You Need Help: Will I Be A Virgin Forever?

Q:

I’d always hoped that I would have sex for the first time with someone I loved, but I’m beginning to realize that if I hold onto that expectation, I’m going to be a virgin forever.

I truly believe that I am emotionally ready to become sexually active, and healthy, consensual physical touch and sex is something I enthusiastically want in my life. At first, I thought I was just holding out on sex until I could do it with a girlfriend I deeply cared about, but now that I’m realizing those circumstances may be unrealistic for the time being (I think I may be undateable), it’s dawning on me that I actually don’t know how to pursue a physical encounter with… anyone.

I guess the simple answer is to transparently express what I’m looking for on dating apps, and I’m willing to download anything, but I won’t know how to use it. I also don’t understand what I would write. “Cons: Clueless virgin, Pros: Can offer you fresh baked soda bread?” Seems inelegant. Even more inscrutable to me is how two strangers meet, face to face, in person, and end up getting hot and heavy all in one evening. I know wlw hookups are real — or at least I’ve heard rumors — but what’s the etiquette for breaking into hookup culture?

A:

Dear Friend,

I’m going to answer the question you asked. But first, I’m going to answer the question you didn’t.

Feeling undateable is SUCH a thing. I felt undateable in high school, before any boy had asked me out, and at least one had turned me down; then much later, when I was coming out, I felt undateable again. The chances of finding a queer person who actually wanted to ask me out, or kiss me, or maybe even one day have sex with me, felt so remote I might as well have been living on the surface of the moon. After all, no one had asked me out yet! It stood to reason that no one ever would, right?

I was wrong. But the only way that I could see it — the only way that I could know that I was not untouchable, that people would like me and have crushes on me and desire me — was to put myself into a situation in which dating was, undeniably, the goal. So I went online.

I had no idea what I was doing. But I signed up for an app, and I followed the instructions, and I started looking at people’s profiles, and a few people messaged me to say hi, and we started to make conversation, and then suddenly, on a random Thursday night, I found myself… on a date! With a woman! A woman who, it later transpired, wanted to see me naked! I was doing the impossible thing. I was dating.

I say all this because I want to be very clear about something: you are not undateable. While I do think online dating will be a good choice for you, I don’t think that you have to rule out romance, love, and even romantic, loving sex, if that’s still something that you want in your life!

I think that perhaps you’ve set up a bit of a false binary here. If we put hooking up at one end of the spectrum, and sex between established partners at the other, there’s a grey area between them — and that area is where a lot of dating takes place! There are undoubtedly people who go online knowing exactly what level of commitment they want, but there are also many of us who are open to a range of experiences, depending on who we meet and how we feel as we spend time with them. I don’t want to discourage you from pursuing something casual. Hooking up can be so much fun! But I also don’t think that this decision needs to be made in a vacuum, before you’ve started meeting people. Casual sex, committed sex, and sex all across the spectrum is attainable. Yes, even for you. You bake soda bread! You’re a catch!

That soda bread, by the way, brings me to something important: You have many things to offer. I know that there’s a lot of harmful messaging in our society about lack of experience, and specifically about virginity. I was very worried what my dates might think of me when they learned that I hadn’t slept with any women before. But honestly, the first time I did sleep with a woman? It didn’t come up. At least, not until later, when I decided I wanted to tell her, and she laughed a little, and pulled me close, and said that I’d done just fine, and it was, quite frankly, romantic as heck.

When it comes to sex, there are many things more important than your lack of experience. Enthusiasm, willingness to listen as the other person tells you their needs, your knowledge of your own body and what feels good to you, a sense of fun… all of these things are just SO much more vital to good sex than whether or not you’ve done it before. I don’t know a lot about you, but from just a brief letter, I already know that you’re thoughtful, that you can express yourself clearly, that you have a sense of humor. Most importantly, I know that you want your sexual experiences to be healthy, consensual, and enthusiastic. Those are all gifts. Any person you end up dating or having sex with will not be doing you a favor. They will be as lucky to have you in their bed, and in their lives, as you are to have met them.

