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The Vine: February 4, 2009

Submitted by on February 4, 2009 – 3:55 PM41 Comments

Dear Sars,

So. I'm 41, and I haven't had sex for eleven years. For most of that time it wasn't for lack of trying — I just couldn't seem to make it past a first date except with a guy who turned out to be a drunk with not so much intimacy issues as entire volumes. Such is life.

Then I went through a bunch of crap in a short time (my dad died, I had a very ugly breakup with my best friend, and I lost my job) and fell into a bad period of depression, out of which I'm still digging myself. (I'm on medication, and have had a ton of therapy.)

Obviously, I wasn't in a good place to date, so I stopped looking, and haven't really started again. Nor do I particularly want to at this point. I've been on a couple of dates this year and found myself really unenthused. I'm just not into it right now; I have other priorities, like finding a permanent job and getting my incredibly fucked-up finances back in order.

But I assume that at some point in the future I'm going to date again. I'm bound to meet someone who interests me enough to bother eventually. The question is how I can approach the subject of my long dry spell without making the guy think there's Something Wrong With Me. When do I tell them? What do I tell them? It's hard enough having to talk about being depressed and on medication, much less something like this. I'm aware that it's a really long time, and it's bound to look a little strange. Okay, a lot strange. I mean, eleven years.

A few years ago I was in a therapy group with a woman who'd gone twelve years, and at the time it seemed unimaginable. Now it's me. And I'm really self-conscious about it. I could joke about it the first few years, but it's not so funny anymore. And I don't want guys to feel pressured by it, like I waited so long on purpose and have crazy expectations of them or something.

So. Advice?

Not Quite A Cat Lady Yet

Dear Cat,

I don't think the question is what to tell prospective partners, or when; it's why you would feel obligated to disclose it at all.If it's a man you have feelings for, I assume you would tell him eventually, because if you trust him enough to enter into a relationship with him, you'll want to trust him with that information — and let him trust you to tell him something that, like it or not, has become an important thing to you.

But if it's just some dude, he's not owed the information.Sex for the first time with a new partner is seldom all that cinematic; it's not like he'd somehow divine that you haven't Done It for eleven years, and if you really feel you have to say something, a jokey "it's been a while" should cover it.

You have in fact had sex before; it has in fact been a while, it's true, but…I'm not saying you shouldn't stress over it, although ideally, you wouldn't, because it doesn't really help anything.But try to keep in mind that this matters far far more to you than it does to anyone else; try to keep some perspective on it, even if it's hard.For any man who really cares about you, it's an interesting fact that's important to you.For any man who isn't all that invested?None of his business.

I think that because you think it's almost disfiguringly shameful, you also think you have to cop to it ASAP, but it isn't a criminal record; it isn't something like HIV where, ethically, you should say something.You aren't subject to lemon laws.It's not actually a negative, to other people with any sensitivity; it just…is.If you don't want to "confess" to it, don't.

Dear Sars,

I've been having a slight dilemma with getting over an ex.

Around two years ago I was with a guy that in my eyes was perfect. Didn't care if I shaved, preferred me without make-up, truly appreciated me as a person, blah blah perfect-guy-cakes. We split without closure (I had returned to the person I had left him for out of guilt and confusion — I had only been with girls before, and my dating him had been amazing but incredibly confusing at the same time, what with my him-induced doubt about my sexuality).

Shortly thereafter the ex and I split, and since then I have not been able to get this guy off my mind. I've compared everyone I've dated since to him and consequently yielded very, very poor results in my relationships. I don't want to try and contact him again but questions linger about how he may feel about me, and that is enough to keep me distracted in all of my new ventures in love, even two years later.

I guess my question is, how do I get over him, stop thinking about him, and not let the fact that I am not over this man ruin my relationships?

Signed,

This guy introduced me to Bob Dylan, how could I NOT love him?

Dear Hattie Carroll,

(Yeah, I had one of those too.)

You just do it.You put one foot in front of the other, you trust that the feelings will fade in time, and you get on with things.

