PSA for the shy, sexually inexperienced, maybe-queer, maybe-bi, maybe-asexual ladies who send me letters about finding someone to snuggle and/or date:




You are not alone in writing a (usually beautifully written, well-spelled) note about how you are looking for someone to hang out with and maybe make out with and cuddle but without pressure or expectation of doing more.

You are not alone in feeling like traditional “dating” situations and advice don’t work for you. Common worries: Too much pressure to “come out” and/or categorize yourself in some way, worried that people won’t be satisfied with what you are able to give, worried about being harassed by 10,000 creepy dudes, body image issues, shame about being a late bloomer.

We’ve covered a lot of this on the site already in other threads about meeting new people and dating, but I get, easily, three or four of these specific (female, somewhere on the queer/bi/ace axis, looking for someone who will go really, really slow with sex stuff) letters per week. You are not alone! You are not alone.

I’m resisting a serious urge to matchmake here, like the way I wanted all the ancient statues without heads to go to a party with all the ancient statue heads when I went to the art museum as a child. But I don’t know where anyone lives and that would be creepy and violate all kinds of anonymity.

Perhaps some kind of open thread could be created in the forums at http://www.friendsofcaptainawkward.comย for you to talk to one another? Perhaps you could join one of the conventional dating sites en masseย and use a special hashtag or code word in your profiles to find each other?

I wish you sweet blanket forts with respectful, adorable, terrifyingly amazing people like yourselves. But mostly I want you to know: You are not alone.



106 thoughts on “PSA for the shy, sexually inexperienced, maybe-queer, maybe-bi, maybe-asexual ladies who send me letters about finding someone to snuggle and/or date:

  1. ZOMG THANK YOU. I honestly did not realize this is so common. I would love a code word or open thread…

  2. Good luck to you! FWIW, I had great luck being a sexually fairly late bloomer (was a few weeks shy of 23 before I got naked with anyone else, which is not THAT late, but later than average). I was/am also fat, so I had the body images issues, too. But because I was older I was better able to figure out what I want and didn’t want, knew more about safety and what to expect, and was better at choosing a good partner. I KNOW it’s nerve wracking and it makes you feel scared and like the odd one out when you want to start. But it ended up being a good thing & helping me cultivate a sex life that is now really good, and I don’t have any regrets about things that could have been messy and difficult when I was younger and not quite sure how to take care of myself. I hope it goes the same for you ladies whatever you try to do, whenever you try to do it. Jedi hugs!

  3. Honestly, just seeing this post makes me feel better, knowing there are other people out there feeling the same way I am.

    1. YEEEESSSSS. The post doesn’t quite describe my situation, but it provokes FEELINGS. SO MANY FEELINGS. And of course. I’ve just started a road trip and have access to the site only by phone browser for the weekend. Suffice it to say, bless you, and yes I would show my face in that forum convo.

      (Why yes, there is a many-times-revised letter in MY drafts folder too.)

  4. I agree with battleaxe. O_O I just feel so *flaily arms* about it and sometimes socially awkward, sometimes maybe not. Depends on stuff. And then just gets weird and blah.

    Forum thread thingy could be cool.

    1. “I just feel so *flaily arms* about it and sometimes socially awkward, sometimes maybe not. Depends on stuff. And then just gets weird and blah.”

      heh, best description of it ever, I feel exactly the same.

  5. Yup, there’s a lot of us out there. Fond, fond memories of chill room parties at a slash convention. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. I also wish there were a better way for all of these awesome people to find each other.

    For people in that situation, I think online dating is still a great option, but unfortunately it can be stressful at first, especially when you have confidence issues or anxiety about dating. It takes some time to get used to meeting new people, and (most of the time) either being rejected, rejecting the other person, or mutually deciding “no thanks.” Because that’s what happens most of the time.

    There is someone out there who either really wants to go slow, or is very willing to go slow despite being more experienced. But it takes time to find the right person, and while you’re looking, you probably will encounter people who behave exactly like you feared (wanting you to label yourself, wanting you to move more quickly, etc). You have to be ready to walk away from those people — and to not let those moments become a crisis about whether you’re normal and okay.

    1. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by my experience on okCupid. I joined more with the idea of finding nerdy friends to hang out with, but also not averse to potentially finding more, but with some major caveats. I debated just how much I should reveal in the profile, then decided to just put the cards on the table. It basically reads I’m an asexual aromatic, but I do enjoying playing kinky games with people I trust. I REALLY expected to get some really gross messages because of it, especially since I read creepypms on reddit.

      But you know…with one or two exceptions, everyone who has contacted me has been well-mannered and interested in the other parts of my profile, not just the kink stuff. I have four people now that I’ve been talking with for a few weeks, and one in particular I’ve been exchanging long, frequent messages with. Even the guy who asked if I would be willing to play with him without his GF’s knowledge was very polite and took it well when refused. The rare jerks I just blocked.

      My only issue is getting over my mild paranoia about meeting anyone in person (which is my end goal, since I really need more friends I can actually go to movies, cons, etc. with.) I was invited to an event after a few weeks of talking to one person, and I can’t help but feel nervous because I don’t feel like I’ve known them for long enough. But then I don’t know how long I’d have to know them before I stopped feeling that way…

      But yeah, online dating isn’t near as scary as I thought it would be.

      1. You know what we really need?

        A buddy system. A “bring a friend” system. All us folks who are in this situation don’t necessarily need a “match” but I could totally use a buddy who will go with me to meet someone new for the first time and be there to rescue me if I start to panic, or I’m uncomfortable, etc.

        Because I’ve talked endlessly with a lot of potential dates online and only rarely managed to overcome the anxiety and meet one of them in person. It would be a lot less stressful if I knew there would be another person there to help me or just be in the same bar or restaurant or at the same party in case.

