Yes to the therapist, yes to both getting tested before you start having sex, yes to taking it slow once you start.

That said, don't put up a rule of "only mutual masturbation for X times before we start doing something else" (or anything of the sort), it'll kill off all spontaneity. Since he already knows about your anxieties, just make sure you are capable of saying no to things that don't feel right yet when you start going in a direction that you're not convinced you're ready for, but give yourself the chance to just go with the flow if it feels good.

Also, remember that the penis is not the only source of sexual pleasure. Pretty much the whole body can be very sensitive and should be caressed, licked, kissed, bit (lightly) and appreciated whether you're the one doing these things or the one who they're done to. Realizing that the parts of my body I didn't like were a source of pleasure to others surely helped me get over my body issues. Just make sure you have good body hygiene.

And use condoms for penetrative sex (if you get to that) even if you've been tested,
Oh dear to "a week or so." My rule about starting a sexual relationship: I don't have sex until I'm not (overly) anxious about it anymore. Sometimes that takes dating a guy for weeks or months. So stop putting pressure on yourself T34YOV and enjoy yourself. Your boyfriend sounds really nice and you are adorbs, and he probably doesn't have an STI, but that can be checked. HAVE FUN!
Dude, you've been making out with this guy for two days, right? The nervousness will pass, don't worry.
Go ahead and take it slow; you've waited roughly two decades to have sex, and you can wait another few weeks (or however long until you feel comfortable with it). Rushing a physical relationship because you feel obligated to round another base will only mess things up with you and your boyfriend. In the mean time, you guys can kiss, snuggle, hang out, get dinner together, the whole relationship shebang.
And one thing I do recommend is talking about what you want to do to/with each other. Dirty talk is not only excellent masturbation material, but it gets some of the awkwardness out of the way beforehand and can be a good way to gauge someone's enthusiasm for a specific act or fetish. And if you're still nervous when you want to get horizontal, a drink or two can damp down some of the anxiety. Note that you don't want to actually get shitfaced (for reasons of safety, consent, and being able to sustain an erection) but rather just a tiny bit tipsy. And if you're uncertain, err on the side of not drinking.
Your mileage may vary (I'm a straight dude a decade your junior) but a lot of the principles carry over.

But yeah, ask your beau to get tested. Going six months without noticeable itching or burning is a good sign, but there are plenty of STIs that one can catch without realizing it.
Also regarding "punschkrapfen" this the Dan Savage sex-columnist-who's-lived-in-Austria-Dan, or the basketball Dan? Great answer either way, but especially if it's basketball Dan.
The husband and I dated for six months before the first kiss. Thirty years later the sex just keeps getting better.

Going slow is perfectly appropriate. Being gay does not require sex on the third date.
T34YOV a therapist might be a good idea, especially if you are working through feelings of shame with respect to sex. But therapy might also help equip you for how to approach a first relationship and the sex it will likely involve. More specifically, this guy you just met might be awesome for you, but he might also turn out to be a nice, descent guy to have sex with before one or both of you decide that you're looking for something different in a partner. That shouldn't take away from your first romantic and sexual experience, but given your heightened emotions surrounding sex and relationships, I'm not sure how you would process this connection if it turns out to be what other people might view as a brief, fun experience.
@3: Dirty talk is not for everyone. I can't do it without feeling like an idiot, and if someone dirty talks me, I just want to laugh.
Unfortunately the male centric, heteronormative, penis in vagina view of sex in the Western world has left us with the concept of "losing your virginity" as A discrete act instead of a process.

A female human lost her virginity when she was penetrated vaginally, preferably by her husband on her wedding night.

This is bullshit.

Becoming a sexual and functioning adult is not something that happens because of one act. It's not a bright line in the sand you step over.

Try refocusing your view of this as a process. One in which there is no correct way, no universal way to do it.

Try focusing on discovering what you enjoy experiencing alone in with others. You don't have to do everything all at once, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do, and you don't have to define yourself by the acts you do or don't do.

You have it doubly hard because your sexuality is not one that is been the focus culturally and which a lot of religions treat as shameful.

But no matter what the genital configuration or number of parties are that are involved, this basic premise holds true for me: sex should not be defined by an act you do to another person, but is rather a sharing of pleasure.

So much of how Americans Define sex is rooted in the notion that it's something that men do to women, rather than something that two or more people share together.

Good luck in enjoying sharing this part of you with someone else.

As for the STIs, you should both get tested before engaging in any intimate acts. There are a lot of STI's that can infect virgins through nonsexual means, but then be transferred through sex. You wouldn't want to give him anything, would you?

Also, if you can find other gay men in your area who are older with him you can have conversations and get it advice, that may help as well. At least it'll make you understand there are other men who went through this before you .
"Older than you"

Autocorrect failure
@3 @7

Dirty talk is also very difficult for people who are sexually inexperienced. It's like asking somebody who's never baked a cake to describe making a Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte. They could describe the chocolate and the cherries and what it might taste like it would have no idea how you actually get there.