In the meantime, avoid relationships entirely for a while, because you hold onto the memory of this guy for a reason, and until you figure out what that reason is, you won't be able to let go, and you won't be able to commit to anyone else.When you say that "questions linger" about his feelings for you…I don't know.He loved you, and you fled back to your ex.You had your reasons, you're human, you'd do it differently if you had it to do over, but I suspect his stated feelings, if he were asked, would be that he's sorry things didn't work out, but they didn't, next case.

I don't say this to make you feel bad, but after two years, this isn't really about the guy anymore.It's about you, and some anxiety you have about commitment.And we all have those anxieties, we all pin our hearts at one time or another to people who don't actually have anything to do with the larger issues — it's normal.But you have to acknowledge that something else is going on; you have to forgive yourself for that; and you have to confront it, without distractions in the form of guys that you have no future with because you live in the past with this other thing.

Maybe it's your sexuality, maybe it's something else — it doesn't matter.Stop dating for a while and think about what you may be getting out of letting your idealized past with this guy interfere with your present.

Hi Sars –

I'm 42, which means my high school graduation gift was a sleek typewriter…but by my sophomore year in college I had switched to a Mac.In my first year of business school we had a lecture on how to set up email accounts. I have worked remotely for years, and am a blog junkie, so I'm on the computer all day long.So while I'm not a technology neophyte by any means, I also didn't "grow up" with today's technology but learned it as an adult.

I'm now a "grandma" in my job — I think the person closest to my age is 32 (our CEO) and my clients are 24-28.It's important that I appear relevant with them (my credibility depends on my being able to relate to them, and although they certainly know I'm older, my bio on our website doesn't indicate just how much older), plus I've come to believe that one way to avoid aging and seeming out of it is to keep up with technology.

But how do I do that?I don't even know where to start.When I need to know something, I learn it (can't imagine my life without text messaging), but I don't even know what I don't know.How does one stay current?

Signed,

Not a Luddite…but not a whiz kid either

Dear Whiz,

You're talking to someone who still owns a TV with a VCR built into it, which I haven't upgraded because it still works.And this is not an ancillary TV, either.This is the TV I recapped on for ten years.Mr. Stupidhead is forever threatening to "accidentally" spill a beer inside it and force me to upgrade.It's not that I'm afraid of the technology per se; it's that I feel like I don't have time to learn new systems, especially when the current ones still work for me (although my definition of "work" is pretty elastic at times).

So, I sympathize, but I don't know how much I can help you.I will ask Mr. S to step over here and make a few suggestions.

I'd also advise, just off the top of my head, adding Lifehacker and Gizmodo to your RSS feed.The two blogs are civilian-friendly (read: "I understand what they're talking about…most of the time"), updated constantly, and even if you don't read every article, it'll give you an idea of what technology and gadgets are on people's minds.

You'd also probably enjoy Omar G's "All Tech Considered" segments on NPR, or keeping half an eye on Glark.org, where he sometimes updates with early-adopter thoughts.

And of course the readers will have some ideas for you in three, two…

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41 Comments »

  • Laura says:

    For the kind woman with the long dry spell it is NOT necessary to spill that kernel of info to any Tom, Dick, or Harry. Also girlfriend should try internet matchmaking sites like Adult Friend Finder or Passion to find a man who may dig it or be just into the sex.

    And with the 42 year old who is mostly tech savy I would say that as a 41 year old who is also mostly tech savy I recommed things like a fancy "Smart" phone or Blackberry type thing, also a Facebook account and an active Blog (which I think she said she has already). Warning! Don't say catchy phrases like Bling or fo' shizzle. We are too old for that. Sorry.

  • JS says:

    Um…we're not supposed to still have TV/VCR combos? Mine still works, and while I experience brief pangs of envy for my friends' plasma screens, I can't see shelling out that much money when my TV still shows me TV.

    Why no, I don't have any further advice for the advice-seekers–why do you ask? Moving along…

  • Glark says:

    I recommend Leo Laporte's This Week In Tech (aka TWiT). He has a whole network of video and podcast shows like Macbreak Weekly but TWiT is a good, causal internet/tech primer without too much technospeak. It's a fun podcast too.

    http://twit.tv/

  • Alison says:

    For Whiz, I would recommend regularly skimming the headlines on techmeme.com, which is a tech news aggregator. So if the NYT and Gizmodo and techcrunch all have stories on the latest gadget, or if there's a new rumor hitting the tech blogs about a CEO at a prominent tech company, the headlines will hit techmeme with links to the stories themselves. I work in digital media and think it's the best way to get a general look at what people in the field are talking about.

