real life

Group therapy: "I'm 28 years old and an accidental virgin."

There’s not a lot I wouldn’t tell my closest girlfriends but there’s one thing I’ve been lying by omission about for years.

I’m too mortified to let this slip. And too confused about how this situation has transpired. But the thing is: I’m 28 years old, and I’m a virgin.

I don’t understand how it happened. Or, more accurately, how it didn’t happen for me. I’m not religious and holding out for marriage. I’m not dim or bad-smelling or unattractive (at least I think I’m not). And I’m certainly not asexual… as my humiliating crush on Benedict Cumberbatch can attest.

Nope, my chastity is much more accidental than that. I feel like I missed the boat with losing my “V-plates” (ugh isn’t that a horrible teenage term?) years ago, and I’m not sure that particular vehicle comes around a second time.

When everyone else was creeping into the guest room with one another at high school house parties, I was living with my parents, taking uni pretty seriously and coming home at midnight to avoid a hangover, like a shy, slightly nerdy Cinderella.

Extra virgin. Yep, that’s me…

Sure, there were guys who’d buy me drinks in bars, and I went on “dates” with a handful of guys during uni (if you can call free movie screenings at union house “dates”). But the conversation was stilted; the chemistry flat; the occasional kisses during the slower parts of the movie sloppy.

I could have pushed through the awkwardness and gone home with one of them to a (no doubt slightly musty smelling) single bed in a college room somewhere. In fact, there was one time where a guy’s hand strayed under my top during a screening of Anchorman and I seriously considered doing it just because he looked a bit like Toby Maguire.

But I felt tacky going through with it just to get it over with. Not to mention that the guy was wearing a Green Day t-shirt, which left me decidedly not that interested (can you blame me?).

It’s not that I’ve ever expected my first time to be with The One; I’m not one of life’s die-hard romantics. But I do at least have a minimum requirement that we know each other’s last name, follow up with breakfast the next morning, and that my prospective lover know the difference between Cameron Diaz and David Cameron (which, by the way, Toby Maguire’s horny doppelganger definitely didn’t).

Also, I’m not in the Tony Abbott camp of regarding my virginity as a “gift” but I do believe there’s a certain gravity attached to the occasion of losing it. I don’t want to squander it on some douchebag, only to meet the love of my life a week later and massively regret my decision.


What this meant in practice was that, while I was holding out to meet a half-respectable guy, I held tightly onto my virginity while my single friends, one by one, let go of theirs.

Until one day when I was 22, I was out with some girlfriends for a round of cocktails that inevitably spiralled into a blur of drinking games — and a couple of the girls casually dropped that their “sex tallies” were in the mid-30s. In that moment, the inevitable, uncomfortable realisation dawned that my lack of experience of men was no longer the norm; it was no longer cute; it was no longer going to be easy to explain away to my future lovers (if and when they ever materialised).

And, I’m ashamed to admit, I lied when it was my turn to play, letting my girlfriends believe I’d jumped on that notches-in-the-bedpost bandwagon years earlier.

I’ve never let slip with the truth since, and I’ve come to dread those girls’ nights conversations. So, this is where the problem — and it’s definitely felt like a problem ever since that conversation five years ago – has left me.

I’m still waiting for (someone at least vaguely resembling) the right person to present himself, but the longer I wait, paradoxically, the more awkward I know I’ll feel when it finally does happen. And, of course, the pressure’s built up so much now that, if I did the deed with just anyone, I’d almost certainly feel uncomfortable, let down or even resentful afterwards.

This film? Yeah, somehow it doesn’t seem all that funny anymore…

It’s not a pretty situation, and it’s not one I can talk through with anyone either. But, after years of torturing myself with images of my future self as a female Steve Carrell (in that film which, for obvious reasons, I’m not a big fan of anymore) I figure there are two options going forward:

I could Tinder up a storm, put on a brave face and a good pair of high heels, meet someone not completely hideous on a night out and get this thing out of the way.


I could keep waiting. And remind myself that, while I feel more than a little embarrassed about my secret, any man who does baulk at my honesty when the time comes, is probably not worth my time.

Any advice for our reader?