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The Sexual Debutante: How do you tell your partner you've never had sex? Do you even have to tell?


Some excellent questions from one of our readers:

Other than "I'm a virgin," (which I hate, with its noun-ness, it's definition of a person by their sexual history) how do you say to a potential partner: "By the way, I haven't had sex before." What are some options?

Looking for terminology that's not purity- or virginity-based, on the less-of-a-big-deal, don't-freak-out side of things.

Also curious about thoughts on not telling a potential first-time partner, and just doing it. Is that deceitful? A bad idea? Or reasonable privacy? (Like, is there the same "should" about telling someone it's your first time having oral sex?)

Defining virginity is always problematic, and I'm growing more and more dissatisfied with the phrase "losing your virginity" and recently heard a great alternative*: Making your sexual debut. Wouldn't that sound so much more sophisticated at the moment of truth? And you could define that debut any damn way you pleased.

I had no intention of telling my first partner, but he figured it out really fast (due to the fact that I had no idea what I was doing). And he was pretty unhappy about it too. Contrary to the virginity pornographers and religious zealots, men want women with some experience (but not too much because that would be slutty...groan...that's a whole other post)

What do you think? How would you say it? And do you think it needs to be said at all?

*From Shira Tarrant at the fabulous Feminist Sex panel at Bluestockings Bookstore in New York. I think she had heard it somewhere else so I'm not sure of its origins. A review of the event is here.