The Lower Brain: You’re A 30-Year-Old Virgin And That’s OK

Angels. Photo: CSA Images/Snapstock (Getty)

I’m not a naturally social person, generally prefer to develop platonic relationships with women, and have a pretty low sex drive. I waited to start dating until I was 24 and didn’t get my first girlfriend until I was 26. That relationship lasted about a year. I’m 29 now and am still a virgin. None of this feels weird to me but I understand it’s not a common story.

I honestly have a pretty good life and I’m grateful for it. But I’d also like to develop another romantic relationship at some point in the future, and my impression is that most of the women on dating sites or apps would view the fact that I am a nearly 30 year-old male virgin with only one ex-girlfriend as a series of red flags. So my question is: how should I handle this? How do I talk about it?

Kind Regards,

Intact Hymen

Dear IH:

First of all, I need folks to know you actually signed your email that way and I laughed out loud at my kitchen table.  Very funny, young sir. Okay, onto the advice.

You sound like someone who carefully considers your choices – past, present, and potential future. I trust that your assessment of your needs and interests is honest. I hope you know there are so many other people who can likely relate to you. And by writing to me to ask for advice, you’ve helped them see they’re not alone. So kudos to you for that.

I’d also like to praise you for not being in a rush to “lose it.” Vaginal intercourse is just one form of sex, and when we narrowly define virginity as never having had sexual intercourse with a penis and vagina involved, we erase folks who experience sexual pleasure in a variety of ways.

Popular culture promotes the notion that men should want to have sex all the time, and that if they don’t, there’s something wrong with them. Well, that’s garbage. In addition, we all have agency and power, and in the best of circumstances we have the freedom to make our own good choices sexually. That’s what you’ve been doing.

Anyway, here’s my answer: you don’t need to tell a woman anything about your past sexual experiences if you don’t want to. If she wants to know your medical status in terms of sexually transmitted infections, cool – be honest about that. (People don’t just get STIs from vaginal or anal intercourse, after all, so it’s worth it to get tested anyway.)

But your past partners, or lack thereof, are nobody’s business. You can say, “I haven’t had a ton of sex” if you want. You can say, “I haven’t been in a lot of long-term relationships” if you want. Neither of those statements is a lie.

If it feels like this burning secret you need to tell someone, wait until a few dates have gone by and you’ve begun to trust her. By that point, you’ve likely kissed or even made out a bit. If you’re still seeing each other, it’s because you’re attracted to and interested in one another. I wouldn’t wait five dates, but you’ll sense what the right amount is. If she is freaked out or worried, well, I guess that’s the risk you’re taking by bringing it up at all. But you’re very perceptive, and you know that already. My hope is any woman you grow to trust with this information will be cool about it.

As an additional resource, I want to recommend the article What It’s Really Like To Be An Adult Male Virgin. My friend Lane Moore wrote this a couple years back for Cosmopolitan. It’s really informative, and I have a feeling you’re going to relate to some of these guys.

Good luck with everything. And remember, you’re on your own sexual journey, nobody else’s, and you are doing great.