Relationships

My First Date Was at Age 30

My First Date Was at Age 30

My first date wasn’t much different from any of the dates I’ve had lately — sending a photo of my outfit to the group text, the nerves (the incredible nerves!), wondering if conversation would carry, curious if they’d want to kiss me — and that’s because my first date wasn’t that long ago. In fact, it was just last year…

Growing up extremely religious, I was taught that dating or acknowledging your sexuality as a person were all lumped into a “don’t do that/don’t talk about that” category, on top of the laundry list of other things I wasn’t allowed to do (including dancing, wearing pants, going to the movies, wearing jewelry and putting on makeup). My parents told me that guys only wanted sex, and to stay away from them, so all through middle school and high school I did, even though I desperately wanted a first kiss and a prom date and a boyfriend. My adolescence came and went, with nary a boyfriend or kiss to report.

I went to a small, mostly white Evangelical Christian university, and almost everyone seemed to be dating to get a “ring by spring.” Let’s just say I wasn’t seen as “ideal wife” material. A guy I was best friends with/secretly in love with (who was white) told me, “If we ever dated my mom would… not like that.” He went on to date all our female friends, but not me. From then on, I saw myself as simply undateable, and all the while it seemed like every other weekend a new sorority sister got engaged. Being immersed in this high-stakes dating culture only made me want a relationship more — but for frantic reasons, not for fun, what-a-time-to-be-young-and-alive! reasons. I figured something was wrong with me — that everyone else had something I didn’t have. I tried to shift focus to friendships and school, but the ache remained. Post-college, I moved back to my hometown and the dating landscape ranged from bleak to non-existent. Everyone my age had already been married for a couple of years or had moved out of state. I quickly removed dating as an option for myself and decided to lean into my career instead.

Fast forward to coming to New York two years ago, at age 30. Moving here on my own made me feel empowered, like a new version of myself. I was starting over in this big city. One of the first things I did was download Tinder and Bumble and get to swiping. I became obsessed with finding a date, because I finally could without feeling guilty or completely hopeless!

My first date ever was with a super attractive guy (let’s call him Nick). I had obsessively planned everything, down to the cozy ambiance of the bar and the black camisole I wore on that freezing night. I didn’t, however, remember to eat anything that day. So, on an empty stomach, overflowing with nerves, I drank two cocktails and accidentally got drunk. The date was a bust anyway, because Nick talked non-stop about himself the entire evening and gave me what is hopefully the worst kiss of my life. My first date was in the books, and it was horrible, but I couldn’t help but be relieved to finally be a “dating person.”

Trusting my dating/relationship instincts — which I didn’t know I had — was a game changer. It turned out I was way better at all of this than I’d thought. I started seeing myself in a sexual and romantic way. I learned to touch and be touched without pulling away, to flirt and talk about sex and become comfortable with being desired. I grew heart-calluses after rejection, which hit extra hard those first few times. I taught myself to cope and move on.

Now that I’m on “the other side” of dating, I see all the ways hanging back paid off. For one, I don’t mind taking the lead, because why not? I think we build up outcomes in our heads and make them such huge deals, when in reality, nothing terrible will happen if I initiate the first kiss. I approach every date with the same level of open-heartedness and optimism, even though I’ve experienced some major heartbreaks — like breaking things off with someone I loved, who didn’t have the capacity to be in a relationship with me. I know what I want, and more importantly, what I don’t want in a person — and that is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned, ever.

When I looked up the definition of a late bloomer, I was surprised to see it described as someone whose capabilities aren’t yet seen by others — it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’d never thought about it that way before, and it was such a relief. When you grow up watching everyone else do something you feel like you should be doing, it seems like there’s a piece missing, when in reality my piece was intact the whole time. None of us automatically knows how to be in a romantic relationship — it’s ever-evolving. And I don’t think I would go back and try to change anything — in fact, I wish I could just tell myself that it would turn out even better than I expected and that I wouldn’t run out of time. After all, life is too short (and too long) to rush such a good and intricate thing.

What about you? Any other late bloomers out there?

P.S. Seeing my body with fresh eyes and your first kiss: what was it like?

(Illustration by Abbey Lossing for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Carol says...

    WOW! I thought I was alone in this world. I thought that I was overreacting after my first rejection….. Thank you so much for this post and for all those that made a comment. I just had my 2nd date (that was amazing), but at the same time, the first rejection. I also grow up in the same Christian environment. I got marry and after years of unhappiness, I got a divorce. Now, in the dating game. In each one of them, I feel like an episode of the bachelor >.<. Now I have the hope that I lost. I hope to be loved, hope to overcome my past self-worth frame, hope to overcome rejection, hope to owned my sexuality, and hope to not feel alone in the process. If you make a online support group, I will be there.

  2. dil says...

    Loved this post so much. Thank you for writing it. Enjoyed reading the comments too.

    Late bloomer as well. Grew up in a muslim, religious household. Did not date and have never been in a relationship. I only just arrived to dating and am very conscious of my lack of experience and my naiveté. My first date was at 29. First kiss at 30. Yet to have sex.

    Just putting myself out there and still learning how to be vulnerable, learning how to make space for someone, learning how to be physically affectionate, how to communicate my emotions and needs.

    God it’s been a tough, overwhelming and exhausting ride. I feel like I’m fumbling in the dark most of the time and bumbling my way through :) Anyway I’m here and I’m hopeful and I hope love will find me.

  3. Charlotte says...

    Thank you for this! I too went on (basically) my first date at age 30, after believing for a long time that if I just stayed pure and didn’t chase, somehow God would put the perfect man in my path, to sweep me up and lead me as I submitted in our complementarian marriage. I would have sex with one person, and my virginity would be the most important thing about me to my future husband.

    Safe to say, that didn’t happen. Eventually a therapist basically told me to start online dating. I had a few starts and stops, finally started having sex (guess what! Sex is great and it changes nothing about your value or worthiness of love! Mind-blowing!), and really quickly–like within 6 months–met the person I’m with for the long-haul.

    Other commenters mentioned feeling like they were “behind” when getting into their relationship with their person, and I can definitely relate to that. Early on, my boyfriend mentioned my inexperience in relationships a few times when we hit rocky parts. In fact, after 10 months we broke up for about a year and THAT year became one of the most important years of my life. I had to finally learn how to love myself, to thrive alone (instead of reverting back to my knight-in-shining-armor fantasy from my early adulthood). I dated and slept with all kinds of people. It’s like I got my entire 20s worth of dating in one year. Eventually, my boyfriend and I got back together and have been together (again) for nearly 2 years. I swear, that time dating other people and learning about myself in relationships and sexually is what made it possible for me and my boyfriend to be together for the long haul.

  4. I can relate! I also went to a small Christian college and quite a few of my friends got married before graduation. I have always been the girl that didn’t really date, but I moved to Thailand to teach and met my husband here. We were both 30 when we got married. Late bloomer (compared to many of my friends)? Yes. But happy and grateful? YES!

  5. Maria says...

    Didn’t realize how much I needed this essay, but thank you! Late bloomer, but also grew up around a drunken hookup culture — stay out at the bar late enough and you might end up with the guy you like. I have healthy friendships, a great job, very happily independent, but I feel like a freak that at 34 I’ve never had a serious relationship. My last crush was a work friend who, it turns out, had a long-distance girlfriend (it left me shaken that I could be fooled.) Anyway I am dedicated to making 2020 the year for me while also committing to healthy dating in the hopes of at least having some more fun romantically. Thank you again.

  6. Sarah K says...

    Wow I relate to this so much. I also came from a very religious family (my dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all pastors). Dating was only for marriage and sex was definitely for marriage only. For a while I just thought boys were gross, so it didn’t matter, but the older I got, the more my friends started dating and being in whatever versions of relationships you had whenever you’re in middle school and high school. I found myself longing to just even hold some boy’s hand as we walked down the hallway to class or wear their letterman jacket or be their homecoming date (anyone from Texas knows about mums and garters and that whole tradition). My friends all went to college and I went to an internship and watched more and more people couple up. That led to the interesting transition to being an adult where people could just hookup and not have relationships. But sex was still just for marriage according to that voice in the back of my head, even though my immediate family and I became less strict with our religious views. On top of all the religious dogma that screamed in my brain any time I thought about a boyfriend or sex, I was bullied in school for being overweight. Boys would dare other their friends to ask me out and see what I’d say, then laugh at me when I’d say yes. That led to the belief that every boy secretly thought I was unattractive and every compliment received by one was really some sick joke at my expense. Cut to me about to celebrate my own 30th birthday in a couple weeks and I only just went on my first real few dates this past year. I feel so mad sometimes about my upbringing and me being bullied because I’ve run from some really nice guys because of fears of inexperience or inadequacy. It’s been really difficult to allow myself to love and feel love or whatever the initial stages of that is. I still sometimes long for someone to hold my hand as we walk around a park or something cheesy like that, and I’m hopeful that one day I’ll find that person to do it. I’m just learning to be a little freer and open to possibility and reminding myself that I’m beautiful and deserve good things. (oops. I rambled. TL;DR – I relate! Thanks for sharing!)

    • Jill says...

      Omg Sarah K, I can so, so relate to this. I’m hoping you’ll see this comment because I just want you to know, you’re not alone!

      I too experienced the random cruelty of pre-teen and teenage boys. The same thing happened to me in 6th grade, but about letting a boy copy my homework. He made some knowing remark to another boy about how I’d be sure to also allow him to copy off my hard work while I was within earshot, implying I was so desperate to be liked that I’d agree to anything! It cut to the bone and even though it wasn’t directed at me in a strictly romantic way, I quickly learned not to allow any boy to get close enough to land any more such barbs. Compliments? Rejected. Leading, teasing questions? Summarily shut down. It led to a very long period of insecurity, of not being able to trust that every boy who talked to me wasn’t secretly angling to humiliate me, and that’s why it was such a huge relief when I eventually went to an all-girls school. By the time I decided that boys weren’t all full of disgusting cooties, I realized I also wasn’t the best looking gal around — chubby, bookish, bespectacled, socially awkward and with a mouth full of braces — so opportunities to talk to or be singled out by any boy were few and far between. I too wanted that “letterman jacket” status and the special feeling of knowing that I was considered desirable by a boyfriend — or more than one guy, even! — Intensely, at that.

