Monday, July 13, 2009

"No One Wants To Have Sex With Me."

Dear Dr. Kate,

I am 32 and I am still a virgin. Nobody seems to understand how much this bothers me. I am not a virgin because I am afraid of sex or because I was brought up in a repressive household. No, I am still a virgin because nobody is interested in me. Nobody has ever asked me out. I've never even held hands with anyone.

I don't really know why.

I mean, I know I'm not that attractive (really, I'm not. This isn't low self-esteem.), but I don't think I'm actually *ugly*.

Now I'm not really sure what I should do. I'd really like to try partnered sex, but if nobody is willing to be my partner, there's nothing I can do about it.

I've tried before to just realize that it's never going to happen for me, but then after a while, part of my mind will ask, "So when are you going to do something about the sex thing?" and then I will feel bad about myself all over again because nobody likes me in that way.

What's your advice?

Alone at 32

Dear Alone,

I wish I could see you face to face in my office, but email will have to do. I know that I don't know anything about you, but I'm going to give you my best advice from both my professional and personal experiences. And it's just one woman's opinion, but I hope it helps.

Re: the attractiveness question. Yes, undeniably some human beings are considered beautiful, by most standards. But attractiveness isn't just about aesthetics. So often, a connection happens with someone because of who they are - their intelligence, their sense of humor, their skill in the kitchen, etc, etc - and the chemistry follows. Many women find themselves attracted to men that are so not the picture of what they thought they wanted (shorter, bigger, balder), but find the man becoming more attractive with time, because of how they feel about him.

This is my roundabout way of getting to how you see yourself, and how that matches up with reality. Do you have physical deformities? Are you morbidly obese? These things, I'll admit, pose challenges to finding a partner - but even they are overcome, routinely. And if you aren't at peace (at least somewhat) with your face and body, you'll signal that to everyone you meet.

So I don't believe that your problem is really how you look. I wonder if you're out there in the world in such a way as to make connections with others possible - not just romantic ones, but ANY connection. Are you able to meet people with shared interests? People you can spend time with to really get to know? Are you working? In school? What do you do when you're not doing that? Or are you around the same set of people all the time--folks you may love, but no one a potential partner?

When you've looked in all the places you can and are coming up short, you need to work on expanding the pool. Community service...alumni organizations...on-line dating - whatever it takes, to get new people to cross your path and into your life. Use the Internet. Use your family and friends. I'm trying to avoid the cliche of "there's someone out there for everyone." But in a country of 300 million people, the odds are pretty good that there are people for you to meet that you just haven't come across yet.

Two other things to consider...

* Your sexuality. Are you attracted to men? to women? to both? Are you sure? Because if you're sending out confused signals, it's hard for someone else to interpret them right.

* Your expectations. Don't have in mind "is there a chance that (s)he'll have sex with me?" when you meet someone. Get to know them as a person - let them get to know you - take the pressure of the sex question off.

Because in the end, I don't want you (or any of my patients or friends) just looking for sex. Believe me, you can find someone to boink you if that's all you want (peek at Craig's List if you need convincing). For sex to be good, it first needs to be comfortable...that means both arousal and lubrication, and both come more easily when you feel really good about the one you're with. And since you risk pregnancy and STDs every time, the sex should be worth it.

All the best,
Dr. Kate

6 comments:

Poodle said...

I agree that this doesn't have much to do with how attractive you are. To be honest, in my experience, guys are actually more afraid to have sex with girls they're actually really attracted to (and care about). As for girls, I don't have experience in that arena...but either way someone has to make the first move!

I'd consider myself fairly "attractive" if that can be defined (i.e. in sexist terms, I'm petite but curvy with a 34D bust and am often told I'm beautiful by strangers...not all it's cracked up to be). I'm not a virgin--I lost my virginity when I was 21. But almost 100% of my interactions with men had to be started by me. Guys can get really nervous and are really clumsy! I think you should just focus on casual dating first. An easy way to avoid the awkward sex talk during the first few dates (which, with casual dating, is usually as far as you'll go) is just to be confident and state your "rule". It can be blatant, like "no hands down the pants for the first few times we kiss" or more ladylike "I'm simply not that type of girl." You'll know the guy's a winner if you do feel confident to tell him your sexual history, and he doesn't judge.

I still get discouraged myself--I've never formally dated anyone, or, in fact, gone on a real date (although to be fair I'm still in grad school, not the "real world"). But that doesn't mean I don't put myself out there and keep trying. I've learned that no matter how attractive you are, the guy won't want to start something if it's not the right time in his life and there's absolutely no "click". Give men a little credit :)

But unfortunately, a lot of the times the girl has to make the effort. Do you put yourself in social situations where you can meet single men (or women)?

Also, don't worry about your age. Even if marriage isn't your goal, take a look at the nytimes.com wedding announcements--at lot of the people are in their 40s!

Pixy said...

