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‘I’m sad that I didn’t have sex until I was 37’

Teenage bedroom illustration

The phrase “involuntary celibate” has taken on a new meaning since the Toronto terror attack last month. But celibacy itself is nothing new. “Joseph”, who is 60 and a widower, did not have sex until his late 30s – and not through choice. Here he shares his story.

Sexual relationships and intimate relationships never developed for me and so I remained a virgin until my late 30s. I have no idea how unusual that is but I experienced a sense of shame, and I felt stigmatised.

I was a terribly shy and anxious person, but not isolated. I always had friends but I was never able to translate that into intimate relationships.

‘I’m sad that I didn’t have sex until I was 37’
‘I’m sad that I didn’t have sex until I was 37’

At school and sixth form I was surrounded by girls and women, but I never made the kind of move that is probably quite a normal one to make.

By the time I reached university, my pattern was set – not having relationships was what I expected. A lot of it was due to a lack of self-esteem and a deep sense that people would not find me attractive.

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