      What followed was a long fallow period whereupon further analysis I decided that in order to play the attraction game — which we’re all playing whether we like it or not — I had to learn to become “conventionally attractive”. It’s awful that we women have to fit into some preconceived notion of what is attractive to the male gaze in our overwhelmingly patriarchal society in which appearances are seemingly all that matter in the race to win love, but it was simply the easiest way to “attract” guys. The braces finally came off, I got contacts and a better haircut, lost some weight, learned how to dress myself to feel and project confidence, and somehow I became more able to look ppl in the eye, smile more easily, stand up straighter and with my posture declare to the world that I would no longer stand for bad behavior.

      Because guys are shallow, you have to look like someone they’d like to date before they give themselves the opportunity find out if you actually ARE someone they’d like to date!

      Something else that was really important Is that I eventually learned to see that guys are just people, and that they only have as much power over me as I allow them. Once I realized that, I could see past the bluster and the “front” they all put up, and then I could discern which of them were trash/toxic and which were the ones I wanted to get to know better, who were basically decent enough that they could eventually matter to me, whether as friends or potential boyfriends. Reclaiming that power, knowing that you are the one who gets to choose who your life partner will be, not them, is really the key.

      I’ve been with my lovely husband now for close to ten years, and, I am happier than I’ve ever been with him. He’s my best friend and soulmate, and he’s so so kind, so all that struggling and emotional work eventually paid off in my case. I have every hope that you’ll find happiness too.

  7. Emily says...

    I can completely relate to this on many levels, even if my story isn’t exactly the same. You’re not alone and it’s not as uncommon as you’d think! There are so many paths in this life, including in this area of relationships and dating. It’s nice to know I’m not the only late bloomer.

  8. Jennifer says...

    Is anyone else in their first relationship after not dating for most of their life and feel at a disadvantage compared to people who have had multiple relationships? I never had a boyfriend until 25 and I’m a year in and still feel at a disadvantage compared to people who have had a string of boyfriends. I find myself being pretty insecure and not independent as everyone told me I would be when I was single. I know people say being alone will lead to more independence and confidence but for me it’s been the opposite even with a great bf.

    • Claire says...

      I am – I didn’t have a single date until I was 24, and am still in a relationship with the man who was the first date I ever had.

      But here’s the rub – we’ve been married now for 11 and a half years, and it’s as blissful as day one. We just looked over at each across the room and I said, “I love you so much!” and he said, “Being in love is the best! Let’s do it forever!”

      So, you might feel at a disadvantage, but your lack of experience doesn’t mean that what you feel isn’t real or won’t last. Sometimes all it takes is one.

    • shannon says...

      Curious about where this insecurity comes from. I don’t think it’s automatic that you feel less confident because of fewer previous dating experiences. Perhaps you have a discrepancy with your significant other having more experience than you, and they are doing things that make you self conscious about it? Or are you comparing yourself to other friends/siblings who have dated a lot? If you can pinpoint where the insecurity starts, that should help you figure where to go next.

  9. Grace G. says...

    Love this! Didn’t have my first kiss until 17 and married the second guy I dated. People always assume something was wrong with me because I had my first kiss so late, maybe something was wrong with me, or maybe I just didn’t want to waste my first kiss on any gross guy that came knocking.

    • All of these commented saying, “thank you” and I am definitely one of them! But the fact that so many people feel this way is…comforting! I’m 25 and I’ve never had a boyfriend or a first kiss! I grew up Catholic but I don’t think that has contributed to my not dating, I think it’s my anxiety. But anyway thank you for letting us know we are not alone!

  10. WMom says...

    Thank you so much for this article. I dated a tiny, tiny bit in my 20tys. At 30 I went to New Zealand and slept with a random guy for the first time. Then that winter I met my future husband. It finally felt right. I made the first move, and kissed him on New Years eve. He was my first and only boyfriend. Now we have been married for 12 years and we have three kids. Waiting until it felt right was the best decision, but it was hard living my 20tys as someone who never had a boyfriend or had sex. I am a middle school teacher now, and I tell my students that my husband was my first and only boyfriend at 30 years old, and they tell me ‘how sad,’ but I tell them ‘waiting was WORTH it!’

  11. Sarah says...

    Kim – if you grew up in the purity culture movement of evangelical Christianity, may I suggest the book “Pure” by Linda Kay Klein. I read it recently and it touches on so many of the damaging principles of purity culture.

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Sarah, I’ve had lots of friends suggest that book and it’s on my list! Thanks for the rec! xox

    • I also really loved reading ‘Educated’ which helped me work through some of the evangelical beliefs that were so ingrained in me still after 15 years of charting my own way apart from my parent’s faith. These concepts of ‘purity’ and ‘modesty’ and ‘submission’ were taught to most of us at really formative times for our brain development that it might be surprising to see what’s still buried there that we’re carrying forward as truth.

  12. Tshego B says...

    I’m 30. Can’t say I’ve been on a first date yet.

  13. Nina says...

    I love that definition of a late bloomer

  14. Dana says...

    Thank you for this wonderful article and comments! It’s nice to hear stories from so many women who’ve matured into themselves before giving themselves over to the world of dating.

    I was with the same partner for 9 years, and after spending 3 years untangling ourselves, I find myself 31 and beginning to date for the first time in my adult life. It’s scary and nerve-wracking and insecurity-inducing and yet exciting and I’m hoping transformational.

    I want to see myself as Kim writes,
    “I started seeing myself in a sexual and romantic way. I learned to touch and be touched without pulling away, to flirt and talk about sex and become comfortable with being desired.”
    It is what I am seeking, and it is so wonderful to hear that it is possible.

  15. Sarah says...

    My first kiss was age 31. It was my second date with the guy and I nearly jumped out of the car in shock. Instead I explained the situation, collected myself, and then kissed him back.

    • Jess says...

      This is very sweet.

  16. A says...

    Kim, I love your voice and went straight back to read your other CoJ dating piece too. Thank you for sharing this. Like other commentators I enjoyed the wisdom of your definition of a late bloomer, and also breaking the idea that there is one way we all date/encounter romantic or sexual relationships.

  17. jane says...

    I held refrained from dating until deep into my 20’s and never was there an actual date – except for once on a match made by my mother and her friend with her son lol. It wasn’t horrible, just boring, and obviously never went beyond that night. But I purposefully waited because I just knew I’d fall in love and that young guys ARE all about sex. So I waited for better or worse and skipped straight to a first boyfriend who was 10 years older. After that ended I simply did not have the social maturity to avoid the inevitable men who are just there for the sex. It took me forever to comprehend that frame of mind and weed those out of the picture. I remember thinking: parents really need to raise their sons better.

  18. Courtney says...

    I really enjoyed this piece and relate to the comments posted.
    I came from a similar evangelical stream as well. I experienced my first boyfriend and kiss at 25. I met my person (via Bumble!) at 27 and married him at 30. I do not regret my timeline. But, I am also so relieved to be on the other side of feelings of shame, guilt, and lack of confidence that coincided for me w/ the culture+messages I grew up with around the topic of purity/sexuality.

  19. Cait says...

    I love love loved this piece!
    First of all, Kim, I’m so glad to know about your religious background, and look forward to seeing how that might shape future pieces that you write here!
    Secondly, as a 30-year-old woman who has really only been dating in earnest for a few years, I fully relate to what you’ve written here, and also find such grace in your words about late blooming. I think I tend to see my lack of inexperience as a deficit, but I’d love to reframe it in the way you’ve described. <3

  20. Becky says...

    Ah love this! I am not in NYC but in a UK city however I imagine it’s pretty similar – once you are out of your small town you realise not everyone is getting married in their twenties and that to still be on the search or dating in your thirties and beyond is in no way unusual. Takes some of the pressure off! Best wishes finding a connection. x

  21. Lauree says...

    Love the essay, love the comments. We are never alone.
    I have found two books to be extremely helpful in holding both my faith and my sexuality – they are not mutually exclusive!
    -“Sex, God, and the Conservative Christian Church” by Tina Schermer Sellers (her website also links to podcasts she has been on – I particularly like her Q&A on the Free Sex Podcast)
    -“Shameless” by Nadia Bolz-Weber (the same pastor that had purity rings melted down into a sculpture of a vulva)

    I don’t agree 100% with what either book promotes, but both have been really helpful in expanding the narrative. Enjoy!

  22. Holly says...

    Kim this is so interesting, you have had a fascinating life, so glad you are “blooming!”

  23. Matilda says...

    This resonates with me so much! I’ve been on maybe 4 dates, and was a virgin until this year at 41. That was not my love story, as he ghosted, but that is the modern way :). I am still hopeful though, and it’s nice to hear people talk about a different dating path as it seems easy for everyone around me who followed a traditional one. I know I have a lot to offer and I’ve been told that I am attractive, although I have a hard time believing it. I just have felt like there is something about me that men don’t like. I’ve frequently felt undateable, or not relationship material, so I’m going to try and channel some of that confidence and empowerment! Thanks for sharing!

  24. B says...

    Oh my gosh reading this beautiful article (thank you, Kim!) and all these comments give me one big sigh of relief. If there’s one common theme to COJ articles it’s this: You. Are. Not. Alone.