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, I do think that dating apps are the right place for you to start. They can feel daunting, but they do guide you through the process during setup. I’ve used Match and Tinder. Which apps are most heavily used can be a bit regional, so if you download one and there aren’t many people on it, try another! And Autostraddle has so much helpful content about dating apps. Rachel gave us a how-to for writing your bio, and Vanessa knows how to choose the right pics. Kayla wrote up a guide for when you want to send the first message, and Ryan’s got the rundown on how to go on a first date that doesn’t suck. For me, the hardest part was just… starting. Putting my profile out there and talking to people felt terrifying. But the only thing more terrifying was the idea of never knowing what good sex or love was all about, so I did it! And I’m very glad I did.

Meeting people in person is a slightly different ballgame, but my time spent online dating was essential for that, too. Through the apps, I started to become more comfortable with the idea of asking people out, and when I was on dates that I’d arranged online, I was able to recognize when people were flirting with me, which was something I’d never been able to detect before. Because, it turns out, people had been flirting! For years! I’d just never known, because I didn’t realize it was a possibility. It blew my mind. Once I started to learn the signs, I became more comfortable identifying when someone was flirting with me in person, deciding whether I wanted to flirt back, and maybe asking them out if that went well.

In these pandemic times, meeting people face-to-face, as you say, is maybe a little bit rarer than it used to be. But it can definitely be done! As we wrap up June, there are still Pride events happening, and those are always fun. If your city has a queer bar that doesn’t only cater to cis men, they may have activity nights that are good ways to meet people — I once had a great time at a drunk spelling bee. Whatever your in-person interests and hobbies are, once you’re comfortable with the idea of flirting and maybe occasionally asking someone out (or asking someone home), I think the world will be your oyster. I’d also love to hear in the comments where our readers have met their partners, their dates, and their casual partners!

Wishing you all the best. And now I’m off to dream of fresh-baked bread. 💙


You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.


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Darcy

Darcy, a.k.a. Queer Girl, is your number one fan. She's a fat feminist from California who doodles hearts in the corners of her Gay Agenda. They're living through a pandemic, they're on Twitter, and they think you should drink more water! She also wants to make you laugh.

Darcy has written 299 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. LW, it’s not silly to want to wait to have sex until you’re in love, but perhaps you might want to interrogate where that desire comes from? If love, or at least understanding/affection, between you and your sexual partner is important then you are not ridiculous for prioritizing that! But media also tends to sell us this idea of sex, especially “losing” your “virginity” (heavy air quotes since these are socially constructed concepts), as a magical life-changing event. Sex can certainly be magical, but it’s also okay if it’s not. It doesn’t mean you’re bad at it! I worry you’re going to build this up too much in your head and psych yourself out. You absolutely do not need to run out and fuck the first person you find just to “get it over with”, but I’d recommend letting yourself be open to a variety of possibilities and not plan too much.

  2. Howww did the question asker ask my exact question?? It’s like they were reading my inner thoughts. I guess we are not alone in feeling undateable get ready to have sex…and unsure how to proceed from there. Thank you for your thoughtful answer, Darcy!

    • I could almost have written this questioner’s message. Except that I *don’t* know if sex is something I enthusiastically want in my life long-term, because I don’t know if it’s something I would actually like. I badly want to experience it, this hyped-up mystery, and find out if my anxiety and ambivalence are ace-spectrum traits or just uncertainty about the unknown. That makes it even harder to imagine finding a partner, because who wants to be this type of experiment?

      Attempts at online dating just make me doubt my prospects even more. Many people have swiped right on my profile in the Zoe app, but most of them are 50+ miles away (often much farther) and the few local-ish people I swiped right on didn’t do the same. Lex is home to some cool queer locals vocally seeking friends, dates, and/or hookups, but messaging people there has only led to a couple of conversations that petered out without us meeting. And I lack the resilience required for mainstream dating sites where men send women one-word greetings or immediate sexual propositions and then throw vicious tantrums when rejected or ignored; I endure that offline and am unwilling to make the internet another such place of hurt and fear. I had hoped putting myself in dating spaces as a date-seeking WLW would attract interest from someone compatible, and it hasn’t. And I’m so chronically tired that scraping up any spare energy for this endeavor is an ongoing struggle.

      Still, I appreciate this post.

      • Argh. I swear I started this as a separate comment, not a reply. Maybe I accidentally hit “reply” while rereading the other comments partway through writing it and my original post got moved. Sorry!

  3. I could almost have written this questioner’s message. Except that I *don’t* know if sex is something I enthusiastically want in my life long-term, because I don’t know if it’s something I would actually like. I badly want to experience it, this hyped-up mystery, and find out if my anxiety and ambivalence are ace-spectrum traits or just uncertainty about the unknown. That makes it even harder to imagine finding a partner, because who wants to be this type of experiment?

