Sex advice: Should I tell my husband-to-be that I’m not a virgin?

Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred.

This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie advises a woman to trust her instinct on virgin lie.

QUESTION: I’m engaged to be married and I truly love my husband-to-be. The issue is that he is a virgin and he thinks I am too – for cultural reasons, this is important to him. We are planning to have sex on our wedding night and he thinks it will be my first time but I’ve already slept with four men. I love him and want to tell him the truth but I feel like he won’t marry me. Should I just carry on the lie to make him feel better? Is it bad to start a marriage with such a big lie between us?

ANSWER: I’m normally an advocate for truth in relationships, especially intimate partnerships. But there are circumstances where I don’t think it’s the best option. This includes when there’s an imbalance of power or significant risk in telling the whole truth.

This is a complex question, but I feel like I’m missing some vital information.

You know yourself and your situation best

In therapy, it’s really important that I understand a client’s entire situation. This includes cultural values and norms that they bring, what’s important to them and the context in which they exist.

It’s particularly important when I’m working with someone from a different culture, background or religion to me. I’m aware there are many factors I don’t know about that might impact your decision here.

You know yourself and your situation best. Trust yourself.

Is it safe for you to tell the truth?

I realise this isn’t true for all cultures or religions that value infidelity, but, there can be a power imbalance and double standards for women in some of them.

My main concern is for your safety if you tell him the truth.

There can be significant consequences for going against cultural norms. This includes ostracisation from your family and community, financial implications or ‘rehabilitation’.

I’m also aware that he might not only call off your wedding, but also ‘out you’ to your family, friends and community, making future partnerships difficult for you.

Is this something that you need to factor into your decision making?

Consider whether you are aligned on values and lifestyle

Being virgins when you marry is important for your husband-to-be for cultural reasons. I’m wondering if you feel the same way? And if not, are there other cultural norms and values that you both might differ on in your views?

Often at the beginning of a relationship, we’re more willing to make compromises in order to pursue connection with someone. However a difference in values can be challenging in the long term.

Are you aligned on your values?

Can you see yourself living happily with any other cultural restrictions or values he may have?

Are you making compromises that might be challenging in a few years’ time?

Relationships do require some compromise. Sometimes, people need to compromise a lot to stay in a relationship. But, if you have a choice, I think it’s worth you reflecting on and considering what you want your life to look like long term.

Consider his wellbeing too

I can’t help feeling like I’m missing a big piece of the puzzle here by not knowing more about him – and your relationship together.

I’m not sure what you mean when you mention lying ‘to make him feel better’. Is that because he would still think you’re a good match? Or because he would feel insecure knowing you ‘have experience’? Understanding more about who he is and what he would want from this partnership is probably an important factor here.

Relationships need more than love to thrive. They also need alignment on values and life goals, good conflict management, consideration of each other’s needs and mutual respect.

Vulnerability can create intimacy

If you decide that it’s worth taking the risk in being honest with your fiance, there is obviously value that can come from this. You’re no longer hiding anything between you.

It invites each of you to be more honest and vulnerable going forward. This kind of vulnerability creates deeper intimacy. But it isn’t important to everyone. And telling the truth doesn’t mean you stay together.

This isn’t an easy decision. You need to consider your own safety, the future of this relationship and his needs also.

Isiah McKimmie is a Couples Therapist, Sexologist, Sex Therapist and Lecturer. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her on Instagram for more advice on relationships, sex and intimacy.

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