You Asked It

Just Wondering

Boys, smooching, and a lot of talk about masturbation.


Hi Rookie! You guys often write about dealing with unwanted male attention, but I’m suffering from a lack of any kind of attention from guys. :/ I’m 17 and I haven’t had my first kiss yet. You also give a lot of advice for people who “get started” early (Amy Rose’s article “Have It Your Way,” for example) but not so much for “late bloomers” like me. Is there any advice you can offer to help me and my brethren deal with our nunlike existences, and possibly put an end to them? Thanks a mil! —Jen

When Anaheed sent me your question I was alone at a McDonald’s at 1 AM after a very disappointing night with a dude. THE IRONY OF ME GIVING ROMANTIC ADVICE. Anyway, here you are.

First of all, I propose getting rid of the phrase “late bloomer,” ’cause it implies that there is a “right time” when a girl is supposed to “bloom,” which is a pretty gag-inducing metaphor when you come down to it. One of the trickiest things I’ve had to learn—and this applies to sex, but also to other milestones or experiences—is that if you start comparing your progress with everyone else’s, you will drive yourself nuts. Everyone is different! There are lots of really amazing people, including several Rookie contributors, who didn’t have their first kiss or lose their virginity in their teens. My own first kiss was an anticlimactic mess during a game of truth or dare when I was 16, and I still didn’t have my “real” first kiss until way later. Let me shout it from the rooftops: whether you’re having safe sex with a different partner every week or have never been kissed, there is nothing wrong with you or your life’s timeline.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with craving more sexual experience for its own sake (rather than to “catch up” with your friends). I didn’t date AT ALL in high school, and then very little in university for a variety of reasons (I was shy, I was studious, I was a straight woman who hung around with mostly other women) but that didn’t stop me from thinking about sex, like, all the time. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I realized that pursuing the person I’m interested in doesn’t have to be scary. The first step to ending up in Makeoutville really comes down to, as cliché as it sounds, talking to people. Even if you don’t think you’re into someone right away, your opinion of them can change after just having a conversation (there are dudes that I thought were SO BORING until I got to know them and realized they were pretty awesome, and vice versa). If you still aren’t attracted to anyone in your social sphere, go out and meet new people. When I was in high school, I assumed that “going out” meant venturing into some seedy club downtown with a fake ID. But if that’s not your scene—it definitely wasn’t mine—make whatever you’re interested in into a social activity. Do you love movies? See if there’s a film club at your school, or an indie theater that screens cult movies. Are you into video games? Maybe there’s a video game meetup in your area. Dog lover? Volunteer at your local shelter. Etc. Putting yourself out there and introducing yourself to strangers can be scary, but the worst-case scenario is you meet a bunch of people who share your interests.

Last but certainly not least, if you are interested in sex but just haven’t found the right partner, learn to love yourself. Literally. Masturbation is a fun, safe way to get comfortable with yourself and debunk some of the apprehensions you might have about sex. Ultimately, exploring your sexuality should be fun. Putting too much pressure on yourself will just make things needlessly stressful. Put it this way: do you want to go out and smooch boys for the inherent pleasure that comes with smooching, or do you want to go out and smooch boys because you feel that’s what you should be doing and you want something to talk about with your friends? If the former is true, then go forth and smooch. Good luck, and have fun. —Anna

Every Friday night I play Dungeons & Dragons with the four most amazing boys. It’s really not as nerdy or weird as it sounds—these are legitimately the coolest guys you could ever meet, and their letting me into “the guild” was the result of two years of hard work on my part. But (there’s always a but) I guess it’s impossible not to hang out with the opposite sex in a dungeon-like basement once a week, into the early hours of the morning, without something happening. I’ve very much taken a liking to one of the boys, but, alas, he has a girlfriend (sigh). During our last two D&D nights we sorta started…touching…and kissing… I really, really like him, he’s sorta perfect, and really nice and gentle, but I’m afraid that our thing will upset the group that I worked so hard to become a part of, and I’m scared that he’s just using me, that these kissing sessions more to me than they do to him. I feel like there’s at least something there, but I don’t know what to do—should I pursue him and risk expulsion from the guild, or keeping playing with them (and letting him play with my heart)? —Stella

Strategizing matters of the heart can be tricky, but let’s try to break down your situation:


Goal #2: Make out with this cute boy as much as possible.

Goal #3: Don’t get your heart broken.

