‘Is it true that if you don’t use it, you lose it?’
It’s been 18 years since Steve Carell’s 40-year-old Virgin hit the big screen, but our attitude to those who haven’t done The Deed, hasn’t changed that much.
If you’re heading into your 30s without ever having had sex, the messaging is pretty clear: you’re a bit, well, weird.
Hit films like American Pie and Never Been Kissed taught us that getting laid in our late teens is pretty a much a must, and even recent Netflix hits like Mindy Kayling’s Never Have I Ever reinforce the trope. ‘We’re finally seniors, and honestly, I think we’re doing pretty great’ says main character Devi. ‘You’re right,’ responds her friend, Eleanor. ‘We’ve all had sex.’
And while it’s true that the average age people lose their virginity in the UK is 17, for some, it happens much later – and now, they’re ready to speak up.
TikTok has a lot to answer for when it comes to questionable trends, but later-life virgins and those less sexually experienced are taking to the platform to share their truths, in the hopes of breaking down the stigma associated with being sexually inactive in your late 20s and beyond.
Allora Dannon Campbell went viral in December 2022 after she shared her ‘most embarrassing secret’ online.
And if you tell me: “You’ll find someone when you stop looking / least expect it,” I may throat punch you. 😘 #latebloomer #datingadvice #dating #datingtips #datingstorytime #single #singlelife #datingadviceforwomen #datingapps #neverhaveiever
Allora, then 32, said: ‘I have never been on a date, first or otherwise. I have never been asked out or been kissed. No one has ever hit on me.’
Overnight, Allora gained a huge following on the platform, with others saying they were in the same position as her.
She said: ‘One of the most isolating things about being perpetually, forever single in a society that places values on benchmarks surrounding relationships is you can feel very much like you’re a one man team… knowing that we’re all on the same little lonely loveless team somehow feels good.’
She went onto create a Facebook group for her ‘late bloomer’ community, where people could share advice and experiences.
Hearing others stories was also valuable to TikToker, Mia, who spoke candidly about the feelings of shame and embarrassment surrounding being a late bloomer.
The 40-year-old said: ‘I’ve never been in love. I’ve never been in a relationship and I’ve had no one ever ask me out on a date… sharing that is really shameful for me.
‘There’s a certain kind of loneliness that comes along with this and a sense of always being on the outside looking in.’
She goes on to say: ‘I’m so grateful for TikTok because I’ve seen other people talk about this and it’s helped me feel less alone, because I truly felt like there was something legitimately, deeply wrong with me for my lack of experience.’
While some people have shared their sadness at their romantic status, others have a more positive outlook.
TikToker Mary Fran said: ‘I have never been kissed. I have never been in a relationship. I have never fallen in love and had it reciprocated. I have never held hands romantically, and that’s okay.’
Mary, who says she is ‘almost 30’, adds: ‘Society has told me that, with age, I should have experience. But guess what? It’s okay to not have experience, it is okay to take the time to fall in love with yourself and that’s what I’m doing.
‘Because if I’m going to have somebody in my life… I want them to love me just as much as I love myself.’
So why is being a late bloomer still seen as taboo?
Kate Moyle, a sex psychologist working with sexual wellness brand LELO, previously told Metro.co.uk that culturally, first-time sex is seen as something to get done and dusted, asap.
She explains: ‘Many people feel that they have sexual encounters because they think that they “should” sometimes rather than a genuine want for the experience.’
Kate also notes it’s possible to be sexual without wanting to have sex or go ‘all the way’ – there is nuance that often gets missed.
‘For some it will feel like ticking a box or fulfilling something that they think is expected of them’, she adds.
‘Sexual experiences do not have to focus around intercourse or certain acts, but around whether those involved had a satisfying and enjoyable time.
‘Sex is subjective and can’t be measured objectively.’
When talking about virginity, Kate believes we need to get better at not passing judgement on others.
She says: ‘Like everything else in life we all do things in different ways at different times.
‘We can be very judgmental about sex and make lots of assumptions about what someone’s behaviour means about them sexually.
‘We can also very easily shame people for their sexual experiences quite simply by the way that we talk about them, and this can shut someone down sexually or make them question themselves.’
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