Blanket Statement Monday: On Late Bloomers

Flower. Photo by JenniferP.
Dear Incoming Letter Writers,

Please stop describing yourselves as late bloomers and apologizing for your lack of experience with love, dating, and sex.

We all bloom when we bloom.

Sometimes early relationships give us dating training wheels and help us figure out what we want from a romantic partner in a healthy way. Sometimes, as our recent Week of Stalking showed us, early relationships SCAR US FOR LIFE.

Inexperienced partners can have a great relationship

Experienced partners can have a great relationship.

Inexperienced partners can have great relationship with a more experienced partner and vice versa.

Some people will never have/don’t want/don’t prioritize romantic partnership and it will not get in the way of having an awesome life. I would not describe them as people who have not yet “bloomed.” Bad metaphor, no biscuit!

I know that popular movies & Young Adult novels teach you all that you must have been part of at least one smoldering love triangle by the time you leave high school/fight for your life in a post-apocalyptic dystopia/meet the vampire of your dreams. No.

Be kind. Be awesome. Be yourself. Bloom when & how you bloom.

89 thoughts on “Blanket Statement Monday: On Late Bloomers

  1. My first relationship wasn’t until I hit college, and I didn’t have full on intercourse until I was 22. There’s no shame in developing at one’s own pace. It’s okay. I promise.

    1. I know you mean to be reassuring, but setting up college-age as an example of late blooming? Not actually reassuring when I’m coming up on my 15-year reunion, if I went to reunions.

      1. All of Tumblr found us recently, so the age of commenters is going to skew way young for a bit. Sit tight and get ready to feel old! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Also, this thing about how we each define Late Bloomers to mean that we are one at whatever age we started dating/sexing makes me think of back when I was in high school and played 3 sports and danced and weighed 1/2 of what I do now but was still convinced that I was Too Fat.

        1. YES. This is part of what got me on the F.A. boat — realizing that actually I felt just as shitty about my weight forty pounds ago when I was running six miles a day. (“If only I could lose. . . !” No, high school self. Just no. You are fine and if I could get in my time-traveling spaceship to tell you so I would.)

          I would probably feel weirder about my “Late Bloomer” status (24 and one non-sexual 2-month relationship, total, and no sex) if I wasn’t about on par with three of my closest friends. So. Meh.

          1. Clarification — one “romantic” relationship. As opposed to friend relationship. I’ve got a happy number of those.

          2. Right?! I was giving myself a pedi the other day and suddenly remembered that in high school, I didn’t like to wear flip-flops because I thought they made MY TOES look FAT. What even is that! Can I borrow your timeship?

      2. For Foxipher, it probably feels like late blooming, so that’s hir example, and it may BE reassuring to someone in high school who feels like everyone is having sex already. Your example is coming up on mid-to-late-thirties. That feels late to you. I know there are people out there in their forties, fifties, and beyond who just never got around to dating and sex.

        It’s never late. It’s in the right season for you.

      3. That sounds very, very frustrating. No one person’s reply will be balm to 100% of people who could possibly read it. There is still no shame in living your own story; this is my story.

        For *me*, in comparison to most of my friends (who range from ages 18-60), that *was* “late-blooming” in that part of my life, and there are still a hell of a lot of things I, at age 28, haven’t done that most adults have done.

        – For various reasons, I still don’t have a driver’s license. This affects my independence, and affects when, where, how and with whom I spend time.
        – I haven’t achieved a bachelor’s degree, even though many of my friends got that out of the way early on in their lives.
        – I’m still figuring out how to manage money in a responsible way; for various reasons, it is a skill I never learned. This also affects much of my life, and sets me apart from many people I love and respect.
        – I have also never managed to tame my hoarding problem. My stuff is currently taking up way more space in my life than I want it to, and it’s something I’m constantly ashamed of. I don’t want people in my space when it looks the way it does. It’s not filthy, but it is cluttered to the point of where I can’t find what I’m looking for 90% of the time.

        I still lack much experience in several important relationship areas, and I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to others. My jerkbrain often says things like the following: “I’m a freak. Look at all those competent, witty, intelligent, widely-loved people. Why can’t I just make things happen for myself like they seem to have done?”, “Why can’t I get anyone to look at my projects and love them and tell people about them”, and “This will never happen to me so I may as well stop trying”, etc.

