If you lose your virginity in a one-night stand, how do you deal with the shame you feel?

That’s a question I get quite a bit. And when I was writing The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, one of the themes that kept popping up in my surveys was women saying how much shame they felt for having sex before they were married. We carry a lot of this around.

This week on the blog we’re going to be talking about beginnings and making good decisions, and I want to talk to this woman about how losing your virginity does not mean that you can’t have a new beginning. She writes:

Reader Question

Hi. I’m a 21 year old college student. I grew up in a very dysfunctional but nevertheless Christian home. I lost my virginity in a one night stand 4 months ago. As a result, I stopped leading at my youth group, I’ve taken a step back in church, and if anything triggers the experience, I start throwing up. 3 months ago, I had sex again. Another one night stand. Except this time I had a conversation with the guy beforehand and really liked him. Now I can’t get over him. He didn’t ask for my number and we haven’t seen each other since. My friends, who aren’t saved, have told me that I’m not “woman” enough to have sex because I can’t do it without getting emotionally attached.  I’m left feeling broken and hurting and not knowing what to do. I’m not proud of my decisions but I’m scared I’ll do it again and I’m scared that I won’t marry the kind of man I want to marry because I already messed up.

Oh, wow. I’m so sorry for this young woman!

I’ve actually written a lot about purity and how we talk about it, and I have a number of posts (and a video) that may help this woman.

So I’m going to share some thoughts and then some links where we can flesh this out a bit more:

First, we talk about purity wrong. Purity ≠ Virginity

We tell people that purity is all about what they do with their body, as if it’s something that can be lost. Yes, you can no longer be a virgin. You may have intercourse. But that doesn’t mean you’re impure!

What makes us pure is not what we do with our bodies. It’s what Jesus did with His.

Remember that purity is what Jesus gave to us and is not conditional on what we do!

My daughter Katie quoted that in a video she made on purity, and I encourage everyone to watch it.

What makes us pure is not what we do with our bodies. It’s what Jesus did with His.

We have made losing your virginity into the worst sin in the world

You may have made a mistake and done something you regret. But Jesus’ grace is new every morning. And losing your virginity does not make you a worse sinner than other sinners.

Yes, there are good reasons to wait for marriage for sex, and I’ve written a lot about those reasons. I do want people to have the best. But I think inadvertently by teaching that we should wait we heap shame onto losing your virginity far more than we do other sins.

But just because you didn’t does not mean that all is lost. When we see it as an all or nothing thing, though–“well, I’ve already lost my virginity, so what does it matter anymore?”–then we’re more likely to act in a self-destructive way, by repeating behaviour we don’t want to do because that’s what we think we deserve.

Finding peace involves seeing yourself in the same way that Jesus does. Jesus is the Truth; when we let our thoughts line up with Truth, we’ll find healing. So go to Him and ask how He sees you!

And read this: A Letter to Those Who Feel as if They’ve Lost Their Purity.

It’s me sharing my heart, and my apology for contributing to any of the shame that you’re feeling.

God made sex to be AWESOME!

It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

You Are Not Alone–Find some people to help!

Finally, this woman seems to feel like she is tainted so much, and that she is the exception. But I know from my surveys that she is not. When we let shame define us, we often hide. She’s stepping back from church because it’s triggering her shame. She’s getting involved with friends who are leading her in a bad direction because she’s likely blocking good friends out of her life.

You “lost your virginity.” You did something you regret, yes. But that does not have to define you! Talk to some people in your church. If they won’t talk about it, find another Christian group on campus where you can be open and authentic, and ask for prayer. Get yourself a community!

We talk about purity wrong. Purity ≠ Virginity

The problem is not that you are too bonded during sex.

I understand that you obsess over this second guy that you slept with. That’s normal. An awesome book that talks about the “hooking up” phenomenon on college campuses, and how that impacts women’s emotions, is Unprotected, and I urge you to read it. Your friends are wrong. It’s not that you have to train yourself to become emotionally disengaged during sex. It’s that you have to put sex back in its rightful place (marriage) because you recognize that it IS bonding.

Don’t try to lose that aspect. But you do need to break whatever ties you feel you have with this man and move on. Reading that book may help you see that you are not alone.

Finally, one more book recommendation about handling sex & dating now.

Unprotected explains why you feel the way you do. Andy Stanley’s The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating is a practical book that will tell you what to do now to have that relationship you still dream of. That book has the best dating advice I’ve ever read, and it’s specifically for people in your situation–who have messed up and can’t figure out how to do things in a different way. He’ll show you how.

I hope that helps. But the big thing I want you to remember is that you are precious. You may have regrets about your past, but that doesn’t mean you need to carry shame with you, and it doesn’t mean you have to live with bad decisions now. You can turn things around! Surrender the shame to Jesus, be honest about your shortcomings, and then surround yourself with community who can help you stick to the new decisions you’re making.

What do you think? How hard is it to get your dating life back in order after you’ve “lost your virginity” (I don’t like that phrase anymore!)? Let’s talk in the comments!

Tags: , , ,