So you’re 18 and you haven’t had your first kiss
Me too. Let’s talk about it.
It feels like from the moment we’re old enough to talk and form relationships people start to talk about love. You could barely glance at someone of a different gender expression than you without the whole world bursting into a chorus of K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Crushes, rumors, questions and cooties flew around our heads like a whirlwind, and at first it was fun! It was giggling and thinking hugs were the most scandalous thing in the world. It was daises plucked from the recess field and games of tag.
But as we got older, things started to change.
I don’t know about you, but I know that for me at some point boys crushing on you became a measurement of your worth. Suddenly, I was watching all these other girls get fifth grade valentines, seventh grade first kisses, and first high school boyfriends, wondering is there something wrong with me? Why don’t boys like me? Am I not pretty enough? Not nice enough? Too loud? Too weird? Too much? Too too too, not enough not enough not enough on and on and on and on. So it’s no surprise that as I prepared for college all I could think about was that I had never had my first kiss or my first relationship and everyone else would have been through those scenarios a billion times already. I loved myself, but I still couldn’t help but ask myself why not me? Am I making this up? Why do I feel this way? It felt like there was so much pressure around something that was supposed to be so “amazing”.
And turns out, I’m not alone in these feelings.
In conducting a survey of college students I found that
18% had never had their first kiss
21% had never been in a relationship
57% felt that they didn’t have solid/’tons’ of dating experience
And the REAL kickers
75% assumed everyone in college would have tons of sexual/romantic experience
50% felt that there was a stigma/pressure to have experience
Isn’t that crazy? Despite over half of those I interviewed saying they felt they didn’t have solid dating experience, a whopping 75% of those same people assumed others would have a lot. Plus, can we just stand in awe of the similarity in percentage between those who made that assumption and those who felt there was a stigma around the issue? So many of us come into college with this idea that we need to have been romantically involved, be romantically involved, or get romantically involved soon or you’re not meeting some status quo. Those ideas instilled in us from childhood predispose us to feeling empty without some kind of romantic history. Not to mention the media we’re surrounded by screams those same sentiments every time we open our phones or turn on the tv.
In that same survey, college students expressed how much tv shows and movies push hook-up culture and this exaggerated, high stakes depiction of high school life. Shows like Riverdale, Glee, The Vampire Diaries, Euphoria, and on and on revolve so much around the romantic and sexual lives of teenagers. Some people can see themselves in these shows, and that’s great, but for many teenagers these shows describe intricate relationships and love triangles that they don’t experience at all! It helps to foster these ideas that your ‘love life’ should look like that, no matter how ridiculous that thought might be. (Because trust me, you will never meet a teen boy like Damon or Stefan. Sorry, that’s just the truth) These shows and certain movies also push a narrative that being a virgin or single is almost a death sentence, an insult. Just look at these movie quotes:
“You’re a virgin who can’t drive” (Clueless)
“This could be our last night on Earth. You don’t want to die a virgin do you?” (Independence Day)
“There comes a time when it is psychologically impossible for a woman to lose her virginity- you can’t wait too long, you know.” (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues)
It’s ridiculous! No wonder so many of us are obsessed with this idea of virginity and relationships, it’s practically all we hear about. So, how do we beat it? How do we change the story and our own perceptions? How do we keep insecurity from creeping in?
Well, here’s what I think we have to remember to help ourselves and each other through these pressures.
This is me to you, me and you, looking right into your eyes.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Look back at those statistics. Look around you. Heck, look at the opening of this article! You. Are. Not. Alone. So many other people are in your same position, and even if they aren’t right where you are they feel this pressure weighing on them. You’re not weird, you’re not the only one, and you certainly aren’t wrong.
YOU ARE NOT UNLOVABLE.
Read that again. You are so lovable. There is nothing wrong with you. Everyone moves at their own pace, and you don’t need a relationship to prove that you’re lovable. You’re deserving of love in every way, shape, or form.
YOU DON’T NEED A RELATIONSHIP TO BE WORTH SOMETHING
You don’t need a relationship to be worthy of ANYTHING! You are enough, you are amazing, you’re the full package! A partner, though they might make you feel complete, doesn’t complete you. You’re already complete, all of yourself that you build and cultivate is what gives you your worth and substance.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT IT.
Don’t be afraid to talk about not having experience! It’s not weird and it doesn’t make you the “odd one out”. You might find that whoever you’re talking to is just as clueless as you, or maybe the opposite, and they could give you some advice. Relish in your singledom, wear it like a badge!
DON’T SHAME THOSE WHO DO HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE
Slutshaming and putting down others who’ve dated a lot of people contributes to the same pressures discussed in this article. It pushes this same idea that there is a “right” way we should be doing romantic/sexual experiences. The truth is, as long as you’re being responsible, safe, and treating yourself and others with kindness- DO WHAT YOU WANT.
KNOW THAT THERE IS NO SET TIMELINE FOR ANY OF THIS
There is no deadline for romance. There’s no deadline for beating your insecurity around it. There is no checklist of things that will get you to that perfect balance of security. It’s constant inner work and affirmations. The tips I just gave are helpful but remembering and utilizing them can be hard! It’s hard to fight your own thoughts discrediting your experiences and confidence. There’ll be days where you cry over these feelings. Days where it doesn’t even cross your mind. Days where you feel completely comfortable on your own. Days where you”re yearning for more. That’s all okay! Let yourself hit bumps and turns and loops. Your first kiss or relationship will come on their own time, and the path in which you learn to be comfortable with that is your own to forge. Go forward knowing the unknown is stretched out before you, and it is so, so exciting.
So, collegiettes, you’re 18 and you haven’t had your first kiss?
That’s okay! That’s 1000000000000x more than okay. And I hope this article helped you feel that way!