Eckburg: Your sexual explorations can help you become a better partner

Bella Eckburg

Graphic illustration of four quadrants of the same graphic depicting abstract bodies being held by hands in pastel colors (pink, blue, green, orange, purple)
(Graphic Illustration by Rachel Macias | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Virginity — let’s talk about it. I’m going to begin this by being extremely real: V\irginity doesn’t exist. There is no medical way to determine whether someone has had sex in their lifetime, and our modern idea of virginity excludes anyone who isn’t in a heterosexual relationship, which further classifies it as a social construct.

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Now, a relationship built for longevity does not need to involve sex, but our society shouldn’t act like it isn’t important and is something that is dirty. Physical intimacy shouldn’t be the main foundation that your relationship is built on, but it’s unfair to shame people for how or when they choose to have sex in or out of long-term relationships. All types of physical intimacy allow for a unique connection to your partner, and that includes more than just sex.

College students across the country are exploring sex, and that experience is important to their growth as both lovers and partners. Whether you’re exploring sex with multiple partners or just alone, it is important to learn about yourself and your boundaries at this age to better prepare yourself for cultivating healthy relationships in the future.

Your sexual experiences belong to you, and you alone.”

Lots of factors contribute to someone’s sexual identity and sexual explorations. Some people have trauma that causes them to feel disconnected from sex. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, “Among undergraduate students, 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.”

Others are asexual and don’t need or want to have a physically intimate relationship with anyone, regardless of their relationship status. If you want to learn more about asexuality, The Trevor Project discusses sex and sexual identity. 

Sex does not equal love, and it is not needed to create a lasting relationship. However, it can be a way to connect and be vulnerable with your partner and further your communication skills together.

Physical touch is a love language, and some people show their love through consensual touch.

Physical intimacy involves being respectful and supportive of your partner and having that respect and support reciprocated. It’s not the main factor in building a strong relationship, but it should definitely be considered because relationships offer unique opportunities to connect to your partner in a physical way. 

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Exploring your sexual identity can be daunting, but it’s so important to know your boundaries, likes and dislikes and your partner’s as well. 

Loveisrespect.org details the importance of consent, setting boundaries and mutual respect in a relationship involving sex. If you’re interested in learning about setting your own sexual boundaries and consent, definitely check it out.

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Traditional ideas of sex being secretive and shameful, primarily for women, need to stop circulating and be replaced by the narrative that a physical relationship with your partner can be whatever you want it to be — it’s yours to explore and navigate.

Physical intimacy can create a well-rounded, informed and communicative relationship. It does not have to be a factor in every relationship because everyone is different, but it can work to cultivate an even better connection and should not be undervalued.

Virginity is an imagined concept that can lead to slut-shaming: a way of objectifying women, blaming them for sexual situations — leaked nudes, saying that they’re “distracting,” etc. — and/or judging them for their sexual experiences. This is extremely harmful and can have disastrous impacts on the mental health of young women. 

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A tray of free condoms at the Colorado State University Health Center. (Skyler Pradhan | The Collegian)

Sexual exploration needs to be normalized because without that normalization, slut-shaming will continue to affect women and female-presenting individuals. Slut-shaming is incredibly common and has grown into more of a phenomenon through the use of social media.

Your sexual experiences belong to you, and you alone. Whether you are exploring your sexuality with partners or by yourself, you are growing in your understanding of your body and your boundaries. 

Sex is not dirty. No one deserves to be shamed for exploring their sexuality in the ways that make them feel comfortable.

Sex creates a channel for connection to your body, your boundaries and your partner’s, which can be utilized to cultivate long-lasting relationships. It can also be really empowering.

How, when or with whom we have sex doesn’t have to be kept a secret, and we have the power to change the narrative that deems sex shameful. A physically intimate aspect within your relationship can help you learn about yourself and, therefore, become a better partner in your future relationships. 

Bella Eckburg can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @yaycolor.