I am 25 and have never had sex. I have never been in a relationship, kissed anyone or even held someone’s hand in a romantic way. It has never happened for me. I feel so much shame about this, as if I have done something wrong. When people ask me why I have never had sex, I usually reply that no one has ever expressed any interest. But I hate the fact that people can sometimes tell I am a virgin without me saying so, and wonder what it is that gives it away.
The only sexual experiences I have had, I didn’t consent to. The first time a boy saw me naked was without my consent; I have been groped in nightclubs; men have asked me for sexual favours and told me that they thought of me while masturbating. But no one has ever initiated any consensual intimacy and I suppose I have been so scared of doing it wrong that I haven’t either.
All of this bothers me more and more as I get older, and I can’t help feeling that I have missed my chance. I have missed the time when people my own age would be patient and understanding with me. How do you go on a date with a stranger and explain that you have never done any of this before?
You do not have to reveal anything about your virginity to anyone, ever. At 25, you are still extremely young, and many people will think you are simply discerning and focused on other things. In any case, it is none of their business. But do ask yourself, are you interested in sex, or are you just acting out what you believe is expected, conventional behaviour? Have you ever had a strong sexual desire for anyone, even in fantasy? Have you ever masturbated? If the answer is mainly “no”, then stop torturing yourself by comparing yourself with others. You have a right to be who you are – even if that is someone who simply does not wish to be sexual with anyone, ever. Above all, don’t let peer pressure push you into doing something you don’t want to do. There is no rule that says you have to lose your virginity.
Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.
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