        1. A buddy system would be amazing! And really I’m just pleased to hear I’m not the only one who gets so nervous about meeting people in person. It’s strange, because I have no problem discussing even the kink stuff in depth, but I don’t know how to say “Look, we need to talk for at least a few months online before I’d be willing to meet in person.” So instead I just make half-assed excuses when invited out, and I feel terrible about it…plus I assume the other person is going to give up after a few tries.

          1. Wanting to correspond for a long period of time before meeting was profoundly not my jam when I was online dating this last time (2-3 years ago). I don’t have the energy for long correspondence. Also, been burned before, many times, by having long, intense interactions with people who turned out to not gel with me in person. Or with people who were misrepresenting who they were (10 year old pictures! You moved a feral cat colony into your hoard house. So, when you said “roommate” you really mean “wife you separated from two weeks ago and have never told me about all this time we’ve been writing.” Huh.). For a certain kind of person, who I attracted over and over again, the intense online friendship/flirtation/affair was a way for people to present radically edited versions of themselves – which can be fun, and empowering, and sexy! – in the short term, but not sustainable for the kind of long-term, face-to-face partnership I was looking for. More than once, when I met the person they were accompanied by tiny man dressed in a suit made out of red flags waving multiple red flags in sempahore patterns that mean “Abort! Abort!”, but my guilt about not being attracted to them in person or wanting to be “fair” or “nice” in the face of their shame about what they’d been hiding from me would keep me on the date. Getting out of that pattern meant putting some maybe harsh rules in place to protect my heart, my energy level, my time. Result being, after about a week or two of interacting, if someone wasn’t making a move to make in-person plans or responding positively to my invitation, I would phase them out.

            Your nightmare, right?

            Two things to know here:

            1) At this particular time, my friend-work-social-dance card was very full, actually, TOO full at times for my introvert heart. During lonelier times, like when I first moved to the city in 2000 and didn’t know anyone, I would be (and was) much more open to longer correspondences with potential friends and date partners before meeting up. Someone who passes you by for this reason may just not be in the right headspace for what you need, not because you’re doing anything wrong, but because of their own collection of “stuff” they’re dealing with.

            2) I interacted with a lot of men who were your fellow slow-burners. They were shy, they were cautious, they’d gone on too many first dates that felt superficial and like job interviews, they like the process of writing & flirting & getting to know someone slowly, they wanted more reassurance that there was a connection before taking the risk of meeting up. They were sick of paying for first dates (not something *I* expect, but a real concern) and then never hearing from the person again. They weren’t doing anything weird or wrong by wanting to write for a while first; they were seeking out what worked for them and speaking up about that! They had their own extremely valid reasons for feeling the way they did.

            I’m sure I missed out on getting to know some great dudes by making an arbitrary standard about how long I was willing to message back & forth before making plans. But I was doing what worked for me. You keep doing what works for you. There are other people out there vibrating on your wavelength.

            Mostly, stop telling yourself that what you need is weird and wrong and assuming no one will like you because of it. And when someone passes you by, realize that you will probably never know all their reasons for it. Right now a lot of folks who read this site are filling in those reasons by going straight to “I must have done something wrong” or “It must be something terrible and undateable/unlikeable about me.” The more you can tell yourself the story that it had nothing to do with you, and that it was their own subjective, unfair, unknowable reasons, the more resilient you’ll be about this.

          2. Er…Captain, I absolutely realize you were trying to be supportive, but reading about your many bad experiences with long correspondence only scares me more and makes me more anxious about meeting in person. While you say the reasons for preferring long correspondence are valid, you also give a lot of bad reasons why someone might choose to do so (because they’re only pretending to be the person they’re representing), and being that I’m already really nervous at the idea of meeting…um, yeah. You’ve just given me more reasons not to take the plunge and meet in RL.

          3. I am sorry to make you feel bad or more nervous. I advocate meeting sooner than later a lot on this site, which I know riles up/worries the more cautious people among you, but I wanted to be honest about where that comes from. I’d rather find out someone is not who I want to spend time with after 3-4 emails (+some verification of their identity), and an awkward coffee vs. after months of interaction when the stakes are much higher emotionally. That’s my experience and my opinion, but plenty of people do not think it’s weird to want to write back and forth for a while before getting together in person. You’re the boss of your own safety and of how much you’re willing to be vulnerable and what order things should happen in.

            I met Commander Logic on the internet. I met Sweet Machine on the internet. I met my boyfriend on the internet. I met the boyfriend before that (Intern Paul) on the internet. He’s about to marry a lady that he met on the internet. Most of my closest Chicago friendships started somewhere in the internet. Some were online friendships for a long time before we met up (through a series of Message Board meetups, or following each other on LJ for a while because they were friends of friends), some were “Howabout coffee next week?” All of them required someone eventually saying “Yes!” and taking a risk.

            I hope you find what you need.

          4. My experience (YMMV) with online dating is a lot of guys want to move to the “meet in person” thing really quick. I just got a first message from a dude who doesn’t even have a photo on his profile asking for my phone number so he could text me. Nope.

            I usually want to talk to someone for at least a few weeks to get a sense of their personality and look for any warning signs. And guys who push that boundary are giving a warning sign, so I generally tell them politely I don’t think it’s going to work out. (Most of the dating sites have a block feature, which is helpful if a guy takes a polite rejection badly.)

            But, in a few cases I’ve wanted to meet in person and my brain has gotten my feet tangled and I chicken out. I feel like if there was someone going to be there just in the capacity of a friend to back me up it would take a lot of the stress off the moment.