  • JK says:

    As someone who is in her 5th year of inadvertent celibacy, I really feel for the woman in her 11th year. Especially because I think I'm going to blink and I'm going to be right there with her. I also had a series of horrors after my last relationship ended (mom dying, losing job, cat dying, getting badly sick, and then culminating into depression–though all of these things happened 3 years after that relationship ended, anyway).

    I can't imagine dating anyone ever, as much as I wish I were part of a happy couple.

    But I think Sars' advice is spot-on. While it's nothing to be ashamed of (and I think there are probably many people out there with extended dry-spells), no new guy needs to be alerted immediately, and anyone she grows to care about won't likely care about something like that.

    Good luck to you in getting the other areas of your life stable.

  • Whiz,

    Two suggestions:

    1) Seriously, don't worry about it. Computers are my livelihood, and I know a lot of stuff that other tech-savvy colleagues don't. I realized long ago that I CAN'T keep up. Learning as you go, learning as you need to, is the way to go. Don't worry about what you're "supposed" to know – just stay interested in technologies that are of interest to you.

    2) If you'd like to broaden your horizons, think about getting involved with a local non-profit that could use some tech help, or with an online open-source project. Especially with open-source projects, you can be involved as much or as little as you like. For example, I'm a big fan of a content management system called Drupal (http://drupal.org). There are all kinds of ways I can participate – I can answer questions in the forums, contribute documentation to the online handbook, report bugs when I find them, test new versions of plugins – and in all those activities, there's an opportunity for me to learn a little bit more. And that stuff I'm learning is immediately relevant and applicable, because I'm using it to answer a question or write some documentation or whatever.

    The point is, I'm a huge fan of Drupal and use it whenever I get the chance – but there's a ton of stuff I don't know about it. It's just too big for me to be on top of everything. But I know enough to do the things I want to do, and to help others, and I know how to find the info I need when I draw a blank.

    People who have interests and keep learning about their interests are relevant and interesting at any age. Good luck, and have fun!

  • Margaret in CO says:

    Cat…I'd tell after. And truly, it's like riding a bicycle. (Except I can't figure where to put the clothespins & playing cards*) You'll be okay.

    Hattie, no matter where he is or what he's doing someone somewhere is sick of his shit. That's my theory of exes. (Who knows, maybe he's hurling that cane that he twirled 'round his diamond ring finger…)
    It's easy to idealize a guy when you're not dealing with his mother or his checkbook or the skid marks in his underpants. Try to remember the things he did that made you clench your jaw and roll your eyes, because he was never as perfect as your memories are. You don't want the guy, you want the IDEA of the guy.

    Whiz, you're a young whippersnapper and your newfangled gizmos confuse and anger me. Heh.
    I personally haunt the TECH section of CNN to learn about cool new stuff.

    (*maybe I'm so old no one did that as a kid?…you'd put 'em on the frame/fork to flap against the spokes so you'd sound like a motorcycle.)

  • I don't really have much to add. I read LH and Giz and techcrunch (but not TWiT, so thanks for the tip, Glark). What I find interesting is that for the past few years, we've seen geekiness come into vogue, which I would imagine is a bit peculiar for Whiz, having graduated high school in the mid-80s when the line between geeks and regular folk was more defined.

    I've always been a bit of a techie because I LOVE it. You certainly don't have to love it, but you're right: it IS much more a part of the mainstream these days to have more than a cursory knowledge of things with screens. I would recommend sitting down some night or weekend with a list of words and technologies that are foreign, and just hitting up Google and Wikipedia (which isn't perfect, but you'll get some decent info there).

    Good advice from all, so far, though. Good luck!

    And congrats to Sars on her new XBOX 360!

