How it feels to be a virgin in your 30 s and 40 s: our readers share their narratives | Sarah Marsh

As part of our new series on life experiences, our readers explain what its like, as an adult, to have never had sex

Its in films, anthems, BBC adaptations of Russian epic novels sex is taken for granted as being part of adult life. But how does it feel to be a virgin in your 30 s and 40 s?

We asked you as part of our new series, How it feels, in which readers discuss lifes big experiences. Heres what you said:

I have always fallen for people who are unavailable

I was a Christian until my early 20 s, so I didnt sleep with my boyfriend at university otherwise he would have been the first. I havent been in a proper relationship since then because Ive always fallen for people who were unavailable in some way.

I only recently fell in love properly for the first time. The man Im with is older and damaged after a difficult divorce, so our relationship is moving very slowly. I havent told him Im a virgin but I think he is likely to be OK with it. He seems to accept me precisely as I am. I feel like we are soulmates.

The reason I have waited so long is because I didnt want the first time to be a one-night stand( Ive had a few possibilities that route, and while I am still a virgin I have done other things ). Fortunately every man with whom Ive been in any way physical has been very understanding and not pushed. Plainly they didnt come back, with a few exceptions. One man hung around guessing he would be the first, but I realised it was because it would be a feather in his cap; he didnt am worried about me. Anonymous woman, 42

I battle social nervousnes due to my physical appearance

I am still a virgin because of my crippling social anxiety, possibly due to my big facial growths. As small children I was often bullied by girls, so it took a good 20 years before I plucked up the fortitude to get out there. I still have not had a relationship that has gone to that level. Being a virgin isnt something I dwell on day to day. Occasionally though, I do wonder what I am missing out on. It seems that sexuality is something our society is obsessed about, even though in reality I believe everyone can live without. Anonymous man, 49

I am still a virgin because I am very well endowed

The reason I am still a virgin is that I am very well endowed. The ladies in my life help find it really hard to relax when it comes to having sexuality with me due to expecting intercourse to hurt them. I have been intimate in other styles, however, and even been in three long-term relationships. I know there are ladies out there that opt a larger man, I only havent received them. After all, sexuality is about pleasure if both parties are not experiencing pleasure during sex then its not a very balanced sexual relationship.

Being a virgin later in life feels the same as being a virgin as a adolescent. The only change is, rather than are concerned about being the odd one out, there are more things going on in the world to be hung up over. My friends tend to wonder why I havent built it my life goal to have sex. Especially now kids are being born in our circle of friends. I dont especially want infants, so that phase mystifies them in its entirety. Anonymous man, 32

Photograph: Alamy

As a gay woman in a small town its hard to meet people

I am 41 and gay and have always lived in a small town with very limited access to any kind of homosexual community. Although I have been to a few lesbian clubs I have never met anyone there.

It wasnt a problem until I was about 30; I always believed I merely hadnt gratified the right person, but as day goes on, satisfying someone gets harder. It isnt the lack of sex that I hate but the lack of a relationship. I miss having someone to talk to in the evenings, and its tough not having someone to build major life decisions with. It simply feels like a whole segment of my life I am missing out on.

What worries me most about sexuality is that I have no experience, I have never had to show my body to anyone and although I am in no way ugly I have never had to worry about things like bikini waxes, or staying slim for a partner. I dont have to shave my legs if I dont wishes to. But when I do eventually satisfy someone, will my naked body be OK for my partner?

Also the actual act of having sex scares me what do I do? I suppose any partner will have more experience than me and if they are caring they will tell me what to do without constructing “i m feeling” stupid, but its merely get over that impediment. Im not desperate to have sex, but when/ if it happens I will need someone to be understanding and assistance me through my first experience. Anonymous female, 41

I was a virgin until 42 my first time was cosmic

I was a virgin until 42, and there were several reasons: I was introverted, bookish, and strong-willed. I have always been a good Catholic, so simply chose a career in science and many rich friendships were preferable to matrimony etc.

I had a happy and fulfilled life and career, and did much volunteer work which was emotionally fulfilling. Quite unexpectedly, at 42, I met a Catholic widower aged 68. It was love at first sight and we have just celebrated our silver bridal anniversary. My first time after all those years was odd; it was as if my reality shifted about half an inch in an unexpected direction. It took me got a couple of days to adjust to the fact of it. My status as a person had changed: I no longer lived for myself alone. I had admitted another, whom I wholly trusted, into myself, to share my being. That is cosmic and it was worth waiting for. Anonymous girl, 68

I am asexual, being a virgin does not bother me

Im asexual. I dont experience sexual attraction to any gender and I dont desire sex experiences with others. Ive been curious at times the media induces such a big deal about sex so Ive been curious as to whether its as fun as people say it is. But I also worry about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

Im recognizing also that[ virginity at this age] is considered unusual, but it doesnt bother me personally. Theres an asexual community online and we have regular meet ups, and I have a lot of asexual friends, so I know Im not alone. Most of my friends and family have been very accept, although some help find it is challenging to empathise.

Im personally not interested in romantic relationships at all, but if I was, I wouldnt be too worried, because I know there are other asexual people out there and it is possible to meet someone who would be content with a non-sexual relationship. Anonymous girl, 40

I have given up hope of ever find someone

I am paralysed from the waist down, as a result of a congenital spinal condition. I am also taking medication for high blood pressure, which has robbed me of the ability to get and sustain an erection. Because I am disabled, I have always observed it is challenging to get into relationships. Constant rejections led me to the conclusion that females werent interested in me because of my disability.

What does it feel like to be a virgin later in life? There is still a great stigma around it. People take it as read that you are choosing to abstain from sex often for religion reasons. Neither is true in my example. And the longer my virginity has festered, the harder its been to get rid of it. What girl of my age would want a human who has had no sexual relationships or experiences? Some friends know, but it isnt something I advertise. Ive given up hope of ever discovering person. It feels like Im not allowed to be happy. Anonymous man, 47

Share your views in the comments. To recommend another area for our readers to talk candidly about please email sarah.marsh @theguardian. com

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