            This is another reason I’ve honestly considered speed dating. I figure I can listen to anything for a couple of minutes, yanno?

          5. @drst

            Yeah, no phone numbers! I actually didn’t give Mr.Logic my phone number until we’d been on three dates. My safety precautions were all on the side of “if this guy turns out to be a megacreep, what info would I not want him to have.” So I kept it to the OKC mail system until after a first date, then I’d give my email address if that went well (I can filter email, np), then if I was REALLY comfy I’d give them my phone number.

            Then again, I functioned under the CA recommended rubric of “meet up sooner rather than later and determine if you click in meatspace before committing precious head and heart energy to this person.” I guess it’s slightly slower speed dating. ๐Ÿ˜€

          6. What I understand the Captain to be saying here is this. The Captain has a system for approaching online dating (meeting up quickly). You may have a different system for approaching online dating (corresponding for a while before meeting up). This is ok. Both systems have valid pros and cons, and each date-r gets to decide how they want to operate. Sticking to your own preference is a great idea because it keeps you safe and happy. However, you may come across potential dates whose systems are incompatible with your system. Unfortunately, you will probably not get a chance to date those people, because your dating systems don’t match up. However, that is ok, because you will have the chance to move on and find someone who is operating with an approach that IS compatible with yours! And you can date THAT person, rather than making weird and uncomfortable compromises about what you want. This applies to all kinds of aspects of dating, and it’s really ok, because you don’t want to be The Most Accommodating Date-r Ever, you just want to be a person who is dating someone you like and who likes you and is happy to work within your system, because perhaps it’s their system too. Good luck separating the internet dating sheep from the goats and finding people who are compatible on as many levels as possible.

          7. It’s not as simple as just deciding to meet them sooner vs. later though. I don’t necessary WANT to wait until later, I just have massive social anxiety issues that manifest specifically when attempting to do something new, and meeting someone from online definitely qualifies. Waiting isn’t about feeling more comfortable, really, it’s about trying to work up courage. The only way I know how to work up courage is by making the new thing no longer new…which means talking to that person long enough that they no longer feel like a stranger. Honestly the idea that they could be pretending hadn’t occurred to me, simply because I was viewing it more of a ‘let’s make friends’ angle, and I associated faking stuff more with dating. So now I’ve got a heap of anxiety about both options (but again, I absolutely know that’s not what Captain was aiming for, it’s just how my jerkbrain interpreted it.)

            Complicating matters is that I don’t drive on highways, so if we’re attending an event, there’s a pretty good chance it will mean them driving, which means no escape route for me if things get weird or uncomfortable.

  7. Holy shit. There needs to be a code word/term for this situation like WOAH. It covers about 4 out of 5 of my friends (myself included). It’s nice to know we are legion ^_^

  8. How often do you get letters from boys who are in this boat? (kinda-bi, no scripts for how to negotiate attractions to or interest from guys, kinda nervous about running into creepy dudes and/or being a creepy dude, etc…) Would love a comfy blanket fort.

    1. I get letters from dudes who fit this description every now and again, but not at the rate that would make me use words like “legion.” This was a het guy, but most of it still applies.

      Maybe use the forums to start a bi/dudelove thread? Not everyone who reads blog is a member of forums by a long shot, but at very least it would give you a safe place to put a first draft of those desires out there and then adapt it to other dating-like sites.

    2. I almost never type these words, but you should try Reddit. Specifically, the r/Bisexuality subreddit. The discourse isn’t always enlightened or high-minded, but it’s usually a very supportive place, and it’s full of questions from shy, uncertain bi-and-kinda-bi guys who are trying to figure out how to navigate same-sex attraction and dating. It’s a great place to ask questions or just generally not feel alone. I’ve been frequently surprised by how often I’ve gotten comfy blanket feelings from people sharing their stories.

  9. Oh wow, that would be awesome. As an asexual person who’s given up on dating entirely because of this problem, it would be nice to find other people in the same situation…

  10. I straight-up burst into tears when I read this post. I thought I was the only one. It’s not that I don’t want a sex life, it’s just that I’ve spent so many years thinking I must be defective because I haven’t had much of one so far.

    I, too, would like a code word. Or a code accessory, so we could recognize each other on the street. Or a meetup!

  11. I wish so hard I’d seen this letter years ago. I thought I was alone. I struggled for years, thought I was defective, forced myself to date at 27 in a desperate attempt to MAKE myself like it and be “normal” (spoiler: that “relationship” was a clusterfuck!).

    Coming from an asexual female, who’s on the other side now–in a happy relationship (which does include sex, though half the time, “sex” for us is masturbating side by side telling naughty stories)–it gets better. There are guys (or other girls) out there who aren’t right for the “normal” dating scene either. Don’t try to force yourself to fit that scene when it isn’t right for you! You can’t force yourself to be comfortable, or to move at someone else’s pace, or to trust intimately when you’re not ready.

    The funny thing is, everyone tells you that you’ll find someone when you stop looking, and for me, that was true. I gave up on romance and focused on living the life I wanted and making lots of awesome friends. One of those awesome friends was a sweet guy who I’m now, at 30, happily dating, and we are making up how to “relationship” as we go. ๐Ÿ™‚ It sucks and feels awful and painful to be a late bloomer…but “not now” doesn’t mean “never.”

  12. Oh, man, thank you so much for this. I’m just waiting for the right person, but I can’t seem to find him no matter what, and I’m ready to say ‘all right, whatever.’ Especially since the last guy I was somewhat interested in shamed me for my lack of experience. (newsflash: forcing someone too quickly = killing any potential pantsfeelings. needless to say, we did not get together.)