However, rather than dirty talk I'd recommend talking outside the bedroom. He can ask his partner about how we can proceed and possibly get some of his fears addressed before they're in the situation where they're going to act on their lust. Well it can kill the spontaneity, it's more important at this point to address his fears and insecurities.
Good on LW for not having the wrong sort of relationship. It makes me think of The Moving Finger when Mrs Dane Calthrop asks Jerry Burton why he never married, he responds, shall they say that he never found the right woman, and she replies that they could say that, but it would be stupid, because so many man had clearly married the wrong woman.
Communication is key, but so is having a sense of fun about it all. Dirty talk tends to make me break out into laughter too, and that's all right, as long as your partner isn't offended by it. And if they are, then maybe that's not the right partner for you. Just roll around a bit and giggle a lot and somewhere in there, you'll find what works for you.

But yes, get tested before doing anything heavy-duty, and therapy is almost never a bad idea.
@7: Ain't No Rule Says Your Mileage Can't Vary.
T34YOV, it sounds like you met a great guy and are clicking--yay for you! Tell him you want to feel comfortable with everything you do and allow yourself to set the pace--however slowly that turns out to be--without feeling rushed or pressured. And there's no rule that says you can only move in one direction: feel free to slow down and reverse or revert to just kissing if you start to get too anxious. If he's really a nice person, he'll be fine with letting you control the pacing.

You should use condoms for anal for sure, and encourage him to get tested for his own peace of mind if his ex was cheating on him and possibly not practicing safer sex (cocaine use + cheating = poor judgement and probable lack of precaution in my mind).

And yes, it sounds like you could use some therapy sessions, both for anxiety and body image, and also to deal with the fallout of breaking away from your religion and maybe estranging you from some family members if that's some of the fallout from making that break.

Good luck and enjoy dating!
Being able to talk about sex is essential for adults who have sex. One of my requirements of a man is that he's able to say what he wants. If he wants me to suck his dick, he has to be able to say "suck my dick" or "please suck my dick" or "chew on this" or whatever, depending on the mood. The same for whatever else his wants and kinks are.

Practice using all the interesting and taboo words for body parts and intimate activities - I'm not sure how censored these comments are, so I won't push it here - but you know all the words, and if you have difficulty with them, practice saying them out loud when you're alone. Say them at people on TV, say them in the shower, get used to their feel in your mouth and their sound in your ears.

I've had play buddies who had difficulty saying what they wanted, so we'd practice together - I'd give him a sentence and he'd repeat it, I'd give him a more outrageous sentence, and he'd repeat it back. It turns into a fun prelude to doing some of the things we've said together, and it can seriously make you much more comfortable about sex.

Lastly, breathe. Remember to breathe, and practice breathing deeply and also panting quickly ahead of time, so both are available to you if things get way intense. Some men forget to breathe when they're doing new sexual things, and need to be reminded. It makes it all much more doable and fun.
@16, interesting take on things.

Not much censoring here, except for hate speech.
There's no competition therefore no reason to feel 'lame'. What you've done to get where you are is quite a bit more than most, so pride would be appropriate.
Time to live, and enjoy (sounds like you are and sounds fun). Lots of great advice here to help.
Two days? TWO DAYS!? Dude, you're not being a prude here. Getting out of the closet doesn't mean you have to jump into bed with a cool guy straightaway. And let's be clear, two days is "straightaway." Leave it a week. Leave it two weeks. Leave it until you really feel comfortable, until you desire him rather than just desiring to no longer be a *gasp!* virgin. Don't plan to have sex; plan to make out, and just see where it goes. But have condoms handy, just in case.

Dan, Ricardo and Slowpokey have some great advice. (Kudos for your deconstruction of the concept of virginity!) Good on you for being honest about your inexperience. Your boyfriend-to-be definitely needs to get tested, if his ex was cheating on him. Cheaters are not known for their adherence to safer sex practices.

As for "dirty talk," there is a big difference between the sort of cheesy "oh baby" dirty talk that happens in porn, and makes many of us laugh if someone we are with unleashes it on us in an intimate moment, and using one's normal tone of voice to say things like "please go down on me." Asking for what you want before sex is called communication. If anyone pointed their dick at me in the moment and said "chew on this," I'd be laughing too hard.
As far as communication goes, I'd like to add that yes, being able to ask your partner for what you want is very important. I find that it's one thing to do so before-hand, e.g. please go down on me, and another to make mid course corrections, e.g. please avoid letting your teeth tough the tip of my penis. Both are essential to good sex and, I think, a good relationship. Asking for what you want and learning to find ways to make each other happy is a relationship skill that extends to making dinner plans, planning vacations, and deciding what to watch.

While you're waiting to be ready to have sex, maybe start by talking to him honestly about his sexual needs in the meantime.