  • Omar G. says:

    I second the Leo Laporte suggestion. He's a really good broadcaster and doesn't talk down to his audience like some in the tech media. I was on one of the shows he co-hosts and he couldn't have been nicer. I really like Leo.

    The tech blogs I follow via are Engadget.com (I prefer it to Gizmodo), Wired, PC Magazine's tech product reviews, NY Times Technology, CNET News, Slashdot.org and Joystiq.com.

    CNET is about 80 percent crap, but I still follow for the 20 percent that isn't. Joystiq is only necessary if you care about video games and Slashdot tends to drift toward a lot of IT/programming talk that's way over my head. There's a lot of duplication, but I tend to just skim headlines anyway unless it's something i want to read.

    I listed to NPR's technology podcast as well as the Penny Arcade podcast when they put it out. Penny-arcade.com in general is a very good place to get the pulse of what gamers are thinking; the thrice-weekly newsposts are fantastic and the comic is much beloved in the geek/gamer community.

    Lastly, I would get on Twitter and follow a few tech people like Leo Laporte, Guy Kawasaki, N'Gai Croal and Veronica Belmont. to start with. I tend to get a lot of my tech news/links more quickly now over Twitter and those people consistently link to good stuff. (I'm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/omarg and tend to post a lot of tech stuff related to my work as well).

    Good luck!

  • Omar G. says:

    Whups, meant to say "the tech blogs I follow via RSS…."

  • La BellaDonna says:

    Wait, you can get TVs with VCRs built into them??? Where?
    But what will I do with my perfectly good VCR?

    And as for Cat, there are more folks in your situation than you might think. Once you're in a relationship where the need might arise, I'd suggest looking into the little female hormone applicators. They can make a renewal of physical intimacy enjoyable as it's meant to be … as opposed to discovering that there's been some shrinkage due to lack of use. That might scare a partner, and it certainly might be no fun for you. And yes, that's "hormones", not "KY Jelly". KY may lubricate, but it doesn't restore elasticity. Good luck with the rest of it, too; more folks are in those situations, too, than you might think. And hey – why DON'T you get a cat, while you're at it? They're affectionate and fun, and I know a couple who could use a home!

  • La BellaDonna says:

    *I should explain that the "scare a partner" arises when you shriek in surprise because when it's been 11 years or so, it takes awhile for the fit to adjust.

  • tulip says:

    Whiz – I second TWiT. It's very user friendly. I turned my step-dad onto it last year and he IS a luddite! He has found it informative without being preachy or over his head which, in tech information, is extremely rare.

    Cat – I agree with Sars. They don't need to know. I went through much the same thing about 13 years ago. My break only lasted about 4 years but it seemed long to me. I was also coming out of the medication/therapy cocktail and trying to rejoin the world. I found that keeping the emphasis off "dating" was key for me. I just tried to go out and make new friends. I reconnected with some people and also did some online meet ups. It took a lot of pressure off of me when I just called it a social life instead of trying to "find a boyfriend". Hobbies were also immensely helpful as they got me out with people who liked to do what I do and it was a good social lubricant. heh. Sorry I'm 12. :) Good luck!

  • Bev says:

    Up to date tech:
    I get newsletters from SiliconValley.com and read other parts when interested. You have to register, but there is no fee.
    I also get the CIRCUITS newsletter from nytimes.com

    After i registered, and picked what i wanted, the newsletters land in my email, all i have to do is read. I have to say, though, Tech changes so fast in so many directions, that nobody can keep up with everything. So I read what I can: the things specific to my specialty, and the general things I have listed above. I'm older to, so i have learned it is almost always better to ask about what i don't know than to pretend i know it.

  • funtime42 says:

    Might i recommend Seth Godin's blog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com) which is not necessarily tech but the real world, practical application of marketing as it intersects with 21st technology and business practices? You don't need to know the nuts and bolts that make the Blackberry work – you do need to know how to use it and how it impacts your business.

  • Soylent Green says:

    Cat Lady, agreeing with the no need to disclose thing, it's not as if your virginity grows back from disuse. But to go all pop psychology for a moment, maybe you're overthinking things because you are, as you say, unenthused.