    To echo L, I wasn’t one of the ladies that wrote to you, CA, but I am one of them. (at least on the shy and inexperienced bits!)

  13. I just want to say that I’m also one of those shy, inexperienced ladies, and having had guys shame me for said lack of experience was really, really awful. I do want to get more, but at a certain pace, and, just…without my partner making me feel awful for not having as much as I apparently should at my age.

    Thanks so much for this, Captain Awkward. You’re the best.

  14. I’ve always had a theory that a small minority of women were like this, and this is how the stereotype that women want relationships and not sex started. Now I think there’s actually a large minority of women like this. But count me in (and I never wrote in either).

  15. Joining the chorus that it’s so nice to know we’re not alone. My ideal would be like….a queer-platonic-affectionate life partner. A lady I could share my life with, and love and hold hands and cuddle a bit, but sans doffing of clothes and all else. I like the idea of a partner and the other elements that go along with a relationship, but 98% of the physical stuff is just…not of interest or possibility for me right now and probably for the foreseeable and beyond. Definitely feels good to hear of folks with similar feels ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. “My ideal would be likeโ€ฆ.a queer-platonic-affectionate life partner. A lady I could share my life with, and love and hold hands and cuddle a bit, but sans doffing of clothes and all else.”

      You phrased this perfectly. This this thissssss. With, for me, the bonus of having separate apartments/whatever next door so we could also have happy introvert no one in my spaaaaace time.

    2. I am lucky enough to have this! My affectionate-friend-sisterly-partner and I have been close friends for over a decade, cohabitating for three years now, and it’s perfect for us. We dearly love each other, but neither of us is interested in anything more physical than a hug.

  16. I am not one of the ladies who wrote in, but I am one of these ladies and I have been having a super bad-brain day, all “you are a freaky weirdo that no one will ever love,” so this is really well timed. Just, knowing I’m not alone make me feel so much better.

    Thank you.

  17. I saw the title and I was like *flail* and then I read the post and I was like *flail* and then I read the comments and I was like *flail* and I’m still like *flail*.

    I haven’t sent such a letter to you. If I did send a letter it would be about the other thing. Nevertheless, this post hit me right in the Mind-Reading Paranoia.

  18. Fair warning, Captain: that “statues without heads meeting lonely statue heads” thing really made me want to marry YOU, even though I’m already married and you’re thousands of miles away. Tiny-Captain sounds like the cutest.

  19. Oh, ladies. I’m so with you on this whole “looking for someone who will go really, really slow with sex stuff”. Other reasons (previous abuse and the resulting PTSD) and maybe other potential partners (mainly into guys nowadays) but I am just as wary of the whole dating scene. I just can’t stand the pressure of knowing, or getting vibes suggesting, that the other person would prefer moving faster. It’s so triggering.

    Too bad for me there aren’t, according to CA statistics anyway, legions of straight/bi guys feeling this way…

  20. Not sure of the etiquette for this, sorry, but I started a thread at the forums where people can talk about this, if they want to?

    1. I had trouble finding the thread, so for the benefit of anybody else who’s unfamiliar with the forums:

      1) You need to make a forum account and login before you can see the subforums. They’ll show up right under those three threads you can see without being logged in.
      2) The thread Amy made is under “Other Posts”.

  21. Well, this sounds like a lot of letters that I have started writing in my head. I’ve been feeling insecure about things because allllllll of my friends are either in committed relationships or enjoy playing the field, and while they are generally supportive and awesome, they don’t really understand what I mean when I say that the idea of dating makes me want to go live in a hobbit hole forever. So I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  22. De-lurking to say thank you. I didn’t write, but I thought about it, and it’s comforting to know we are a legion.

  23. Always lovely for reassurance. I’m hitting 25 this month and have had one boyfriend for only 4 months with no nookie. Seem to be the queen of ‘friendzoning’ lovely guys who i’mnot attracted to it seems, which is sucky. Still nervous about the online dating too, and hate myself sometimes for feeling like maybe my problem is being ‘selfish’ and going for ‘7’s when i’m only a ‘4’. Bleugh. Anyway i find that watching the BBC modern day Shakespeare versio. Of the taming of the shrew cheers me up. There’s one fantastic (and scary!) lady who’s had no experience at almost 40 but is running for prime minister and ends up with a gorgeous,mad,cross-dressing Rufus Sewoll ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. The whole business of rating people’s attractiveness, though.. it’s such a ridiculous and terrible thing. Especially because, in real life? We’re all attracted to different things in people. People who might be a 10 for me could be people you wouldn’t look twice at. Attraction is such a complicated mush of chemistry and compatibility and admiration, it’s impossible to narrow it down to a 1-10 scale based only on someone else’s idea of what’s Supposed To Be Sexy.

      There’s nothing “selfish” about only wanting to date people who you really fancy. There’s nothing selfish about not wanting to date anyone at all, or about not fancying people who are lovely.

      Y’know what’s interesting, though? People (okay, mainly people who are seen as women, let’s be honest) who fancy loads of people in sexy ways are seen as ‘selfish’. And people-seen-as-women who hardly ever fancy people in sexy ways are seen as ‘selfish’ too. It’s almost like, no matter what we do, the very idea that we get to own our own (a)sexuality and only share our romanticness and sexyness and pantsfeelingsness with the people who we choose is selfish, because the idea that our bodies and feelings are our own is seen as selfish.

      Which is ridiculous, really, isn’t it?