        Every day, I realize just a little bit more that I know very little about the world, and that everyone else has underexplored areas of their lives as well. To think that I am a freak because I haven’t figured out some of the same things my peers have helps precisely no one. I constantly have to remember to remind myself of that fact.

  2. I was just fighting for my life in a post-Apocalyptic dystopia.
    I tell you, the towel section of the Bed Bath & Beyond is terrifying.

    1. Were there DUDES with GIANT RIPPLING TORSOS there? And did they all love you? Because that would make buying linens extra stressful.

      1. Sadly, no. But this one woman kept leaping from display to display without touching the ground, and another stole my washcloths when I wasn’t looking, only to collapse from a cotton fiber allergy moments later. And announcements kept telling me that if I teamed up with my fellow shopper (some blond dude with a baguette who kept eye-fucking me), there would be two victors for the Towel Games. And my drunken husband was somewhere in the vacuum cleaner section, and he wouldn’t let me have my water bottle even though I was getting dehydrated. It was just disturbing.

    2. This reminds me horribly of Modelland. Although I’m not sure that was meant to be a dystopia.

  3. I find thinking of myself as a late bloomer useful when I am feeling like things everyone else has done, I’ll NEVER do. I count the ages I did things I personally consider milestones — things I stressed about not having done before I did them — and remind myself that just because something hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t.

  4. True dat, as the ‘kids’ say. (I may have just dated myself!) Anyway, you bloom when you bloom, and not a minute before. Think of it this way – you are becoming more you every day. Do you really want to meet someone before you are you? The more you know yourself, the more of yourself you can share with someone else. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Thanks for this. I am one who made a deliberate choice for nearly all of my 20s and the first part of my 30s not to prioritize romantic relationships, because I had other stuff I preferred to be doing. As a result I did not have very many such relationships. Now I am feeling like I would like to have a partner if it can be arranged, but re-organizing my priorities in that area is so fraught, in part because of that lurking idea that there is Something Wrong With Me that I don’t already have one, or that I haven’t had more relationships, etc. etc. So thanks for the reminder that there is nothing wrong with me and it is okay to have priorities that are different from most people, and okay to change them if I want to. YAY.

      1. Or perhaps I misunderstood her references to her current city, and she actually lives in Chicago, Japan.

  6. Speaking of special blooming, here‘s a time lapse video of a titan arum blooming this spring. This is still a rare event in the United States. Then there’s the synchronized blooming every 44-48 years of the bamboo Melocanna baccifera in northern India that leads to mautam. And there are tons of plants that never bloom. Mosses totally rock. And ferns. There is no One True Plant. There are endless ways to be, and none of them is wrong as long as it works for you.

    1. Oh those links are cool! Well, not the part of the bamboo death that leads to famine, but isn’t biology awesome? Love your extension of the analogy, Solecism. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Thanks for this Jennifer!

    Iโ€™m pretty sure itโ€™s still the case that 50% of (hetero) college sophomores have not yet had intercourse and most of those havenโ€™t done much more than kiss either.

    Which means there are just an incredible number of people out there who think โ€I’m the only one.โ€ Which, in turn, is a considerable tragedy not only in terms of personal angst but also in terms of forcing themselves into situations where either they or their partners or both are neither ready nor comfortable.

    Much hilarity does not ensue.


  8. I have a lot of anxiety around this, frankly, because I am a “late bloomer”. I lost my virginity when I was 26, and even now that I’m 30, I’ve still only had sex 9 times in my life. I’m not very good at it, and I have very little stamina and a bit of ED as a result of the medications I’m taking. Most of my peers are a lot more experienced, so I’m concerned that I would be unable to meet a basic threshold of sexual competency. I understand that if I have a patient and understanding partner, that is not necessarily insurmountable, but I also don’t have much relationship experience either. I haven’t had a girlfriend since college, and I don’t even know enough about serious relationships to know what I don’t know. As with the sex, I’m sure that a patient and understanding partner can work through those struggles too. But it’s hard enough to even get to the point where my skills as a lover or a boyfriend would come into play, and everyone’s patience is finite, so I’m scared that my good points aren’t going to be good enough to outweigh my bad points. I’m scared it’s going to take multiple long term relationships to get it right, and my current rate of long term relationship formation is one every fourteen years. I’m scared that I need skills I don’t have to have the life I want to have, but I’m not developing them at the rate I need to to meet my goals.

