Today we're highlighting 28-year-old Matt Higgins, an American journalist based in Indonesia . He talks to us about what women really want, virginity testing in the police force, and why newspaper reporting and a love life don't always mix. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.
Tell us about yourself:
I am a 28-year-old, heterosexual male – born and bred in the American Midwest but moved to Southeast Asia to cling to the dream of working in newspapers. On top of being a virgin, I've never been kissed and haven't managed so much as one date in the past 10 years.
Mind you, that's not a plea for help or an attempt to foist blame for my situation on others (like those truly frightening YouTube videos Dan Savage linked to recently). My foibles are my own and of my own doing. I knew back in high school that being a reporter at a daily newspaper would entail long, strange hours and likely preclude any chance at a social life, and yet years down the road, here I am, still in the game.
Why? Because this is what stirs my passions. Staring at a blank page every day with the chance to create, inform and entertain is still irresistible. My profession may not last forever – heck, it might not make it to the end of the month at this rate – but as long as I have this, I'm OK with being alone. When it's gone? Well....
How do you define virginity?
Every person, it seems, has their own line of demarcation. In my mind, you relinquish your V-Card upon consensual vaginal or anal penetration (if, however, it is taken against your wishes, a mulligan is more than justified).
Oral sex isn't quite as cut and dried. It is a form of sex, but I can understand how one might still consider themselves a virgin despite having engaged in oral. As long as it's done in moderation (37? In a row?), I see no problem with that.
Why have you decided to stay a virgin?
It wasn't so much a decision as it was just how things played out. I voluntarily gave up my nights and weekends when I got into the business, and having mostly worked on smaller staffs, pulling six-day and/or 50- to 60-hour work weeks is not uncommon. When you work while everyone else plays, it's hard to be social.
Lately, I've been wondering if I'm not social because I work so much, or is it I work so much because I'm not social? I've never been good with small talk (I much prefer to listen and then ask questions – shocking for someone in my line of work), and things like flirting and body language are utterly lost on me. At least when I'm interviewing someone, I have a clear, defined goal of getting the other person to open up and express more than just the usual yes/no/basic facts responses. As long as I have that goal in mind, I can do what I need to do without coming across as a complete nebbish.
Once I lose that, though, and I'm on my own in a social situation, things – as Lewis Black would say – take a turn. A reporter who manages to survive and thrive despite a complete lack of social acumen ... I'm not sure whether that's hilarious or sad.
Any special plans or ideas for losing it?
Not really. I used to tell myself that waiting for marriage would be my way of retaining my honor and showing my prospective bride that I thought so highly of her that I was willing to wait however long it might take to find her.
That, perhaps not surprisingly, turns out to be bunk. Most women – or at least the intelligent, strong, capable ones to whom I am attracted – don't want a white knight riding to their rescue on a shimmering steed. They want a similarly intelligent, fully formed man who is confident and comfortable in his own skin. Being a "Nice Guy" just means they don't run screaming at your presence, and keeping yourself "pure" in anticipation of the already over-hyped Wedding Night doesn't mean jack – especially if you don't have anything interesting to talk about in the awkward silence that will inevitably follow.
**Ahem** Sorry, got a little rant-y there. Where was I? Ah, yes – not really. If it happens, odds are you won't hear me complaining. If not, I'll know why. I'll just keep stumbling along while my peers all stay conversant in the Things You Should Know About Dating By Now (TM).
How have your dates/partners reacted?
You can count the number of people I've told about my virginity on one hand. Reactions have varied from mild surprise ("I didn't know people still did that.") to dismissiveness ("Then you got no chance with me, buster.") to the old stand-by ("I just assumed you were gay.").
My family does not fit into that one hand, incidentally. My two younger siblings and I never had any of The Talks (drugs, sex, etc.) – when asked, our parents' response was always, "You're smart. You'll figure it out." I don't feel compelled to share this with them, and none of my friends are close enough to where I'd feel comfortable sharing such information ... perhaps that's why this all flows forth so easily on the Interwebs.
Anything else you want to say about virginity?
Moving to Indonesia gave me a whole new perspective on virginity and women's issues as a whole. One of the first stories I read when I arrived was about how women were now allowed to serve as police officers ... provided they kept up with their cooking, sewing and beauty classes and passed their monthly virginity checks (!). The only thing that stunned me more than that revelation was how everyone around me just took it as a matter of course. I thought of myself as open-minded and sympathetic to the cause of women before, but seeing the way women and girls here are subjugated now makes me viscerally angry.
As for virginity: This may sound odd, coming as it does at the end of all this yodeling, but it's really not that big of a deal -- or at least it shouldn't be. Whether or not your genitalia have carnal knowledge of another set of genitalia has next to no bearing on your status as a person. The sooner people wrap their heads around that, the sooner we can move on to something important – like the lack of communication and emotional intimacy that persists despite people having more ways to speak to each other than ever before.
I've gone 28 years without sex, and I imagine I can wait a while longer. What I don't want to miss, though, is that emotional intimacy, that feeling of being able to implicitly love and trust someone else and have them feel likewise toward you. That's probably a trickier and more time-consuming pursuit, but it's also more rewarding than worrying about who's stuck what in whom and how often.