Sex Diaries: 'I'm A Virgin – But Absolutely Despise That Word'

I'm 25, single, and have never had sex. It's just never happened and I'm not sure it ever will.

Sex Diaries is a fortnightly series on HuffPost UK that asks readers to share their sex lives: to talk about the sex they’re having (or not). Interested in anonymously sharing your story? Email sophie.gallagher@huffpost.com

My birthday is 7 July. This year I’ll be turning 26 but I still haven’t had sex – in fact, I haven’t even kissed someone. I am a virgin but I absolutely despise the word; there’s so much stigma attached to it, but it’s honestly all bollocks. Why does society care so much? How do we even define sex? There are so many different ways people connect – is it really as simple as a penis in a vagina?

Sex just never happened for me, the opportunity never came up. I started having serious mental health problems when I was 10; one year I was even taken out of class and homeschooled. I missed out on the education, but it also meant I wasn’t socialising for a while. Then I was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, and when I was put back into school I wasn’t participating – it was more just getting through those years. I was bullied too.

I went on to university, where I studied computing. It was very male dominated so I wasn’t meeting women then, and I suffered with social anxiety which meant I eventually dropped out. Between the ages of 20 and 23, I became housebound and was living with my parents, which I still do. There was just a prolonged lack of interaction with people. I meet people on social media and stuff but it’s not the same.

“I have phobias of things connected to my penis size and ability to ejaculate."”

Not only have I struggled meeting people but there were other reasons why sex hasn’t never happened: I have anxiety, problems with my body image and low self-esteem, as well as phobias of things connected to sex like my penis size and ability to ejaculate. My anti-depressants can have side effects – they’ve made me paranoid about my ability to perform.

At school, I also missed sex education lessons, which happened in the years I was taken out. I know most people’s experiences of sex ed aren’t great but I had none. I’ve learned everything I know from watching pornography so that has probably warped my view of what is normal in the bedroom as well, and masturbation now plays a large role in my sex life.

There have been a couple of times when perhaps something could have happened: people talk about going to parties and just getting drunk and going off with someone. But that situation doesn’t come up, because I don’t drink. Maybe I could have initiated things more but it’s hard when you’ve been knocked back and rejected; I’m on dating apps, but so far I’ve only managed to get one date.

I’m getting out of the house more and go to lots of workshops on sex positivity and sexual health – I have lost count of how many I’ve attended. It gives me an insight into that part of my life I haven’t had. I also know that having sex doesn’t necessarily make you experienced at sex so I’m trying to get experienced too. I’ve also had intensive therapy and my therapist helped me deal with some of my phobias. We did an anonymous Google survey where I asked if people would care about being with an older virgin: 95% said it wasn’t an issue so that was reassuring. But as I’m getting older the fear is still there.

“I ask myself – if someone walked in and said ‘I want to have sex with you’, would I do it?"”

At the moment, I have a few friends who are single and not having regular sex so I’m talking to them about that feeling. Of course it’s not quite the same but I can get their perspective on it. Lots of them are women and I think they’re more understanding than men. But I don’t talk to my family or parents about it – I think they definitely know I’m a virgin but we don’t talk about it.

I often ask myself – if someone walked in and said ‘I want to have sex with you,’ would I do it? Because I’m not looking for a one night stand, I am too insecure for that. I want a connection and a relationship, someone who understands how difficult things have been for me and what I’ve come through. I’d probably go for the one night stand and then massively regret it afterwards. It would open up a whole can of worms for me.

I want to meet someone who would like to build up to the sex part rather than go straight in. I guess that could happen tomorrow, or it could happen never.

As told to Sophie Gallagher