    I’m reminded how shame is given so much power largely due to the fact it’s kept secret. And the more secretive, the less chance you have of finding out that others experience the same, so the more you think it’s some horribly unique circumstance that no one would understand. In any case, while I know not everyone here has necessarily felt shame about their “late-bloomer-ness,” I do know that this conversation has shattered a long-held shame of mine, and I am so grateful.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      You’re spot on regarding secrecy and shame. Secrets (especially the bodily/sexual kinds) only lead to ignorance, feelings of aloneness, pain and ultimately shame. In my personal experience, I’ve never regarded my almost lifelong singlehood as something to be ashamed of. But then, I had certain ‘friends’ who tried to make me feel as if there was something wrong with me. They didn’t understand why I wasn’t obsessed with romantic relationships or dating like them. Those ‘friends’ are no longer in my life, thank goodness. Thing is, we put so much pressure – sometimes unknowingly – on people in our lives, forgetting that each one of us is on a different path. Our life stories won’t all follow a conventional arch, and that’s perfectly fine. We need to learn to respect other people’s individuality and just let them be.

    • Anonymous says...

      Agreed, B! This is just what I needed to read. Hearing other wonderful women’s Similar stories is helping me slowly chip away at the shame/embarrassment.

    • R says...

      Yes and Amen. I also felt myself breathe a sigh of relief, being 25 and having gone on a total of 3 dates in my life, I have so often found myself wondering what’s wrong with me and finding ways to avoid the topic with others so as to not reveal that part of my life. Shame has such a hold when there are secrets especially when it is paired with a deep longing to be in a relationship or even experience yourself as a desirable human. I’ve been resistant to trying out dating apps up until this point but this article reminded me that there is no shame in utilizing the tools available to ask for what I want in life! Thank you Thank you Thank you.

  25. Ale says...

    I am the epitome of a late bloomer. I had my first kiss at 23. At 27 I had a brief “relationship” but he was scared because I was a virgin. We split up and for whatever reason in the following 12 years I only had a few unsuccessful dates. Last year that scared guy and I were in touch again. At first he thought I had some kind of trauma but then he was understanding and loving. Until… every time we were supposed to have sex (or to try at least) he backed off with some lame excuse.
    And here I am, at 40, still a virgin, and terrified that every man I meet will find me defective.

    • Bethan says...

      Ale you are not defective! You are loved and have something unique to offer to the world. Thank you for being honest and open and vulnerable! Our society definitely tells us that celibacy (whether by choice or circumstance) is strange and a “waste” of our sexuality. But I firmly believe that’s not the case. I’m sure things will fall in line for you and that you will meet someone who is caring and gentle and doesn’t think you’re defective!

    • Matilda says...

      Hey, Ale. You are so not alone. I was a virgin until 3 months ago at 41. If you told me 4 months ago it was going to happen I would have never believed you. Honestly he wasn’t my love match but it wasn’t a bad experience, and less of a problem than I thought it would be. I will admit that I didn’t tell him, I just wanted it to finally happen and I felt comfortable and 100% sure of my choice. Maybe that was the wrong way to go but it allowed me to worry about one less part of the experience. My friend said he probably knew but I don’t even care :). Everyone was right about things when happening when you least expect it, so keep the hope! The right person will come along and it will happen :)

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      My Darling Ale, you are not ‘defective’. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. And if any man thinks there is, he is not the man for you. Please cut off contact with that scared guy completely and immediately. I know his kind. They break up with you hoping you’ll sleep with other men and gain sexual experience; then one random day, they’ll reappear in your life to ‘enjoy’ all what you’ve learned from those other men. Nonsense. There’s an emotionally mature, kind, quality man for you out there. You will find him when you least expect it, as these things often go.

      Thank you so very much for this soul-baring article, Kim. I felt seen while reading your powerful words. Honestly I don’t know that I have it in me to be as vulnerable as you on the page. Bravo.

    • Ale says...

      Bethan, Matilda and Nigerian Girl: thank you for your words!!! My sister is the only person with whom I can talk about this, so reading other’s advice and similar experiences is really helpful :)

    • Jess says...

      Same – exactly same. And there’s no obvious reason for it, which makes it harder to share with people. Reading your story makes me feel less alone, and less weird. So, thank you. <3

    • Grace G. says...

      That guy sounds weird and definitely does not deserve for you to sleep with him. Hang in there!

    • Sparkle20 says...

      Can so relate to this, since several years ago I realised I felt “defective” due to quite a few things, including lack of relationship experience and never having been in a relationship or on a proper date (have met up with a man twice as a friendship thing). I’ve been working on it but still feel a bit like this at 35 (nearly 36).

      I have mental health issues so am currently trying to work on those while also expanding my social circle at my own pace, rather than trying to push myself on dates that I will panic about and won’t enjoy. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for the article, Kim! :)

  26. Anni says...

    I feel you, first date, kiss and relationship at 28 and I was so worried through all my teens and twenties of missing out, of being “weird” and not attractive. I can see the advantages of starting to date earlier to make experiences and maybe gain perspective but I also appreciate being a late bloomer. I knew who I was and kind of what I valued and I could really develop my own personality for a lot of years without the influences of boyfriends. I love your writing by the way!

    • Amy says...

      I love this!! I dated throughout my 20s but things never lasted past a month or two. I felt like I’d never find a real, lasting relationship. (I met my now-fiance at 28, and now when I look back I laugh and laugh because what was I thinking? 28 is so young! But when you’re not sure your time for love will ever come, it sure feels old.)
      Anyway, I had never quite thought of it in these terms, but you’re right: being on my own for most of my 20s absolutely helped me to develop my personality and independence. What a blessing to have had that time to ourselves.

  27. Andrea says...

    37 and a virgin, though now it is by choice instead of out of fear (I do go on dates). I spent years working through religious upbringing baggage and found my own spirituality (and became Catholic!). I’m planning to become a single mother by choice and you would be surprised how many late 30s-40s virgins there are out there (found in SMBC online groups). It is normal! Not being a virgin is also normal! Sometimes embracing your sexuality means choosing not to have sex right now, or ever. To each her own, and isn’t it great that we all get to decide for ourselves.

  28. shopgirl says...

    Uff, but I’m noticing a lot more examples of girls from very religious backgrounds that they are much more rational, direct and focused, getting job, boyfriend, marriage and kids. Not necessarily in that order, but they tick off everything very quick, without much complication….

  29. Allison says...

    Yay yay yay, thank you for this and all of you for the comments! I grew up evangelical too, though not nearly as conservative as you describe. I don’t even blame religion for my late blooming (though it certainly has a part to play) as much as I do my own shyness and anxiety and pickiness. I’m still part of the church and am in the process of becoming a pastor myself, and let me tell you: there appear to be no single, emotionally-mature men who like both Jesus and Bernie left on this planet. Hah. My first date/kiss was at 26; two years later, I see no prospects on the horizon, and I worry about everything all of you have named. Thanks for voicing all this here — it is really, really comforting to hear similar stories coming from outside church-world and in socially-liberal, sex-positive spaces.

  30. Kelli Sittser says...

    Kim. You are an excellent writer. Thank you for being a part of this team. You are a breath of fresh air.

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Kelli!! Thank you! thank means so so much to me! xox

  31. Sara says...

    I appreciated this. I didn’t kiss anyone until the man who would be my husband at age 24. I would like to say though that I grew up (and still am) in a very conservative religion in an area where it is dominant and I was still pretty abnormal. Most of my friends dated a lot and kissed people much much earlier even though most did not have sex. In a way it was almost seen as worse because marriage was so important and many of my friends from high school and cousins got married at age 19 or 20. Also I will say it was not the religion that made me a late bloomer (although I guess without sexual experience as an option I saw little point in dating unless I found someone I could see a future with, but I also am a serious, introverted person and casual sex never looked fun to me). Also religion for me has created little to no sexual problems. My parents were clear on that sex was fun and not shameful, just not appropriate outside of marriage. It was awesome for my husband and I to figure it out together in a safe space and it still is awesome.

    • Anna says...

      I had a very similar experience to yours. Thanks for pointing out that religious views on sex don’t always have negative outcomes. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that religion that teaches no sex before marriage is anti-feminist or repressive. It can be that way but it isn’t always. I don’t think my religion was related to my lack of dating and I don’t think it affected my sexuality in a negative way. If anything, it helped me feel more comfortable and confident figuring it out for the first time with my husband. Sex is more to me than just pleasure and fun, it strengthens commitment and communication in my marriage.

    • Anna says...

      I had a very similar experience to yours. Thanks for pointing that not all religious views on sex have negative outcomes. I think it’s inaccurate to assume that a religion that teaches no sex before marriage is anti-feminist or repressive. It can be that way but not always. I don’t think my religion was related to my lack of dating or affected my sexuality negatively. If anything, my beliefs helped me feel more confident and comfortable figuring out sex with my husband for the first time. Sex is more to me than pleasure and fun, it builds commitment and connection in our relationship.

  32. AnnieGirl says...

    Kim thank you SO much for sharing!! I love Cup of Jo because y’all are so wonderful about sharing all different points of view and different perspectives. Last year I turned to COJ after my first breakup ever, was heartbroken, and of course there was an incredible article about how to deal with a breakup. Now a year later, reading your article that resonates so much with my life and dating experience too and I’m feeling confident and empowered! Grateful for your words-keep it up, keep sharing and being vulnerable! Can’t wait to read more of your work!!

  33. Rebecca says...

    These posts are why I keep coming back to this blog!!!! Such a lovely read! I too am a late bloomer and that definition brought tears to my eyes. For many reasons (some known and unknown) I have not been on a real date or been kissed yet at 29. Your words and the comments by others brought a peace to my heart. I’ve always had a deep confidence that things would just fall into place. But the years keep passing and I can literally hear my 30th birthday quickly approaching. It’s a burden I carry on my shoulders that I never acknowledge. It’s lovely to know my story is not unique and I am not alone in this battle called life.