    1. You can’t see my inbox and I can’t say “I know how you feel” but I can say you are so, so, so not alone in worrying about this. Girls and other guys worry about this, too.

    2. Okay, so I might have said something close to this effect in my comment, but I’ve learned with good friends that people who matter have infinite patience. You can’t say or do the “wrong” thing around them, because they are not taking notes against you.

      Second, everyone’s nervous and doesn’t really know what they are doing. My personal philosophy is building my skills as a human being first.

      1. If you define everyone who hasn’t infinite patience as “people who don’t matter” you might still end up forever alone.

        1. Are we talking about a different kind of infinite patience? Because I mean it in terms of dealing with a friend’s (or lover’s!) anxiety, insecurities, etc. The people who really matter don’t care about that sort of thing because they know you’re awesome, and when you interact with them, that’s all they see and focus on.

          They are hard to find, but after that they’re hard to lose.

          1. I feel that it’s important not to expect my friends and lovers to automatically put up with my issues, and that even though I’m working on my issues, if my baggage doesn’t go with theirs, it’s okay for them to make healthy choices for themselves, even if that includes me being less a part of their lives. My friends and lovers are not perfect, nor are they possessed of absolutely infinite patience. We try to treat each other with love and respect, but it’s important not to fall into Geek Social Fallacy #2 (, which is to say “Since a friend accepts [me] as [I am], anyone who criticizes [me] is not [my] friend. Thus, I can’t take criticism from friends — criticism is experienced as a treacherous betrayal of the friendship, no matter how inappropriate the criticized behavior may be.” (I used “I” in the example for explanation’s sake, not because I usually have trouble with this myself.) It’s important for me to remember that my friends and lovers have their limits, too, and it isn’t fair to expect them to put up with infinite crap from me if that’s all or most of what I’m dishing to them.

          2. I can’t reply directly to you, Foxipher Jones, but I guess I’m simply not articulating myself right. I don’t mean not taking criticism. I don’t mean having friends who have to “take care of” your insecurities by constantly reassuring you. I don’t mean your friends should be baggage handlers; they just know you have baggage but these people know that said baggage doesn’t define you.

            It’s the difference between someone saying what the Captain says in this post as opposed to “What do you mean you haven’t done [this] yet? What’s wrong with you?”

            I meant “infinite patience” as “understanding.” Which aren’t the same! Oops.

          3. Foxipher: I tend to be someone with ‘infinite patience’ in the sense that’s under discussion. From this perspective, it’s not really patience at all, though – I’m not putting up with being annoyed or frustrated or whatever, I just don’t get annoyed in the first place, because I don’t see my friends quirks and emotions as something that ought to change. That doesn’t mean I don’t offer suggestions or constructive criticism, though; it means that I pay attention to what my friends’ goals for themselves are, and what they’re unsatisfied with in their lives, and make suggestions based on that, not my own ideas of how they should be (which are usually along the lines of ‘X is pretty cool, and it’d be fine if they stayed just how they are’ or ‘I like the trajectory X is on and am curious to see where they’ll end up’). I think I actually offer constructive criticism *more* often than most people, in fact; I get comments on how I’m a useful source of grist for my friends’ self-improvement mills on a pretty regular basis, at least.

            (And yes, I do still have boundaries, which seems to be a subtext here. That’s a separate issue entirely; knowingly overstepping a boundary isn’t just a quirk and *shouldn’t* be patiently tolerated, and someone who’s unable to understand where my boundaries are isn’t someone I can be friends with.)

          4. People don’t have infinite patience for sexual incompatibility though (nor should they). , People leave relationships when the bad outweighs the good. Even someone who wouldn’t dump someone specifically because they weren’t satisfying them sexually might put more of an effort into working on other parts of the relationship if the sex is good.

            Moreover, I’m not sure I want someone with infinite patience. I don’t want to settle or be settled for. I want someone who wants me.

          5. > I donโ€™t want to settle or be settled for.