You seem to have been very deliberate and responsible in your approach to your sex life thus far, overcoming hurdles when you were ready, discarding hurtful paradigms when you were ready, and not creating a mess of things for others by avoiding interpersonal relationships you weren't ready for. It's very impressive, and you should be really proud of yourself. Keep at it.
@19 - If someone ever points at one of their squidgy bits and tells me to 'chew on this', I will take that quite literally.
@ 21 - I've been told that in the past, and it was actually meant literally, so you might make someone very happy.
Dear Letter Writer -- I wish you all the best, I think you're going to be just fine, and I think you've been given excellent advice. I'm chiming in on one, maybe minor bordering on trivial matter, but I'm chiming in anyway: Dan Savage is not God, he's not a theologian, he does not speak for all gay men everywhere, and his saying that there is no heaven or hell or salvation doesn't somehow automatically make him right. Those are questions humans have struggled with forever and ever, and it's going to take more than Dan Savage to definitively answer them. Please follow Dan's advice regarding your new boyfriend and your coming out process, but please follow your own heart about God and religion.

All that being said, however? FUCK the bullshit hateful destructive religion you grew up in and suffered under. I'm a Christian. That wasn't Christianity you grew up with. That was fucking child abuse. And I am so sorry that happened to you.
@ 23 - Science has done a pretty good job of answering those questions ever since Darwin's trip to the Galapagos. Read up!
To the OP, you could be telling my story. Raised in a fundamentalist religion, spent my 20s abandoning my religion, and had my first sexual experience with a guy (or anyone for that matter) at the age of 33 (in Berlin, after a LOT of alcohol, and we fucked like rabbits, with condoms...but I digress). There has been a lot of helpful advice already in the comments, so I won't repeat it. I do have a couple of recommendations, though. -- "Velvet Rage" an interesting book that talks about shame in the gay man, was really helpful to me, given the shame I had absorbed from my upbringing. I'm willing to bet that you, dear OP, experience a lot of shame. Reading this book could be helpful to your journey of exploring and discarding that shame. It also has a lot to say about our first gay relationships, and some of the pitfalls that shame creates in forming stable relationships. -- One thing to keep in mind is that the guy you've met is also fairly inexperienced. He has had sex, but only with one person (if he is to be believed), which means that he won't necessarily know how to please you, or how to find your buttons. So while the playing field is a little uneven, it's not that skewed. He may be a bit nervous as well. -- Once he's been tested, and you've had your HPV vaccine (I had it in my mid-thirties as well, because I'd only had three partners by that point), don't underestimate the power of alcohol or weed to help reduce your lifetime defences. I got really, really drunk that night in Berlin, so when the cute Australian made a pass at me, I was able to relax into it. I suspect that if I hadn't been that drunk, I might still be a virgin. I remember thinking "it's got to happen sometime". And I'm glad it did. -- While I still regret the men I could have been having sex with in my 20s, I don't regret leaving my first sexual experience with another person (kisses on stage don't count) as late as I did. I had done some of the work I needed to to figure out who I was, and I was stable and secure enough to not go over the deep end. I suspect, that given my upbringing, had I started having sex in my teens or 20s, I might well have let my shame overwhelm me and it might not have ended well. -- Your journey is your own, but don't waste time in regret for the person you have become. Good luck, and enjoy this guy, and enjoy the guys you experience in the future!
@24: No it hasn't, you twit, nor should it.
Science is empirical; it deals with what we have evidence regarding. If you can't test an idea, it's not something science cares about.
Yes to testing. Yes to condoms. Everyone has talked a lot about communicating, so that's covered. My advice is to focus on the physical feelings. Your brain might be running in hamster cage mode: "but what about this.... ??" Redirect your focus on your body. How does this touch feel? How does that feel? "UMM, I like those nibbles.." Just keep doing more of the things that increase your horniness and desire. If something doesn't feel good, gently redirect your partner and say, "I don't like that" or "I'm not ready, " then point out something you did like. if the hamster wheel starts up again, but nothing unpleasant is happening, Pull your focus away from that anxiety and back to your body. Our bodies give thrill to the bone awesome signals about what is good sex. We don't have to over think it.
@ 26 - As I said: read up. You might realize who's the real twit here.

The whole universe is abundant enough evidence of the total absence of supernatural interventions. And while you might argue that an absence of supernatural interventions does not eliminate the possibility that there exists a supernatural being, in the spirit of Occam, why do we need to posit the existence of a being that has never done anything?

We don't.

Poor sod.