    • Nira says...

      You’re not alone, I’m the same age as you and turning 30 soon. No dates or kiss yet, it just never happen for me. The timing is always off or life events just put kissing/dating in the back burner for me, but through all of this I learned to love and enjoy myself for better or for worse. I wish you all the luck and love in the world!

    • Lara says...

      The 30th birthday being a hallmark is such a myth and really, just completely unnecessary pressure to put on yourself. I know, because I was there last summer. Being a late bloomer myself I used to set deadlines when I should have done something, like “have a boyfriend”, “have sex”, “have this or that experience”, which (surprise) did not help to make it happen at all, just made me feel even more miserable. Last summer I turned 30, still having not reached those goals, and… survived. In a way I am glad to have that “milestone” behind my back, even without the “goals reached”. So you will be fine too :) Hugs!

    • J says...

      Chiming in to raise my hand as another person in the same boat. We aren’t alone!

  34. Marie says...

    I love Kim’s articles! Does she have an Instagram or social media account to follow?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes! @kimb_ra

  35. Deanna says...

    Gosh, I *so* needed this today. This post, the comments, all of this!

    As a 30-something I’ve spent my adult life wading in and out of the dating pool in one way or another without much success. I’ve spent most of it out of the pool, and never really made it past the shallow end anyways. Instead, I chose to focus on my career, personal growth, and cultivating some really wonderful and satisfying friendships. While I don’t regret these choices at all, I’m 100% a late bloomer. Reading these comments reminded me that I’m not alone and it might even be a good thing to be a later bloomer!

    Recently I’ve dived into dating more than I have, maybe ever. Dating in NYC in your mid-to-late 30s is a quagmire, to say the least. I was almost ready to jump out again, but this is giving me the impetus to keep going. All I have to do is keep being me. I know so much more about myself now than I ever did earlier in my life. I have accomplishments and things to talk about, a real point of view and things to share.

    Kim, thank you so much for sharing. And COJ, thanks for giving Kim a place to tell her story and a place for us to talk about how much we love this post. The comments here are so wonderful. Gosh, I love this community! :)

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Deanna, thanks for your kind words! And no kidding about dating in nyc in your 30s–it’s A LOT! Hang in there! xox

  36. Kate says...

    I hope you write a book some day. I enjoy reading your posts and find your writing beautifully vulnerable and poignant. Thanks for sharing your experience, Kim!

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Kate, that means SO much. thank you so much for your kind words! xox

  37. rachel says...

    I am a white, christian and i am burdened by the way some christian churches raise their children, shame! I feel like being a late bloomer, has such value! I was a virgin when i was married ( to the wrong man) at just over the age of 21 ( as I type that i CRINGE) It was WAY too young to be married.That marriage was a scam from day one and i did NOT know myself…. I am remarried to my wonderful husband of almost 7 yrs. I think being a late bloomer is such an advantage! I wish i would have had MORE time in my early 20s to date around, live with roommates or no roommates and find out what I need and want in life!

  38. Anna says...

    i love the absolute bare honesty in your writing – and how you can also exude a modest self-confidence at the same time. thanks for sharing your story!

    i also thought of myself a late bloomer – first kiss at 17, losing my virginity at 21. i was super shy about boys in high school and sometimes missed their cues, their signs. maybe they were sheepish too, i realized later! i usually lacked the confidence to make a first move or even show any signs of vulnerability. in my 20s i did have boyfriends but also huge gaps in between where no dating at all happened. seeing others date with relative ease often made me feel even less confident. i’m happily married in my 40s now – but it was uplifting to read Kim’s and other commenters’ more confident, empowered take on the dating scene.

  39. Megan from Canada says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Kim! I started to date a couple of years ago as a 28 year old. I’d felt so unworthy of love and intimacy. It took a lot of courage and learning and I am so grateful that I have had the journey I have. It really feels affirming to see stories like mine and I’m so glad that others in a similar boat will have yours. Sending you love!!

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Thanks so much, Megan! Glad to see so many people with stories like ours, to know we’re not alone! xox

  40. Sarah says...

    I relate to this so much. I always thought that “late bloomer” meant, like, 16, from everything I read online. (As if!) I am 21 and still trying to get over the nerves. I wasn’t raised very religious, but I only really started any sort of social life when I got to college– I only had one friend in high school but even then we really only got close when we got to college. Now I’m surrounded by people who date a lot and did in high school as well. I know they have their own insecurities and nerves around dating, but for most of my friends, it’s not a barrier. I’ve been on a few first dates that didn’t lead anywhere and then went on four (!) dates with someone else and was extremely annoyed to find out that when I looked past the almost debilitating anxiety I had around it there was no actual chemistry, although I think he liked me. I was proud of putting myself out there and having a sober kiss (only my second) but still at this point feel like dating is too vulnerable and I don’t find the anxiety around it (even 3ish months afterward!) worth it to me right now. We’ll see. Thanks, Cup of Jo, for this platform, as always.

  41. Allegra LaViola says...

    sounds like you have already had your share in the 2 years of dating so, as I’m sure many others will concur– you didn’t miss much!! haha.

    have FUN out there. That’s the point!

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      haha the more I date, the more I realize what a big deal it is NOT. thanks, Allegra! xox

  42. Elizabeth says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I had my first boyfriend without ever going on a date when I was 28. And the whole relationship was long distance so I didn’t go on my first dates until my 30s partly religious and partly personal reasons but as much as anything there was that underlying feeling that something was inherently wrong with me. I’m now 40 and happily married for 3 years to a man who is more amazing than I ever could have imagined. He also dated very little and having dated people with lots of relationship history I’m very grateful that neither if us carry much relational baggage into our current relationship. If only I could tell my younger self how wonderful I am! I so appreciate hearing other late bloomer stories!

  43. charlie says...

    So personal, beautifully written, and relatable. Thank you!

  44. A says...

    Really related to this – thanks so much for sharing.

  45. Robyn says...

    I tried to write a comment about my own hang-ups and late bloominess (30, no relationship ever, 20s a map of unrequited infatuations), but I am just a bit overcome by how amazing it feels to see my (non) experience reflected here, and by such an awesome woman as you, Kim.

    Thank you.

    I was not brought up in a religious household, and frankly don’t know why I have never had a relationship. But, I do know that I am a bit terrified of the vulnerability they require. I think that letting someone into your life to that extent requires a bravery I don’t have. I have moved across the world, done extensive studies, travelled alone and made many many wonderful friends. But I just cannot get over this block.

    • Jess says...

      You’re not alone. There’s an initial vulnerability, and then another hurdle of trusting someone enough to share your (in)experience. And I think it’s more anxiety inducing with each year that passes. <3

    • Em says...

      Robyn, have you ever talked about this block with a therapist? I’m similar to you and have found therapy tremendously helpful and transformative.

    • Robyn says...

      Thank you both for responding :)

      Jess – YES, I do think part of the anxiety is eventually having to shake re my inexperience. I can kind of fluff it/bypass questions with acquaintances, but for someone to know the real me would mean knowing my inexperience, and I find that scary. Thank you so much for saying I’m not alone. <3

      Em – no, I have never seen a therapist, but it is a good idea. I’m so glad that it has been so helpful for you

    • A says...

      Robyn – I resonate so so strongly with this, I could have written your comment word for word less than two years ago (I’m 32). In my case, therapy has really helped me dig into why I felt unsafe being vulnerable (and my inability to see myself as desirable which is a whole can of worms that I am still unpacking). I really feel what you said about having to share your inexperience – it can be paralysing, but remember that you don’t have to be totally honest about it upfront either :) let someone earn your trust before you go there. Please know you are not alone in this! I’m rooting for you!

    • Ohio says...

      Robyn, I could echo your comment exactly. This article and comments—wow, I needed this. I especially appreciate/feel seen by the comments from people who are “late bloomers” for reasons other than religion or trauma. I think my biggest hang up is a general refusal to do online dating combined with a social group that is entirely married off which limits the ability to organically find single people in real life either.

    • Robyn says...

      <3 Thank you all. I am with you all and rooting for you all too. And A, thank you for mentioning therapy also – definitely food for thought.

      Damn, I love Cup of Jo, Kim and you ladies :)

    • Anonymous says...

      Hi Robyn,
      Are you me?! I’m in the exact same boat — 31, never been in a relationship, and just only a few months ago had my first kiss (And even then, only kind of — it was the quickest peck on the lips ever with zero romance in it).

      Im trying to combat the shame/embarrassment associated with all this, as it seems that’s the hurdle holding me back from actually building that connection and vulnerability with someone. Coming on here and seeing all these comments feels so validating and hopeful. We’re not alone! We’re still great people despite not being at the same pace as everyone else!!

    • Elisabeth says...

      Thank you for sharing this! I’m going on my first ‘date’ tomorrow with a guy I met on an app…I’m 23 and feeling all the nerves!

    • Robyn says...

      I keep coming back to these comments.

      Anon, thank you for sharing and helping me feel a bit lighter in my embarrassment – you’re so right, being at a different pace in this area doesn’t make us any less great.

      And Elisabeth – yay! I hope you have fun on your date, and massive well done for putting yourself out there. I’m in your corner! I’d love a report back if you feel like updating us :)

    • Maria says...

      feel you on the “unrequited infatuations.” I think it just has to happen, and when you meet the right guy you’ll get over the fear of being vulnerable.

    • Robyn, I thought I would also be terrified to allow someone to see my true self, but it turns out that when I met the right man, I wanted him to see me and love me for who I am. Marriage is a process, though, a daily decision to be vulnerable and I do have a hard time with that because I don’t want my husband to worry or get angry, etc., but I appreciate the opportunity to be on this journey with another human being and I hope I will get better at being vulnerable with him. It’s a process!

