This past weekend, I was on a road trip to Moab, UT and on the car drive down, one of the company asked the questions (mostly as a joke) “What is everyone’s deepest darkest secret?” This made me start thinking. For the most part, I don’t really have any secrets. I’m pretty much an open book. But then I realized that there was something that most people probably don’t know about me. Something that I DEFINITELY keep from people that I go on those ever so rare dates with. Then all of this wonderful #YesAllWomen stuff came up, and I started to wonder, WHY? Why am I not open about this like I am about anything else? And I suddenly realize that I was ASHAMED. I almost never feel shame for anything (because I’m really good at rationalizing away guilt. Probably should work on that).
So, what is this secret? I've decided that it’s time to let it out. Let the world know and just deal with the consequences.
I am 27 years old, and I have never been kissed. Actually, I've never held anyone’s hand in a romantic way, and I've never been on more than 2 dates with the same guy. But for clarity’s sake, I’m just going to focus on the NEVER BEEN KISSED.
There are hundreds of voices out there telling me that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. I can’t watch a TV show or movie or look at the cover of a women’s magazine or browse internet articles without having it shoved in my face that in order to be a fully confident and grown woman, I need to be making conquests, and fulfilling my sexual desires left right and center. Heaven forbid there be a confident grown woman who doesn't want this! Maybe I want to find a solid, emotionally strong, respectful and equal relationship before the physical relationship gets underway.
I recently picked up the movie ‘Never Been Kissed’ with Drew Barrymore, from the $5 movie bin at Walmart. I hadn't seen it in years, and thought “This could so be me! I look like I could be in high school, and I've never been kissed!” Ready to finally find a protagonist that I could actually relate to, I watched the movie again. It was entertaining, in your classic romantic comedy sort of way. But as far as living up to its title? Falls grievously short.
For someone who in all actuality, literally, has NEVER BEEN KISSED, I was more than a little annoyed. First off, as the Drew Barrymore character states: “I've kissed guys, I just haven’t felt that ‘thing.’” And goes on to explain how she imagines a ‘real’ kiss should be. Who would believe a movie about someone who actually had never been kissed? Crazy talk!
If you don’t know the movie, its premise is that she was an uber nerd in high school, referred to as ‘Josie Grosie’ and therefore never fit in. She goes back to High School, undercover and blah blah blah, things happen. THIS. This bugs. The pervasive idea that to have had healthy teenage and high school years, you need to be out there kissing boys (or girls), and exploring your sexuality or you are just missing out. You are abnormal. That if you aren't getting kissed, etc. then you are some sort of ‘Josie Grosie’.
I, frankly, was not interested in these things in high school. I liked going on dates, but didn't want anything big. As a result I went to college with a strong sense of WHO I WAS not dependent on if I was dating a guy or not. Not dependent on if so and so had a crush on me. I was confident. I liked this about myself, so I didn't feel pressured to need a boyfriend. Years pass, and friends get married, move on, have babies, I get new roommates and every time the conversation will eventually turn to boys and past dating life. I mostly just remained silent.
Why? I felt ASHAMED. My once confidence, was slowly chipped away at by outside opinions and expectations. Even aside from the voices in the media, is the culture I’m surrounded in. I grew up in a religious and conservative societal group. I myself am still very religious and I guess you could say that I’m right center leaning. Even with this backdrop, where sexual promiscuity is generally frowned upon, there is still a STRONG emphasis in finding a spouse and starting a family. So dating, kissing boys, finding your perfect man, that is what is expected. Don’t get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to find someone to have a strong relationship with, and to have some adorable and challenging children. I really do want this. So far, however, the cards have not dealt me this life.
So I try to find happiness and fulfillment in the life that I do have, but I cannot go more than a month without hearing over the pulpit in church that it is my duty to be working toward finding a husband. That if I’m a good little girl, it will eventually work out. That I should be flirting more and making sure those guys know that I am just waiting to be swept off my feet! I don’t want to discourage guys from asking me out, but being overly flirtatious is just not me. Thus, the result of my having never been kissed.
I could go into the reasons (shyness, stubbornness, awkwardness, social expectations, etc) but that is not what I am concerned about. I know that at least 50% of the problem here is myself. I don’t expect the perfect guy to drop out of the sky and just be persistent enough to win me over. I have things to work on, and believe me, I've heard every explanation:
“You just need to flirt more.” (Oh, thank you for telling me what my personality should be. That’s nice.)
“You’re just too intimidating.” (Right, I’m waaay better than all other women.)
“You’re so amazing, guys are afraid to date you because they will have to commit.” (Suuuure. And all the girls who are currently dating guys are just mediocre? Not even close.)
“You just need to be good and kissed.” (Don’t get me started on this one.)
“It’ll happen as soon as you stop looking.” (Believe me, I've tried that one.)
“Maybe if you got drunk, you’d let loose a little.” (Maybe for you, but not for me.)
And many many more. All of these comments have come from friends and loved ones I know they are only motivated by love and concern. The problem is, they just perpetuate the problem. The feeling that I need to be ‘fixed’. Or that men are not good enough for me (this will need to be discussed at a future time, I don’t have the energy to tackle this misconception right now).
Fortunately, people don’t generally ask about my ‘dating life’ very much anymore. I think there is a general wariness to ask a single girl over the age of 25 about her dating life, in the fear that she will start crying or something. I’m not complaining, there’s less awkward conversations on my part, but SHEESH!
Here is the TRUTH: there is nothing fundamentally wrong with me. Yes, I have numerous flaws, but the fact that I have ‘Never Been Kissed’ does not make me a malfunctioning human. It doesn't mean that I am or was a ‘Josie Grosie’, or that I will never find, happiness, fulfillment and love. It means that I am me, and my life is different from your life, and your life is different from your best friend’s life, etc.
I guess what I really want, is for other women and girls, men and boys to stop worrying about holding themselves up to a sexual or social standard. Don’t let others (though there are many) shame you into thinking you are less of a person, or an undesirable partner because of your experience level.
Please comment if you have similar thoughts. I feel like I’m alone out here, but I know there must be others. Share this post if you think it share worthy.