Dear Em & Lo: I’m a College Freshman Who’s Never Been Kissed


Hi Em & Lo,

So I’m a freshman in college and I have never dated before or even been kissed. Sometimes I really feel like I’m missing out. I’m pretty friendly, but is it bad that I still haven’t had a relationship yet? What should I do? Help!


Never Been Kissed

Dear N.B.K.,

Regular readers to this site will know that we’re pretty prudish when it comes to talking about our own sex lives. For one thing, we think it’s a mistake to assume that what’s true for us will be true for you. And for another, we’re prudes! There are plenty of other sex columnists out there willing to bare it all (sometimes quite literally: We once saw Tristan Taormino insert a butt plug live on stage!), and more power to them. That’s just not our bag.

That said, we’ll make an exception today. This is from Em:

I didn’t have my first kiss until the summer before I went off to college, so I had barely been kissed when I showed up as a college freshman. I never dated in high school, never kissed anyone, never locked braces with anyone, never spent seven minutes in the closet with anyone (or whatever that game is that everyone else seemed to play and I only read about in Judy Blume novels). And it wasn’t like this changed overnight when I showed up on campus, either — it wasn’t until the very end of my freshman year that I had my second kiss (for the record: kind of disappointing).

Sophomore and junior years led to a few more disappointing hook-ups, and it wasn’t until my senior year that I actually dated someone.

Sure, at times I felt like I was missing out. At times I wondered what was wrong with me. At times I was convinced that if only I didn’t struggle with acne and debilitating shyness, I’d be the belle of the ball. But looking back, I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss out — in fact, I don’t know anyone who particularly enjoyed dating in college (or “dating” in college, a.k.a. drunken hook-ups).

You’re young! It’ll happen! Maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe not until after college, who knows. Don’t rush it, don’t let anyone make you feel like a weirdo, and definitely don’t drink heavily to try to make it happen (worst idea ever, I can report).

And yes, eventually I did have a second relationship — after college. I had a bunch more, in fact — some good, some bad, some indifferent. I got my heart broken once and my ego hurt a hundred thousand times. And then I fell in love and got married.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss out on anything wonderful — in fact, I’m pretty sure that my college experience would have been way less fun if I’d been hooking up on a regular basis.

In the meantime, just try to enjoy everything else that college has to offer. (You have no idea how many times we say to each other, “I just want to go back to college and actually appreciate it.”) A cappella group singing, anyone?

On your side,

Em & Lo




  1. I also went to college without having had my first kiss. Eventually happend during the spring semester my freshmen year. While there were many kisses and hook ups in college, the better dating came after college. There are a few times that I think I may have missed out by not dating in high school but then I think about how awkward dating must be when you don’t have your own space and to live with your parents. Not dating in high school means avoiding having to tell your parents about every date (or lie to them about it) and not having to resort to strange and public locations to be alone.
    Its not bad that you haven’t been in a relationship. It makes you more interesting. Be involved in things in college and meet people. Develop friendships. It will happen.

  2. I don’t know anyone who particularly enjoyed dating in college

    At my college, in contrast, over half the alumni ended up marrying other alums, generally (though not always) as a result of during-college relationships. I’d say people usually had as satisfactory relationships there as anyone does between 18 and 22. I can only think of one guy I dated then whom I’d cross the street to avoid now (and that’s because in my opinion he’s changed a lot — he was quite a decent guy when I first knew him). Several of them are still good friends. But then we were generally friends first.

    I’d concentrate on friends, generally, because friends are always important and you may well get to know people who will be important in your life for decades to come.

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