One day, at the age of 24, I was sitting on the balcony washing my clothes by hand. The next door neighbours were having a girls’ night in and chattering away to each other. The topic was a friend of theirs who happened to be around my age.
At the time I too was a virgin. Fast-forward 8 years and I still am. In fact, I’ve never been kissed. But this feeling of shame was not something I could identify with then and it still isn’t, although it seems to be a common thing.
I wonder whether people believe that all those who get to 30+ and haven’t had a relationship feel like this.
Because it’s certainly not the case.
At 32, I’m in a reasonable position to share a perspective on what it feels like to have no sexual experience at an age when most people do. I also want to reflect on how I might have got to this position. It really is a curious thing, even for me.
Let’s address shame first. I don’t feel shame because I don’t think there is something inherently ‘wrong’ with being a virgin or with me. Therefore, there’s no shame in it.
If, on the other hand, I had cheated, lied, mistreated a sexual partner or was generally a lousy human being, then I would feel shame. By that measure, there are many non-virgins who should feel shame.
I don’t worry that I’m not worth liking. It seems other people don’t either. On the odd occasion that someone asks about previous relationships and finds I haven’t had any, they generally respond with a combination of disbelief and surprise. My favourite comment so far was ‘Serious? But you’re a such a good package!’ What a compliment!
In general, however, I don’t throw the information about my lack of experience around. But if people ask me about my experience in the right context, I honestly answer the question. There’s a reason why I don’t tell everyone in every situation. Sometimes, the surprise people feel is followed by what seems to be pity.