The question is whether these goals are mutually exclusive. I don’t think they are, but you’re right to be thinking strategically here, because if you make your move on this boy, the consequences aren’t going to be entirely within your control. Your status as a guild member could definitely suffer if you attempt to date within the group, especially since you’re the only girl and the newest member. You worked hard for your induction, and right now you’re a free agent and a full-on member; you don’t want to be demoted to just X’s Love Interest. Nor do you want to inadvertently communicate to the other guys “I’m just here because X is here, and I’m in love with him, and the rest of you are just extras in our D&D love story, ‘D20: The Arcane Seduction.’” OTOH they are your friends, and they might just surprise you with how friend-like and supportive they can be if you do get your heart broken. Then there’s the matter of this guy’s girlfriend. It’s not really your responsibility to figure out their relationship (it’s their business, not yours), but since it affects you, it would be wise to get an idea of their deal before you disclose your feelings. Maybe ask him something vague, like, “What’s [girlfriend’s name] like?” Maybe he’ll say something really telling, like “Things used to be nice between us, but lately it’s been getting dull,” (which will tell you he’s looking for a way out) or “She’s great! She’s never jealous at all” (which will tell you that he wants you to be a secret supporting player in the movie starring them). It would be safest for your heart—and safest for the guild’s dynamic—for you to continue to play it cool. But if your feelings are so intense that this isn’t an option, then you’ll just have to be honest with him, and accept that once you’ve confessed, your fate (as a couple) will be in his hands. If he shoots you down, are you prepared to power through the awkwardness in order to stay in the group? I really hope so. These are your friends now. Don’t give them up without a fight! —Maggie

I masturbate, and I suspect many of my friends do too. Is there any socially acceptable way to ask them if they do? Or is that something you just don’t ask someone, ever? I don’t want to ask someone if they masturbate and then have to say that I do after they give a negative response. Only one friend knows I do. —C.

I guarantee that most if not all of your friends are masturbating, and the ones that aren’t are thinking and wondering about it. I’m a great believer in broaching a topic like this naturally, straightforwardly, and light-heartedly—because I also guarantee that your friends would love to talk about masturbation in a safe, frank, nonjudgmental context. I’d suggest bringing it up not as a question per se—“Do you or don’t you”—but putting it out there in the course of a relevant conversation, e.g.: “But don’t you guys find that the best orgasms are the ones you have when you masturbate? Or is that just me?” You could also springboard the discussion off outside information, like: “Did you see that post on Rookie about masturbation and how great it is to know how to make yourself come so you can show your partner how to do it…?” You may have to help the conversation along a bit, so be prepared to take the lead to begin with, but the more you open up about it matter-of-factly and lightheartedly, the more your friends are likely to—especially as it’ll be a riveting conversation. Because making female orgasms happen is generally a less straightforward process than making guys come, women tend to masturbate in many more varied and fascinating ways. I wish more women talked to one another about masturbation more often—apart from anything else, it’s potentially an opportunity to cross-reference different ideas and approaches you can each take away and go try out at home. :) —Cindy ♦

If you have a question for a future installment of Just Wondering, please send it to


  • Abby April 30th, 2013 7:16 PM

    To Jen (17 and never been kissed)…

    I was you a year ago. I got my first kiss recently (I’m 18 now) and even though the guy turned out to be a dick, the kiss itself was nice. More than nice, actually. Very nice. Side note: neck kisses are literally the best thing ever. ANYWAY THOUGH, I thought it would never happen for me, but it did. Being at college definitely helped, because I got to meet new people. Hang in there, and go out and meet boys! (or girls!)

    and To C. (the masturbating one)…

    I find that sleepovers are great places for seemingly awkward questions. Something about laying there in the dark is very conducive to getting people to admit things lol.

    • Ella W April 30th, 2013 7:56 PM

      I completely agree about the sleepover thing!

      A few months ago, at a sleepover my friends and I had an intense half hour discussion as to where exactly your clit is and what it does.

    • SincerelyWrong April 30th, 2013 11:01 PM

      Neck kisses. Oh gosh. @w@~*
      But I’ve also found ear kisses to be bizarrely delightful.
      Just generally, kissing is fantastic if you have the right person. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever like it (especially after my very first experience threatened to be a slightly scarring one), but damn it’s wonderful to be that close to someone who you really care about, and who cares about you in return (or not, if you just want a fun time, but if you genuinely crave the connection, and find it, it’s justasdfsdfjv!— bliss).

      • selinau May 4th, 2013 4:12 PM

        Yes sleepovers! Me and my friends talked literally six hours about stuff that kinda like everyone had been thinking but nobody dared to talk about until that amazing night :) we are all so much closer now after that.

  • Kaetlebugg April 30th, 2013 7:30 PM

    THE FIRST QUESTION. Too true. Very well-put question & response.

  • disast3rology April 30th, 2013 8:10 PM

    C., a couple weeks ago I asked my friends if they masturbate, and they said that yeah, they do. I just said “HEY DO YOU GUYS MASTURBATE????????”. We talk about it now like it’s nothing, because it really isn’t a big deal. You should definitely ask your friends!!!

  • Morning Moon April 30th, 2013 8:15 PM

    Oh I’m 18 and I have never even talked to a boy I liked!!!!!!!!!! Then I have never been close to kiss someone.. I am too shy to do something like this and I am so introverted that everyone thinks I am boring. I can really understand the first girl.