  46. Scout says...

    I love this. I’ve gone on a handful of dates, but never actively dated anyone, and have never been kissed. Partially for religious anxiety and partially because…it just hasn’t happened. I love this, and knowing I’m not alone!

    Two books that helped me were Never Have I Ever: My Life So Far Without a Date (to feel less alone – and to laugh a ton) and Spinster (which made me realize how much I love being single). Both are high on my favorites list!

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      omg I totally read Never Have I Ever!!! (and thus began my love for Katie Heaney’s writing!) Haven’t read Spinster, but it’s going on my list. Thanks, Scout! xox

  47. Cara says...

    I very much relate to this post on multiple levels! I was offered so much advice on what I needed to do differently along with a healthy dose of fear on what could happen if I did it wrong, but the only thing that really changed anything was meeting the right person. When I met my husband, suddenly all of the song and dance that goes into relationships went from feeling like calculus to breathing. It was like turning on the light.

    • Robyn says...

      “Calculus to breathing”. Wow, that is beautiful and, for me, so reassuring. Thank you.

    • Lara says...

      I have been thinking about this comment all day long. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Have not felt this calm and hopeful in ages…

  48. Megan says...

    Love this!! I’m a late bloomer as well–and I was a virgin when I got married (at 31). I’m curious if others out there agree, but I’ve loved the freedom that my partner and I have in having only been with the other. As Kim writes, life is too short AND too long–what’s the rush?

  49. Jessica says...

    What a lovely article! I always felt like a late bloomer. Other than a very brief “relationship” at age 18 that lasted a few months, I had never had a serious boyfriend. I also have struggled with feeling “not good enough” or “not deserving” of love through the years for various (completely untrue) reasons. I had gone on a handful of dates and had a few meaningless one-night stands, but never had a serious connection with anyone and my heart longed for it. It became especially hard as everyone around me fell in love, got married, and started families.

    I met my current boyfriend of one year on Bumble. I was 30. I almost didn’t match with him—his profile didn’t catch my eye, honestly—but I told myself just to go out with him and have fun and put myself out there! We had the sweetest first date at Barnes & Noble (great date spot–so many conversation starters). On our first date I literally felt tingles through my body and an overwhelming sense of peace that this man is who I have been waiting for all this time. I am so happy I took a chance and can’t wait to see what our future holds!

  50. A says...

    <3

  51. Lottie says...

    What a beautiful article – honest and vulnerable and so perfectly written! More from you Kim please! And thanks so much for sharing your experience x

  52. Roxana says...

    This is a sweet piece. As a white, evangelical Christian woman (who was raised by parents who identify as evangelical Christians), I’d like to add my voice to the conversation. . . I did NOT grow-up in a home that suppressed sexuality or was told that I would “go to hell” if I did certain things or didn’t do others (dancing? wearing pants? makeup? ____?). This was not my upbringing at all.

  53. Mary says...

    I think all the “late bloomers” are doing it right!! When I think back on the relationship things I’d do differently if I could do them again, it’s all hurtful stuff that I did because I was insecure in who I was in my younger years.

    Starting to date as a confident woman, secure in your badass-ness and with life experiences to back it up, sets you apart! You’ll find someone who complements the awesome life you’ve built, and if they aren’t the one for you, I bet you’ll know it a lot sooner than some of us who “bloomed” a bit earlier! Y’all are such an inspiration!! Cheers to times with kind and funny people and minimal cringe-worthy dating moments ahead!

    • Neela says...

      I like this!

  54. melissa says...

    nothing wrong with being a late bloomer! I rarely dated – young men always seemed so desperate to impress people, which I found grating. My friends didn’t really know what to make of me not dating. A friend once asked me “soooo, what do you DO?” and to this day I don’t know if she meant what do I do for a social life or what do I do for orgasms. :) I spent my time on friends and family and work and my own interests, including dancing. When I was 34 I met a man at a dance and he turned out to be the love of my life. We’ve been married 10 years next week, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

    • perry says...

      ahahahaha… social life or orgasms.

  55. Laura says...

    As a late bloomer it was wonderful to read both Kim’s beautiful words and all these comments from other women like me.

    I think there are very real benefits to having time to focus on what YOU want from your life, but I’m also realizing that there are real costs.

    In my very single 20s I was afraid that my relationship skills would be underdeveloped and I would be unprepared for a relationship once the right person came along. Turns out that I’m a good friend and that has translated pretty well to being a great girlfriend. However I now find myself in my early thirties and trying to decide if the wonderful man that I’m dating now is ‘the one’. At times I wish I had more experience, a greater dataset through which to evaluate my relationship . I want to have children and as I watch my friends marry & settle down I have a definite feeling that I don’t have unlimited trips around the merry go round or unlimited time to make these decisions.

    • Jen says...

      There’s no such thing as the ‘one’. Are you both on the same page regarding kids, money, religion, politics? Do you make each other laugh? It’s ludicrous to think there’s only one person for you. Good luck to you!

    • Neela says...

      I agree with you, Jen! Similar backgrounds, morals (and procreation goals) make a good base for a sound relationship. Though ‘the one’ could in this case mean ‘the one I’m going to commit the rest of my life to’, as opposed to ‘my soulmate’.

    • Meredith says...

      Hi Laura! Jen is right, there is no “the one.” But if you can look into your future and envision growing into the woman you want to be along side this wonderful man you’re dating (as he grows as well) and you see your paths aligning as the two of you grow together, then he may be “a good one” to discuss marriage with!

      It is very easy in our current dating culture to accidentally fall into the mindset of always wondering if there’s someone out there who would be a better fit than whoever you’re dating at the moment. Especially since the options seem endless with all of the apps and swiping available to us now. But always being on the lookout for someone a little bit better puts way too much pressure (and unrealistic expectations) on other people to be the perfect fit for us, when as we all know, perfect doesn’t exist.

      While I understand wishing for more experience and a greater dataset through which to evaluate the relationship, that sounds to me like a comparison trap. It is not fair to yourself or your partner to compare the unique relationship the two of you have to any other relationship you’ve ever had (no matter how many or few) or to any you see your friends in.

      Two imperfect people who love each other and build each other up as they grow together is a beautiful thing. Don’t let worrying about finding “the one” keep you from a beautiful future with a wonderful man :)

  56. Sisu says...

    I loved reading this essay, as i resonated with my experience (or lack thereof ) so much. In my case it is not for religious purposes and tbh I am working with my therapist to find why I have been blocked in this aspect of life.
    I want to say that I am so grateful that this is on Cupof Jo, I love this website, and though I love reading the articles and comments about realtionships and love and marriage I always thought maybe it was weird for me to be so into it since technically i don’t fit in with these women nd none of the advice was applicable to me, so it is nice to have this space opened up for us late bloomers. Thanks Cup of Jo, becasue you are always providing a platform to people from every walk of life with any and all (and maybe no) experiences !

  57. Cynthia says...

    Beautiful essay.

  58. Beth says...

    I can relate to this so deeply and am envious of anyone in this position who seems to be so accepting of themselves. I have so much shame attached to inexperience and being “different” from everyone else my age that I know. I wish I personally knew more people that could relate…it probably wouldn’t feel as bad. Thank you Kim and everyone for sharing!

    • Le says...

      I was “inexperienced” when I got married at 34, by choice; my spouse was not. I will say this: No person who truly loves you for who you are will hold inexperience against you. They will love you for who you are, Beth, and that includes all your experiences or lack of experiences. Anyone who acts otherwise does not deserve you. In fact, RUN like the dickens! Hug!

  59. Lara says...

    It is such a warm feeling to read through these comments. As (yet another) late bloomer here, I felt like a looser for having my first real date (and kiss) at the age of 27. Due to a complicated family dynamic I have been struggling to have any type of relationship with men in general, so when I finally made it to the dating, it was a social disaster. Having intense anxiety attacks, wanting to flee at the very last moment before the meeting, not being able to eat or drink… you name it. My second ever date was with a French guy that I had been having long conversations with and met through Tinder. So funnily enough, my first kiss happened to be French, and yes, it was extremely uneasy haha. That man eventually broke my heart, so even though I met with some others after that too, nothing really ever worked out and eventually I gave up, or to be more honest, my health and body made me to. Now I have been on almost a year long break from any dating and have been trying to focus on work and myself instead. Most of the time it works, but then it hits me that I am now reaching 31, have not been on more than a few dates, have not had ever had a relationship… I feel like an alien between my married friends and happy in-relationship acquaintances. So thank you Kim, that for a brief moment I felt like I am not alone, not broken, not “a freak”. I will be devouring the comments on this post. Hugs from the other side of the world!

  60. Amy says...

    I just love Kim’s writing so much! Thank you for sharing this story. I also grew up in a Baptist household then attended a “ring by spring!” evangelical college — then moved to a big city and slowllyyyyyyy began dating and (later) dismantling my religious beliefs. There are so many of us, and yet I’ve never seen anyone like myself depicted accurately in the media. Keep telling your stories, Kim! We love to hear them <3

    • Sadie says...

      I’m here for this. The dismantling of growing up baptist has been a nightmare.

  61. AJ says...

    Loved reading this! So inspiring and heartwarming. Not for the dates (although that’s exciting) but more for your own bloom and energy! And I also love that definition of late bloomer :)

  62. Emma says...

    I love your writing, Kim! Such a lovely and relatable story.

  63. Mae says...

    Poignant essay, but it is so dismaying to think that one of your writers (and so many of your readers, it appears) grew up in such an anachronistic, anti-feminist belief system. My hope is that Kim’s essay inspires some of your younger readers living under similarly restrictive religions to break free of such sexist, punitive dogma. It is shocking to think that in 2020, women are still being told they must be virgins before they marry or that they’ll go to hell for dancing or wearing pants.

    • Agreed.

      Restrictive religions of all stripes really do a number on their adherents, female, male, or otherwise.

