New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.
Now I am twenty, I live in a big city, have my own apartment, I work, I am a student and overall, I have become more outgoing. I want to date now! I want a boyfriend! But my lack of experience seems to be my road block. Whenever I’m kind of hitting it off with a guy and the question of past relationships comes up I am honest and tell them I have done nothing with a guy or been in a relationship before. They all act extremely baffled at my inexperience and I think it drives them away. I don’t see the big deal but for all these guys I meet they see it as a red flag and run the other way.
Do guys really care about that sort of thing? Should I lie about my inexperience or just try to dodge the topic? Everyone I try to talk about this with think I need to lie because being a “ultimate virgin,” as my friends dubbed it, is a turnoff. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. I do things in my own time and don’t like being told what a girl my age is supposed to be doing or have already done. Should I lie to the next guy I have feelings for? Please help me get my first relationship! — The Ultimate Virgin
JAREK: I’ll be honest, 20 isn’t really all that late to be jumping in the game. I knew a few girls in college who were in that same position. And you know what, they carried on like nothing was even the matter. They were confident, strong-willed, and knew what they wanted. You’ve lived your life by your own rules so far, so why stop now? If a guy is going to get weirded out because you’ve never dated before, fuck him. Not literally, since he was probably just looking to get laid anyway, but to hell with him.
The best advice I can give you is to just be confident in your decisions. If you tell a guy you have never had a boyfriend and then you get all shy and treat it as an embarrassment, then I can see him not knowing how to respond. But if you roll it off like it’s no big deal and follow it up with something like “if you saw the guys in my high school, you’d understand” then I can not imagine the right type of guy would be reaching for his coat as he excuses himself to the bathroom.
A guy who is interested in you is not going to care about your experience, but he will care about how you view yourself. And the sex thing doesn’t even need to be mentioned. That comes way later, when you *both* are ready to get physical. I know you want a boyfriend now, but if you ask anyone who has dated for a while, you have to shoot the rapids before you get to where you want to be. Just because you’ve decided to wait doesn’t mean it will now happen faster. You’re going to be subjected to the same misery and failures in dating as the rest of us. But you’ll get there.
ART: 20-year-old guys care about the absolute stupidest things. You’ve been on dates, which means you now have experience and here’s nothing to lie about anymore. I am 27 and getting married in less than three months; I can count the number of girls/women I’ve called “girlfriend” on two hands, with some fingers left over to flip them all off. The point of dating is to find the kind of guy you like — and believe me, there are tons of guys who will do fine for a while, and there are way way more guys who are just awful regardless of your dating resume. As for lying: a lie will always bite you in the ass and it’s a horrible habit to get into. Don’t lie.
JMagic:While this may vary a bit depending on a guy’s age, for the most part there is a lot of pressure in being a woman’s “first.” Sure, being first in just about every other guy-thing (sports, drag racing, video games, etc) is a badge of honor that we gladly attempt, but being the one to ‘show you the ropes’ can bring out the insecurities of the most confident man. You may not know any better, and your reactions to us, specifically a negative reaction, can deal a serious blow to us and our performance later on in the encounter. On the flip side, I’m sure there are a number of guys who would LOVE to be the first, but I don’t think you’d be much interested in them anyway.
Keep it simple and honest. If it comes up, be honest. Yes, you’ve experienced the freak-out reaction, but for every one of those you’ll probably run into a more understanding and accommodating response that will put you at ease and make you forget all about your ‘ultimate’ status.
JOE: I can relate to this. My first girlfriend was the summer before my senior year in college, and I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 20. And you know what? I had a blast dating in my 20s. You will too. You will also feel awkward, have your heart broken, wish you had never been born, wish you had never met him, and so on. Let’s get you on that roller coaster ride, shall we?
Most guys who are looking for a relationship (not just to get laid) will not view a lack of experience as a negative by itself. You’re 20, not 50, and it’s not like you’re the only person your age with little to no dating experience. It’s more a curiosity if it’s anything at all. Will some guys be bothered by it? Sure. Will most? Not at all. Will some find it intriguing? Yes. Of course, this assumes that they understand that you just haven’t gotten around to it (which is true), as opposed to there being some deeper reason as to why you’ve not ventured forth already, which leads me to…
No, you shouldn’t lie about your inexperience. However, there’s a difference between lying about it and emphasizing or preemptively mentioning it and being defensive about it or acting as though you think it’s an issue. It’s ok to be vague at first, if asked, because it doesn’t need to be a topic right off the bat. You can also tell the truth without being starkly clear that you’ve never done any of it before. But.. I’m curious as to how this even becomes a topic. I’ve not discussed prior relationships in detail (or, really, at all) before entering a new relationship, so I don’t see why you’d need to. I wonder if perhaps you feel the urge to mention it without prompting, and, if so, tame that feeling.
For the record, you can go from knowing nothing about how to kiss (and all the rest) and nothing about dating and relationships to knowing 90% of what you’ll ever need to know in a stunningly short period of time. Any guy worth your time will recognize this, as should you. Instead of worrying if you should lie to the next guy you have feelings for (no!), worry about finding the right guy to have feelings for. Then go out with him. The rest will take care of itself. If it doesn’t with that guy, then lather, rinse, and repeat.
* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.