      1. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚
        It is rather a catch 22. Personally i’d love nothing better than to be able to have pantsfeelings for anyone. What’s on the inside DOES count. So much. But it’s not sustaรฎnable if there aren’t pantsfeelings. I made that mistake with dating my only boyfriend:utterly lovely man, but a FRIEND. It was 4months of endless unplacable anxiety and guilt, and unable to process my feelings i got territorial and awkward enough that i couldn’t even share a bed with him and i ended up hurting his feelings pretty bad, especially because he popped the ‘i love you’ so darned early.
        Never want to hurt someone like that again.
        Problem is i try to force myself to be the ‘cool’ girl who could totally be promiscuous and/or can see the sexy in good people i know. Ended up drunkenly snogging another friend to try to force myself into it and, while it was lovely, I realised that i did it because i wanted to be kissed, but not to kiss HIM. Now i need to do damage control in case he thinks it’s something more.
        Tl:dr – it’s flipping awkward. And its impossible not to be ‘selfish’. (Im so glad you don’t think this is selfish! It sure feels it sometimes)
        And it’s hard to look out for not getting into a tangle where someone is hurt when you don’t have the experience and knowledge to navigate the warning signs and know your own mind.
        Or, indeed, what you need.

  24. This ^. No matter what you do, you’re wrong. I’m not in this particular boat, but I’m familiar with the same phenomenon w/r/t, for example, having/not having kids, or parenting while working/not working….

  25. I’m 58, been asexual forever, don’t like any touchy-feely stuff with people….but do value a few true friends. I have found a few good ones over the years so I must be doing something right. But the last time I got on an ace site it was all about cuddling and so on and that was no help.
    I feel like I could use a few more friends, but I’m real introverted, more into things/ideas than people, and not much into initiating social contact. I met some nice people while trying to save our library this last couple of years [it might have a fighting chance, and don’t get me started] but now that this is in a quiet phase we have fallen out of touch.
    I add support to the idea of a network and symbol for non-touchy-feeling types.

  26. Can I leave a link? Here is a really awesome couple I hope can give comfort and succor to anyone who maybe would like to see a representation of such awesome ladies who are legion and also fictional. I hope everyone who wants this finds a love like Jamie and Erin’s, full of cuddles and understanding.

    That’s a link to the part of their story arc that I thought of reading this post; the whole comic is worth reading but is not just about those two, although I’m pretty sure they’re the artist’s favorites. I would definitely recommend starting from the beginning if you have the time.

    1. Read a few comics starting from your link, flipped back to the beginning and am devouring them like they will disappear tomorrow. Thanks!

  27. This thread interests me for 2 reasons. 1) I have a close friend who is 50 and a virgin–she is seen by people we know as a closeted lesbian, but she says not so, and I have been around when she showed an interest (physical) in men. She is just very insecure about her physicality and suffered a huge loss of her first boyfriend to an accidental death when in college–and now, the “embarrassment” of her age + lack of experience. She feels set in her ways and no interest in changing things for a man (or woman if she is really in the closet–but if she is, she is so deep as to not know it). 2) Personally, sex is physically painful. When younger my drive was higher, so my dry spells (which we legion ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) were frustrating. I am 47 and have had 4 lovers, and married 2 of them. And early hysterectomy, weight gain , and no hormones left my 1st marriage sexless and sent me to a sex therapist. By the time I was ‘ready’ he was gone, and eventually we divorced. My next relationship started fast and the sex was ok, but really is just a hassle. I love my second husband, and he is attractive, but it is not the same level of engagement it was with my first husband before I was ill. Now I do it because I “have to” in order to be sure I don’t lose him the way I lost the first, but in honesty, I would prefer a companionate marriage with love, affection, and friendship only.

    I am not one of the ladies who wrote, and I guess I don’t meet the real criteria, but I get it and I hope each finds what they are looking for.

  28. One of the things that made me sure I was doomed when I was shy and totally inexperienced in my late-twenties was that I was afraid of two different ways that people could react: either freaked out by my lack of experience, or really into it. WHICH IS NOT BETTER. I wanted to find a way to put my inexperience out there without it being a batsignal for creepers. Which is one reason that internet dating didn’t work for me.

    1. I don’t know whether this is in anyway helpful, bit on okcupid some of the questions you answer can be ‘private’ so they match you up with people who are like minded, but it’s not ‘out there’ for creepers. So, like, i’d privately answer any virginity based questions,so guys who don’t mind can match up but it’s not something public for those who do mind -shrug-

      1. That’s how I met my SO! A slightly older than me also-technical-virgin who matched high on sex and most of the other categories. We went really fast as well as really slow, depending on the thing, according to comfort level. It was…lovely. I wasn’t sure it would last, but I was all for trying with a kind person who didn’t get weird (freaked out or way too interested) about my lack of genitals touching other genitals. Giving that information out earlyish had gone badly before and I liked the idea of filtering people out without having to make myself so vulnerable.

  29. Yes!!! Thank you. From these comments, it looks like for every person who wrote in, ten more were just silently feeling alone.

    I don’t fit this bill completely – I’ve had lots of sex with lots of boys but for almost entirely awful, unhealthy reasons. Now I’m in my thirties and I don’t think I ever want to again, and if I ever do, I’m not sure if I want it to be with a boy or a girl. I don’t think I care -either are good for cuddles and breakfasts and affection, and that’s pretty much all I ever want – so do I have to identify as bisexual or asexual and then there’s a whole culture around these identities and do I have to throw myself into that and I just don’t have the energy and meanwhile I’m working on my PhD and who has time for this and it’s easier to just be alone.

    …But I’d sure really like those cuddles and breakfasts. I think maybe I’ll wander over to the forums and see what’s happening. Thank you again for posting this.

  30. I so needed this PSA right now, Captain. Thank you! Let’s get started on that codeword.

    Also, I love the headless-statue/bodyless head matchmaking party idea.