            Ranking people, comparing them to each other along a single scale, and trying to get the best one that you can without regard for the finer details of human emotion/connection feels dysfunctional to me. Even if there are ways of doing that that aren’t dysfunctional, you should at least be aware that it’s not something that everyone does.

            (Can’t comment significantly on the first paragraph, since for me ‘sexual compatibility’ boils down to ‘is this person going to be a nuisance around the fact that I’m asexual and romantically weird’, but I can say from experience that it’s entirely possible to realize that a relationship isn’t working for you and decide to get out of that relationship without ever thinking poorly of, judging, or getting annoyed with the other person.)

          6. When I say “settling” I mean it in the sense of “taking what you can get even if it’s not what you want because it’s better than nothing” not “dating below your station”

          7. We may well be in agreement, in that case. Staying in a relationship that isn’t working for you because the idea of being single is even less appealing is a bad idea. But I don’t see doing that as settling for a person – it’s the relationship that’s bad, not the person, unless they’re abusive or something.

    3. Greg, were you around for this post? Because I feel like it and its comments have a lot to say to you. *Jedi mind hugs*

      Also requisite CA Blog Suggestion For Therapy. If you’re scared that a personal characteristic of yours is gonna screw up your life, it is probably good to run that one by a professional whose job is helping people manage their personal characteristics so they can have the lives they want.

    4. My relationship history isn’t all that different: I didn’t date at all until college (then it was one very short relationship with a guy who wound up being my best friend for many years — and hoo boy is *that* a story for the ages!) I didn’t have sex until I was 30. The longest relationship I had until my current one was 9 months and it was *terrible*.

      I didn’t think a relationship was in the cards for me, that it was something I just didn’t get to have. But then, 9 years ago I met L and 8 years ago we moved in together. I’m here to tell you, relationships come with on the job training and 9 years in we are still figuring it out, the sex stuff, the being there for each other stuff, the chores, the tiny kitchen. All of it. But that is what a relationship is. You don’t go in knowing any of that stuff about each other.

      Every relationship you have now, with your friends, your family, the cute guy or girl at the coffee shop, teach you about the day to day matters of negotiating around people. The rest of it…you figure out. And the sex stuff? With the right person, you will figure it out. I myself have issues around this, kind of a female version of ED, it is something we work on.

      I guess what I’m saying, Greg, be kind to yourself. We are all just learning as we go.

    5. I don’t mean to sound like this is torturing me or anything. It’s more like, when I feel insecure, this is what I feel insecure about. It’s just that it’s not a subject I feel comfortable venting about in real life, so I took the opportunity to do so here.

      1. No worries, you weren’t out of order. If there’s something you think that would help you manage them better, do let us know. You’re far from alone.

    6. Hi Greg, in your comments below you seem worried about not satisfying your partner because of the ED. My personal experience as a woman sleeping with dudes has been that, hey, these things happen sometimes and it is no big deal. You still have hands and a tongue and can still satisfy your partner with them; and there are toys; and if your partner is into you, she will be happy to continue being close to you in a different way, like kissing or cuddling for a while. I can imagine it would still be frustrating for you but it needn’t result in The End of Sex or anything.

      The ONLY time this kind of incident during a sexual encounter made a difference to me was the time the guy involved absolutely flipped his shit and threw a literal temper tantrum (with screaming and everything) about how he was never going to be able to have sex again, and I had to comfort him.

      I am NOT suggesting that you have done or would do this (I mean, who DOES do that? This one guy, apparently, but other than that, god, I really hope nobody). I’m just saying that, leaving aside that kind of annoying-ass behavior, it probably doesn’t bug your partner as much as you may be imagining!!

      1. Definitely not a problem, and I say this as a woman who love love loves PiV sex. Other things are lots of fun too! The only thing that’s not fun is when ANGST and WOE descend as a result of no erection right then. (Temper tantrum as described sounds awful too, but luckily I’ve never encountered that.) Maybe get a nice toy or three if that’s feasible? Built-in parts are great, but being extra-prepared and considerate is always sexy.

      2. It’s not the ED per se, so much as the ED combined with the lack of stamina. The “window of opportunity” between too much stimulation and not enough is incredibly narrow. When I’m with someone, I’ve always erred on the side of too much, but when I’m alone, It’s usually not enough, so that makes it hard to practice when I’m by myself.

