection, which fits well with social expectations that women will have sex out of love — or “strengthening a relationship” as cited in the 2011 survey. Meanwhile, 51% of men had sex for the first time out of curiosity or because they felt ready. This fits well with a focus on achieving manhood (“ready” to be men).

Interestingly, only 12% of men and 3% of women said they had sex for pleasure their first
time, in the 1994 survey. Carpenter didn’t separate out “pleasure” as a separate category, and said it was most often attached to “ridding self of stigma” in her study.

By the way, the 2011 survey found that women and men were more alike than expected. “The idea we have from TV and movies is that for women it’s all about love and for men it’s all about getting it over with,” Carpenter related. “If men and women shared metaphors, the choices they made and the kinds of experiences they had were pretty similar. That’s something that hasn’t been noticed that much.”

Carpenter also noted that gays and straights were similar in their experiences.

All in all, it’s interesting to see how often pleasure takes a back seat to other concerns when it comes to sex. I’ll discuss this in a variety of other contexts to come.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on January 8, 2013, in gender, men, psychology, relationships, sex, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Interesting stuff there. Kinda… browsed over the rest of people who lost there virginity for other reasons (like being so wasted they didn’t know what was going on… not sure what percent that makes up)

    I do like that people in general aren’t romanticizing the event as portrayed in pop culture though!

    • Yeah, wasted. Maybe people don’t like to admit that one.

      • Probably not… I happen to be fairly forthcoming and also, its been a number of years and have come to terms with it.

        Also, I think at least my subconscious was “ready” (I was like 21, id waited long enough for prince charming, heck im still waiting, sooo glad I just got it done then!) bc id been in that situation like 20 times before, with men I actually had solid relationship and managed to “come to” before “the act”. So… who knows, wasted, ready or a combo of the two.

        Yep, that’s my story and im stickin to it!

  2. There are some very interesting reasons on this list. I had sex for the first time (don’t like using the term “lost my virginity”) when I was 15 to the guy I was with at the time. We’d had several attempts getting so far, then me deciding it wasn’t the time.

    It sucked, but to be fair to the guy, it didn’t get any better.

  3. This is an interesting topic because everyone’s scenario is different losing their virginity. I must say however that when I was in High school the topic of sex was common, but only amongst couples. It would be a problem for a high school girl to be givng away her body carelessly to whom ever asked for it, but growing up with the idea of “love and sex”, most girls seemed to have had long term boyfriends who were losing their virginities, in hopes of holding on to their high school sweethearts. I can even remember personally having a special someone for years until one day she was comfortable enough to choose me as her first experience, obviously she fealt she was in love, and I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to tell my friends. Why? because I thought that was what the cool kids did, it meant you were a “man”. I know better know.

  4. In the generation that we are living in today many people don’t view virginity as a gift anymore because sex now days is so easy to get. Sex has become so easy to get that people don’t value relationships anymore and just rush into sex because of lust and being pressured. Our society is so focused on sex that people don’t care about saving themselves for marriage and rather have sex with anyone just to say there experienced. If I knew what I know now, I would’ve definately save myself for marriage. Having sex so soon has also made finding love harder because people are so lustful and more concerned about getting laid rather than finding that one and staying loyal.

  5. Throughout my life people have their own opinions about “virginity” there has been people that told me they have had sex with someone special and ive met people that just had sex with a random person and totally forgot about it. Growing up my parents raised me to wait untill im married or actually find that one that just wont have sex with me and then leave. Everyone has their different views on what they want to do with their sex life and also to whom they want to share it with as well. I know in Highschool it was the new “thing” going around having sex and if you werent, you were conisered a loser or even unwanted. I honeslty didnt feel left out because i knew that it wasnt an imporant part in my life and i can wait for that “one” person.

  6. Being a young adult and having teen friends, we have the trust to talk about relationships between each other. It is surprising how many girls have sex just to make the relationship stronger and to make their “boyfriend” be happy with the relationship. Now a days, people have sex just to have fun, it is not about love or sustaining a strong relationship with your significant other. My view on losing your virginity is that for women it is a big deal if they are not virgins and for men its like if they gain points for not being virgins and sleeping with many women. Thats my point of view on people losing their virginity and why they do it.

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