By Maria Yagoda
Updated June 20, 2016 05:40 PM
Credit: Snap Stills/Rex USA

There are many reasons people choose to have sex. There are also many reasons people don’t have sex, even it’s something they desperately want.

These 24 adults took to Reddit to open up about what’s stopped them from losing their virginity – and how it has impacted their lives.

• “I’m 33. I never learned how to ask a girl out, even though several of them asked me out, and it led to some very shallow relationships. In university, I was in clubs that kept me very busy and had little time for a social life. I got into World of Warcraft for a year, picked up drawing as a hobby … and then suddenly I was 27 and worked in an office where every girl is at least 40 and usually divorced with kids, and I honestly had no idea how to ask a girl out or even realize if she was interested in me. Fast forward five years. I have a relatively successful career, work 12-hour days and … well, nothing has changed. I thought about helping nature a bit by paying for it. But the one time I ended up in a bar of ill-repute, I was disgusted. I am honestly not worried about not having had sex. I’m worried about living my entire life alone.”

• “I have social anxiety problems, and between college and work, I have no time for a social life anyways. Even if I had time for a social life, it wouldn’t really work out anyways because I don’t share the same interests that most people do, and the only other people who share my interests also suffer from social anxiety problems. I’ve tried having an interest in what people in general do, like going to bars or parties and talking with them, but it’s just not working.”

• “I’m a 28-year-old female, and I don’t give a f— about f—ing. It’s not like a hatred for relationships or anything, it’s just like … imagine a hobby that other people have, where you just aren’t interested in it at all. You don’t care to hear about it, to do it yourself, and you don’t see why people want to do it. It’s just not that fascinating to you. And before anyone asks, yes, I’ve gotten myself off before. It’s just okay.”

• “I’m only 21, but so far I’d say I’m right in the most uncomfortable age for it. Everyone around me is f—— like rabbits and/or popping out babies, and I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs.”

• “I’m still holding onto it until marriage. I have a girlfriend, and she is the same way. It’s pretty cool to know that we’re both going to be able to have sex for the first time with each other. I’m old-fashioned, and I really believe that sex is something to be shared within the bonds of marriage.”

• “I am a 24-year-old female virgin, not by choice. I thought for a while that it was because guys didn’t like me, but I’m now coming to terms with it probably being due to social anxiety and low self-esteem. I’ve never had a boyfriend, which shouldn’t make me feel like s—, but it does.”

• “I was 29 when I finally did the deed. The reason? I’m female, and I was absolutely convinced that every heterosexual man found me unattractive. Mostly because I was fat. So I lost weight, but I didn’t know I’d have sagging skin as a result. So I was still scared that men would find me unattractive. Also, once you get to a certain age, people will wonder what’s wrong with you if you’re still a virgin. Yes, even if you’re female. A lot of guys think that a girl is going to get super attached if she’s a virgin. Or they assume you’re prudish or super religious. (Neither applies to me.) As a result, when I lost my virginity (drunken one-night stand), I didn’t tell the guy because I was worried he might not want to sleep with me.”

• “I’m a 25-year-old virgin. Originally, it was due to religious reasons. As time went on, though, I never found a man I felt comfortable enough to lose my virginity to, one that I felt connected to and trusted. I want to have sex, but I guess I’m old-fashioned in that I really want my first time to be with someone I have an emotional connection with.”

• “I’m 31, and I’ve still got my v-card intact. It’s never even been close to getting punched. I’ve never been in a relationship or dated anyone. The closest I came was sort-of casual dating with a coworker that ended a couple weeks ago – we kissed once, but that was it. That’s another story though.”

• “26-year-old virgin reporting. Honestly, I was never very social when I was young. Also, my parents were Muslim, and I wasn’t allowed to date. Some rebelled against it, but I remained a good boy (hate myself for it now). I wasn’t very popular with girls, so I’m not sure how much being rebellious would have helped. I sometimes consider losing it to a hooker, but I’m not sure about it.”

• “I am a woman, and I was almost a 40-year-old virgin. As to the why, well, lots of reasons. I grew up in a very strict and religious setting, so I didn’t have sex because of that. Then for years, it was lack of opportunity. All it takes is rejection at a critical time, and your self-esteem is nuked. By the time I was 30, I just assumed that no one would want to ever have sex with me, so I didn’t even bother. Next thing I knew, I was months away from turning 40, and I’d never experienced anything sexual other than kissing and having my ass or boobs grabbed through clothes. I decided I needed to do something about that, so I did. I met a guy through online dating, and we had sex. He had no idea I was a virgin at the time – I mean really, who’s a virgin at 40? Apparently enthusiasm does go a long way, and all that theoretical knowledge can be put to good use. We had sex a week before I turned 40.”