General Question - Just how expensive IS that Prep drug anyway? I assume, as it's part of Big Pharma, it belongs (if we're being practical about money) only in a 7% Solution, but I'm willing to adjust if that's wrong.
@29 $500 to $800 a year, but some people's insurance will pay most of it. Depends on your insurance coverage. Other people's insurance will pay zero. A few cities I think are giving it away for free to the poor (San Francisco maybe), great idea. Of course, the actual cost of manufacture is a few cents. If we didn't believe that The Market(TM) Solves All Problems, we would socialize the manufacture and sale of drugs. We already socialize much of the basic science research (universities) and that works out quite well, most real scientists who are hot shots work for universities on pretty low salaries and not industry, they are motivated by gaining new knowledge, prestige, a decent career, I know several and very few want to cash in for the bucks.
LW: good luck to you. Remember as Dan says, men are pigs, and gay men are men and are a lot are assholes, higher rates of substance abuse and risk taking behaviors than the general population (reactions to societal prejudice but you still have to deal with more broken souls than straight women do). Sounds like you lucked out but don't worry if your heart gets broken, and men can cheat, so be careful before you become fluid bonded with any guy including this new guy -- keep using the condoms with a new partner even if he seems really honest and kind until you really trust each other. And remember, if you have dumped religion, you might want to re-think religious ideas of monogamy. A monogamous partner is sometimes more likely to give you an STI if/when he cheats than an open, honest non-monogamous partner who can tell you hey, hooked up last week with a hot dude, used condoms but one broke - we'd better go back to condoms till my next test...
LW another thought: you may want to look for guys who DON'T want to have sex quickly, if they do, screw 'em (or actually, don't screw 'em).

Even though you grew up in a religious environment deeply closeted, 34 is pretty late to have sex of any type. Maybe you just are not that sexual. That's cool too, you might be happier with a similarly "let's take our time" kind of guy. I know plenty of very old gay guys in their 70s and 80s who never were really into lots of sex and hookups were *never* their thing, maybe that's not your thing. That's why they're still alive! They had a single monogamous partner in the late 70s / early 80s who was the same and so they didn't get HIV / AIDS. Of course, maybe you are into wild orgies -- which can be had quite safely, again I know dudes with thousands of partners who are STI free and quite happy. Good luck exploring, a huge benefit of being gay is a lot more "options" as it were for different relationship models.
@29 @30, I meant $500 to $800 A MONTH, not a year!! So very expensive without a subsidy / or insurance that will cover it.
And some sources say $1300 a month. Not on PrEP so not sure but I do know that health insurance, drug prices, co-pays are all over the map. Nuts. Support SINGLE PAYER and the government being able to SET drug prices, not just negotiate them. The free market has FAILED when it comes to medicine.
Where I live we have both public health insurance and public drug insurance. Not perfect but it works very well.
Venomlash @26, +1.
T34YOV, I was recently the lucky partner of a guy who had his first significant sexual experience at age 36, with me. (I have moderate sexual experience developed over about a 15 year span.)

Things I really liked: his enthusiasm, his openness to learning and growing into his sexuality, his interest in my pleasure, his really sincere wonder at the pleasure he was discovering, and his very honest-seeming appreciation of my body (which I consider of questionable attractiveness in many ways).

Things I didn't like so much: 1. He sometimes fixated on getting a certain act "perfect"; i.e., if I couldn't reach orgasm in a certain way, he obsessed about "learning to do it better" so that I would come. That inward-looking obsession kept him from hearing what I was telling him when I'd say that *I didn't come from that sort of sex* (which was not to say I didn't enjoy it, just that orgasm wasn't a reasonable goal for that). 2. While he was strongly committed to my pleasure, he had a harder time allowing himself to really let go and enjoy. (If I'm the experienced one, why not let me work some of my "magic" and see how you like it?) 3. He sometimes seemed a bit hung up on the perceptions he'd absorbed about how sex was "supposed" to be. So... concern about orgasming too fast (I love a quickie! We can always go for round 2 if we want!), certain acts being degrading/sexist (if I'm asking to give you oral, I don't find it degrading), etc. were all things we talked about and tried to deconstruct a bit more. 4. Ultimately, it wasn't anything about the sex that made or broke our relationship. The most challenging part for me was working through the OTHER factors in his life that were tangential to his long-held virginity. So in your case, working in a healthy way on any repressed emotions, shame, self-consciousness, anxiety, etc. may be more important to success with partners than the actual sexual skills themselves.

As others have noted, the "school of porn" (as well as Sunday School) can give you a distorted idea of what a partner's expectations might be. My advice would be to recognize that there is no rule book of what you're "supposed" to do... follow what feels right and good to you and LISTEN to what your partner tells you, too. You get to write your own book. And starting it from a place of relative emotional maturity can be, in my opinion, quite an advantage. I really enjoyed the experiences with my "late bloomer" and I would have little hesitation to become involved with another sexually-inexperienced partner if he piqued my interest.

Hope this helps. Good luck. :)

My friend plays $60 a month for Prep.
So, it's at least potentially more than my mortgage payment was. And I know much closer to first-hand what Big Insurance thinks of us.

It might make an interesting experiment to see Mr Savage living on my income for a month.
Having deflowered a couple of virgins in my day (pretty common when you're a geeky girl who exclusively dates geeky men), one of my biggest pieces of advice for the LW would be to not worry about not being able to satisfy or 'be good enough' for Mr. Coffee. If you've told him that you're a virgin and he's still there, still kissing you and holding you and saying you can do this at your own pace, trust him. Helping someone explore their sexuality for the first time can be a really beautiful, rewarding thing to do. Just like in any other human activity that requires practice and experience to get right, some people are happy to act as guides and supports to those who need it, and if you're lucky enough to have found one of those people then don't second guess it or worry that he will leave if you don't move fast enough.

