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fear of rejection

V-Card Diaries: Emily Dickingson "Is there anyone that could love me for me enough that my extreme involuntary virgin status wouldn't turn him off?"

Writing from: Cleveland, Ohio

Age: Late 30s

How I define virginity: My definition seems to align w/society's definition: not having engaged in sexual intercourse of the baby-making variety.

But really, MY definition of virginity for myself is MUCH broader and encompasses many more issues. I read an article in Psychology Today that was a review of research on involuntary sexual virgins, and I very closely identified with what the research describes: adults who are virgins not of their own choosing.

The research studies showed that for involuntary virgins, there were often signs of this fate far back in childhood. Here, the author of the article highlights some of the "tells" of eventual involuntary adult virgins: children who are isolated, have a hard time making friends, are made fun of by their peers, children who feel strongly socially awkward and therefore prefer to play alone.

All of these descriptors applied to me. As such, I never was asked to a school dance, or asked to dance, or asked out on a date. I've never been on a date. I have never been kissed. Forget rounding the bases, I've never even been invited to the game. I have zip-zero-nada experience with anything related to love or romance or flirting or dating or sex.

I am very lonely, and I crave companionship. I yearn for a sexual partner, but only if we are in love with each other. Sex with strangers just for the sex frightens me; I'm scared of all the ways it would go wrong because of my lack of knowledge or experience. On the other hand, sex with someone I love and who loves me is also scary because of all the pressure that would be put on both of us. Is there anyone that could love me for me? Love me enough that my extreme involuntary virgin status wouldn't turn him off?

If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. Find The V-Card Diaries here on most Wednesdays.

Only Connect...

The other day I was re-reading our V-Card Diaries stories, and I was reminded that people who have never had sex are sometimes dealing with personal issues that go beyond the lack of physical experience. So I was struck by this excerpt from Vivian Gornick's New York Times essay on British author E. M. Forster, author of Howards End, as well as A Room With A View, A Passage to India, and Maurice:

Forster was 31 years old when “Howards End” appeared, at which time he was a closeted homosexual and a virgin who knew nothing of how erotic relations worked — with any combination of partners. His ignorance weighed on him, and in his imagination sex achieved a mythical power that became symbolic of all in human existence that one could feel but not express, imagine but not realize. His fearfulness was such that until now he had known neither passion nor love; what he did know was yearning. This yearning energized his work but also limited it. In time he lost his virginity, but sex alone did not provide experience. Anxiety — that frozen sea within — still made it impossible for him to dive deep into the kind of desire that leads to self-knowledge; and without self-knowledge all remains murk and isolation.

Dear Young Men: Don't get hung up on the V-Word

Two great articles speaking directly to men about virginity and sexuality. We ladies cover this topic a lot on the blog, and I also enjoyed sharing similar ideas in an interview for an upcoming documentary on male virginity. Unfortunately, we ladies sometimes get a bit of pushback when we weigh in on this topic, but luckily, here's the same straight dope from a couple of actual dudes. So listen up and seriously, read the whole stories at the links. They are both super smart. From "Dear young men: The old stereotypes of what it is to be a 'man' are a load of rubbish" in The Independent

At about age 14, boys feel like they have to start bullshitting about their sexual exploits in order to survive. The pressure on these kids is just too great for them to speak frankly about it. Ignore what everyone says about their sex lives. They are lying, all of them, at least a little.

Forget the word “virgin” as a descriptor for both yourself and others. It’s an archaic, irrelevant word, meant to stigmatise and shame people. It oversells a person’s first sex act as some grand, transformational experience, which supposedly vindicates a young man and spoils a young woman. It’s an obsolete, religious, judgmental word. Let’s leave  it behind.

From "The Problem With Male Virginity" in Paging Dr. Nerdlove

Your value doesn’t come from who you have or haven’t slept with. It doesn’t come from where you fall on the bell-curve of starting sexual activity, whether you were precocious or a late bloomer. Your value as a person comes from how you act and how you make others feel. It’s about what you bring to the table as a whole person, not how many vaginas you’ve managed to talk your way into.