    1. I’m so glad there’s someone like me! I don’t mean that in a bad or mean way. I’m going to be 31 soon, and I’ve never been in a relationship, or been kissed (and more), so it makes me feel bad when I see all my friends in relationships, and I’m….not.

  31. Somewhat relatedly, can anyone recommend dating websites for genderqueer people? None of the major ones are too friendly to non-binary folks and it’s really bumming me out. Not sure if this has been covered before.

  32. Re inexperience and going really, really slow:

    I’m neither bi nor queer, but I spent a long time wondering if I were asexual (no) or demisexual (no) or just *wrong* (WORLD OF NO) because in my mid-thirties I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of real people I’d had even a glimmer of (unreciprocated) pantsfeelings for. For a long time, my working theory was that maybe it just took me a long time to warm up to people, and maybe the pantsfeelings would come if I gave them time. And this carried over into how I assumed I would want to proceed, once sexytiems were on the table.

    I was completely wrong about both parts of that. Really, really wrong.

    1. Wow, Ellen Fremedon, are you me? Because I just turned 30 and have always been severely lacking in the pantsfeelings for specific people (male or female). Can I ask how you found out you were wrong? Was it just (finally!) meeting someone you had immediate pantsfeelings for?

      1. Pretty much! It was complicated by the fact that on our first (blind) date he was sporting really unflattering facial hair (not by choice; he was in a play), and I left the date with speculative pantsfeelings, contingent on actually seeing his face. But they kicked in with interest on the second date when I got to see him without the whiskers.

        But, yeah, for me at least, it turned out that I was not meeting people I was attracted to because I just wasn’t meeting enough people, and that while people I am compatible with, romantically and pants-wise, are thin on the ground I do, in fact, know them when I see them– or at least, within about one date’s worth of conversation.

    2. I have been there on the wondering and theorizing and generally having insufficient data! Except I still have insufficient data, only I just don’t care anymore. On the rare occasions when I arse myself to identify as anything, I identify as “Difficult to Please” or “Picky As Hell”.

  33. Oh. My. I’m crying now too. And like seemingly everyone else in the comments, I never wrote you about it.

    I just wrote my first post on the asexuality forums. And spent the entire afternoon reading posts over there. I’ve been thinking about this for so long and today it just felt like I needed to contemplate it and also come to terms with it somehow. And then I thought, “I should look at captain awkward, I feel like she wrote advice on this subject previously.” The page loads, and this was the first thing staring me in the face!

    Does the world revolve around me!? (No.) But the timing feels like kismet. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. This isn’t quite me (that whole married thing) but in the points that my marriage has been vaguely-poly, I think what I really wanted, and in some ways still want, is a classical “romantic friendship” that looks like what this post describes. Anne Shirley seeks her Diana, and all that. BFF would be this except a) she’s on the other side of the country so I see her about once every year or two at most and b) given that she and I actually have a fairly serious dating history, I think it would annoy her husband to find us perpetually being cuddly (but not mine – Spouse considers BFF “the sister-in-law” and accepts that’s how things are). I’ve had a couple of other friends who are sort of this, including one that I know is LOOKING FOR this kind of relationship, but none of them are local (anymore) either. Boo.

    But yeah. Fat geeky bi thirtysomething lady seeks similar, to be cuddly but not actually sexual with, and to be GIRLY with, and to go to LGBT cultural events with every now and then. This is actually a thing I am feeling the lack of in my life.

  35. HI! I’m a late-ish bloomer and finally comfortable with that now, but it’s always great to hear this. โค

    I wanna add that if you have close friends you can trust with this, totally talk to them. I had an awesome time talking this over with my bff and her friend, who is also legion, and it's nice to be reminded that a. people don't care about this as much as I do/did! b. we are legion. ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. Hey Captain,

    Thank you very, very much for posting this PSA. Reading this has made my night. It’s good to know one is not alone and is actually part of a “legion.”

    I’m a 31-year-old straight woman who has never had a serious relationship, sex or even fully made out with someone. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes it does not.

    Because I don’t neatly fit into a labelled box, a lot of people assume I’m a closeted lesbian, when in truth I am attracted to men. A mix of things has led to my situation, shyness being one of numerous reasons. I could go on and on…but won’t.

    Wishing all my fellow legionnaires the best!

  37. Hey Captain,

    Thank you very, very much for posting this PSA. It’s good to know one is not alone and is actually part of a “legion.”

    I’m a 31-year-old straight woman who has never had a serious relationship, sex or even fully made out with someone. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes it does not. Because I don’t neatly fit into a labelled box, a lot of people assume I’m a closeted lesbian, when in truth I am attracted to men.

    A mix of things has led to my situation, shyness being one of numerous reasons. I could go on and on…but won’t.

    Wishing all my fellow legionnaires the best!

  38. I have been having a really crappy time lately and this post is the first nice thing to happen to me in weeks. Thank you. So much.

  39. I always knew I wasn’t the only one, but I’m so relieved to know that we are LEGION!! I’m female, 39, fully heterosexual, but have never been in a relationship. I haven’t met anybody who was really interested in me, but more importantly, I haven’t met THAT many people in life that I have had pantsfeelings for. The one (ONE!) guy that I met where we just immediately *clicked*, was not available. ‘Long term partner and child’ type of not available. Sad to say, we were so drawn to each other and I was so fu*king lonely that we eventually slept together, after meeting up a couple of times and having long phone chats. I always knew I could never have what I wanted with him, i.e. a relationship, but I was so desperate to feel desired and attractive and ‘loved’ that I just went with it. No judgements please, I judged myself enough ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Anyway, in my thirties I really began to feel like there was something wrong with me…WHY was nobody interested in me?? Why was literally EVERYBODY else I had ever known, even the weird ones, meeting partners and having relationships, and going out to dinner and weekends away and all that stuff which is still just an abstract concept to me?? It’s also kinda sad when you can’t participate in general office chats about family life/partners/harmless or funny relationship anecdotes/weekend plans, and your workmates seem to know this, even though they never comment on it.