• “I’m a 29-year-old woman with mild Asperger’s (diagnosed). It really hasn’t impacted me too much otherwise – I live independently, work full-time, dress pretty well, participate in a community chorus, do volunteering, and am currently in grad school. I’m average size and generally considered cute. I just have trouble enough making lasting friendships, let alone getting to sex. I’ve been on a few dates and have an online dating profile, but not much has come of it. I have a low sex drive, so it’s not a huge deal, but, yeah, I feel like a freak sometimes, and I feel bad for any guy in my situation, because where women get slut-shamed, men get virgin-shamed (which in many cases leads to resentment toward women). I wish there was a way I could just get this over with.”

• “I’m a 30-year-old virgin male. I’m not sure where to begin. I was never able to form any lasting friendships. My family moved a lot where I was young, and I found a way to get bullied at every school I went to. It was so bad that some girls pretended to want to begin a relationship with me so as to get me to let my guard down. Next thing I knew, they were telling everyone about the latest awkward thing I attempted, and I would never hear the end of it. Nowadays, I have huge trust issues. I became an adult, but I’m really an eternal teenager. I do nothing but play video games outside of work, and every other hobby bores me to tears. Really, I don’t play games because I find them entertaining, but rather because it’s the only effective way I found to kill time. I can’t play sports due to chronic physical problems: because of an accident I had when I was 21, my back, my knees and my feet shoot up in pain if I exert myself. Doing so much as vacuuming my home has me needing to sit down and recover for a while. I visited a bunch of doctors, and most of them said, ‘There’s nothing you can do about it.’ I go out now and then, but I keep to myself. I never learned how to talk to girls. I don’t talk to people when I go out. I bring a book with me to read, and aside from that, my goal is to eat/drink something really good. Honestly, I’m terrified of pushing social interaction beyond mere acquaintance. I grew up with my entire social behavior scrutinized and used against me. I’ve kissed before, and it left me on the verge of having a panic attack. I can’t approach the subject of love/romance/relationships at all without over-thinking everything. I feel like I’m too mentally broken down to even consider the possibility that sex would happen to me at any point in my life.”

• “I’m a male 24-year-old virgin. I want to have sex with someone I am attracted to. I can’t have sex with the people I am attracted to. It’s a vicious cycle that will forever haunt me.”

• “The gist of it is that I am 34, and I’ve never been on a date. It’s not for lack of trying. I honestly believe it’s due to the fact that I’m severely physically deformed, I’m in a wheelchair, and I have burn marks over most of my body, including my face. I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself. I don’t sit in the basement making memes lamenting how women don’t go for ‘nice guys.’ I try to live my life. The fact is, though, that constant rejection and lack of human contact can really take its toll on someone, especially when it goes on for years and years at a time. People always like to say with a wave of their hand, ‘Oh, looks don’t matter. Don’t worry – someone is out there for you!’ before they go back on with their lives and don’t ever think about it again. Ooh! Ooh! I know! You just need to have a friendship and let it blossom from there! Okay, great. I would LOVE to have friends. Can you point me in the direction of some people who will actually be comfortable around me and not just be polite and count the minutes until the deformed guy who’s making everyone uncomfortable with his presence leaves? All in all, I’ve probably asked about 500 girls out on a date, and I haven’t had anyone say yes yet. This is where people’s advice of ‘just get yourself out there!’ makes me want to pull my hair out. No, I haven’t given up. Just because the first 500 said no doesn’t mean that 501 will also say no. However, getting generic advice from someone who has never been in that situation and doesn’t know (or care) about the intricacies of the situation does not make me feel better.”

• “I’m a 26-year-old virgin. I don’t really have problems talking to girls, or to anyone for that matter. I get told I’m handsome, and people always ask me why I don’t have a girlfriend. Honest answer? I have no idea. I make girls laugh and generally have interesting conversations, but for some reason, I can never escalate it to sex. I’ve read and seen videos where people say you have to be more forward about wanting sex, but I can’t bring myself to do that. I often feel like there’s something seriously wrong with me.”

• “I’m in my 30s. I think part of it is that everyone around me is in these horrible relationships. My parents have a terrible marriage. I know people who are just beaten down by their wives. The screaming, the fighting, the drama … it’s exhausting. So I think I got real picky (maybe too picky) of the girls who I am interested in. Maybe seeing that messed me up. But then sometimes I’m not sure if I’m even sexually attracted to women. Or if I’m asexual. I don’t know.”