Some how I feel like i can relate to this. I am a 21 year old virgin, yes I know I'm very young, But sometimes I feel Like its never gonna happen either. Not that I'm after sex, I feel like I might not meet a guy that I can connected with. My friends and family are always saying, "you're young, a guy will always come along", but a guy has never. It was tough by 15 all my friends and sisters had someone of interest in their lives and I was always the single one. I have to admit at that age i wasn't looking for a boyfriend at all, but by 18 it started becoming clear that I was maybe an odd one out. Third wheel, fifth wheel. I just feel really lonely at times. I always hear 'Put yourself out there', and do this and that.I've tried it all except throw myself on a guy and sell me for cheap. I'm quite friendly, outgoing and open minded, not bad looking. I've being told that I'm so pretty/attractive, not that it matters what people say really, I think I'm beautiful to my own standards and what i define as attractive. Maybe they were being nice. Sometimes i wonder if there is something about me that makes a guy think twice before approaching. I don't smell, I'm very aware of self hygiene...I just don't know whats wrong with me. I'm on every popular site to meet people, I've joined clubs, I go to University. The only guys who seem interested in me lately are drunks at parties and wierdos giving unclear, sort-of sexual comments. I've tried dating, it never works out. I don't anyone telling me wait for that guy to come along, I'm a sort of person who thinks about the future. And if guys are nervous about girls they're attracted to, I'm 10x more nervous to make the first move, although I have done that (made a first move)but it wasn't towards a guy I was really-really attracted to. I need help to find a bf, and I too much pride to ask my friends. What will become of me??

Dr. Kate said...

Pixy, have you thought about online dating? Email gives you a chance to communicate with someone before meeting them. Then you'll have a sense of who he is, and the things you have in common, which may make it less nerve-wracking. Meanwhile, keep making friends with men AND women - sometimes great relationships start out as friendships, or from set-ups by your friends.

Pixy said...

Online dating... I tried e-harmony. I through the very very long process of describing myself and my idle match, bu tthen at the end it said 'sorry, we can't match you with anyone on our database'..I've tried others, but i'm willing to pay for any membership. I keep getting guys who are too quick to trade pictures and make a big deal if i say "no, i'm not ready to send you more pictures"....But something just happened to me, I suspected this a long time ago. I will blog it as a new topic, beacause it will stray from this one.

Max said...

Hi there, I thought I would add my two penny's worth, and ask for some advice also.

I am a male, 24, successful in academic and monetary circles and in employment. I believe I am handsome and fun, however I am still a virgin. I am not particularly bothered about the label "virgin", but I have never received any interest from girls, maybe I can't read the signals, maybe there is no interest, I'm not sure. I am a pretty confident guy when it comes to work, study, success, independence, competition, sports etc (anything that doesn't really involve the approval of others) but I just can't get a girlfriend, I take good physical care of myself, and I do well at most things, however this one has got me stumped.

I know 24 is quite young, but I have other areas of my life under control, and sometimes this lack of closeness with women sometimes distracts me a little, like tonight, and it's a little frustrating as I don't seem to be making any progress. I have never done anything with women, never held hands, cuddled, kissed, anything. I'm not only interested in sex, of course this would be nice, but I am more interested in just experiencing some closeness with a girl who finds me attractive.

So I have a couple of points:

Firstly, for the girls on here looking for guys, I can only talk from experience but I would love for a girl to initiate something with me, and I am not alone, guys generally have to do all the work, and some of us are really good guys, but we don't win fair lady. Any girl who approached me and was direct enough for me to know she was interested in me, and if I found her remotely attractive, would have my attention, and I suggest that this is the same for all guys. Attraction goes up as soon as a woman shows interest.

Secondly, I am looking for some advice, I don't let it bother me too much, but every now and again I waste some time thinking this over, and it's quite frustrating, especially when I see my friends who are attached, having clear offers from other women (apparently without much effort), and yet I haven't ever had any. I know its quite hard from my limited descriptions to say anything constructive, but any advice would be appreciated.

Just another point to note, is that I am quite short, 5 feet 4 inches, which is around the female average height in my country (UK), but about 6 inches shorter than male average in my country (UK), this has never effected me in any other area, in fact I consider it an advantage, but due to my lack of any success in this area I am starting to wonder if this could be a significant factor (of course it is some factor since women, like men, have different physical attractions) but I would like some insight into how much of a factor this may be.

Finally, I'm probably shooting in the dark here, but I think it's about time I actually asked for some advice.

Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards

Max

Dr. Kate said...

Max, thanks for writing. I'd have similar questions for you as I do the original questioner. Are you sure that it's women that you're attracted to--be sure that you're sending out the vibes to the right potential partners. After that, are you making overtures to women that are rejected, or not finding anyone to approach? You may want to expand your range of women that you encounter. Try to befriend women for the sake of friendship--romance may grow from there, or they may set you up with someone they know. And your height should not sentence you to a life alone--you just need to find a woman who is not caught up in finding a tall man.