Over the next few weeks, Status will be publishing personal blogs, written by young men, related to the key findings in our ‘Love, Lust and Loneliness’ report, which you can read here.
Here is the second blog, which relates to this key finding: 36% have pretended to mates that they have had sex with someone when they haven’t.
By Rob Edwards
Throughout much of my late teens I was preoccupied with sex.
Why wouldn’t I be? Sex was everywhere.
On TV, in films and video games, everyone was getting off with each other and having a thoroughly good time. I wasn’t. I was struggling to make eye contact, my voice had barely broken, and I never felt comfortable in my own skin.
Overnight it seemed like I was surrounded by couples. I couldn’t shake this feeling that because I wasn’t seeing someone or hooking up at parties I was a failure.
Sex became a regular feature of all my friends’ lives, and when we’d go out drinking they’d start regaling each other with stories of their exploits – of being caught by the girl’s dad, or some new technique they’d like to try.
I did my best to repress my feelings of resentment and frustration by lying, creating a whole world where I was able to get laid.
I felt pathetic, not only could I not get a girlfriend but I now felt forced to lie just to stay part of the group. Of course I had to keep track of all these lies, creating in my own head my own fictional sexual exploits.
Eventually I distanced myself from these friends, knowing that bottling up all these emotions probably wasn’t healthy and I began hanging out with people who were a couple of years older.
With their maturity I felt a little more comfortable in who I was. They’d all been through this before, the insecurities, the poor choices and they accepted them as part of who they were. So why shouldn’t I do the same?
Yes, I was a virgin, so what?
Nothing changed when I admitted this. No-one judged me or shunned me, one girl even offered to take my virginity, a well-meaning offer which I politely declined.
Eventually I left home to go to what I’d been led to believe was a sexual playground, university.
On my first night there I did get a snog from one lovely girl and was sure that this is where Rob would have his sexual revolution. Sex happened and it was great, but the world hadn’t changed in any way the morning after.
I was still me, a bit of a geek who toed the line between loveable and annoying, depending on who you ask. One thing that had changed was that I finally stopped caring about what others thought of me when it came to blokey chats about sex over a pint (the chats over a pint, not the sex).
I became more confident and self-assured, I even started noticing that the people most insecure about sex were the ones who wouldn’t stop talking about it.
I’m 24 now. I’ve been through relationships, one-night-stands, Tinder dates and pregnancy scares. The pressure to be sexually active is still one I feel but it’s an inward pressure. I’d rather be having sex than go to work or play video games or write this sentence, but I’m not and that’s fine.
When you’re a young man, sex is seen as something that helps qualify you for manhood. Something you have to do like learning to drive or buying a round at the pub. It’s a meaningless barrier of entry to a club that is nowhere near as important as you think it is.
It’s advice that can only really be truly understood after it’s too late to mean much.
You, dear reader, may be a young guy who’s awkward about your body, about who you are, and may be feeling pressured that you need to have sex to prove something about who you are.
The truth is: the sex you have, or don’t have, doesn’t define you in any way – unless you allow it to.