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dear fifi

Dear Fifi: I'm 26 years old and have never been on a date or had a relationship

Tuesday is the worst day of the week, except for Dear Fifi. A bold claim, but I’m making it.


It’s an unfortunate truth that many people in the world are unduly motivated by both pettiness and the desire for money. With that in mind, I’d like to confess that I bet some colleagues in my day job that I couldn’t get the word “footwell” into my column this week, and as a result of this introductory paragraph, I am now €10 richer.

The more money, the more problems – send either my way here


Dear Fifi,

At what point does it get embarrassing to have never even had a date, much less a relationship or sex?

As a 26 year old woman, I’m surrounded by friends in long-term relationships, getting hitched, and having babies. Even the single ones have had plenty of romantic experience. Meanwhile the closest thing I’ve had to a boyfriend was some poor, sweet sap I asked to the movies and ditched in a panic when I was 14.

I guess my question is, when the right guy does come along, how do I navigate the inevitable “So hey, I’m a 38 year old virgin who’s never even had a date. No pressure” conversation?

The funny thing about dating, relationships, love, attraction and all the rest of it is that we’re bashed over the head quite a lot from a young age with the notion that it’s universal and tends to happen in one particular linear way. In reality, everyone comes to love and relationships differently and in a way that is unique to them. No two people’s experiences are the exact same. (That said, there are a lot more people in a similar place to you than you might think. Honestly.)

Your experience happens to be that you’ve been single up to now and not seeing anyone. Does that mean you’ll do that forever? Not necessarily. You’ve got friends who are committed to relationships, friends who are single and dating, and I imagine as you get older, these permutations will only get more diverse and varied. Things change – and the best time for change is when you’re ready.

It’s easy for me to lay things out in black and white terms and tell you not to be embarrassed, because your situation is not embarrassing, but that doesn’t much help how you feel.

What you don’t mention is whether or not you’re happily single, or whether you’re lonely, bored, frustrated, feeling left out, awkward, apprehensive, scared or anything else as a result of not engaging with anyone romantically. Figure out what your current situation makes you feel. Do you want to try dating? If so, what’s stopping you? Can you work on that? Ask yourself these things and be honest in your answers.

If you’re certain you’re happy as you are, that’s that. But if you’re not content with how things are, then it’s up to you to take action and change your situation.

Take the plunge. Get onto a dating site/app and experiment with chatting to people. Go on a few dates – accept in advance that at first it’ll feel weird, and there may be bad dates. It’s all part of it.

The thought of arranging a date might fill you with dread. Go easy on yourself, but also push yourself out of your comfort zone. Worrying about these things is far worse than actually doing them. The first date will be the toughest, then it’s DONE.

You don’t need to tell anyone how many dates you’ve been on before – that goes for whether it’s 500 or whether it’s 0. It’s none of their business either way. And you don’t need to have “a line” prepared about your history, because you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone.

As for the sex part, I’d say worry about what’s in front of you. You may decide you really like someone you go on one of these experimental dates with, and want to make your history their business. Take this as it comes. Explain your reasons and hope that they get it. Forget ‘em if they don’t. Don’t worry about how you’ll explain something to someone hypothetical one day down the line. Worrying about what hasn’t happened yet is a pure and simple waste of time.

You’re not 38 and explaining to your sexual history to a partner, you’re 26 and on a first date. Take your time – and take it one step at a time. And while I feel like the mother in Mean Girls saying this, be safe!


Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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