        1. Greg, you’re giving us a lot of details about your + other people’s junk. Maybe cool it with this thread for a bit and take specific questions like this to a sex therapist or somewhere like Scarleteen (Not just for teens!). I don’t think posting stuff like this here is going to make you feel better.

          Blanket advice for you: Find someone you like who also likes you. Experiment in a fun way that is fun and figure out what you both like. You are correct that bodies are different and the “skills” developed with one partner do not extrapolate perfectly to the next. Good luck, I hope it gets better.

    7. Honestly, if you’re worried about “performing” then there’s a lot to be said for de-centralizing intercourse in your sex life. There are plenty of women out there who prefer to just have “outercourse” at least some of the time.

      More generally, I’d respond to your fear about needing skills you don’t have with a recommendation for Scarleteen and whichever sex/relationship bloggers you find most entertaining. That’s what I did to help my own process of blooming at my own time. Sure, you can’t learn everything by reading, but I myself found that reading and thinking about sex and relationships was a useful way to expand my perspective and get a better handle on what I wanted and what I had to give.

      1. Outercourse has its own issues and requires plenty of practice too. One thing I didn’t realize until I got more experience is that my college gf was unusually sensitive to clitoral stimulation, so the light touch I learned with her hasn’t really served me well since. But she still represents 99% of my outercourse experience.

  9. Ah, yes. It took me so long to be okay with this. Blooming is what life is all about! I may not have done some of the things typically put under “blooming,” but I’m okay with that, because I’ve learned different skills and I’ve been busy with life.

    I’ve worked very hard on my friendships and finding people who show me respect and affection — this was EXTREMELY difficult, and still is, but it’s made me demand respect in other aspects of my life as well.

    I’m good at being alone but I love company. I’m no longer creepy-awkward-anxious around people, but I don’t hate myself for being so before. I learned I can do projects on my own instead of needing permission. I think I’m beautiful but I don’t need anyone to agree with me (seriously, fuck you, One Direction). I know how to work hard and forgive myself for taking a break. I know who I like and how I love, and that those are both TERRIFYINGLY AMAZING because they are just part of who I am.

    Now, I’m working on being unashamed of my feelings, fearful of failure in a way that makes me work harder to avoid it instead of freaking out about it, and having faith that nothing good gets away.

  10. This reminds me in a weird way of an article admonishing college kids to have as much sex as they can, because… I forget why, but it was a SOLEMN RESPONSIBILITY laid on us by our sex-starved elders. All my blog-friends linked to it for a month straight.

    When I stopped cringing for shame, I managed to go, “You know what, article writer? Fuck you. You and everyone who calls highschool ‘the best time of your life’. I spent most of my college years fighting depression as hard as I fucking could, and going to class was an accomplishment. I don’t owe you shit.

    Maybe having sex in university really was some wonderful orgiastic experience, and I missed out. Oh well. I did what was best for me at the time and got laid when it was right for me, not anybody else. And as it turns out, my virginity was not a ~horrible burden~ placed on my future lovers. It was just a cause to go, “Wait, neat! How do you do that? Let me try?” in bed.

    1. That’s… really odd. I’m glad I never ran across that article.

      My teenage years were made much easier by the constant insistence of my father that a) you could not pay him enough money to be younger than 30 again, and b) everyone who says those are the best years of your life either doesn’t remember what it was really like, has had a really pathetic life, or is daydreaming about how nice it would be to have all the wisdom and experience they’ve accumulated, but no job and no mortgage.

      The admonishment I got as a college kid that made the most sense to me was laid on my whole class by Garrison Keillor, our graduation speaker. He said that for us to be graduating from [prestigious university] was a clear sign that we hadn’t made enough mistakes yet, and encouraged us to be a little less driven and a little less responsible, so that we could make some really good mistakes while we were still young enough to recover from them. Not to get reckless and mess things up just for the fun of it, but to take a few risks and have some of them not work out. We had gotten where we were by doing what we were supposed to do, and that was good, but doing what you’re supposed to do wasn’t all there was to life.