      Great essay, Kim!

  64. Sandra says...

    This was such a great essay! My niece is also a late bloomer (she’s 22 and never dated), and I know it is really hard for her. No religious restrictions on it, but they live in a semi-rural area and she lived at home for her first couple years of college and the dating pool was just really small.

    I am also a late bloomer in a way…I met my husband at 36, got married at 39, had my son at 42. So hats off to all of us who do life on our own timeline!

  65. Sally says...

    I relate to this so deeply, Kim. At 29 I’ve never been in a serious relationship and have only had a handful of dates in my life. It feels embarrassing sometimes and it’s not something I like to talk about. Reading this piece, and the comments as well, were so comforting to me.

    Like you did, I’m trying to build up the courage to make a big cross-country move now. Thank you for your words!

  66. Brooke says...

    Oh my goodness, tears of recognition! Kim you are the best. You’ve brought such realness and wit and energy with your presence here. I so appreciate that you have found freedom but also not being hard on yourself for taking your journey to get to here. I’m in a similar place and man it is good. It is so moving to develop my own ethic of what sexuality can be, what dating can mean, and not have anyone else write it that for me. I can do what feels right to me. So much of coming into our bodies and the joy of life and relationship with myself and others is about being attuned to who we are and I feel like in my late 30’s I”m getting more and more attuned to that. Sometime I will wish I had a partner earlier in life but other times i think about all that I have claimed in these years and the room I’ve had to try things *just for me*. Here’s to ongoing joy and play and attunement for all of us!

  67. C says...

    Kim – I love your story and can relate so much.

    I’ve always considered myself to be a late bloomer as well (started dating and had sex for the first time at 23) – I was a very academic and involved teen and was never seriously interested in dating or guys until well past college. Though this sexual/romantic development was slow for me, I didn’t feel self-conscious at all that I wasn’t interested. The hard part was that friends and family would constantly ask me “are you dating anyone?” “do you like anyone?” “did anything happen last night?,” and I felt I had to have stories to entertain them with. Sometimes, the pressure really does come from society and the people around you, even when you know yourself, your pace, and interests.

    Side note: I grew up in an evangelical Christian home, took the purity pledge (lol), and was told not to have sex until marriage, and it’s not until now, five years into a relationship, that I realize how much that lack of mental sexual freedom growing up (feeling guilty if you masturbate, etc) has impacted my ability to feel free and explorative during sex – I probably need to find a therapist!

    • Sarah says...

      C – definitely read the book “Pure” by Linda Kay Kline! It addresses all of those issues of purity culture and how damaging they are. And I know from experience that therapy is helpful :)

  68. Jen says...

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m in my thirties, and I still haven’t been in a relationship. I feel really self-conscious about it sometimes, and I worry about not having developed those dating and relationship skills. When you wrote about having to learn to see yourself in a romantic way and to become comfortable with being desired — that really hit home for me, and I’m working on both those things. Thank you for sharing your experiences <3

    And thank you to all the commenters for making me feel less alone in this!!

    • c.m says...

      i met my now-husband when i was like 27/28 and before him, i had never held hands with a guy so much as kissed or dated anyone. i was conscious about my lack of experience too for so many years BUT at the same time, i declined dates and refused to get on dating apps because of not feeling ready to be romantic or desired by someone else. even now that i’m married, i’m still learning…

      even my girlfriends who seemed to have amazing love lives/stories and so much more worldly experience than me in our 20s would talk w/ me about their internal struggles and doubts of not being good enough at this or confident enough for that, etc. etc. i guess *all of us* are still learning as we go…

      <3

  69. This is such a lovely piece. It’s amazing how much acceptance & embrace of yourself took place in such a relatively short span of time. It’s so refreshing to read a piece about dating that is about your journey, and not what other people perceived in you. I especially love the final paragraph on late bloomers – the capabilities not yet being seen, present though they may be. So much of life seems this way to me, and like Rilke wrote, “Everything is gestation and then birthing.” To rebirthing ourselves again and again!

  70. Kelly says...

    As I enter my thirties and the last of my friends get married I’ve been feeling extremely fragile and alone with the reality of being a late bloomer and being ‘left behind’, so to open this up and read the articles and comments today gave me such a sense of relief and reassurance that I’m not alone and being a late bloomer is totally ok.
    So thank you Kim for being so honest and vulnerable in this piece, and creating a space where all us late bloomers can say ‘hey, we’re out here, and we’re all just working on things at our own pace!’ 💚

  71. Colleen S says...

    I had my first date (and kiss) at 22. It was great, and it was painful when that short relationship “thing” ended. I had one other date later that year, and there hasn’t been anything since. I’m 36, and I’ve accepted that I probably won’t date again. It’s not heartbreaking, and I am happy to be with myself.

    • Stefa says...

      Kim, your writing is beautiful, thank you so much for sharing your story with us and giving so many of us a reminder that we’re not broken nor cast aside nor less than others.

  72. Mims says...

    Kim, you are more than intact! I would say you are a perfect, self-actualized, humorous, balanced, reasonable, thoughtful human being! Somewhere out there is your life partner, likely another late bloomer. Keep looking and I fervently hope you find each other soon!

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      oh, Mims! Thank you for these lovely words! They mean so much to me! xox

  73. Anonymous says...

    KIM!!!

    Now can you please write the article about how you’ve learned to embrace your sexuality/accept it/orgasm after such a shaming church experience?!

    Asking for me :)

    • Sarah says...

      Peggy Orenstein’s book Girls & Sex was helpful to me. It helped me create a new (healthier) mindset. Then I listened to lots of Esther Perel.

  74. Amy says...

    this applies to men, too! I was my now husband’s first date / relationship and I wouldn’t have it any other way! He was 33 years old when we began dating. At first I was terrified of “ruining him” as I never dated good guys before him. I had a string of bad luck with men and thought, surely not the man with no dating experience will be the one to win my heart – it would be the man who knows what to do and how to make me feel. Turns out I was a young fool! It’s the newness and his unconventional approach to loving me, not tampered by manipulation techniques brought on by many years solely focusing on other women, that gets me. He focused on his career throughout his twenties. Now, we are off to start our world together.

  75. Maggie says...

    Beautifully written Kim! That definition of late-bloomer! – wow! Congrats on your continued success both personally and professionally in NY. You do you Kim – you’re a star!

  76. Unloveable says...

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Having an experience so outside the norm can feel so isolating, and I totally get that feeling of being “undateable/unloveable”. I’m in my early 30’s and have only been on a tiny handful of dates with friends “a bit strange/troubled, but nice!” cousins/BILs that were always a relief to have over and done with. Actually taking the jump into going on a date with someone from an app that seems interesting/cool/attractive feels terrifying.

  77. Tracey says...

    I SO relate! Beautiful essay, thank you for writing it.

  78. Amy says...

    This article makes me feel a lot better about my dating situation! I am 28 and, while I’ve been on a couple of dates, I’ve never been in any kind of romantic relationship. My first (and only) kiss was 12 years ago when I was 16. I like to joke that the men I find attractive and the men that find me attractive have yet to make a venn diagram! Thank you for sharing your story and making the rest of us late bloomers feel a little better about ourselves!

    • lindsey says...

      This makes me feel better! I never seem to find attractive the guys who like me and vise versa. It’s nice not to be alone.

    • Sisu says...

      Same!! i am 26 (almost 27!) and though i have now gone on some dates (tinder/bumble dates that I have instigated, men on those apps neer ask me out either) i have never been in a relationship and have nver had sex, so yes!! this story and thereplies have made me feel so seen and not alone in my experience!

    • Scout says...

      That is a wonderful Venn diagram!

  79. Meghan says...

    KIM YOU ARE THE BEST!
    poetic prose about what a great writer you are, a wonderful addition to COJ, etc, etc… I am just so so glad you’re here!!!!

    • Kim Rhodes says...

      Meghan! That means so much! thank you for your kind words! xox

  80. MyHanh says...

    Kim, your writing style is so honest, approachable, and beautiful. Some words that stuck out
    ” I tried to shift focus to friendships and school, but the ache remained.”
    and
    “It seems like there’s a piece missing, when in reality my piece was intact the whole time.”
    Your writing seems natural, which of course means you’ve honed your craft. I’m so glad you’re on the COJ team and can share a new, refreshing perspective. Looking forward to more!

  81. Jenna says...

    I LOVE hopping onto CoJ and seeing an article written by Kim. Kim, I love your voice, way of story telling, and how you bring us along so lovingly on your personal journey. The way you write is so relateable and feels like I am sitting down with an old friend, with no judgement. Thank you for sharing, I am sure it cannot be easy to be so vulnerable with community where you cannot see “our faces”, but we certainly have your back. xo

  82. Emma says...

    As a fellow late bloomer I can relate! Looking back though, taking that time to focus on my career and stand on my own two feet was amazing. When I did start dating I never felt stuck because I always knew if it wasn’t right I could leave and be ok on my own. I also got to spend years doing exactly what I wanted and what was right for me at the time without having to consider anyone else and how often do you get that chance?

  83. Sadie says...

    Beautiful point of view <3

  84. Sarah says...

    Kim, thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. I also grew up in a very religious setting, which in my case resulted in my being completely terrified of dating, men, sex, and my own body for years and years. My first date was at age 27. I’m currently 38 and not dating anyone, and just this week I’d been trying to get up the courage to get on a dating app again for the first time in a while…This post definitely served as encouragement! Sending you solidarity and gratitude. <3

    • Teaism says...

      Wow, We’re on the same boat. 36 and single. Online dating seems terrifying yet liberating. I just need the courage to do it. Cheers and sending hugs.

