Spectrum survey of UB students finds 14 percent are not sexually active
Kadriye Tekin, a sophomore health and human services major has never kissed anyone.
But when she is on the clock at Alumni Arena, she said guys regularly come up to her and hit on her or ask her to hang out.
“Half the time no one will believe me,” she said.
Although many people are surprised when Tekin tells them she hasn’t kissed anyone, a significant percentage of UB students are in similar situations. A survey by The Spectrum of 837 students found that about 14 percent of students are not sexually active and another roughly 5 percent are sexually active, but have never had sexual intercourse.
The 2013 UB American College Health Assessment found about 34 percent of UB students hadn’t had any sexual partners in the prior 12 months. Despite how many students on campus are choosing not to have sex, they sometimes encounter harsh judgments from others.
Stereotypes about the sex lives of college students can impact how some view their fellow classmates, something Nadine Thomas*, an abstinent student, has encountered.
“My friends have all been supportive of my decision, even though I've had many who don’t understand why I would want to abstain or would judge me for it,” Thomas said in an email. “I’ve endured a countless number of jokes about me being a naive, innocent virgin. That is such a stereotype, being a virgin doesn't really say a lot about your personality.”
By senior year, 40 percent of college students nationwide are virgins or have had sex with just one person, according to the Online College Social Life Survey, a survey designed by Paula England and conducted between 2005 and 2011.
At UB, about 23 percent of students have had one sexual partner. Thomas said she decided to wait to have sex because she wanted to find someone she was “comfortable” and “secure” with, because “there are so many things that can go wrong, or so many ways it can get embarrassing.”
Like Thomas, Tekin wants to wait to kiss someone until she meets someone she is comfortable with. Although Tekin hasn’t experienced many harsh judgments from others, she said her guy friends either find it “awkward” or “so fascinating,” some even asking her whenever they see her if she’s kissed a guy yet.
Once, a teacher even told Tekin she “needed to get on that.”
Tekin said it can be “overwhelming” when guys at Alumni Arena hit on her.
“I want to be liked for who I am than for what I do with guys,” she said.
By waiting for someone they are comfortable with, Tekin and Thomas are both avoiding feeling regretful of their sexual experiences – something many students at UB are familiar with.
Nearly half (46.57 percent) of responders to The Spectrum’s survey said they had a sexual encounter they later regretted.
But students who are sexually active can take steps to decrease the chance of later regretting a sexual encounter by learning more about themselves, according to Jane Fischer, the director of SBI Health Education, a division of Sub Board I, Inc.
“Someone might feel regret because of what their family or culture believes, because they were cheating, because of what friends think or say, because of alcohol or drugs, or many more reasons,” Fischer said. “It’s important to understand what your sexual wants and needs are, what’s OK for you and what's not, and why you feel that way.”
Fischer said people need to talk with their partners before and during sex, but “we’re more comfortable having sex than talking about sex."
Thomas has been conscious of her decision to wait when deciding whether or not she will date someone. She said she’s a “good judge of character,” so she figures out pretty quickly whether or not the guy would wait for her to be ready to have sex.
Thomas is now in her first relationship and said she wants to have sex with him.
“Not only is he the most compassionate, genuine person ever, but he’s been so patient with me when it comes to sex,” Thomas said. “I’m so happy I waited.”
Although Tekin and Thomas have made decisions to wait to kiss or have sex, both said people shouldn’t judge others for their decisions.
“If you feel comfortable with someone, and you think you're ready, then I do encourage you to do it,” Thomas said. “But don’t have sex because it's the cool thing to do, or everyone around you is having sex.”
For Tekin, if someone you want to date doesn’t understand the decision to wait or judges you for it, then they are “clearly not the right person to be with.”
Every student must make their own decisions about when, where and who to have sex with, but many (about 41 percent) are certain they “absolutely” want to have more sex this semester than they did last semester.
Whatever decision students are making about their sex lives, it is important to know oneself, according to Fischer.
“We can’t know the future, but we can take steps to identify our own boundaries, limits, wants, and beliefs ... and learn from experience,” Fischer said. “Life, and sex, often involves walking this road that sometimes is a little bumpy.”