    Obviously both depression and meds can effect your sex drive, so once everything is on a more even keel on that end, things might fall into place more naturally, including hopefully you and someone spunky falling into bed. Perhaps then you'll be so busy thinking about the task at hand, your born again virgin status will be forgotten.
    Good luck, if sounds like you've ahd a rough few years.

  • Sister M says:

    @ Not the Cat Lady: My situation is not identical, but similar enough to yours, and it's been nearly 11 years for me, too. So maybe there are More People Like Us than we might think.

    @ Sars: Thanks for the perspective in your answer to Not the Cat Lady. Consider it a twofer.

  • Sarah says:

    My mom is in her 60s (and is awesome) and the way she keeps up with technology is by taking lessons at the Apple store. You can buy a year's worth of personal training for not too much and they will work with you one-on-one on whatever you want to do. My mom might be more tech-literate than I am, so I think it's working!

  • Red says:

    Not a Luddite: I used my TV/VCR to tape "Heroes" this week (hey, it works and my aunt gave me some blank VHS tapes for Christmas so…). Definitely seconded the Leo LaPorte recommendation. Don't get too worried about whether or not you're "with it" all the time. I'm 25 and as much as I love technology, there are whole areas that make my eyes glaze over (TCP/IP stuff, for instance).

    Not Quite a Cat Lady: I think Sars' advice is spot on. Don't obsess over it and if you meet someone and the two of you get serious, you could bring it up in the vein of "here's something you might not know about me…" If it makes you feel any better, I didn't have sex at all until earlier this year, for various reasons.

  • Anonymous says:

    @ Soylent Green: No, but your hymen can grow back, as discovered by my Mom during her first ladyparts examination in ten years. My mom has been separated from my Dad for ten years and hasn't dated anyone since then. We share a gynocologist, who had to pause mid-exam and confirm with my mom that I'd been delivered vaginally, twenty years ago. Good times!

  • Adrienne says:

    For Whiz Kid:
    Chalk me up as another TWiT fan. Leo Laporte has been one of my favorite tech writers/tv personalities since back when he was on TechTV (which then turned to G4 and then promptly circled the drain completely.) TWiT usually features panels of several tech peeps (of all ages, in fact, and almost all from the old TechTV days.) Other comforting fact about LaPorte: He is in your age demographic, if not older. And he seems like he'd be fun to have a beer with.

  • Debby says:

    Inadvertant celibacy.

    That? Is the term I wish I had when I went through my 2 years of no sex. Because it truly was not intentional, things just sort of happened that way, a marriage that ended (no sex the last 5-6 months of it), 6 months or so of nothing, then a year of a friendship becoming something more, but not turning into "all-the-way", that relationship ending resulting in my first honest to goodness Harlequin Romance Broken Heart, which left me crying in my pillow for 6 months.

    Add all that up, and you have 2 years. It was quite a surprise when I started doing the math.

    So……what I mean to say is that many of us have had long periods of time without sex for many different reasons, and not always intentionally. I am with SARS, I would wait until you've met someone who really interests you, say nothing until it actually happens, and then, if you are feeling nervous at that moment, vaguely say "It's been a while" and laugh. Trust me, if you are with someone you like, and feel comfortable with, it'll all come back to you.

    Good luck with everything.

  • Pandymonium says:

    I am a Cat Lady and couldn't be happier. It's been 12 years for me and I haven't the slightest intention of changing that. I am very much aware of what I am missing but experienced far more bad sex than good, so I'm fine with my decision. If a person were to add up the amount of time they spend on sex and partners and thinking about them and planning for them and worrying about them afterwards they'd realise what a waste it all was. I reckon all the time I saved means I am only 5, not 12 years older, since the last time I had sex!