  85. Kelly says...

    I think we are all late bloomers to something! If you’ve been successful at everything from a young age, you’re a late bloomer to learning to live with failure and heartbreak and recovering from setbacks…I had lots of dating and partying experience early on but was a late bloomer to being a serious student and living a more purposeful, healthier life…

    plus, i thought i was terribly sophisticated and worldly and got married at 24…still married but if anything every happened to my husband, i’d feel like i have no REAL dating experience bc I’ve never dated as an adult!

    • Lillian says...

      I love this comment, agree that we are all late bloomers to something!

      I was laid off from a job several years after college and it was debilitating at the time, so much of my identity was wrapped up in my job. However I got through it and have since helped friends going through their ‘first’ professional setback.

      I was broken up with this past summer and really struggled, my first time dealing with heartbreak and appreciated my friends who’d been through devastating breakups before and could help me see the way forward.

    • Brooke says...

      Oh my gosh, Kelly, what a beautiful perspective: “I think we are all late bloomers to something! If you’ve been successful at everything from a young age, you’re a late bloomer to learning to live with failure and heartbreak and recovering from setbacks…” Thank you for this, it is so easy to focus on where we feel “behind” instead of thinking, we’re all working on something at different timings.

  86. christina says...

    what a beautiful piece. I loved everything about it, so grateful to have your voice on COJ!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so so glad you are all loving kim! we are so lucky to have her here. :)

  87. c.m says...

    Wow this article made me inspired to reflect on my own experience as a “late-bloomer” due to many things including my sheltered upbringing, being a daughter of immigrants, my anxious personality type, etc. basically I had my first boyfriend at 27, he was my first pretty much everything. Because I was so inexperienced with men, I was scared to say yes to him when he asked me out. Before that, guys had asked me out and I said no for that very reason. I honestly felt 27 was old and resented myself for being a late bloomer, but now I’m like “what is OLD? 27 was not old! Now at 30, it’s not old but I make myself feel like it is! Why make ourselves feel limited, especially by age?” I feel like women do this more than men, idk.

    Then I thought, will I say no to connecting w someone forever because I’m scared or inexperienced? So I said yes, and luckily for me, he was amazing and we got married two years later when I was 29. I didn’t expect this to happen when it did but it shows you cannot plan for anything, and the perfect time is always now – not yesterday or tomorrow. Advice to self and whoever else needs to hear it: Don’t regret your path, and don’t focus too much on an idealized future.

  88. Meg says...

    I started dating/had sex for the first time last year at 26! Just never felt to urge to be romantic. In hindsight it’s REALLY nice to have built up some semblance of confidence and identity before putting myself out there romantically. I KNOW how I deserve to be treated and refuse to take shit from anyone!

  89. Kara says...

    I can relate to those religious pressures desperately. And I went to a small church of Christ university where there was no dancing too and we alllll joked about “ring by spring” all the time! I’m so grateful for you and your perspective. I hadn’t dated ever and never kissed anyone, until I actually started dating one of my best friends recently. So I’ve been coming out and figuring out how to be in a relationship all at once in the past year. We’ve been officially dating for 2 months and have been friends for a few years. She’s been amazing and patient and so kind to me. That evangelical childhood is a real distant memory at this point, but unlearning a lot of what I was taught was normal has been a trip. Oh and I’m 28. I was convinced I would never get to experience this.

  90. Shoshana says...

    Wow, this piece! Can I just say, you write like you’re talking to a very good friend. Love love LOVE your style.

  91. Cece says...

    Our stories are very similar, Kim. Thank you for sharing yours! Over the summer I left a religion and spiritual life after being raised in it, and adopting it as my own, for 26 years. I didn’t anticipate the life change to be quite so difficult. I recently decided I’d like to see a therapist to comb through the many complex emotions I have, specifically shame and guilt related to sexuality. Again, thank you for sharing your story; it is nice to not feel so alone in this.

  92. Christine says...

    Thank you for this post! I’m also a late bloomer (just turned 31 & still have never dated) & this piece makes me feel less alone in the world. :)

    I’m still curious how to get over the inevitable awkwardness that comes from “firsts”. Many people experience their first date, kiss, etc. in the safe harbor of adolescence or early adulthood when everyone is figuring out this stuff together. My experiences will be in the harsh reality of adulthood when anxiety & overanalyzing things seem to be at its peak. I can only hope any future date will find my awkwardness & inexperience appealing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i hear you, christine! for me, it has always helped to remember that the other person is thinking (and worrying) about themselves and not analyzing you. that helps take the pressure off.

      curious to hear other’s thoughts, as well!

    • Brooke says...

      I think it has helped me to move out of a “performance mind” to a “pleasure mind” – I get to enjoy my firsts, and I am old enough to enjoy them. ;-) You can tell yourself and even the person you are involved with if you want – I am learning what I like. I don’t think adolescence is necessarily kinder/less judgmental if you can remind yourself too. It is the kindness and presence of us to ourselves and the person you are with that makes a different…not the age. And lastly, the research on sexuality says it isn’t “skill”, but pleasure, safety, and trust that makes it a good experience.

  93. Becca says...

    Hello, fellow late-bloomer! I grew up in a very conservative Catholic household that made me afraid of men and sex. I also was not seen as “wife material” at the conservative religious college I attended because I was so focused on my studies and future career. However, I ended up getting married to the first man I slept with and then divorced five years later. In 2017 found myself single in my early 30’s with almost no dating experience or understanding of how to date. Tinder was completely bewildering. I had no idea how to do anything. I would text friends during dates to ask them for help. But despite all my uncertainty and feeling like an alien trying to pass as human, it ended up being great. I bounced back from missteps, laughed off embarrassing moments, and learned very quickly. And embracing the excitement and fun of casual sex was life-changing for me. Dating in your 30’s is pretty wonderful, even if it means going through a second adolescence.

  94. Love this, Kim! I don’t want to assign alternate meanings to your work, but this is comforting to me as I think about career shifts and being a “late bloomer” in a particular field. I love how you alluded to the way that a late bloomer will have absorbed knowledge and developed an intuition for something, even if they’ve “only” seen it from the outside. xo

  95. jules says...

    What a nice article- so glad you ladies are back from break!!
    I’m convinced that late-blooming daters are the best, and maybe its because of the wait. My upbringing was the same and I was never very good at dating but just kinda went out with anyone and stayed with them for way too long (this approach is bad lol). My husband, on the other hand, didn’t date and never had a girlfriend until he was 28 (me) because he said he refused to try until he was ready to be serious about it. BUT OH MAN… the dates were so perfectly arranged every time. What you said about planning the ambiance and each detail was the same for him. He’s an only child and I noticed after years together that he had planned dates at almost every restaurant that his parents/grand parents would go to together on their dates. He spent 28 years avoiding it for one reason or the other, but really thrived once he gave it a shot.

  96. Lea says...

    This is me! Moved to NY in my mid-twenties, felt liberated, stared dating for the first time. I am curious, if you don’t mind sharing, was your relationship with your parents affected at all? My mom simply could not (and now, after years, can barley) cope with the fact that I value romantic relationship and boys (gasp) as well. It’s really put a strain on our relationship over the past several years, which makes me sad because she used to be the person I thought I could share everything with. Just curious about others’ experiences since similar stories seem few and far in between especially in NY.

  97. Jenn says...

    What a beautiful, personal essay. And how brave you are! I’m in awe of the courage it must take to break away from the culture you were raised with, and the beliefs and rules that are (presumably) still held by your family. I have so many questions about your experience of finding your own path. You don’t owe anyone your story, but if you ever wanted to shared more here, I‘m sure it would be inspiring to many. You’re a lovely writer.

  98. Tess Varner says...

    I went to OC too, and this really resonated. Thank you!

  99. Kristy says...

    Gaaah honestly your addition to the CoJ landscape might be my favorite thing to happen to this blog I already loved so dearly. You, your writing, your willingness to share – it’s all SO lovely. Thank you for being here.

  100. Kim says...

    Love this- I totally get it!
    My first date was at 31!!!

  101. Audra says...

    I love your definition of a late bloomer! I lost my virginity in my early twenties (after graduating college) and thought there was something wrong with me, since most people I knew had already had sex. As I get older, I am more comfortable with myself and my decisions, and am fighting against the pressure society puts on us to have a specific timeline for your life. There is no right way to live; everybody has their own journey and does things in their own time. Thanks for sharing your story, and good luck with dating!

  102. Anna says...

    I consider myself a “late bloomer” since I didn’t go on a date until I was 19. It was set up by a friend and awful. I didn’t have a boyfriend or kiss anyone until I was 22. Compared to friends who considered 16 late to have a first kiss, I felt so old. However, things moved very quickly from then and I married that first boyfriend when we were 23. Now we are expecting our first baby. I wish I could tell my teenage/ young adult self that everything will work out and there is no universal timeline for when things should happen in your life.

  103. Sharon in Scotland says...

    I didn’t have sex until I was nearly 41 and had my first date when I was 45, (I was ABSOLUTELY DETERMINED not to be a virgin past 40………….poor man didn’t have a chance).

    I’ve just turned 56 and have only had a handful of dates, but I’m realistic about the chances of getting any further dates and, thankfully, being in my own company is one of my favourite things.
    I still hope and sometimes get out there and try, but it is not the be all and end all of my life.

  104. JAK says...

    Wow. Thank you Kim for writing this, it was beautiful, relatable, and honest. I can relate to your experiences a lot, at 27 I’ve had a few first dates but no boyfriend ever to speak of. I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious household, but I did grow up in one where my parents made us feel that dating wasn’t an option while in school. So… I really took that to heart, and only in the last year or so have I started to actively try dating rather then just sitting around hoping it happens to me.

    Even though I am a late bloomer, I see myself eventually arriving right on time. Just when I was meant to not when society tells me I’m “supposed” to have had these experiences by. Hopefully the right guy won’t be bothered by my “lateness” and if he is, he probably isn’t the right guy after all. That doesn’t always make it easy especially when I do want to have a boyfriend and family at some point, and when lots of my friends are married or in longterm relationships, it can be hard at times. But I’m working through it. It’s nice to know that others have had similar experiences and made it work.