    I know I wasn’t asexual while I still had hope for a relationship and family, but now I feel so resigned to being alone (as I don’t know life any other way) that the thoughts of a relationship is scary, alien, and just something that I don’t even know how to process. I have only had sex a handful of times, and go for years at a stretch with no physical contact. I feel lonely all the time, but I can’t say I’m ‘gagging for it’ from sexual frustration….I guess I just don’t know any different. Plus I’m not sure my parents heart’s would take it if I FINALLY mentioned a man’s name at home, or brought someone to meet them, haha! (neither of which has ever happened).

    What about a “WE ARE LEGION” t-shirt or something? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  40. Would [LEGION] in square brackets like that work as an OKC-and-others profile codeword? Searchable, and distinct from casual uses of the word? …Because I will do it if other people will.

  41. Can I also add, as a not at all inexperienced, very, er, early blooming bi lady: especially in poly circles, do not assume that just because someone is in sexual relationships this means they require all their relationships to work that way? If a friend came to me and said they would like some no-pressure snuggling and maybe kissing, I would be totally down with that! Because I like sex, but I also have plenty. It is not a necessary end goal for all interactions of the making-out variety.

  42. Reading this post then all the comments underneath has given me the boost I really needed today. I honestly feel like it describes me word for word. I am in a new city and meeting new people and I’ve been feeling pretty alone in my life in general recently, and it means so much find out there are people feeling just like me.

    Thank you, and lots of love to the legion.

    Also I have never heard of this site before but got here from asexualsanonymous and ooh I want to stay.

    1. I read all the letters, and when each new one comes in, I think, Oh, they think they’re the only one. WHAT. They can’t… possibly think that, right? There are so many! How can they all think they are the only person like this?

      So, yeah, now you know. Good luck adjusting to your new city.

  43. Word. Codeword discussion is on the forums? My suggestion is “Legion” or “Slow-burn”.

    Sometimes I just pretend my life is a Victorian-era thing where no one who is anyone pressures me to jump in bed with someone before I’m ready. The fantasy doesn’t solve the problem. But it makes the weird societal pressure thing feel more amusing.

  44. Wow. I just started reading your blog and after reading many super relevant entries (to my life), I stumbled across this. I have no words–I honestly thought I was alone in this (like everyone else it seems). I’m completely floored. I met someone I really gelled with last year and when I told her I didn’t have much experience she said, ‘that’s weird isn’t it?’ and since that’s exactly the reaction I was expecting, it just confirmed I was weird and I needed to fix this broken part of myself. Things didn’t work out with us and I couldn’t help but blame myself for it. But wow, this makes me realise that I am allowed to go at my own pace. And that if someone was right for me they would be okay with that. Thank you so much for posting this.

    Now, how to find other ladies who are in the same position/don’t mind a lack of experience?!

  45. Holy Crap!

    I am sooooo happy I stumbled upon this post and thread.

    Like several people here have expressed, I thought I was alone. I just turned 29 and I’ve never had a boyfriend (I’m hetero), I’ve been on exactly TWO dates, and to say that I’m “sexually inexperienced”, sans self-love would be generous. I hardly know what to say other than IT just hasn’t happened for me. I was just speaking with one of my co-workers (whose a couple of years younger than me and is one his second engagement already) that I’m constantly baffled by how easy meeting someone and being in relationship appears for everyone else I know but myself.

    When I was younger, especially in my teens, I used to chalk it up to my precociousness. I was very mature for my age, and though I found myself with an unrequited crush here and there, I was quite frankly a picky person when it comes to courtship and I didn’t have much interest in boys my age. I had plenty of male friends, but not only was mostly not interested in them romantically, I honestly didn’t have many suitors. I didn’t dwell upon too much at the time because I assumed that once I got out of high school (and eventually I went to college) I’d eventually just meet someone and we’d “click” and so on. But that didn’t happen either. And the further I’ve gone into my twenties, the more self-conscious and quite frankly, embarrassed I’ve became about my nonexistent love life.

    Now, I don’t spend my every waking moment despairing over these things. Far from it. But I find myself at this nexus of paradox and anxiety. I’d like find someone special to be in a serious relationship with, but I’m afraid of ‘searching’ in case I wind up confirming my the fears my insecurity is based upon–and then I get upset at myself for caring about those fears at all. In the past couple of years, I’ve had a couple of guys show romantic interest in me, but one of them came on strong on the first encounter that I retreated from him, and the other guy seems sweet, but I just don’t feel a connection with him. I have a co-worker that I believed I was developing serious feelings for, but not only does he have some personality flaws I’m not sure I could reconcile with, he’s got a girlfriend that he’s openly talked about getting engaged to–so why bother, right? I’ve always had deep-seated self esteem issues built upon internalized body shame (not just for my weight either, but for other features as well), since I was very young. And it hasn’t really gotten any better since then–but I hide my insecurities well.

    I suppose the worst thing about this is fearing that I’m emotionally falling for our dominant society’s white, patriarchal bullshit–every time I suspect that I’m generally ‘undesirable’ by society’s standards, (I’m short, plump, geeky and African-American–quite the opposite of our portraits of absolute beauty); every time I wonder what’s defective, ‘what wrong with me’ because I’ve never been in a relationship–I’m allowing myself to believe the paradigm that places my validation as a women on the affection and acceptance of a man to be true. I know that’s bullshit. On the other hand, I can’t shake this almost spiritual feeling that I’m very alone; despite all of my friends and very supportive family members, I’m a very secretive person who keeps her emotions and deepest desires very close and I’d love someone to *share* myself. Yet while I crave that kind of intimacy, I’ve come to realize that I have a startling fear of physical intimacy, liked based upon my relatively poor body image. So I’m stuck, wanting to further my journey as a sexual being, but paralyzed by a fear of rejection because of everything I’m not.