  • Cat Lady – First of all, good on you for getting through all that hard stuff! It sounds like you've been through a lot, but you're getting yourself back on track now and that's seriously commendable! In terms of the celibacy issue, I really only have two things to say:
    1) Obstaining from sex doesn't mean that you're a failure in any way. Like you said, you went through a period of depression and it just wasn't a priority. Well, take that as a positive. You weren't going out and making bad decisions. You weren't wasting time on people you didn't care about. If you think about it that way, staying home and reading or whatever is a much better decision than going out and doing the reckless crap most of us do after breakups. It takes a smart person to know that they need time to heal and to take it.
    2) Just because being intimate with someone wasn't a priority at one point in your life doesn't mean it never will be again. There could most definitely be a day in the future where you want to jump back into things, so when it happens, just relax and go for it! Like Sars said, you don't have to go into detail about how long its been, but I would advise picking someone nice who you can be comfortable enough with to have a good time. The less stressed you feel about the person finding out your "big secret", the better a time you'll have. :)
    But right now, don't stress yourself out about it. It's not like there's a schedule somewhere that's marking all of your missed sex. Everyone's experiences are different. :)

  • Kida says:

    @Cat: I don't think your dry spell needs to be outed at all. As long as neither of you has a medical issue that should be brought up in the interest of ethics and full disclosure, it's not relevant. I've dated guys whose own insecurity drove their desire to know my full history ("How many men were you with before ME?"), and I figured out pretty quickly that those weren't the kinds of guys I needed to be with in the first place. Someone worthy of your time and attention won't try to pry that information out of you.

  • Audrey says:

    I'm afraid I don't have much of anything useful to add, but I'm quite proud of my 13-inch TV/VCR combo. It didn't strike me as strange until an old college friend said "You still have that thing?" He's my buddy, we've been together almost 10 years, and he still tapes shows reliably. Owners of retro combos unite, I say!

  • Robin in Philly says:

    Yay, fellow TWiTs!!! I'm so glad to see that others have beaten me to the recommendation, because Leo Laporte's show is fantastic. Funny, engaging, well-moderated, and good for both hardcore techies and those with a casual interest. My fiance and I listen together, and I have come away with a lot of useful information.

    Leo also takes care to introduce the panelists (who range from tech insiders to well-known personalities & actors) and THEIR websites/current projects/podcasts. If you find a person you like listening to or a topic that interests you, you can just look them up or start subscribing to their podcast. From TWiT, I hooked up with the Revision3 gang, Cranky Geeks, Mahalo and a few other tech networks. Good stuff!

  • John says:

    Hey, Cat — if/when you decide to go out with someone new, there's no reason to disclose your past dating/non-dating history until you get quite serious. Frankly, the *last* thing a potential new beau wants to hear about is all the people you went out with in the past — so if you don't mention anything about it, you will be perceived as courteous and forward-looking. And once things get serious, it won't matter anyway. And take heart — I went through a many-years-long dry spell myself, to the point I was serioously wondering if I'd forgotten how to fall in love, but now I'm six years into the best relationship of my life.

  • kmc says:

    Whiz –

    There have been great suggestions above for specific websites (I second the Lifehacker vote for non-geek readability), so I'll offer an overall thought: Just be open to technology.

    You don't sound like you have a problem with this, but I'm a somewhat tech-savvy 25-year old who works with people who immediately reject anything Web 2.0. Hear people talking about Twitter or Flickr or whatever? Google it – or log on to the site and mess around a bit.

    I don't think you necessarily need to be on all these sites either, but just be aware of them. It drives me nuts when people refuse to explore new technology because it didn't exist in their time. It's new for all of us at some point – I still can't get over how fast my little brother can text.

  • Cora says:

    Re: Cat Lady issues, I think we're all warped by TV and movies and advertising, and even things like Overheard in New York — I mean, it's funny, but you get the impression from all of this stuff that Everybody Else is having fantastic sex every night and you are weird weird weird if you don't. It's bullshit. Be who you are, even if that means sometimes thinking about it and missing it. All normal.

  • Karen says:

    Cat Lady,

    I went five years, in my MID TWENTIES without so much as a single date, because I was handling a metric ton of shit and that's what I needed. When I finally started dating again, I had some "warm up sex" without the need to tell my partners anything about my sexual history.

    It really, really helped me to take that time for myself. My SO now knows about this, but that's because I felt comfortable enough with him to tell him all of the causes for the dry spell. When you find someone you can tell the messed up stuff, not having sex for a while isn't a big deal.