Another thing is, don't be shy to ask for an STI test. This was something I always insisted on when I wasn't showing a virgin the ropes. Just say very firmly that you're going to need this from anyone you would consider getting intimate with, not just him, and also that it would really help you become more comfortable by giving you one less thing to worry about. As Dan said, get one yourself in solidarity (not that you're likely to have anything, obviously). If this guy is as cool as he seems to be, asking for an STI test should be no problem.
I would also point out that while he came from a hate filled tradition, Christianity is not a hate filled religion from the Episcopal, UCC and other liberal traditions.
@28: So, what exactly in the observable universe would you say is evidence against the existence of supernatural forces?
See, the thing about the supernatural is that it BY DEFINITION doesn't play by the usual rules; the laws governing the universe would BY DEFINITION not apply. (Otherwise, it'd just be plain old natural).

Trying to scientifically disprove the existence of the supernatural is about as imbecilic as trying to scientifically prove its existence; such questions simply fall outside the purview of empiricism. And given my background, I really don't need some two-bit proselytizing atheist telling me to read up on how science works.
venomlash @28,

There is no reason to think the supernatural exists, any more than to think that Russell’s teapot is out there orbiting the sun.

There are reasons we believe it anyway of course — our friends do; we overextend theory of mind — but those aren’t reasons to *think* it.
... sorry, that should have been venomlash @43.
@ 43 - The universe shows no traces whatsoever of a supernatural intervention. Everything in it, from the moment of its appearance to now, can be explained by natural laws. I'm not saying it has, but that it can be. A bunch of actual scientists who are world authorities in their field agree. You may not, but who the fuck are you? You're a nobody who comments on Slog (so am I, but I defer to the judgment of people who do know what they're talking about).

Any supernatural intervention, any bending of those natural rules would have left traces. There are none. All those scientists agree on that. There is absolutely zero reason to posit the existence of a supernatural being, which would explain nothing and lead to an infinite regress.

Besides, all religions make tons of claims that are indeed testable by science: how the universe was created, how long ago, how living beings appeared, etc. Since you don't seem to know, all those claims have been proven FALSE. The Earth is not the center of the universe, and it is not 6000 years old. Geology, physics and biology have gone a long way to show us that religious texts make no scientific sense whatsoever, and therefore should absolutely not be taken as literal truths.

Historians and archeologist have also done quite a good job of demonstrating that EVERY SINGLE supposedly historical event mentioned in the bible (since we are talking about the christian view here) never actually happened as described.

Neuroscientists have demonstrated that the mind is purely the product of the brain. There is no such thing as the soul (one moron, Mario Beauregard, disagrees, but he writes books with a creationist journalist, which shows how much respect he has for actual science). If there are no souls, it follows that there is no place for souls to go to after we die. No heaven, no hell, no purgatory.

So basically, we're left with one unprovable: the existence of god.

Now if someone you don't even know tells you an extremely long story full of details and claims it is absolutely true in every aspect, but you know for a fact that every single one of those details except one is false, why the fuck would you believe that one detail?

You wouldn't, unless you're extremely stupid.
Hi Everyone!

LW here... Thanks for all of the great advice! Things have been going pretty great! We've gone on several more dates, kissed quite a bit more, and I'm feeling much more confident with myself and also with him. I've been able to get past some of my anxiety (though there is still a bit left...) but he's been pretty patient and has assured me that I'm setting the pace when it comes to anything sexual. I told him when we realized we both liked each other quite a bit that I want this to be a relationship built on open communication, so I've been pretty much completely honest about how I've been feeling (from the anxiety, to the excitement, to what I find attractive about him etc...) I told him I really wanted us to get tested before moving to penetration and I told him why I felt it was important and he said he understands my concerns completely and has no problem with getting tested. We've seen each other every day since August 5 and it's going fantastic for me (and he assures me for him also.) I'm still having some intimacy issues, but I'm confident I'll be able to overcome them with his help (and I'm actually looking forward to it.)

Anyway... Thanks again for taking the time to reply!


@13 Yeah... We've done some "joking" dirty talk and it makes us both just laugh, though there has been some "I like that, keep doing that" sort of thing, which has been good, though it still makes me blush like a school boy a bit to say some things... Luckily he thinks it's cute haha!
@23 Hey there! LW here... I won't jump in on the religious debate here, but I'll just say... At this point in my life, religion just isn't for me. It's caused quite a bit of anxiety, depression, and pain for me and I feel I've had enough to last a lifetime... That may change later on in my life, but I'm thinking it probably won't. No offense to you for your faith, but I've tried the LGBT affirming churches and they just felt hollow to me. Thank you anyway for your kind words and I hope that you aren't offended.


