25 and Never Been Kissed—Is There Hope For Me?

Dear Sarah,

There may have been a time when it was okay for a 25-year-old to admit she’d never been kissed, but I have this sinking feeling that today, she would be exiled to the Island of Undesirables. So, as you have probably guessed, that woman is me. Maybe I’m giving off an inexperienced or prudish vibe, but how can I change that without becoming someone who I’m not?

On New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago, a guy asked me to dance with him. Things got touchy feely fast, and before I knew it, he was grabbing me in places that had never been grabbed. I felt really uncomfortable, and it only escalated when he aggressively tried to kiss me. When I pulled back he said, “What, are you a lesbian?” By some miracle, I was able to break away and escape. That was the last “almost kiss” I’ve had.

Do I want Prince Charming to be my first kiss? No. Am I waiting for “the one” to be my first kiss? Nope.  But I sooo didn’t want that to be my first! I just want it to be with someone whose company I genuinely enjoy—even if I never see him again. Is that so much to ask? Writing this, I’m also realizing that maybe I’ve become afraid, and I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

—Never Been Kissed in Simi Valley, California

Dear Never Been Kissed,

There is a recent series of illustrations of women by Brazilian artist Carol Rossetti that I really love. It’s chock full of feisty, upbeat messages about body image, sexuality, and individuality. One that jumped out to me depicts a lovely, smart-looking gal and reads, “You don’t have to love in a way that doesn’t match your identity. Love doesn’t happen the same way to everybody.” There is a blaring message these days, especially in popular culture, that all women should be sexy and sexual all the time. That may be fabulously empowering for some, but what happens when we don’t feel like being a cat-suited, twerking, love goddess?

I know you are longing for a special kiss—and maybe more—but Rossetti’s sketch is an important reminder that desire comes in 31 (and more) sweet flavors. If you are sexually inexperienced and prefer to take things slow, I’m not surprised that you got turned off—and a little frightened—by some uncouth jerk trying to jump your bones on the dance floor.

So, what it comes down to is meeting someone who respects your values and need to get to know one another before diving into a physical relationship. How do you meet that someone? As I’ve said in previous posts, first you have to genuinely show up. Bring your real self to your job, classes, friend’s parties, coffee shops, volunteering, and what not (but steer clear of trying to meet someone in a genuine and mellow way at a bar or a club—too much booze, too many pheromones). Online dating might work for you as well since you could be upfront about what you are seeking and weed out the dudes who are looking for a hook up.

Despite what you might have been led to believe, not all men are Booty Call Kings. Guys feel a crushing amount of pressure too, and for many, NOT having to perform all-all-all-night-long with a complete stranger is a mega relief. Making a true connection and trusting your potential first kisser is exactly the thing that will help you feel safe and unafraid.

Love, Sarah

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