The world of love is an intimidating one, especially for those of us who don’t have much experience in relationships. But whether you’ve never been in a relationship or just never had something serious with someone, there always seems to be a sense of shame around a lack of experience.
The general attitude in the world of dating is that you should be ashamed of not having been in a relationship before, and there’s a stigma that you’ll be “bad” at relationships or the person you’ve met won’t want to be with you.
But the truth is that no one really has it figured out, and every relationship is unique. So effectively, each time you get into a new relationship, you’re both rookies until you get to know each other. But if you’ve never been in a relationship, it’s understandable to feel undecided about telling them that.
Remember that everyone has varying levels of experience in relationships, from people who have never dated to those who’ve never had a serious relationship. And this will ultimately affect how you feel about telling the person you’re seeing that you don’t know what you’re doing.
But before we get into whether you want to tell them or not, let’s look at how the differing levels of experience can affect your decision. So which category do you fall into?
You’ve never been on a date
People who have never dated are certified relationship virgins. Forget knowing what it’s like being in a relationship with someone, you’ve never been out on a date!
It’s natural to feel clueless when it comes to love, whatever your reasons for not dating, including:
But whether you decide to tell them you’ve never been in a relationship or not, they’ll probably be able to tell anyway.
You’ve never had a boyfriend or girlfriend
So you’ve dated people before but it’s never really materialised into anything solid. This means you have dating experience, just no relationship experience. The good news is that those two areas overlap a little so you’ll already know some parts of what being in a relationship is like. From sexual experience to opening up to another person, dating is like a relationship but without the label or commitment.
You’ve never had a serious relationship
If you’ve never had a serious relationship, but have dated people before for a while, then you have more experience than you think. Whether it’s been a casual relationship that fizzled out or the dreaded situationship. More often than not, you just haven’t met the right person to pursue something serious with. So if you have met this person, then you should be honest with them from the beginning.
Why you might not want to tell them you’ve never been in a relationship
You might be cautious to tell them because you don’t want to scare them off. And it’s true – some people don’t want to be with people who have never been in a relationship because they think it means you’re a commitment-phobe. But this is a logical conclusion to come to when you consider the dating habits of the 21st century and the superficial reputation of online dating.
Ultimately, you need to communicate with your new partner and be honest and open with them. If you don’t tell them, then it could lead to them assuming worse things and possibly ending the relationship.
Why you should tell them you’ve never been in a relationship
Whatever your reservations are about telling them you’ve never been in a relationship, honesty is always the best policy. Being upfront with your lack of experience will only help them and you in the long run, because you’ll inevitably need a little more support and patience.
It’s normal to feel inexperienced, but it’s not a disadvantage
There’s no reason to feel ashamed or nervous if you’ve never been in a relationship. So telling them that shouldn’t be a problem either. Like it or not, it’s a part of you and is something that your new partner needs to know about you, and won’t change how they feel if they really want you.
There are other relationships in your life
Just because you don’t have romantic experience doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience in having a relationship with another person. You have relationships with so many other people in your life, just in a platonic or familial way. But you still learn so much in these bonds that you can take into your love life, so it’s really not a huge deal if you’ve never been in a relationship.
It’ll help them be patient with you
Having said that, there are still some things that’ll be new to you in your first romantic partnership. Telling your partner that you’ve never been in a relationship means that they can be conscious of that fact, and try to be more patient with you while you do learn.
Tips for dating someone who has never been in a relationship
If you’re dating someone who has never been in a relationship, here’s a few pointers to help you help them, and ultimately, your relationship.
Be patient with them
We all make mistakes, but when dating someone who has never been in a relationship, you can expect a few. Having a little patience with them will go a long way when getting into a good groove in your relationship.
Be prepared to do the heavy lifting at first
People who have never dated won’t know what to do naturally in a relationship, so you need to be prepared to pull your weight, and some of theirs, at the start. As they pick things up and learn how to communicate with you properly, you’ll be able to have a balanced dynamic.
Communicate as much as possible
This is key for any relationship, but even more important for those who have never been in a relationship. Being single means for many that you take care of yourself and don’t rely on another person as much. So you need to encourage them to share their feelings, which could be a strange thing for them at first.
Be responsible and kind
Being with someone who has never dated means they won’t know as much as you about relationships. This puts you in a unique position where you could potentially manipulate your partner or relationship in your favour. So it’s important to be responsible and act fairly with your new partner.
Your romantic experience shouldn’t really matter
At the end of the day, whether you’ve had 7 relationships or none at all, it shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. In fact, telling your partner that you’ve never been in a relationship will only help you both in the long run to support each other more. And that’s all we can hope to do in love, isn’t it?
Kay is in her 50′s, is divorced with grown sons, and has been back in the dating game for 5 years. She’s met a surprising assortment of men from online dating sites, many of whom were very nice but just not right for her. Some remain friends. She now refuses to meet anyone at Starbucks