Q: Dear Meredith,
I am a 29-year-old woman. I'm a college graduate, gainfully employed, I have great friends and family, and I've been told I'm pretty by people who are not related to me. However, I have never had a boyfriend or had sex -- ever. I do online dating and go to singles events and date fairly frequently, but I've just never clicked with anyone, and while there have been a few guys I've had strong feelings for, none of them have reciprocated.
That's why I've never had a boyfriend. I've never had sex because, although I do desire to have it, the idea of having sex with someone I don't have a connection with has no appeal to me. My only two criteria for losing my virginity are that we must be in a committed relationship and we must be in love, and that has just not happened yet.
Here is my question: How unreasonable are my expectations? Is it realistic to expect a guy I do click with not to be freaked out by my lack of experience? Are there any guys willing to wait until there's a commitment (not marriage or anything like that, just an official relationship) to have sex? Do most guys just expect sex after a certain number of dates? In the past, it's come up on dates that I’ve never been in a relationship, and those guys reacted as if I was admitting to something truly shameful. I can't imagine what a guy would say if he knew that I'm a virgin for non-religious reasons.
Let me know what you and your readers think.
– Trying to Get Un-single, Boston
A: Your expectations aren't unreasonable ... except ... sometimes being intimate with someone is a part of what helps you fall in love with them. If you find someone you like, I want you to get to know them emotionally and physically. You don't have to have sex with anyone before you're ready, but you can't always jump to love before you hit the start button. I think that liking someone very, very much is enough to justify some kind of sexual relationship.
As for disclosing your lack of relationship experience on dates, you can frame that however you want. You can say, "There's been no one significant," or, "I've spent my 20s getting myself together." And be confident about those answers -- because they're true. Had you been desperate to have sex and get a boyfriend in your 20s, you would have put all of your energy into that and forced it to happen. You did spend your 20s getting to a comfortable place. Now you're ready for more.
Continue the dating, and if someone is worth a few dates, maybe they're worth some intimacy. It's all about getting used to someone. And if you have any questions about expectations, just ask. You'll be relieved to find that most people in the dating world are equally clueless about what's supposed to happen next.
Readers? Should she talk about her virginity? How should she frame her relationship history? Are her expectations unreasonable? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.