    Attempts at online dating just make me doubt my prospects even more. Many people have swiped right on my profile in the Zoe app, but most of them are 50+ miles away (often much farther) and the few local-ish people I swiped right on didn’t do the same. Lex is home to some cool queer locals vocally seeking friends, dates, and/or hookups, but messaging people there has only led to a couple of conversations that petered out without us meeting. And I lack the resilience required for mainstream dating sites where men send women one-word greetings or immediate sexual propositions and then throw vicious tantrums when rejected or ignored; I endure that offline and am unwilling to make the internet another such place of hurt and fear. I had hoped putting myself in dating spaces as a date-seeking WLW would attract interest from someone compatible, and it hasn’t. And I’m so chronically tired that scraping up any spare energy for this endeavor is an ongoing struggle.

    Still, I appreciate this post.

  4. I agree totally with Darcy, and I just wanted to chime in as someone who’s pretty demi; while I don’t need to love someone to (want to) have sex with them, I need to like them and feel some connection based on our values and personalities before I even know if I find them attractive.

    I have casually dated using online dating and had very satisfying connections come out of it, so I’m confident you can to if that’s something you want!

    The way I do online dating is maybe a bit different from how non-demi people do it but I have had good luck meeting quite a few nice people who were happy to do it this way! I always make sure I write something of substance on my profile to give an idea of what’s important to me, and look for the same from people I match with. I’m a bit picky about who I match with because it’s tiring messaging people who aren’t at all on the same page. Then I like to message quite a bit before meeting, because I want to be relatively sure there’s a click before I put in the substantial social effort to go somewhere and meet them and read all their nonverbal cues, etc. During the initial messaging I let them know that I don’t know yet if it’s romantic and I need to see how things develop. I don’t think I’ve ever kissed someone on a first date but I have on a second date, and I eventually had sex with a couple of those people and it was fun and I had a good time all around!

    One very important thing is to remember that you have to keep trying in order to find some good connections – I guess I went on 10 or 20 first dates and only a few led to second dates and 2 led to a sexual relationship. Those numbers are actually pretty good and if you don’t message a lot beforehand you’re probably more likely to meet people you don’t click with and don’t want to see again, though I know some people prefer to do it that way anyway. If you need to see someone in person to know if you’re attracted to them, it makes sense to meet early and see, but for me the talking is more important.

    And I just just started dating someone I started messaging with ~6months ago, we’ve been hanging out for 3 months, and we just told each other last week that we’re into each other, and we like each other a lot and had sex at the weekend and it was amazing.

    So you definitely can do it!

    • I forgot another important number: I maybe went on 10-20 first dates but I’m sure I’ve messaged with way over 100 people, and only meet with the ones I really feel like I could get on with. It’s really all about keep trying until you find someone good for you!

      • Oh it’s a dubious honour – I’ve lived in 3 countries in the past 2 years and have to rebuild a support system every time, so it’s not all positive! But yes I’m lucky to have been able to choose cities where there are at least a good number of potential matches :)

  5. I can highly recommend the “do something you enjoy with other people” approach! My girlfriend was lifelong single before we got together and the apps didn’t really work for her, but we ended up meeting at a community choir. She dazzled me with her solo audition and now we have jam/smooch sessions.

  6. I have been where you are, letter writer! With a side of unsureness about my comfort level with sex, because I’m gray ace and my feelings fluctuate. I tried OKCupid back in the day (like 7-10 years ago), went on a few moderately uncomfortable first dates, decided to retreat from that and focus on friendships. Then 2.5 years ago, I started hearing about Lex and decided to take the plunge again. I went on a number of first dates and actually made some pretty cool friends before the pandemic hit.

    Then, during the initial lockdown, my sex drive took a huge upswing (stress responses, amirite?) which I dealt with by turning to tumblr. I read and wrote erotica, flirted with a lot of other users, and eventually met my current girlfriend! Something about connecting in that very sexuality-forward environment made it easier for me to discuss my inexperience in a matter of fact way, and by the time we were able to meet in person so many of the nerves were worked through that I was able to really enjoy having sex for the first time at age 30!

    I guess all of this is to say, you might have to try a lot of things out, but there are so many possibilities out there. It’ll be ok!

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