Carolyn Hax: How do I explain my lack of dating experience?

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We asked readers to channel their inner Carolyn Hax and answer this question. Some of the best answers are below.

Dear Caroline: I am a 33 year old female living in Los Angeles and have never had sex. I’ve never dated and don’t even know how to kiss – I’ve been kissed (with my permission) literally twice, at parties.

I want romance, sex, a relationship, etc., I’ve always had severe body image issues (I think “dysmorphia” would be the right word), and spending 20 years with undiagnosed social anxiety did not help. I’m working on all of this, but a big concern is, once I’ve managed to get a date with a guy I like, how/when do I explain my total lack of dating experience? a way that isn’t incredibly awkward? And do I expect a lot of guys to have a negative reaction to this, or not?

Anonymous: As a latecomer due to body issues: When someone calls you attractive, they mean it! They wouldn’t say it if they weren’t into you.

To kiss, let it be awkward. For sex and a relationship, once it seems to go that way – he invites you over to his house or you’re on a third date or whatever – just tell them. “Hey, I didn’t [sex, boyfriend] before. I didn’t feel ready, but I like you and where are you at, so I want to do it with you. But I wanted you to know. There’s nothing wrong with hearing “Not yet” as an answer (which you can always say too, of course) – maybe he wasn’t ready for that step, or wants to make sure that you are comfortable. Guys Reacting Negatively – Dodge Ball!

It’s easy to think that every bad date or rejection is your fault, but the world of relationships and sex is HUGE and no one has experienced all of that. Guys always search, learn and hope as much as you do, otherwise they wouldn’t be dating. People who have been on a million dates and slept in a hundred beds are still being rejected, still encountering new sexual or romantic obstacles, and still becoming incredibly awkward. It takes practice to hear rejection not like “What did I do wrong?” but like “Well, that means he wasn’t as right as I thought, I’m glad I found out quickly.” This practice and experience matters the most.

Anonymous: I was in a similar situation a few years ago and here is the advice I wish someone had given me:

Sex is such a weirdly loaded topic that it might help to think of it in terms of another human endeavor with less baggage. Imagine we’re talking about water skiing instead of sex.

You’ve never waterskied before and you start dating someone who loves waterskiing. If you never want to ski, he should find out early on so he can decide if he’s ready to pursue that interest on his own or if he needs to find a partner who shares the hobby. If you want to learn waterskiing and you find yourself chatting about skiing with him or he invites you on an impromptu trip on the lake, maybe tell him it’s new to you just so he know that you should not drive the boat too fast. There’s no reason to be embarrassed that you haven’t done such arbitrary activity before. A lot of people don’t water ski; maybe they’re in the wrong lake country, or it doesn’t seem fun, or their culture disapproves of it. It would be unfair and weird for him to be upset that waterskiing hadn’t been brought up before for you. And you will never feel obligated to explain or justify not having done so. It doesn’t need a story or justification, it just hasn’t come to you before. Your sole responsibility is to decide your level of interest in this hobby, find someone with a similar level of interest, and ensure you take appropriate safety precautions.

This strategy of viewing sex as an arbitrary shared interest has really removed a lot of the pressure for me, as well as a lot of the weird cultural grime surrounding sex and sexuality.

Anonymous: Before you go out, decide for yourself what you are comfortable doing or not doing. The first time or two someone asks you out (or you ask them – and yes, you can), suggest you meet for coffee in a public place and in the afternoon so you can chat for a limited time before you go your separate ways. It helps you avoid the whole “shall we, shall we not” kiss/kiss/have sex dilemma until you are more comfortable with each other. other. I’ve always invited people to go to the zoo for an afternoon, on the grounds that anyone who doesn’t like the zoo isn’t for me anyway. What kind of thing would work for you that way? And watch out for anyone who wants to take advantage of your lack of experience/confidence. Unfortunately, they exist. If your gut instinct goes “ick!” listen to him.

Anonymous: I was in your shoes, even though I was a few years older, barely a year ago. I met someone who had had a few previous relationships, so I knew he had more experience than me. I was honest about my lack of relationship experience, using the simple but true, “This has never really happened to me” and kept the “just so you know, if we do this, this will be my first time,” for when that was a more pressing matter. Like you, I was eager to divulge this last one, but I felt like I had to do it for both of us, and that was good! For him, a non-issue, other than making sure I was comfortable. I don’t know what you’re looking for in a relationship, and I may have gotten lucky, but I think if you find someone nice who genuinely cares about you, it will result in conversations potentially embarrassing about sexual history (or lack thereof) . Good luck!

Each week, we ask readers to answer a question submitted to Carolyn Hax’s live chat or email. Read last week’s episode here. New questions are usually posted on Fridays, with a Monday submission deadline. Responses are anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself and are edited for length and clarity.

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