      1. That is such a good message – and one I am in the process of taking on board in a meaningful way. The terror and angst associated with realising that as an adult there is nothing you *should* or *ought* to do with your life followed me around for quite a while, and I’m getting to the place where I’m trying to decide what it is that I *want to do for MYSELF* rather than what some imagined teacher thinks I ought to do with my life. Fuuuucking scary!

  11. > Some people will never have/donโ€™t want/donโ€™t prioritize romantic partnership and it will not get in the way of having an awesome life. I would not describe them as people who have not yet โ€œbloomed.โ€ Bad metaphor, no biscuit!

    As a demi-romantic asexual, I approve of this message.

    As someone who likes wordplay, I do kind of like the blooming metaphor, though, at least so long as it’s understood that there ought to be room in it for someone to not-bloom because they’re not a flower, but, like, an oak tree or something. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I’m not really blooming at the moment–can I be a rocket ship?? XD

    2. I like that extension of it! If you’re going to bloom, you will when it is the right time for your particular flower. But if you don’t bloom… that’s okay too, it just means you don’t bloom. NBD bro!

    3. I would resist correcting you except that it totally supports your point: Oak trees do bloom, it just looks different — subtle and petalless. Pine trees don’t at all. All these states are right.

    4. Yes! I’m wtfromantic ace, and I cringe whenever I hear “late bloomer” after so many years of people ~reassuring~ me that I’d develop interest in sex and romance eventually. Guess what, I am a NONFLOWERING PLANT, and all the time people spend looking for flowers they are totally missing a) my awesome leaf structure and stuff b) the fact that flowers appearing would be far more disturbing than anything else as it would be more along the lines of “unexpected mutation” than “natural course of events”.

      1. Ooh! Could I possibly interest you in being a Welwitschia mirabilis? They are one of the most awesome plant species in existence. Their leaf structures and growth patterns are super-cool, and they have rather lovely cones rather than flowering.

      2. That is wonderful! Now if I’m ever faced with ‘you’re a late-bloomer’ in response to being ace, I’ll shout “I AM A NON-FLOWERING PLANT!” Good advice Kaz.

  12. My ex-husband and I started dating when he was 30 and had not had a relationship of more than 3 months. And we were together ten years (I don’t count this as a “failed” relationship or marriage, we had a good long run).

    It happens when it happens.

  13. Oh god, the love triangles.

    Not such fun (nor so smoldering) in real life.

  14. Cheers, Cap’n. I REALLY needed this today. Now you probably won’t get a letter from me! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I’m 25 (barely) and I’ve just started my first real relationship. My girlfriend (it’s also her first real relationship) and I are mutually agreed to take things soooo slowly- we touched knees. It was scandalous. We might not get farther than that for a while, but I am okay with that. I’m not too worried about getting to the sexing too late or whatever.

    1. I hope you two have lots of fun exploring things together at your own pace. ๐Ÿ™‚
      My motto is, ‘if it’s not fun, something is wrong’.

    2. That sounds sooo amazing ๐Ÿ™‚ The firsts in any relationship are awesome, and there’s no way to get them back once they’re gone. Best to enjoy them fully like you two.

  16. Well, I couldn’t care less for sex, but I have all the media’s prude-shaming coming at me all the time. And a lot of sex-positive circles (as I’m a feminist activist, those tend to intersect with mine) seemingly can’t deal with being no-sex-thank-you-positive.

    1. I think it’s telling that so many people at so many ages feel like “late-bloomers” – that’s not an accident and the media landscape certainly reinforces the message that there’s something wrong with you if you’re not romantically or sexually involved (but a slutty slut if you are TOO sexually involved outside very narrow parameters). It’s almost like they’re trying to create an impossible double standard where people can’t win, or something!

      If you want to have a debate about “sex positivity” vs. “No, thank you”, sorry, wrong blog. Your choices are your own, your reasons for them seem perfectly valid to me, and as long as you’re not going to try to argue me or anyone OUT of consensual sex that makes us happy, we’re cool.

  17. I think this is a brilliant message and I wish someone had said this to me when I was younger. I never had any kind of romantic or sexual encounters as a teenager. At 20, I ran into the ex of a friend, and he tried to kiss me. I didn’t fancy him, didn’t even particularly like him, and he treated me abysmally, but I went out with him and slept with him because I thought “this is my only chance at having a relationship and being normal like everyone else!” I salute you for helping the young people of today to not feel that way.

