Dear Graham Norton: 'I'm 28 and a virgin - is there any hope of me finding a girlfriend?'

Graham Norton, sad man
'I'm at my wits' end,' writes a reader Credit: Andrew Crowley, Alamy

Dear Graham

I’m a 28-year-old guy. I’ve never had a girlfriend and I’ve never had sex. I am thinking of just giving up on finding someone, and just try to have sex any way possible but I don’t want to sleep with an escort as I think it’s really sleazy and dangerous.

I am good-looking and I dress well (I think); I have a good job and fun interests. I know how to make people (including women) laugh. But no one ever seems interested in me.

I don’t really have any friends outside of my family, I find it hard to connect with people

I am kind of shy, so that could be a factor. I’ve tried speed dating and dating agencies but it led to nothing as the women seemed only to want overly alpha-male rugby-player types. I think because I’m funny, woman see me in a friendly, clownish way. As the years pass it gets harder and more terrifying. I’m not ashamed, I am just worried, as a woman in this day and age probably wouldn’t want to sleep with a 28-year-old virgin.

I don’t really have any friends outside of my family, I find it hard to connect with people. I try to go out, but I just can’t seem to meet anyone.

I am at my wits’ end – I’ve even been to therapy. It is making me feel depressed and interfering with my life in a very negative way.

If you could offer any advice that would be great.

John, Dublin

Dear John

Life can seem very overwhelming at times and it can be wildly frustrating looking around you at people finding things like love and friendship very easy while you struggle.

If I was you I wouldn’t give up on therapy. It may have taken you to some unhappy places or forced you to face some difficult truths, but in the long term I believe it will help.

It is very hard for me to advise you about what to do next because of course I don’t know you. From reading your letter it strikes that maybe you see yourself differently from how other people view you. Are the women you meet really seeing a good-looking, well dressed guy with a good job and fun interests? If they are then I’m surprised that you aren’t at least going on dates. You describe yourself as funny but I wonder if you are using humour as a defence mechanism. Sometimes people just want to meet a sincere, genuine person who is also vulnerable. You will never be the “alpha male rugby player type”, so you need to find the people who aren’t interested in that sort of man.

'Relax and don't try to force things,' suggests Graham  Credit: Andrew Crowley

Pare your life back and examine it in small pieces. What are the elements of it that bring you joy or pleasure? What are your fun interests? Focus on those things and you will be surprised how other things fall into place. Twenty-eight may feel very old to you, but life is long, my friend, and there is plenty of time for sex along the way. Stay true to who you are – if you go online, say you are shy – and someone will find you. Relax and don’t try to force things. Behave as if you have all the time in the world – because you do.

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