From the moment we reach genital maturity, the concept of virginity becomes present in our life. At first it’s subtle, perhaps just an older relative asking, “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” Then social pressure becomes more and more present, especially if you live in a liberal, post-modern society. Virginity in today’s world is often seen as a burden to carry around until “the moment”. Modern society tends to push young people to “lose” their virginity early, even more so if they are male. They see it as part of the initiation into the adult world, and teenagers who are still virgins at 18 are often seen by others as backward in the sentimental sphere. Having sex during adolescence is sold as a natural and healthy part of growing up for today’s youth; but science says otherwise, and a study published in 2012 says as much.
Kathryn Paige Harden, Ph.D., a psychology researcher at the University of Austin, led the study of 1659 same-sex sibling pairs (so that socio-cultural and economic factors could be ruled out as much as possible), who were monitored from age 16 to 29. The study had more than 3300 subjects in total, and its aim was to determine how the loss of virginity affects their later adult life.
The participants were split into three categories: those who lost their virginity before age 15, in between 15 and 19, and after age 19. Various indicators of their achievements were later compared to see how the age of virginity loss affected them in their young adult lives.
The results showed that subjects who lost their virginity after the age of 19 mostly had much more satisfying social and romantic relationships than those in the other two categories. The study took into account other factors such as genetics, environment, physical attractiveness, religiosity, income; isolating them and showing that the results were well linked to the issue of age of virginity loss. A slightly higher level of academic and professional success was also found in this category compared to the other two.
According to the researchers, several reasons may explain this relationship between the age of virginity loss and the “degree of happiness achieved” afterwards. One of the possibilities, as suggested by scientists, is that some of those who have their first sexual relations when they are older than others do so because they are more demanding in relation to their partners and themselves. They are able to ignore the bad influences of others and aim for greater goals in the longer term. The opposite is true with “horny” teens who say yes to anything as a game or under the influence of peers, and only live for the immediate reward, not seeing the greater reward in the longer term. They lack self-control.
Others say that the opposite could be the reason, namely that losing one’s virginity late affects a person’s attitude in their relationships with others. Here, not having had to deal with a low-quality relationship as a teenager is what makes them less likely to expect the same dysfunctional behaviors in their future relationships and less likely to tolerate them when choosing a partner.
Dr. Harden concludes that “individuals who explore their first intimate relationships as adults, after they have developed sufficient emotional and cognitive maturity, can learn many more effective soft skills from these relationships. In contrast, individuals who had these sexual experiences as adolescents generally find this more difficult.”
In previous, less rigorous studies, the opposite of what has been demonstrated today was often believed. Unfortunately, most of society today often believes that “letting kids live and explore their sexuality” in adolescence is a good thing. They are very wrong.
Science shows us that what morality has been telling us for a long time is indeed true: adolescent sexual relations are not recommended for the best development of the human being.
Parents, next time your teenagers ask to “sleep over” at a friend’s house, or wish to invite a member of the opposite sex over so they can “study together”, keep in mind this complete study. It will help support your decision to say “no” to them; because you want what’s best for them.