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Q&A: I'm not sure if I want to have sex?

Q&A: I'm not sure if I want to have sex?

I’m still a virgin at 26. I have had bad experiences with sex before. Previously I’ve been burnt with guys but now I’ve found someone I really care about and have feeling for but I’m just scared of sex. I’m scared people I care about will just use me for sex and in some ways, I don’t understand why it’s so important. I know no one will want to date me if I can’t have sex but I have all these feelings of guilt and shame I can’t get past. Maybe you are the wrong people to ask but what should I do? 

Hi there, thanks for getting in touch!

Several things are going on here, so we'll address them one by one.

1. Communication is key

Have you mentioned your thoughts and fears to the person you are thinking of having sex with? This is a good starting point. Perhaps they, too, want to take things slow. Getting to know each other better might make you feel more confident about taking another step towards having sex together.

2. Negative sexual experiences

A bad experience can mean a whole number of things. As we don’t know the specific details, we're unable to advise on this. The best option would be to speak to someone who specializes in the subject, like a psychosexual therapist.

3. Guilt & shame around sex

Unfortunately, most people grow up feeling guilty, confused or shamed around sex. It’s been ingrained in us, and it takes time to get past these feelings. The good news is that it is possible. Again, you may need to see someone professional, like a therapist, but don’t worry – they will have lots of experience with this kind of thing.

4. Scared of painful sex

Are you scared of sex being painful? If so, we recommend spending time relaxing and getting to know your body. This is the best way of building confidence and learning about your likes and dislikes. Start with your fingers and some lube, exploring as you go.

Also, no rule says penetration is a ‘must.' Plenty of fun can be had without anything ever entering the vagina! The main pleasure centre is the clitoris, located outside the vagina. (A part of it is, anyway – there is a whole other part deeper inside the body.)

anatomical diagram of the Clitoris


5. Sex should be pleasurable

Sex shouldn’t be painful. If it is, you need to consider why this may be – is there a small tear in the delicate vaginal membranes, for example? Or do you need more time to build arousal? Or maybe your partner needs to file their nails smooth…

6. Scared of being used for sex

It’s near impossible to predict what another person may or may not do, but here’s a thought: What if you do decide to take a chance on this person and it turns out to be the best thing you ever did?

We often regret the things we didn’t do, as opposed to the things we did – because at least we tried. It’s clear you have found someone you really like, so maybe it’s worth risking a little to gain a lot?

7. First time sex

There are many horror stories about how awful first-time sex is. Many are too young, mentally and emotionally, and often just want to “get it over with." Vast quantities of alcohol tend to be involved – this will numb the senses, which isn’t helpful. Also, for the reasons just mentioned, many choose to experience their first time with someone they don’t know very well.

You are in a completely different position: You have every chance of making your first-time a memory to cherish. 

When you are ready, choose a location that is familiar and comfortable, such as your bedroom. Make sure you are prepared by stocking up on safer sex supplies and lube (you can never have too much of those!) and take things at your own pace.

Best of luck <3

Love, Team Sh! xx

If you’d like any tailored advice or recommendations, please feel free to drop us a line at and we’ll answer you privately. We may also share Q&A’s so others may benefit, but if we do it will always be anonymous, with nothing left in to identify you.

1 comment

I really like your response to this reader, but I think that one thing is missing. Some people are asexual and just not interested in sex, and that’s OK too.


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