    Now if only I could jump in the TARDIS back to 1995 and show this to my younger self!

  18. Why is this blooming thing supposed to be permanent, anyway? I was an extremely early bloomer (as in, I had sex when I was underage according to my country’s laws), but then I stopped having the energy for relationships or the libido for casual sex, so I… withered? Man that’s one prude-shaming metaphor. So when I go back to dating will I stay an early bloomer or get reset to late bloomer or what? Or I could just decide that it’s stupid to tie relationships with adulthood.

  19. “Blooming” is a weird concept, really. I had sex at 18, but then I stuck myself with that guy till I was 25. So I guess by one rubric I bloomed? But…that doesn’t really take into account any of the complexity that is Maggie.

    I’m still learning stuff and doing new things, and I hope to be for a long time. I took a year to traipse through Slutty Forest after ditching that ex, then moved into Poly Greenhouse, and now I’m cultivating Kinky Garden.

  20. One of the most annoying things about virginity later in life is that people have this tendency to treat me like a naive little girl because of it. It doesn’t matter that in all other aspects of my life (financial, career, etc) I have my ass in gear and am doing pretty well. I get this kind of infantilization even though I’m a very independent, self sustaining sort of person. I do my own taxes! I have a steady job and a cute apartment! I pay my bills and travel alone and and… yet I know some people who act like I’m twelve.

    I told someone once that I wasn’t bothered by back hair on a man when she was saying how gross she found it. And she kept arguing with me, and saying that if I’d had a boyfriend, I would understand. I just… I already knew I didn’t care about that, why would having a boyfriend change my opinion? I’ve had people suggest that I wouldn’t be able to tell a bad sexual encounter from a good one, like I didn’t discover orgasms many, many moons ago. I’ve had them apologize for making a saucy joke. Why is sex so considered to be some mark of adulthood? I don’t get it.

    I should start a group called The Cranky Virgins were we can meet and bitch about this. Actually, that would make a pretty good band name.

  21. For the record, I was an early bloomer and for a long time, that was something to be ashamed of, lesson being that you can’t win no matter WHAT you do so you might as well shrug and enjoy your life regardless of someone else’s opinion regarding your sexuality.

    1. I was a 5th grader with DDs. In Olde Ireland I probably would have been packed off to the Magdalene Sisters. :fistbump:

  22. How ’bout those who have all the interest and lack of inhibition one could desire but for whom the actual experience is, shall we say, underwhelming, and not for want of trying, informedness, communication, or adventurousness on both parties’ parts? So much shame and blame when one persistently fails to soar.

    1. I get a lot of letters from people in that situation, too. I don’t really know how to make sex be all it’s cracked up to be for people where it isn’t. Bodies are different. Histories are different. Desires are different. I wish I had a “shame-away” wand. Maybe one shaped like a flower. That blooms.

  23. As a 40-year-old virgin, thank you for this post! I’m happy to put all my strength and joy into roots and leaves rather than flowers and seeds and wouldn’t change a thing, but sometimes I do feel a bit of an anomaly, lol.

  24. This is actually something that’s been keeping me up tonight….I’m about to turn 25, and the only romantic relationship I’ve had was both long-distance and ended badly a few months ago. I always thought I was being ‘good’ by avoiding ‘personal entanglements’ while I was doing my schooling, but now in the wake of my own loss and the frustration of being able to even see my once-fiancee only once or twice a year, never mind get through all my backlog of discomfort about my desires, I feel…it’s hard to say. Like I’ve betrayed myself. I see all these stories of people romancing each other, of how they explored sex in their teens, and I feel almost inexpressibly bitter that I cheated myself out of that. I don’t know how to deal with it, either…even when I was together with my fiancee, there was this background feeling of ‘you idiot, why didn’t you do this earlier? You’ll never get that time back’, and now it’s a roar rather than a whisper…how do you stop from hating yourself for choices like that?

    1. You grieve for what’s lost for a while and then you look at the world as an abundant place full of people and possibilities. What made you lovable to one person will make you lovable again.

  25. Thank you so much for this post and the resulting comments – as someone who is tentatively exploring blooming maybe at some later date but still feels ashamed she didn’t do it earlier, this is totally what I need to read more of.

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