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Dirty Laundry: virginity and long distance relationships

By Apartment613 on May 3, 2011

Photo courtesy of Jessica Ruano.

A professional sexual health educator with an alarming lack of tact, Nadine Thornhill is used to airing out other people’s unmentionables. Her new sex column, Dirty Laundry, runs once each month on Apt613. To ask your questions, or to say hello to Nadine, contact her at

For the full smorgasbord of Nadine’s musings, check out her blog Adorkable Thespian.

Dear Dirty Laundress,

I’ll get straight to the point. I’m almost 27 years old and I’ve never had sex.  Believe me, it’s not because I don’t want to.  When I was in high school I had some health problems and other issues that affected my body.  I was pretty self-conscious and I never had a boyfriend.  I did date a couple of people in university but we never went “all the way” so to speak.  Now it’s just embarassing.  I try to date…but if I’m with a guy and things move beyond kissing I worry that I won’t know what to do. I’m scared that if a guy finds out I’m still a virgin, he’ll think I’m weird and he won’t want to have sex with me. It’s all so frustrating. Sometimes I think I should do it with whoever and get it over with.  Other times I think I should just give up.  Maybe sex isn’t meant for everyone.  Help, please!

Twenty-six-and-a-half-year-old virgin.

I understand why you’re frustrated. Once people reach a certain age, we tend to assume that they are sexually active or at least have had sex at some point. But there are many adults who, by choice or by circumstance, are still virgins.

I’m not going to tell you that your situation is an easy one, especially since it seems that you would like to engage with someone sexually. But I am going to tell you — and I hope you take this to heart — there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a twenty-six-and-a-half-year-old-virgin. Partnered sex is just an experience you haven’t had yet.

If sex is something you want for yourself, there’s no reason it can’t happen. It sounds like your nerves have got you in a bit of an anxiety cycle. You’re anxious about not having had sex, which in turn makes you anxious about having sex, which prevents you from having sex. So how do you quiet those nerves? I don’t have any easy answers, but here are some ideas that might help:

If you’re comfortable masturbating, I suggest you wank and wank often. You’re self-conscious about never having had sex? Masturbating is sex and in my opinion, sex with yourself is as valid as any partnered encounter. In fact, in some ways it’s better, since when we do ourselves, we’re more likely to experience physical pleasure. If you do choose to get down with yourself, pay attention to what feels good and what you likes. If you know how your body responds sexually, it may help you feel more confident about what you want from an encounter with a partner.

You also mentioned that you’ve thought you might “do it with whoever and get it over with”. Casual encounters can be really wonderful.  If you think it’s something that might work for you, there are some questions you may want to think about. What are your physical/emotional needs? What sort of casual partner can serve those needs.  Do you prefer a stranger? An experienced sex-worker? A friend-with-benefits? Or someone else? A regardless of whether your sexual partners are committed or casual, think about your sexual health and safety and take whatever precautions you feel are necessary.

One more thing. You’re afraid that you “won’t know what to do”.  The truth is, even people with past sexual experience, start at the bottom of the learning curve with a new partner. Our bodies are all slightly different and with few exceptions, it takes some time to learn your way around (on top of, underneath and inside) a new partner.  So no, you probably won’t feel like you know what to do. But odds are, your partner won’t either.

Good luck!

Dear Dirty Laundress,

I’ve recently started dating someone. We’ve only been together about a month and a half, but I’m pretty sure this is it. I feel really strongly that she’s the one for me and I can safely say she feels the same about me. Everything is between us is great, except for one thing. I live in Ottawa and she lives in Oakville. We take turn travelling to see each other, but we both agree the long-distance thing kind of sucks. The drives are long, our visits are short and we want to be together more than just a day or two on the weekend.  We want to live together, but people keep telling us that it’s too soon for us to make that decision.  So my question is how long do you wait before you make a long-distance relationship not long-distance.

Far Far Away

For some people, moving to another city for someone they’ve only being with for six weeks would be too soon. But the fact is, the only people in this relationship are you and your partner. If you both agree you’re ready to make relocation plans, go ahead and make those plans!

While I don’t think time is necessarily of the essence in these situations, I do think careful planning and a LOT of honest, honest communication will help increase your chances of maintaining relationship bliss.  Where I’ve seen things go off the rails in these is when people move for the sake of their relationship and find themselves in a situation where the relationship is all they have.   Life in a new place is a big, big change and in your position, I’d want to discuss the following, before booking the moving van:

Who is moving? You to her? Her to you? Both of you to someplace new?

What are your situations in terms of school/career? How will a potential move affect this and are you willing to accept those effects?

What will the social situation be? Where are there opportunities for both of you to have friends and participate in preferred activies?

When the move happens are you going to live seperately in the same place or co-habitate?

If you are going to co-habitate what are your expectations in terms of finances?

If only one of you moves, who will fund the cost of that move?

How will moving affect your expectations of the relationship? Do you need any committments like (eventual) co-habitation, engagement, marriage?

How will you feel if you move and none of the above happen?

If you want to do this – talk, talk and talk some more and figure out a situation that will serve your needs as a couple and as individuals. Meanwhile, start stockpiling cardboard boxes!

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