Last year I made the mistake of telling the writer at an entertainment news outlet that I’m still a virgin. He broadcast this fact across the internet, it was nabbed by countless other news sources, and to this day, people will come up and ask me about it. They never want to know about my travels, my writing, my friends, my family, or any other aspect of my life. Just my sex life. (Which still doesn’t exist.)
Our culture is obsessed with sex.
Most people cannot comprehend the concept of a 25-year-old virgin, yet here I am, still alive and tangible. And sometimes lonely.
It makes sense that most of us would try to plug the dam of our own loneliness with the satisfying waters of sex and pornography. After all, how much closer can two people get than when they are making love? It is designed to be the most intimate action between two people, yet our culture has taken these intimate moments between a husband and wife and splattered them across billboards, television screens, and nearly every page of the internet. Not only in pornography, either. Mostly-naked women adorn countless advertisements and banners in every corner of America.
Connected but Lonely
I think many of us turn to sex and pornography out of a hope that sex will cure the void of loneliness within. I have found, however, this is a gross misunderstanding of sex and the context for which it was created.
Whenever we seek porn online or head to a club to hook up, we are trying to invite someone into the most vulnerable and intimate parts of who we are. We want the nearness of their physical body to reflect an emotional nearness which is simply not there.
When a husband and a wife are married and make love on their honeymoon, they do not do so as strangers; they do so as lovers. Years before, there was some sort of initial attraction. Then dates. Then movies and conversations and stories together. They become emotionally attached and grow together spiritually. Their bank accounts eventually overlap and become one, so there is even financial unity.
Then when they come together on their wedding night, the physical intimacy mirrors the time they have poured into their emotional, spiritual, financial and sacrificial intimacy.
A few years ago I was in a coffee shop with a friend who had recently been married. He and his wife were virgins when they were married, and he began telling me about their wedding night.
“It wasn’t really grand or surprising,” he remembered. “It just felt like the next logical progression in our relationship. There weren’t fireworks or anything, it was just me and her loving each other.”
He said it with such candor and comfort that the scene he painted was beautiful. It seemed like his wedding night was not one full of insecurities or awkwardness, but a progression of love for two people who had put time into building a healthy relationship.
Where We Go Wrong
Many of us are hungry for that level of intimacy, but we are impatient. We want to jump straight to the gratification, so we hook up or look at porn in an attempt to fill the void within.
The thing is, sex doesn’t heal our loneliness; intimacy does.
Big pleasure comes from two people living life together and knowing each other intimately. Sex gets better with age, according to every married couple I’ve asked, as you get to know the other’s body intimately, just as you have gotten to know their personality and their soul.
“It’s just good to be naked with the same person,” my dad once told me.
Small pleasure comes from countless sexual escapades, each one leaving us only more hungry and unsatisfied because we are not really known. It’s like trying to get full by eating Kit-Kats. It may be a quick and enjoyable snack, but when it’s over, you are still left hungry, unlike the experience of eating a home-cooked four-course meal with love, time and effort poured into its preparation.
You can read more in Ethan’s book, The New Lonely: Finding Intimacy in the Age of Isolation