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I'm in my forties and I'm still a virgin. Should I hire a pro to get over the barrier?
BY SARAH JAFFE
Dear Miss Information,
I'm a 42 year-old male virgin. Most people who find this out about me tend to think either that I’m gay, or that something is really wrong with me. I have social anxiety disorder, and so I have problems connecting with women. I think my timid nature and my embarrassment about my lack of sexual experience (I've only kissed a few women) are holding me back.
Should I hire a "pro" to get over the barrier, like some of my friends have suggested, or use a dating site and explain my situation? I would love for my first time to be with a woman I love, but I'm starting to wonder if she'll ever turn up.
I know it’s hard for most people to believe or understand when I tell them, but being a grown man with my virginity intact is screwing with my confidence and happiness. I hate to be shallow in my thinking, but I want to experience life before it's done and gone. What should I do?
—Dry in the Desert
Listen, there’s nothing shallow at all about wanting to experience sex and romance. It’s one of humanity’s most deeply ingrained desires, and a part of life that you should absolutely be able to explore if you want to. And while it’s always hard to feel left out of a party it seems everyone else was invited to, sex is also not the be-all-and-end-all of interpersonal relationships. It’s not something you have to do to prove your worth, and you shouldn’t let your lack of experience hinder you in forging connections with women. And while most people you’ve opened up to haven’t fully understood your being a virgin, know this: you’re not the only one. While it’s not necessarily common, more people than you think are carrying around unswiped v-cards in their back pockets.
What IS common is social anxiety. According to the American Depression and Anxiety Association, approximately 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety, just like you do. And half of these socially anxious people are women. That’s seven and a half million women in our country alone who understand where you’re coming from – 3.4 % of the population, which ain’t bad odds considering that 95% of people are undateable. If you feel that your anxiety is holding you back, know that you’re not powerless to fight it. If you’re not already in cognitive-behavioral therapy, think about starting. A good therapist can help you free yourself from the invisible chains that stop you from connecting to people.
If you’re having trouble connecting to women because of your anxiety, your first step is to work on overcoming your anxiety. It can be difficult: it’s like mental kudzu, tangling itself around every possible thought in your head and growing larger and lusher every time you try to beat it back. But if you want to live your fullest life possible, you’re going to have to learn to be a vigilant gardener.
Don’t place more anxiety on connecting with women than men – we’re all just people! It seems like you’re able to make friends, and the best way to connect with women is to become friends with some of them. If you’re the kind of guy who can treat women as friends and equals, you’ll be much more fun and comfortable for women to be around. Soon you might find yourself connecting with a woman who’s interested in being more than friends.
So, let us turn now to your virginity and how much you seem to want to be rid of it. While I’m not anti-sex work (safe, non-exploitive, empowered sex work, that is), I don’t think hiring a sex worker to help you break the freshness seal on your sex life is going to get you the results you want. Yes, it’ll get you laid, but will it really help you build up your confidence, feel more experienced, or get more comfortable around women?
Sex work is a fantasy: what you’re paying for isn’t just the orgasm, but the powerful illusion of having whatever you ask for happen for you, without having to communicate and compromise with your partner. This doesn’t equip you very well for the real world of having regular sex (a world it sounds like you really want to enter), and paying for sex is so far from your described ideal situation of losing your virginity to someone you love that I can’t imagine you’d feel satisfied or fulfilled afterward. Do you just want to experience sex for the sake of sex, or do you want to experience it as a real human connection?
Online dating sounds like a much, much better option. The relative anonymity of dating sites can make them great forums for total honesty and a caveat emptor attitude. So if you’re up front about what you want and who you are, there’s always a chance that you’ll draw like-minded people your way. Shypassions.com is a dating and social networking site for shy and socially anxious people, and while the ranks aren’t as thickly packed there as on the major dating sites, it might be a good place to meet women who are approaching dating and sex with a similar attitude and/or inexperience to yours, which could help relieve some of your anxiety about being judged for, well, your anxiety.
Lastly, with sex and dating, much like anything else, if you’re unhappy with where you are, you can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Losing your virginity probably won’t make you a happier, more confident person all on its own. But working on yourself and becoming a happier, more confident person will not only make you happier and more confident – I can almost promise it’ll help you in finding the romantic and sexual connections you’re looking for.
Image via Veer.