• “I’m 24 and a virgin. In fact, I’ve never even kissed a guy; any time a guy has tried I’ve turned them down. The reason I’m a virgin is because I want to wait until I am married to have sex, as I’m a Christian. I don’t have anything against kissing before marriage – just haven’t wanted to kiss the guys who have tried. I think most people I know would be shocked to know I’m a virgin. Where I live right now, there are no other Christians, and while my friends here do know that I’m a Christian, I feel that me being a virgin is something personal, and my reasons for it are personal, so it’s not something that we talk about.”

• “I’m waiting until I’m married. I just feel like sex would mean a whole lot more if I only had it with one person in my entire life. I feel like it would not only make the sex feel more valuable, but also make my connection with my future wife stronger, if we’re both the only ones we’ve been with.”

• “I’m 38, and being a virgin doesn’t really affect my day-to-day. I mean, it’s not like you go to Home Depot and they offer a special discount if you’ve had sex. At least they’ve never offered me … I sometimes wonder if there’s something that I’ve missed. I wonder if it would be good to finally fit that piece of the puzzle.”

• “I’ll be 34 in a few months, and not only am I a virgin, I’ve never even kissed a girl before. I was home-schooled all through middle school and then put into public high school at the end of ninth grade because my parents wanted me to experience the social part of high school. It was a complete disaster. Everyone hated me; I never made any friends. So while most people have had relationships and experience during high school, I was a complete outcast and never got anywhere with anyone. There were people who thought I was gay. I ended up dropping out. During my twenties, life was quite hard. We moved around a lot, I never made any real friends, and I never got to know any woman long enough to develop a relationship. I decided to go to college and get a degree to better my life. There was one girl there I was interested in, but she was with someone else, so that never worked out. I finished college, got my degree and went to work. Eventually, they hired a woman I was interested in, and after talking to her, I finally managed the courage to ask her out. Now, keep in mind, I’m 29 at this point … asking a girl out for the first time in my life. I get rejected, and she actually slumps her head like she’s disappointed I would even ask the question. The years go by again, I start talking to another girl, and before I can even really formulate anything, she asks me if I’m interested in her, to which I respond in the positive, and she tells me she could never see me that way. Sigh … So now we come to last year. I find a girl who’s actually interested in me. But without going into detail, she turned out to be a bit crazy, and even though she ended up rejecting me before the relationship really started, I believe now I actually dodged a bullet. Despite having spent thousands to see her (we were in different states at the time), I am honestly happy now that it didn’t work out. So here I am, a 33-year-old, trying to find someone. Because I have come to the conclusion that I hate being alone. I want someone in my life!”

• “I’m 31, and everyone knows. I’m not ashamed of it anymore, as I was in my mid-20s as 30 was creeping near. It does get frustrating at times, and when I’m alone with my thoughts, that’s usually the first thing that pops into my mind. It has nothing to do with religious purposes or anything wrong with my little guy down there. I just haven’t had any real luck with the ladies. I’ve been urged by friends to just go and pay for it, but I haven’t found myself to be that desperate, yet.”

• “I’m approaching 40, and there’s no change in sight to my status, so I’ll chime in. Virginity doesn’t have any direct effect on my life. Being a virgin is to sex what being an atheist is to religion. Other people spend a lot of time doing it, and it seems to make them happy, but it simply isn’t a part of my life. Think about if you’ve never tasted chocolate in your life, you would then also never crave its delicious flavor, since you wouldn’t know what you were missing. Believe it or not, being a virgin doesn’t actually come up in conversation all that often.”

• “I’m a 30-year-old dude. At my work, a lot of my female coworkers liked to flirt and joke with me a lot, some even joking about hooking up. I feel strange dating/mating coworkers, so I never really jumped on those chances. Nonetheless, I get a lot of attention from the girls. It wasn’t until I decided to hang out with one of them – one of the girls I knew who had a crush on me. We just had coffee. She starts talking about her past boyfriends and how she’s in her early twenties and has already had a dozen of them. I was nervous, and she asked me how many girlfriends I’ve had. I kept trying to dodge and weave, but it just made her more persistent on asking me. I finally admitted that I’ve never had a girlfriend before and that I’ve never even been kissed before. She thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. When she realized what I am, she suddenly went from being attracted to being disgusted. Coffee ended shortly, and she stopped talking to me since then. Soon, all the girls stopped talking to me. I went from being this guy who got a lot of attention to being a nobody, like I was dead. I felt it. They treated me like I was this gross human. It’s like I grew this giant tumor on my face overnight that I can’t see but somehow it turns people off.”

Stories have been edited from Reddit for length and clarity.