Look, But Don’t Touch

Brits Celebrate Phin Lyman, The Boy Virgin Who Says He’ll Wait for Love

An 18 year-old has become an overnight sensation for his declaration against casual sex. Is it a publicity stunt? Or are his motives as pure as… well, y’know.

Richard Pohle/The Times, via Newscom

He’s one of the only 18-year-old boys in the world who wants you to know he’s a virgin.

Meet Phin Lyman—the British boarding school student urging his fellow teens to wait for true love before getting down to it. Lyman has risked ridicule by publicly confessing to his lack of sexual experience and encouraging his friends to ignore the pressure to get laid. Now, every major media outlet in the U.K. is working hard to make Lyman a purer-than-pure star.

Lyman, a regular star of Wellington College’s stage musicals, chose to emulate Reese Witherspoon’s “Why I Plan to Wait” article from Cruel Intentions. There may be no Ryan Philippe character plotting to steal his innocence, but Lyman said celibacy wasn’t such an easy option at the co-ed boarding school in Berkshire. “There are some incredibly good-looking girls here,” he said. “It takes a lot of self-discipline. There have been times I have been in a position where I could have gone and had sex with someone. I have had to step back and say ‘No, I am going to regret it’.”

His article will appear in the next edition of the school magazine at one of Britain’s most upmarket establishments. Annual fees there run to more than $55,000 a year.

Lyman argues that his generation treats sex far too casually. In excerpts of the story, which were published by The Times of London, he claims that teenage boys had received the bulk of their sex education alone in front of a computer and thought “it was just for them,” while girls were less likely to spend hours watching online pornography and thus developed a more romantic notion of sex.

“I believe that sex is an incredibly strong symbol of love between two people. Think of it as glue. Once you have had sex with someone, you’re connected to them emotionally and physically. If you tear that bond the rip leaves open scars where the glue once was. That’s why ‘casual sex’ never works in the long term,” he wrote in The Wellingtonian.

Lyman admitted that his friends were skeptical about his motives but he denied suggestions that this was an elaborate ruse. “I have never seen any evidence that girls are interested in that sort of challenge. I want to wait until I have met someone who knows me and I love them,” he said.

The declaration was published on the same day that a survey of British students++ found that almost one in 10 had lost their virginity by the age of 14, while 51 per cent had experienced one-night stands.

His friends have suggested to Lyman that he is missing out on an awful lot of fun. “I really believe I am not. The people sleeping around are the unhappy ones,” he said.

Lyman, a competitive swimmer, is coming to the end of his final year at high school. “One of the reasons I decided to go public is I am at the top of the school now and I can look down and see there is so much pressure on younger pupils to have sex,” he said. “I would say 90 per cent of people are drunk when they lose their virginity. It doesn’t make them happy and it upsets me to see it.”

With his college years on the horizon, Lyman’s morality is about to be severely tested—spoiler alert—even Reese Witherspoon succumbed in the end.