  • rocketbride says:

    Cat: i'm with cora; there's way too much pressure in the media to be having sex all the time. i feel for you; although i was having sex until my marriage ended last year, it was infrequent and just about all of it was bad. when i hooked up with my boyfriend, i waited until after we'd had sex a couple of times before i told him that i hadn't had an orgasm in 5 years. 5. Years. since my son was conceived. and i didn't kill anyone in the meantime, so there you go.

    but i told him because i trusted him, not because i felt i had to. there will always be secrets you keep from your lover, and as long as they are not directly harmful (surprise! i have herpes!) they are simply part of being human.

    also, stephen fry, my gay celebrity boyfriend, went through a very public 8 years as a celibate. now he has a boyf, but what was chance soon became choice before they finally hooked up.

  • Hannah says:

    It's really great to hear all these Cat Lady responses–I was similarly insecure for a loooong time. For me, it was loss of virginity in the first place. (When I got a new OBGYN at 21 and I told her I was a virgin, she asked if that was on purpose. Well, no, actually. "Unintentional celibacy" is an awesome phrase–if not necessarily a fun thing in itself.) And even after the big First Time, it was another eight years or so of no boyfriend, not really dating a lot at all, and going anywhere from six months to two years at a time between doing the dirty. All of a sudden and totally by accident, I found a boy to whom I was not at all uncomfortable revealing these details. Even better, he doesn't give a shit.

  • Jennifer says:

    Yeah Cat, no need to mention it. (Though I am the girl who felt no need to tell the first guy she slept with that he was the first. We're both better off for the not knowing.) I think there's this idea that they'll be able to tell. But how? It's a little awkward? I mean, the first few times you're sleeping with a new person–there are always things to figure out. If it's something you want to share later on as part of a LTR when you're discussing your past, then fine. But really, there's no need. Besides, if it "takes a while for the fit to adjust"…he may not say it, but it will be an ego boost. :)

    Also, if you do decide to talk about any of this, don't go with the "I have a really horrible thing to tell you so brace yourself" approach. That will never lead to a happy result.

  • Once a "Not Quite a Cat Lady Yet" too says:

    Cat: I've been on both sides of an announcement of a long celibate period.

    I was in your shoes a few years ago (39, unintentionally celibate for 8 years) having experienced some similar events in my life. When I did meet someone, I mentioned my dry spell after doing the deed. It was a non-event. If anything, I think he was a little flattered that I chose him.

    On the other hand: When I was in my mid-twenties, on a second date the man said "I haven't made love to a woman in eight years, and I'd like to …" I can't remember exactly what he said after that, because I was creeped out by the discussion. I regret that I handled the situation so poorly. On the other hand, it probably worked out best for him. He met a mutual — and more emotionally mature — acquaintance who loved his willingness to be that vulnerable. So, mentioning it beforehand could be a good test of a man's maturity, heart and willingess to be intimate. Good luck!

    Whiz — I second Sars's recommendation on Lifehacker & Gizmodo. I started following them 18 months ago. Now I'm telling a number of my techy 20-something relatives about technologies and apps THEY'VE never heard of.

  • Annie F says:

    @ Cat. I second Sars in that I am not sure why you feel the need to disclose. I know when I am with someone, I really don't need to hear about the last time he had sex…my theory is as long as the number only goes up by one during our relationship, and that one is me, we're good. If you feel any need to say anything, the above suggestion of, "It's been a while," and leaving it at that works. But the bigger issue I see…are you craving it at all? If you have no drive, but perhaps want to, you may want to switch meds a bit. If you don't want to, though…good on ya. (though, if you have the drive and just want to break the spell, just go do it, no need to wait for a relationship:-)!).

    @ Luddite: I used to work in that industry, and while not that old still had no idea what the hell most people were talking about. Get on Facebook, watch a few TV shows like Gossip Girl (or whatever else they're talking about in your office), and read some of the advertising mags and maybe Fast Company. That's how I learned about a lot of things…or, the moment anyone said anything, I would go look it up. And, I think it is ok not to get or care about some of the stuff. For example…I have never understood the allure of Second Life, even though it was part of my job to like it and understand how it works.

  • La BellaDonna says:

    @Margaret in CO: Well, there are at least TWO of us. I totally did that thing with the playing cards/bicyle when I was a kid!