    • Joanna M says...

      Lovely comment – I can completely relate. I am trying to “see myself eventually arriving right on time” as well :) Thanks for your insights. (And thanks to Kim for starting these important conversations!)

    • Emily says...

      “I see myself eventually arriving right on time.” What a beautiful way to put it. I’m now processing fresh heartbreak at 28, but this piece has led me to reflect on my own late bloomer experiences. My relationship woes today are the normal-people problems I wished desperately to have just a few years ago. If I’ve learned anything, it’s how quickly things can change.

  105. Nigerian Girl says...

    I so relate. All the best with dating. It can be fun.

  106. Rae says...

    Essays like this are why I read Cup of Jo. Kim, just like your dating style, your writing style is “open-hearted & optimistic.” Thanks for sharing!

  107. Em says...

    Thanks for sharing your story, Kim xo

  108. Claire says...

    Kim, your writing draws me in every time. I love this piece!
    I felt like a late bloomer going through high school with no boyfriend and no kissing.
    It’s wonderful to discover that you can do the thing you’d previously thought was unattainable! I hope it continues to be fun and populated with better kissers.

  109. ange says...

    “Late Bloomer” – the beautiful ballad by Ron Sexsmith is my life’s theme song! Same kind of upbringing and same kind of dating history as you but I am 15 years down the road from where you are now. It’s a long road but …it’ll all turn out great!

  110. Vera says...

    I ❤️ this! I was a bit of a “mid-not-quite” bloomer and wish I had waited to be a full-blown “late bloomer.”’ First date at 19 turned into a 16-year marriage because I was afraid no one else would want to be with me. I finally got up the nerve to leave (relationship wasn’t “horrible,” just sadly “blah”) and am much happier now! Still not many dates, though, since I met my now-husband at a restaurant by chance less than a year later, but….

  111. Micah says...

    I went to Pepperdine– a CoC sister school to OCU. Everyone was getting engaged (ring by spring!), and I felt so left out. I never went on a single date in college! Now I am 24 and have a lovely boyfriend. But if you had asked me at 21 what my romantic future looked like, I would have told you I would never find someone and I’d already missed my shot! Thanks for sharing :)

    • Rachel says...

      Fellow Wave here! I 100% echo your experience– thank God for life after graduation!

    • Micah says...

      Rachel– Ayo Waves! It’s funny isn’t it, you get sucked into the college bubble and you think you have to marry someone from your school. It’s so silly because there are BILLIONS of other men out there :)

    • Lauren says...

      Omg I was wondering if other Pepperdine Waves were reading this! :) I completely agree. I had my first kiss at age 22, but didn’t start dating until I moved to NYC at age 25–and I felt like SUCH a late bloomer at 25. Now at 29 and fresh out of a 3 year relationship, I look back on my 25-year-old self and want to slap her for thinking she was old, haha :)

  112. Kristin says...

    Thank you so much for sharing! Brave and beautiful piece – all the best to you ❤

  113. Alison says...

    Love this! I too am a late bloomer who really started dating after a late 20s move to NYC. It is hard out here, but after 4 years of swiping I met a really wonderful first love. Thanks for writing this!

  114. Taylor says...

    Man the sentence “my parents told me that guys only wanted sex, and to stay away from them, so all through middle school and high school I did” makes me so sad. Boys need to be taught to view women as equals, but that’s so hard when we assign all boys 12-18 as predators :(

    • celeste says...

      Yes, I agree 100%. I have ideas on how to keep talking to my children. Worse than the Footloose town.

    • Same here! If people, and especially parents, start with the assumption that all boys are predators, they’ll never be taught to be anything else.

  115. Katie says...

    Oh my gosh this is me! I’ll be 31 in a couple months and while I’ve been on a few dates here and there, still have yet to kiss anyone. Small evangelical colleges can really do a number on you, (hello, possible bi-feelings I didn’t discover till 30 because it just wasn’t a thing) especially if like me you still have a lot of friends with that background (or you know, super religious parents). I’d like to start dating and putting myself out there more, but I just applied to a bunch of PhD programs, all of which would require moving far away, and it feels a bit pointless when I’m hoping to be very far away by the Fall. Super glad to hear that I’m not alone in this plight—the idea of having to tell a date I’ve never kissed anyone at 30 is rather terrifying.

    • Katherine says...

      This is also me — except I’m an even later bloomer. My first date was this year at 35! I had the same evangelical background and then a small dating pool after college. Katie, if I can share one piece of my experience it is that I regret that I let “it’s not a good time to start something serious” keep me from dating for literally a decade. The best part about Bumble and other similar options is that, although there are definitely people on there looking for serious relationships, there’s little commitment expected to start. I’ve been able to “practice” dating with low stakes — how I like to communicate, awkward kisses, what I like to do on dates, how to turn someone down — without having causing too much heartbreak for him or for me. It’s casual and that’s the difference, because if there’s one thing evangelical dating isn’t is “casual.”

    • jules says...

      If you want to, put yourself out there now and let the future sort itself out! For one, if it were to end in a short relationship- I promise they can be just as great and rewarding. And two, you NEVER know what could happen. Definitely not pointless to try.
      (you also never have to tell someone you haven’t kissed before. I have kissed a ton of men who were “experienced” and they were awful. No one would assume you were a newbie and its not really their business unless you want it to be :)

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Katie, I know how terrifying such revelations can be. But you don’t have to tell your date if you don’t want to or if you’re not comfortable sharing anything that personal so soon.

    • Nikki says...

      Katie- I had a similar experience as a teacher. I decided to move cities in February and was single and not moving until June. Why date I thought? WELL a friend convinced me to for the “practice” and to “get the nerves out”. It was super helpful. I went on a lot of first and second dates. It helped me decided what personality traits I like, what I like to eat/wear on a date etc. It also helped me practice talking fo first date- something that was difficult for me. I went into it knowing I wasn’t looking for “the one” instead I was looking for research and practice. I am so glad I did it. Really helped my confidence when I DID start dating in my “forever” city.

    • Micah says...

      I met my boyfriend on Hinge and started dating a month before I left for grad school in GERMANY! Of course I was nervous but it was too good to let go due to timing, so I hung on. And we’ve been together ever since. I think the distance and ‘bad timing’ made our relationship even stronger because we had to fight for it.

  116. Taylor says...

    I loved this article! Although I did not have any family or religious pressures, it was myself who put restrictions on my own life. In my mind I would “meet the one”, my mother would tell me to get out there and date and it was really hard for me to put myself out there in college when in my mind guys were only after one thing. I will say I did go to college in a very “get married right after college area” and knew that’s not what I wanted also. Post-college I moved to LA where everyone seemed to want to settle down later. I began dating and swiping and thought I’d “find a boy” like all of my other friends. I have had many friends who have met their match and married their Tinder sweetheart! I have hope, but hearing stories like yours about feeling like a late bloomer helps me also not feel so alone in this dating world. Thank you for sharing your story. It has been wonderful watching your life change in NYC!

  117. Magdalena says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this story, Kim! I’m happy that your dating life is looking good these days. I did have a boyfriend in late high school/early college and we did a lot of kissing and necking, but I didn’t have sex until after I turned 30. The messages about sex (and dating) I heard from my mom and from the Catholic church teachings were extremely negative and guilt inducing. Now I’m in my later 40s, divorced for 2 years, and would love a long-term loving relationship but I’m completely overwhelmed by the idea of dating. Your story gives me much needed encouragement and inspiration.

  118. Kathy says...

    What a beautiful piece; I love your story and being from the Midwest in a fairly conservative state myself, it resonates so much with. Thank you for sharing!

  119. Lorraine says...

    I am so curious as to why music and dancing was not allowed? And has this shift affected your relationship with your parents in any way? Do they still feel the same way about music and dancing? I guess I just can’t wrap my head around that one!

    • Kay says...

      Can’t speak for Kim, but in my conservative Christian upbringing, dancing was a gateway to sex and music (specifically with drums) could incite emotions that couldn’t be controlled. Both were seen as worldly things that the righteous eschewed.

    • Kelly says...

      when I was 22, i moved from Chicago to Oklahoma and was left quite puzzled the first time I asked someone if they had danced at the wedding they were describing to me and they looked at me with horror and said, “Dancing? I’m a Baptist!” I could not for the life of me figure out what her religion had to do with dancing.

      turns out its quite a common restriction in certain religions! who knew? I was also mystified that card playing is banned.

      however i grew up Catholic and we are STRONG in the weird category. I was just remembering that when I was a kid, on the feast of Saint Blaise, we would go to church and the priest would hold 2 candles in the shape of an X against your throat and pray for throat ailments to bypass you. Totally normal right?!?

    • Marie says...

      I was raised in an evangelical family, and I am surrounded by evangelicals in my new town, and I don’t know anyone who prohibits dancing, wearing pants, going to the movies, wearing jewelry and putting on makeup, that seems like a very extreme subset of evangelicals and not the norm. I think sex outside of marriage is discouraged because it is considered sacred and special.

    • Anonymous says...

      I believe I know the religion/denomination Kim is referring to, because close friends of mine grew up in it, though they chose a different path in their adult lives (and my sister is currently in it/raising my nieces and nephews this way).

      Dancing is seen in the Bible as worship to God, so often very conservative religious communities save it for that, only. While I don’t agree with this perspective, I try to give people the space to practice their religions without also judging them, as much as possible.

      For me, I’m happy to have found spirituality and connection in a very loving, accepting church. My life goal will always be to be a safe space for my nieces and nephews – to be here for them if they continue to choose this life, or if they choose not to, or if they make mistakes and need a loving aunt, or anything in between. I hope this helps.