    Like I said, my nonexistent love life doesn’t consume me or define me, but I’d be lying if I didn’t wonder about myself and what it all means sometimes. It especially feels awkward when I’m hanging out, usually with my female friends and they start going on about their love lives–giggling or bemoaning about their relationships or escapades–good or bad. I’m an avid storyteller, but in those moments, I have to just sit there in awkward silence because I have no stories to tell. That’s when it stings, and that’s when my insecurities go into overdrive. Sometimes I wish I didn’t care at all about this stuff, but I do. I supposed I should become a little braver and a little less picky–but then I become something I’m not. ::Sigh:: Oh well….OMG I wrote so much!
    Thanks to the original poster and everyone else for sharing their thoughts about this topic. I really did feel like I was completely alone about this stuff before I found this topic.

    1. I feel like you’ve seriously written my exact experience here (which I too can’t believe, since I thought I was the only one in this position), except I am gay and white. I feel like in my case my fears of physical and emotional intimacy (because of my weight and other insecurities about my body) with people made me build up a wall around myself, even though I have quite a lot of friends and find it really easy talking to new people. I am also a natural storyteller but would always shut up when other people started talking about their relationships or dating (or just focused on their experiences, and didn’t offer any of my own). The first step for me in trying to let the wall down a bit was a friend gently asking me about it one time (all my other friends and acquaintances before that seemed to just sense it was a no-go topic). She said, “why do you disappear from conversations when people start talking about relationships?” And I just burst into tears!

      Up until that point I basically knew no lesbians. I avoided them. I was too scared of getting into any kind of intimate situation with someone that I literally only had straight people or gay men as friends (even though I’ve always been openly gay). But I still felt like crap every time I went out with my straight female friends and they would all get hit on by men etc and I never would…I mean, no one can tell I’m gay so I just took this as a sign that no one would ever want me or want to be with me because of my appearance (although everyone seems to want to be my friend), even though I was not attracted to any of these men at all!

      I’m still working on changing my attitude and behaviours and perspective on things. I have now integrated myself into the queer community in my city. I have gone on dates with people online and I have major sparks with some women I’ve met. I got as far as kissing a woman I really liked and am super attracted to…I was so scared when it happened because I genuinely felt like she was completely ‘out of my league’ and actually voiced that to her (because she asked why I was so awkward and nervous when we kissed the first time). But the next couple of times were much easier and so nice and made me realise that I am capable of that kind of intimacy, and more than that, I really want it! It unfortunately didn’t work out with her (which I’m unfortunately still hung up on), but I am putting myself out there more and trying to not let the voices in my head keep preventing me from meeting someone and sharing myself with someone in that way (emotionally and physically). I have met another extremely attractive woman that I flirt with a lot, but the one time she seemed to be sending me signals that she wanted me to kiss her I got too scared and the same “she is out of my league, she can’t possibly be into me” thoughts went through my head. The thing that sucks is I seem to be attracted to women who are used to the other person taking the lead, and I am really confident socially but super scared and anxious when it comes to making the first move, so I freeze up. I am trying to work up to using my words next time I get into this situation and say something like “I would like to kiss you.”

      Even with these few experiences I sometimes get trapped into thinking that I will never meet someone who actually wants a relationship beyond Best Friends with me. But then I lay the whole story out here and realise how much of my wall I’ve actually brought down, mostly in the last two years. And reading posts like yours and everyone else’s here makes me realise I am not alone and that we all deserve love and affection and kisses and sex with someone we find super hot and attractive (and that there is no such thing as a ‘league’ in the real world). I am trying to internalise all of this stuff and feel like I am getting there.

      Wow, my story has turned out to be much longer than expected too! Thanks to you and the LW, and everyone else, for sharing, and giving me the opportunity to share too. I wish you all the love and self love that you deserve. The more we believe we deserve to have intimate relationships too, the easier it becomes to actually have them.

    2. OMG. THIS. I’ve so often felt that dating and relationships are a language that somehow everyone but me learned to speak. Just wanted to confirm that hell no, you are NOT alone, and let you know how much of myself I saw in what you said here. Thank you for putting yourself out there with these words.

  46. I can’t thank you enough for this post, I feel so much less alone in my experiences. I’m 19 and I honestly have no idea what my sexuality is. I feel like there’s a good chance that I’m asexual aromantic, but I might also be straight or asexual panromantic or demisexual, who knows? I’ve never been in a relationship so I feel like I can’t say for sure? I know that I seem to fit the description for asexual aromantic but I worry that my feelings would change if I even found myself in an intimate situation, or that my parent’s divorce just made me too skeptical of relationships to want to seek one out, or that I just have a super low sex drive, etc. I know that I shouldn’t be so concerned with labels, but it’s hard to not think about it when it seems like everyone else has a sexuality that they know and can be proud of.

    I want to find out what I would be like in a relationship, but I don’t feel any desire to date and I wouldn’t feel right about going out with someone who I’m not attracted to for the sake of dating. It’s almost like I’m turned off by someone being attracted to me, because whenever I get asked out or get the sense that someone is interested in me I get this weird combination of being flattered and repulsed at the same time. So I guess for now I’ll just have to keep wondering and hope that one day I figure it out.

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