@18 Thank you so much! I am proud that I finally overcame what I consider religious shackles and that I finally came out. I've been much luckier than a lot of LGBT people out there who were courageous, came out early, and faced horribly backlash from their families. I am so lucky that my entire family (with exception of an Aunt or two...) has been so supportive and accepting. It makes me sad I waited so damned long! lol!
@40 He's been so freaking great in that department. He's really gentle and patient and hasn't been pushing me in the slightest. It's only been 10 days, but I think we're both feeling pretty giddy right now, so I'm trying not to let me heart do all of the talking. If I did I think I'd be in trouble lol!
@1 "Since he already knows about your anxieties, just make sure you are capable of saying no to things that don't feel right yet"

Yeah... We've had a few of those moments already and he's been completely okay with it. We just moved on to something else.

"Pretty much the whole body can be very sensitive and should be caressed, licked, kissed, bit (lightly) and appreciated whether you're the one doing these things or the one who they're done to."

I've found that this has been a lot of fun to discover haha!

"Realizing that the parts of my body I didn't like were a source of pleasure to others surely helped me get over my body issues."

Yeah, when he says he finds certain things about me are sexy I find myself wanting to ask... "But... Why???" Simply because I don't see myself that way at all... But it's pretty obvious that he's being honest, if you catch my drift... I'm trying to get past that "Why?!" reaction and just go with it. I've never considered that I could be sexually attractive to someone, so it's definitely a new experience for me. Not just the intimacy itself, but the whole thing of being desired. It's... Nice... For lack of a better word haha!

"And use condoms for penetrative sex (if you get to that) even if you've been tested,"

Yeah, this is going to be a "must" for me, at the very least until we've been together a LOT longer than 10 days... I'd hate to catch something my first time out (or any time after that for that matter...)

Thanks a lot for taking the time to respond! I really appreciate it! :)
@2 I found that I got over my anxiety pretty quickly once the making out started and we got around to taking our shirts off haha! While I'm still insisting on getting checked before going "all the way" so to speak, we've experimented a bit and it's been a lot of fun! He really is a nice guy and I'm having so much fun with him, so much so that I'm having to remind myself we've only been seeing each other 10 days and not to open my heart up completely too quickly... It's a lesson in patience and will power for sure...
@ jwg82 - Thanks for writing in, it's great to hear about how this is developing, and you sound like you've taken a good path, not pressuring yourself... It also sounds like you've found a really nice guy to help you along.

One comment, perhaps unnecessary, on the "why?" issue: We can never really understand what's attractive to other people about us, since we are not able to be objective about ourselves. All you need to do is accept (and enjoy) the fact that he sees you with a different set of eyes.

We're all rooting for you. Good luck! It's a beautiful journey you've just embarked on.
@ jwg82 - One last thing: sorry about diverting the thread into a debate that's highly tangential to the question at hand... Don't mind us, it's just what sloggers do.
@46: "Any supernatural intervention, any bending of those natural rules would have left traces."
What makes you think this is true? As stated unequivocally above, supernatural forces by definition would not play by the usual set of rules.

"Besides, all religions make tons of claims that are indeed testable by science: how the universe was created, how long ago, how living beings appeared, etc. Since you don't seem to know, all those claims have been proven FALSE."
One, I'm a geoscientist who knows this shit better than you do. Two, false claims by religions are not evidence against the existence of supernatural forces.

I'm not arguing that there is a heaven or a hell or anything What Mankind Was Not Meant To Understand. I'm just making the case that claiming science has disproven the existence of the supernatural is just as fallacious as claiming that it has proven or can prove its existence. Science deals with what can be measured, or with what can be reasonably inferred from indirect observation; the supernatural lies entirely outside its scope.

You, meanwhile, are confusing absence of evidence for evidence of absence. A thousand years ago, one thinking along your lines might have denounced those who spoke of unseen rays of light traveling through space. After all, nobody could provide evidence of such! Shouldn't such rays leave some trace of their passage? And the notion was indeed the centerpiece of the emission theory of vision, which posited that sight was the result of invisible beams from the eyes lighting upon objects, but which Euclid and Lucretius had debunked long ago. Shouldn't principles associated with such mendaciously false claims be rejected? And yet now we know that there is a whole menagerie of light invisible to the eye, from ultraviolet to gamma and from infrared to radio, light for which there was no evidence a thousand years ago.
I do not mean to claim that we shall ever have the means of measuring or detecting anything of supernatural character; indeed, the definition of the word precludes it. However, declaring that something does not exist simply because there is no evidence of it relies on faulty and self-serving logic, particularly the unstated assumption (or stated, in your case) that were it to exist it MUST have left evidence.
I know I'm late to this party, but some more advice from a late-ish bloomer (albeit a straight one): The fact that this guy is willing to take things at a pace you're comfortable with is a sure sign he's a keeper, because he's respecting you as a person. Don't worry about whether he's "the one", that's not important right now, but respect him in return, respect yourself, and it's really not that scary. There will probably come a time when you want more contact - when it does, get consent and go for it.
Also, you've only been with this guy a little over a week. You can take it much slower than that if you want to. Continue to lead your pre-partnered life, except for the looking-for-partners part of it if you're doing the monogamy thing: Keep talking to any friends you've made, pursuing your career, enjoying your hobbies, and so forth. You can do things without him, and he can do things without you, and that doesn't mean you're not a couple.
Arguing for the possibility that Russell’s teapot exists — it can’t be excluded! we have defined Russell’s teapot in such a way that it is always undetectable! — is trivial and unhelpful. It’s just as trivial and unhelpful to argue for the possibility of the existence of a supernatural force that has no effect. If there is no difference between a universe with a supernatural force and one without one, why posit one?