Don’t spend your time focused on getting laid for the first time, spend your time on becoming a better person. Cultivate an amazing life. Learn to connect with people, to build relationships. Don’t throw your hands in the air and just assume you’re uniquely cursed, work to fix things. Practice your social skills – getting good with women, getting good with people, is a skill that you can learn. Yes, you may have problems. You may have circumstances in your life that make things harder for you. But harder isn’t impossible, no matter how daunting it may seem.

h/t to our virginspotters @OliveMercies and @j_aallan !

V-Card Diaries: Katherine "I'm so afraid of rejection that I don't know how to approach a guy I'm interested in."

Today we're highlighting Katherine in Europe. She doesn't think that men find her attractive and is afraid that her lack of sexual experience will make it even more difficult for her to find intimacy. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. A little about myself:

I'm 20, female, originally from the US and soon studying abroad in Europe.

How I define virginity:

In general terms, I'd say you're a virgin if you've experienced some sort of consensual genital contact. So for me, there's not that big a gap between, say, oral sex and penis-in-vagina sex if you're a heterosexual person.

Here's my story:

I'm twenty, and I'm entering another year without any sexual experience to speak of. I've never even held hands with a guy. I have only ever been on one date and it was this year, and I ruined it by being too nervous and confused to try and make a connection.

In junior high and high school, I was really self-conscious about my breasts. They started growing... and then stopped. I've worn the same bra size since I was 12 and you can buy it in the girls' section of the store. As I started to discover my sexuality, I also learned that guys like boobs, and the bigger the better. No one ever expressed interest in me, and I figured it was because of my small breasts.

I thought college would change things, because sex is supposed to be really easy to get there. But still, no one really expressed interest in me, except for a few guys I did not find attractive. I'm so afraid of rejection that I don't know how to approach a guy I'm interested in. What if he laughs at me? What if he tells his friends how this weird girl thought she stood a chance? I still don't feel like men find me attractive.

I feel like because I'm 20, everyone assumes I've had sex, so they'll be turned off if they find out I'm not experienced at all. I don't feel comfortable providing any information about my virginity on dating sites because I'm afraid it'll turn people off. I don't even know how to kiss! I've been masturbating for a while now, but I'm frustrated by this need for intimacy, combined with the inability to achieve it. I feel like I was supposed to learn how to do this in high school, but I've missed the boat and it's only going to get harder to catch up.

V-Card Diaries: Bob "The longer I stay a virgin, the more it becomes a self-perpetuating feedback loop."

From time to time, we repost something we like that we've recently rediscovered in our archives. Today we're highlighting 30-year-old Bob, who ponders the various factors that that have contributed to his current sexual status. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission page. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

I am almost 30 and never thought I would be a virgin male at this age. I did not date in high school partly because I was too mature. In my junior year I could grow a full beard and was interested in religion, social and science television programs, and books. Little did I know that dating becomes more complex as one ages, and in that way I was very immature. In college I dumped my religious baggage at the dorm door. I still believed in morals–being truthful, kind and good to others–but not in the abstinence part. However, my focus in college was completing my degree and not getting into too much debt. Then after graduation, my focus was on finding a house.

At 27 I was happy. I had a house and liked where I lived, so I started to earnestly look at dating and losing my virginity. I thought dating should be easy. Dating was not easy. I had not dated before so everyone I dated was more experienced than I. Also, I was comfortable being alone, I had a house, friends, a job I enjoyed, freedom, porn, and so I did not need anyone.

After dating a while, I started to get a fear of rejection–not being rejected initially, but being rejected after spending time and effort, then having the relationship end before getting laid. The rejections made me ponder what my excuse for being a virgin is. I am bald but I went with it and shaved my head. I drink and party occasionally. I am 6 feet tall, 190 lbs, not gay, religious, overly shy, or a social introvert.

So basically I am normal and I have no good excuse except it has not happened yet. The longer I stay a virgin, the more it becomes a self-perpetuating feedback loop and the harder it becomes to break free. I still try–I just know now it is more difficult than I expected.

Originally published December 19, 2010