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involuntary celibacy (incel)

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.

V-Card Diaries: G "I'm not looking for a fairytale, just to meet someone to end my loneliness."

Today we're highlighting G in Canada, who is so cheerful and outgoing outwardly, she thinks people would be shocked if the knew how lonely and sad she really is. 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:

25, female, from Canada.

How I define virginity:

Having not had consensual sexual intimacy with a partner.

Here's my story:

I'm 25, I live in a big city and always have, and I'm still a virgin. Not by choice at all, I might add.

I'm not "ugly" but I'm also not strikingly beautiful. I'm quite plain. In high school I was very troubled, badly bullied and quite depressed, which didn't help. In college I was very shy and despite trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and actually go after people I was interested in, I never experienced reciprocated attraction. The rejection was and is still very painful.

Since then, I've tried online dating to no avail (I got exactly two messages, both from men in their 60s, and zero responses to anything I sent out) and gone out to parties and bars and all kinds of things in an effort to meet new people, but so far nothing has happened. A couple of times I got excited about someone promising, only to be disappointed. I'm not clingy or anything (believe me, I've asked people I know how I come off), just very unlucky.

I want desperately to meet someone. Not so much to have sex, but to help me realize I'm worthy of affection of SOME kind. Right now, I am 25 and I've never been kissed, never been on a date, never held hands, never anything. I feel so truly and desperately alone that I cry myself to sleep frequently. I'm not looking for a fairytale, just an end, however brief, to my loneliness.

I am at the point where I can't imagine what it would be like to have someone show me romantic affection. I almost don't even think it's real. I have a lot of love and care to give and no one who wants to receive it. I'm a very cheerful, smiley person outwardly, and extremely outgoing and friendly. People would be shocked if they knew how lonely and sad I am.

I hope I'll one day be able to write an update saying how I spent years overreacting and worrying for nothing and that I met someone I'm happy with, but I don't know if I can believe it'll ever happen. Maybe it'll finally be my turn one day.

All the Lonely People: The conversation we should be having about men and virginity

If you read this blog, you know how important issues like identity and community are to us, including those of self-identified older virgins. In light of the killings at UCSB, and the torrent of misogynist hate speech 22-year-old Elliot Rodger left behind, I think there is an important conversation to be had that includes men and virginity right now. But it's not the one about the poor sex-and-love-starved virgin male (And by the way, there are many 22-year-olds who haven't become sexually active yet) Many of his rants were made on behalf of "incels" (involuntary celibates) with whom he identified but also despised. Before this weekend, most people had never heard about the incel community, but I know there are incel-identified folks in our audience as well as contributors to The V-Card Diaries. I also know the original community is a welcoming female-inclusive space far removed from the hateful rhetoric of Rodger and his ilk. (Tracy Clark-Flory did a great story focusing on that community's hate speech so I won't link to them here).

I wrote a story for Nerve as a way of framing the conversation about men, virginity and shame. I think it's important to point out that many adult virgins of all genders (who don't want to be virgins) feel some shame or frustration about their situation. It's how they deal with it and who they blame for it that makes all the difference. I'm grateful to the members of the You're Not Alone incel board for their participation and assistance in this story, and to our intern Alexa Cucopulos for her amazing research.

Here's an excerpt of the story:

“In a society where sexuality is always in our faces, if you don’t have the tools or access, or aren’t comfortable establishing intimacy it’s going to isolate you from social environments,” explains Dr. Burgess. “You don’t want to talk to your family or friends for fear of being teased or ostracized, and that’s why these incel groups have become especially valuable.”

So, why did the misogynistic groups proliferate, leaving the more introspective and female-friendly groups like You’re Not Alone, and other sites like the sub-reddits Forever Alone and Forever Alone Women, feeling like outliers?

Society still defines sex by intercourse and ejaculation, and masculinity by the tally of those sexual conquests. Men who buy into this mythology end up feeling both entitled to it, and frustrated at not getting their due. When they can’t fulfill their expected masculine roles, they blame women for not giving them what they think they deserve, instead of examining themselves and the mythology they were raised with [...]

I can only speculate that these men already had misogynistic and entitled ideas about the women they felt they were owed, and began to take advantage of the growing echo chamber and megaphone of the Internet, looking for kinship in spaces that reflected their attitudes back at them"

Please read the full story and leave your comments here.