I can`t think of any reason to believe in either a supernatural force or Russell’s teapot. Why would I?
Thank you for this letter. I was briefly involved with a late-in-life virgin whom I loved very much, but who ultimately couldn't overcome his fears and ended our relationship. I had a hard time accepting the situation, mostly because I am a very sexual person and was unable to understand his anxiety. While I wish things would have turned out differently for us, I have a clearer perspective now that I've read this letter and seen things through the eyes of the one on the "other side."
JWG82: Thanks for checking in! Glad to hear things are going well and you're enjoying yourselves.
I would add, there's been some "always use a condom for anal sex" advice. This is not just because of STI's. Condoms and the right lube can also mean more comfortable penetration -- not to mention the cleanliness factor -- than you'd get with a naked penis. I would insist on one, even with a monogamous and tested partner. Good luck to you!
@ 56 - "supernatural forces by definition would not play by the usual set of rules"

Since all the evidence we have of how the universe appeared and developed to the point where it is today can be explained by natural law, logic tells us that we do not need to look for explanations outside of the natural realm.

Besides, an event or intervention that leaves zero traces is EXACTLY THE SAME as no event or intervention at all.

This is not "confusing absence of evidence for evidence of absence". It's simple logic. Unlike you, who insult people's intelligence every chance you get (a sure sign of an inferiority complex), I'm not even pretending I am that bright.

I am not a scientist, but even though you are, you keep asserting that science cannot disprove the supernatural when it so obviously can, though not necessarily directly (as is the case of neuroscience). This merely shows that you don't actually have a scientific mind, no matter what your background is.

Your desire to hold on to the myths and legends of primitive tribes from thousands of years ago, who were more intent on furthering their political ambitions than on finding valid explanations for natural phenomena (explanations which were, admittedly, out of their reach at the time), shows that your religious culture blinds you to the overwhelming evidence that has accumulated since and trumps your ability to think objectively. You're nothing more than a two-bit theist.

So I'll go with people who know this shit better than you. Nuff said.

Interestingly, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” is the rallying cry of the vaccines-cause-autism crowd who insist that despite decades of looking unsuccessfully for a plausible link between autism and vaccines, either theoretical or empirical, that there still could be one (and there definitely is). Not convincing when applied to an autism-and-vaccine link, and not when applied to a supernatural force defined in such a way as to be undetectable.

And if you’re a scientist, Bayes had something to say about the search. If I’m looking for something and can’t find it, should I keep looking? Well, it depends. Is “something” my reading glasses that I was wearing just a moment ago but took off when I answered the door for the letter carrier? Or is “something” the flying dog who cured my father’s cancer in my dream by licking his toes?

Of course just because we’ve never found a flying, cancer-curing dog doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Maybe we have just not been looking, or not looking in the right way. But prior probability says that if I expand my search strategies (looking in the mirror, asking someone else to take a look) I am very likely to find my reading glasses; but that nothing short of redefining “fly” and “cure” so as to be indistinguishable from “walk” and “not cure” will find me that very special dog.
@ 56 - One last addendum:

Supernatural claim: god created all animals and plants.

Would you not agree that science has thoroughly debunked this myth?

You don't need to answer, you'd only make a fool of yourself by trying to defend your position.
@58, 61: If you actually read my comments, you'll notice that I am not arguing that the supernatural exists, merely that claiming to have scientifically disproven it is fallacious and reflects a certain inattention to how science actually works.
You wouldn't take someone seriously if they claimed to have proven there are no rabbits in the Andromeda galaxy, would you? There's no reason to believe there are any rabbits there, certainly, but nor is there any reason to say definitively that there are none. And yet you seem eerily certain that none exist, even claiming that it follows from basic logic.

@61: "you keep asserting that science cannot disprove the supernatural when it so obviously can...This merely shows that you don't actually have a scientific mind, no matter what your background is."
Okay, wise guy. Prove definitively for me that when we die, exact simulacra of ourselves in life do NOT appear in some alternate universe where we are rewarded or punished based on our prior actions according to a somewhat arbitrary moral code. (This is, you may recall, the original topic of dispute.)
Of course, there is no evidence of such (nor could there be). There is no empirical or logical reason to believe that there is a heaven or a hell. And yet empiricism and logic can offer no actual disproof. But go ahead, prove me wrong. (No, argument from incredulity does not count.)

