Are You Getting Any? Moving Country Changed How I See Intimacy

Moving from Costa Rica to Europe dramatically altered 23-year-old Irina's views on consent and dating.
Nana Baah
London, GB
Irina by Darina Mohammed
Welcome to 'Are You Getting Any?', a column that asks a generation rumoured not to fuck if they in fact fuck.

Irina, 23

Quality of sex overall: 9/10
Frequency of sex:
Intimacy levels:
How do you feel generally about the people you fuck:
How happy are you with the amount of time you have for sex:

VICE: Hi Irina! How would you describe your sex life? 
I've been with my boyfriend for ten months and it's the first time I have really experienced real intimacy. Sex in general has completely shifted from what it was before. 


What caused that shift?
I live in the Netherlands right now, but I was born and raised in Costa Rica, so I lived there for 21 years. I'm half Dutch, so I have family here too. Anyway, in Costa Rica, just the way women are viewed in general, it's very different from Europe. I would say, women are pretty much objectified in comparison to how women here in Europe are viewed, especially in the Netherlands. It's a very women-driven country, where the women are very strong, very opinionated and they stand for what they believe in and what they work for. It was a very big shift with culture and also relationship-wise.


Irina says consent was something she had not really seen before.

What’s the main differences between your earlier sexual experiences in Costa Rica versus the ones in the Netherlands?
Well, they started in high school, when I was about 16 years old. I would say the biggest difference in Costa Rica versus the Netherlands, and maybe Europe in general, would be consent. If you were to go ahead and just have a casual makeout with somebody, you would just expect to have your butt touched or just be caressed in ways that you don't really don't really want to be touched at that age. But when I got here to the Netherlands and started dating, I was surprised to see my current boyfriend asking me “Can I kiss you?” or “Can I put my hand here?”. Consent wasn't really something I had really seen before. It was quite a contrast. 


So your outlook on dating is completely different now?
Well, I didn't really have a dating experience in Costa Rica, really. All I’ve ever had were casual encounters, whether that was with close friends or acquaintances. The culture around sex and relationships is very different. But also it was pre-COVID and I feel like after COVID, relationships really took a shift. But sexually, I feel like here and in the Netherlands has been completely different, just intimacy has has been in the forefront, which is a complete contrast within my life before. 

How do you define intimacy? And would you say it’s a really important factor for you to enjoy sex? 
There's two different poles: There's the just physical sexual experience and then there's the intimate sexual experience. I feel like to have a very fulfilling sexual experience, the intimacy has to be there – I mean feelings are involved, respect is involved, all of these factors come into play. I've experienced both poles and I can definitely say with confidence that sex that has intimacy, respect and feelings involved is a whole different world. That’s the explanation for those high ratings!

Did you meet your boyfriend when restrictions were in place in the Netherlands? 
Funny story: The day I went on my first date with him was one day before they shut everything down, so it was almost like it was meant to be, as cheesy as that sounds. We had to deal with walks in the woods as dates from then onwards. It's a bit awkward to start dating somebody in that space, when the world is just kind of breaking down. 


Do you think those restrictions have had an impact on your sex life?
Maybe the pandemic comes into play, I'm not quite sure. For me, personally, I came into more comfortable terms with myself and I became more confident with being by myself and getting to know myself. I think that does come into play with dating and intimate relationships. If you're more comfortable with yourself, you're more comfortable with someone else. 

Darina Mohammed

So what do you think of the British Medical Journal research? Is social media to blame for us all shagging less?
I mean, statistically, apparently, it is true, but you would think it wouldn't be true because of how much access and knowledge and just how comfortable people are around with sex nowadays, in comparison to other generations. But it makes sense that people our age are having a lot less sex because social media does really isolate people. People are getting more comfortable with being by themselves and that means less social interaction. We're also in the Me Too era, so consent is also thing, and that's probably a big reason why people are having less sex. It's now a more sensitive subject, as it should be.

Is the research something you’ve seen reflected in your real life? 
Yeah actually, it's surprising, coming from Costa Rica. All my Costa Rican friends were having sex for the first time at 16 or 17. Here, I know people who didn’t have sex until their 20s. There's probably a lot of factors that come into play with that. In Europe, especially in the Netherlands, I don't feel like there's that much of a yearning to reach out to people physically. It's more of a digital era now. 


It’s interesting to think about the effects of technology on intimacy. Have you seen people getting married in the Facebook Metaverse thing? 
That's scary to me. Technology at one point was about innovating in positive way, and in recent years I’m not sure if it’s that positive. Maybe I sound a bit of a boomer here, but I think social media is going to decrease human interaction and get to a point where we're just us on our phones. The digital worlds that they're making… Zuckerberg is going absolutely crazy. 

What do you think it will do to human interaction in terms of sex and relationships?
I feel like that will definitely decrease everybody's social skills. 

In terms of being able to chat someone up in real life? Is that something you’ve done before? 
I've never really had to and I haven't really had the courage to do it. The little courage [I’ve had] is sending a text. But people that are just using dating apps might have a lot more sexual interactions because you can get a hookup or date in 20 minutes, really. I think that was the main point of creating Tinder. Why else would you have that little bit about how many miles away that person is from you?  

@nanasbaah / @darinacreative