  • Margaret in CO says:

    LaBellaDonna, wasn't it fun? We were noisy girls, huh?

  • Linda says:

    "On the other hand: When I was in my mid-twenties, on a second date the man said "I haven't made love to a woman in eight years, and I'd like to …" I can't remember exactly what he said after that, because I was creeped out by the discussion."

    Bleh. For real. That is not second-date talk, nor should anyone try to get laid by making reference to the fact that you'd REALLY be doing him a favor.

    Where I most want to agree with so many people in this discussion is that people get UNBELIEVABLY twisted by movies and television, I think, to believe that every uniting of two people through sex is, from the first time, some sort of balletic wonder, unless you are FLAWED FLAWED-Y FLAWED, in which case (1) it will be like an IKEA bookcase where nothing lines up the way it's supposed to and the dude will hop out of bed going, "Well, this never happened during sex with that woman you knew in college who was totally a bitch to you, who coincidentally I slept with last week, so clearly you are out of alignment," OR (2) you will be doing just fine until The Moment Is Upon You, at which point you will spontaneously wig out and start screaming; OR (3) right after your shirt comes off, the dude will hand you a form entitled "Sex Information Disclosures" that says "If there's anything that might make me think twice about having sex with you, you should disclose it on this form; did you need a pen?" OR (4) at the conclusion of the experience, the guy will say, "Well, THAT was a disappointment."

    If you have any business having sex with the person in the first place, none of those things will happen. Generally, in my experience, people are pleased enough at the idea that they are about to have sex with you that they're not sitting around looking for reasons to bail out. And honestly, as others have noted, it will be your first time with this person in EVER, which is really more relevant than the fact that it will be your first time with anyone in [X] years. It will be a little awkward — but not because of the eleven years. It will not be perfect immediately — but not because of the eleven years. You may not fit each other's styles, let alone…other things, but not because of the eleven years.

    If something hurts, you can always disclose that it hurts and do something else. If something is uncomfortable, if you're nervous — these things can happen anyway. Don't make it a bigger deal than it needs to be. You will be astonished — ASTONISHED — at how self-consciousness you are sure will be crippling evaporates in the presence of a person who is genuinely good to you.

  • I like cats says:

    Cat — I'm 36 and haven't had sex in around 6 years. I love orgasms and know how to make them happen, so I don't feel deprived. (I do miss the intimacy with another person sometimes, but I'm still not ready for a relationship and having sex outside of a committed relationship is not my style.) Anyway, I'll spare the back story, I'm just leaving another comment to say there's more of us out there than you might think. I hope it helps.

  • Cyntada says:

    Margaret, I totally did that thing with the bike spokes! I also took the commercially-produced Noisemaking Device *off* the Big Wheel, so I could ride it in front of my neighbor's house when their baby was sleeping.

    Whiz, I'm not many years behind you, and frankly am more amazed at the amount of younger people that don't know jack about their computers and how they work. Maybe our generation gets into computers for their own sake because such things didn't exist when we were young, and therefore it's fascinating to know what makes them tick. (Full disclosure, I work in graphics, and many artists also seem to be Mac geeks, so maybe that is just my narrow range of experience.)

    Agree with those who suggest to just "know what you know" and Google new things if it seems like everyone else is on it already. It's not 8th grade where you'll have to sit at the nobody table if you show up with the wrong phone or something. That said, if you have access to a brick-and-mortar workplace, see if you can find the hacker den, and drop in with a question. Wedged in between the light sabers and the Star Trek collectibles, usually there are people who love to help other people get excited, and informed, about technology. You need to know something, they'll be glad to fill you in.

    By the way, I am not being stereotypical about that… I had to ask a software question at work recently, and needed a walk anyway so I found the guy's office. Besides the top-end video editing gear and the art department's stash of technical supplies, there was indeed a fine collection of Star Trek memorabilia, including no less than three posters detailing the innards of the Starship Enterprise. And? An entire array of light sabers mounted on the wall like fine swords. (I would have killed for that collection when I was nine and begging my dad to take me to Star Wars *again*!)

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