@62: There is no absence of evidence regarding vaccination. The issue has been extensively documented, with all sorts of cohort studies and similar performed, and failed to find any significant associations. There's a difference between absence of evidence and a failure to reject the null.
And as far as the Bayesian approach goes, a lot of scientists (physicists in particular) might take issue with your little word problem. If we look only for that which we expect to see, we will never find anything truly new. Few things are as treasured in the scientific community as discovering something entirely unknown and unexpected, something novel in the extreme, something heretofore never even imagined. To disparage such in favor of reviewing only that which is already known leads to stagnation.
@63: Please read the post you replied to. Note that I explicitly addressed this issue.
@ 64 - The point is that if there is such an "alternate universe where we are rewarded or punished based on our prior actions according to a somewhat arbitrary moral code", it will not be "supernatural". It will one day be explained as part of the natural world. Which, as quantum physics have taught us, is a lot more wondrous and surprising than any human imagining of "the beyond".

In other words: let's work at proving that there are alternate universes (which I would be intellectually thrilled about) before we make the one you are specifically referring to the center of our earthly existence, that by which we must live and for which we must too often die. Because, contrary to what you seem to believe, the original topic of dispute was not the supernatural per se, but the specific supernatural claims of the christian religions, which Dan refuted (you answered my post @ 24 which I'd written in answer to GDPF's post @ 23, which related directly to Dan's answer to the LW).

And in spite of what you might vehemently affirm, many specific supernatural claims that have been made in the past have now been proven wrong. I've already mentioned a few. The difference between now and the science of one (two, three...) thousand years ago is that we have many more instruments than they did to measure what is indeed measurable, and, consequently, we now understand many of the mechanisms of the natural world (genetics being one of many) that they had no clue about. Therefore, the probability that an extremely solid theory like evolution be replaced by some metaphysical fabulation is, to say the least, rather slim (unless we nuke/climate change the planet into a new prehistory). We are most definitely going in the opposite direction.

I will now reassert what I said @ 61: in actual effect, an event or intervention that leaves zero traces is exactly the same as no event or intervention at all. Even if there occurred in our universe a supernatural phenomenon that did not obey physical laws, it would most assuredly impact the physical world in some way... or else we could safely deduce that it did not happen at all. We can only talk of a medical miracle if at least one sick person is cured, to give a basic example.

Of course, by traces, I don't mean a huge neon sign that says "God was here". I mean any measurable variation in the universe from what physical principles would lead us to posit. And all the physicists, cosmologists and astronomers whose work I've read agree that, in spite of the now mindboggling precision of their measurement tools, no such variation has been recorded. Everything is exactly as we would posit it to be if there had never been a supernatural intervention.

Now, as I stated @ 28, "you might argue that an absence of supernatural interventions does not eliminate the possibility that there exists a supernatural being, [but] in the spirit of Occam, why do we need to posit the existence of a being that has never done anything ? We don't." (See, I do not confuse absence of evidence for evidence of absence: I specifically state that in the absence of evidence, we need not bother with the imaginary.)

I'm quite convinced that the principle of parsimony channels us towards more enlightened thinking and discoveries than allowing for the possibility of supernatural causes... which has so far only been detrimental to humanity.

I have now said all that I feel necessary to say on this subject.

@66: ...did you really just argue that the concept of heaven and hell isn't supernatural? I was kind of expecting a dodge, but dude, seriously.

"And in spite of what you might vehemently affirm, many specific supernatural claims that have been made in the past have now been proven wrong."
READ WHAT I ACTUALLY POSTED. As I have said a few times now, the existence of provably false claims by religious authorities does not constitute disproof of the supernatural.

"in the spirit of Occam, why do we need to posit the existence of a being that has never done anything ? We don't."
ONCE MORE, I am NOT claiming that supernatural forces exist. I am simply pointing out that by definition the supernatural cannot be conclusively disproven by scientific means, because science does not concern itself with questions that cannot be answered through reasoning based on empirical methods.
(And since you seem to be unaware, parsimony is not an ironclad law but rather a guiding principle of inference.)

"I have now said all that I feel necessary to say on this subject."
In other words, you don't actually have any disproof of heaven and hell but you figure you're right.

Since you seem to constantly disregard this statement, I shall repeat it: I am not arguing for the existence of the supernatural. I don't expect you to believe in Things That Go Bump In The Night. But to claim that science, the observational study of the natural world, conclusively disproves such is a fundamental misrepresentation of how science works and what it addresses. It's bad enough when theists wrap their absolute beliefs in the mantle of science; we don't need atheists making the same error.
I am impressed that a letter about first-time gay sex has inspired a theological debate.

And by "impressed" I mean facedesking.
@BiDanFan Yeah... I've made it pretty clear that even after we both get tested I still want to use condoms. He seemed slightly disappointed, but also made sure to let me know he respects that and it won't change anything. I'm glad it seems that it's going to be a huge issue...
@BiDanFan (Comment 68) - Yeah that's gotten a bit out of control, but it's interesting anyway! I get into those debates pretty often on Reddit lol!
Typo... That should have read "I'm glad it seems that it's NOT going to be a huge issue..." lol!

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