    • raggedyanarchy May 1st, 2013 9:08 PM

      Oh gosh, me too! Like, I was messaging a guy and we were just talking about what we do in our spare time and I was like “wow I must look so boring I literally just sit around and write and watch movies all the time.” But like, with introverts, the interesting part isn’t what they’re doing, but what they’re thinking while they’re doing it, you know? Like, it LOOKS like I’m just reading a book, but in reality I’m planning my rise to power and world domination. And stuff.
      And I feel like this wouldn’t be such a problem if I wasn’t so shy. Like, I could just talk about all those interesting things in my head, if I was brave enough to speak about things that personal.

      • barbroxursox May 2nd, 2013 5:48 PM

        Holy shit, that is so accurate! Like I sit on tumblr or read a book or watch movies/tv shows almost every day, and it looks really boring. But my mind is CRAY and thinks about the awesomest/weirdest/creepiest things. I wish I could find a way to express it to everyone!
        Also, I’m not having much luck in the boy department… The closest thing I’ve had to a kiss was a drunk friend at a party who was in a relationship saying we should make out and flirts with everyone anyway. :/

  • blueflowers April 30th, 2013 9:27 PM

    Mutual drunkenness is conducive to kissing.
    Just my two cents.

  • Hannah April 30th, 2013 9:32 PM

    C, I think it takes some maturity to get your friends to talk about it tho. Cause in 9th grade, my bff were upset I’d suggest that they did that, but now we discuss porn stars. You just have to handle either situation well in my opinion.

  • kathryn-s April 30th, 2013 10:48 PM

    I am also 17 and never been kissed and although I know I shouldn’t compare myself to everyone, it’s good to know there are others people! It kind of sucks, because I live in a small town and don’t know very many boys that share any of the same interests as me.

  • Alienor May 1st, 2013 4:34 AM

    I’m sad to think that I’m 18 and never been kissed, except when I was younger because I was being abused. great. like I’m not a kiss-virgin anymore

  • victoria May 1st, 2013 5:43 AM

    “Putting yourself out there and introducing yourself to strangers can be scary, but the worst-case scenario is you meet a bunch of people who share your interests.” Or, you know, like, attracting a stalker/being kidnapped/murdered? (Have I just been watching too much Criminal Minds or is this, like, a valid thing to worry about?)

  • wallflower152 May 1st, 2013 10:00 AM

    Jen, don’t worry you’re not alone! I was 17 when I got my first kiss and even then it was a truth or dare thing, then my first mutual liking kiss was a month or two after. I thought I was the only one but I recently saw a Rookie post and in the comments some people said they were in their late teens/early 20s without being kissed. Just hang in there and your time will come. : )

    C, I say just be open with the question but maybe when you’re just around friends you trust aka not in the middle of class with other people around. When I was in early high school years I remember it being brought up a couple times and at that time I didn’t do it and no one else admitted to it either. But then later, like early college all my friends said they do it. By then we were really comfortable about talking about it. My group of guy and girl friends would hang out and someone would say “when’s the last time you masturbated?” and the answers were always funny cuz some would be like last night or others two weeks ago. It’s sad that it’s not as acceptable for girls to admit to masturbating when guys talk about it openly. Best way to end this way of thinking is to just talk about it. Good luck. : )

  • Isil May 1st, 2013 2:16 PM

    About masturbate talk: I’m 19 years old and I’ve done my first masturbating talk with my girlfriends this year. I’ve had many best girl friends in spite of the fact that I’m a girl who has guy friends mostly, and I’ve never talked to them about that ever. And I’m masturbating since god knows when. I remember that I was masturbating in even middle school. And I’ve always thought that I was a weirdo. I thought somethings wrong with me. I’ve never thought that other girls would possibly doing this. Then this year, I read Rookie’s “Do It Yourself” article. I was amazed by the comments and the people in that article who says they are masturbating since they were little. This gave me courage. I said my best friends to read the article, then we talked about it and I’ve learned that one of them is masturbating already, and like me she was doing it for years. Even if maybe some of them have a prejudice about masturbating, then I think when they read this article they will be more open to talk about it, they will be less likely to try to finish that conservation. I hope this will give you courage to talk with them, C.

  • MabelEnchanted May 1st, 2013 3:36 PM

    Yesyesyeyseysesyeyseysyese. I’m seventeen and I’ve never been kissed. Sometimes I feel pretty strange seeing as everyone around me has not only kissed someone but has had sex. I guess I just have to remember that I’m not the only one…but I would like that romantic first kiss!

  • MabelEnchanted May 1st, 2013 3:41 PM

    Also, about masturbating. I once just mentioned it (at this time I was going through the ‘why am I masturbating it’s such a bad thing to do’ phases) and my friend said “only lesbians do that.”
    That made me pretty sad. It was all kinds of judging and I’ve remembered it ever since. It never stopped me getting at it though.
    My friends are those kind of ‘strict’ friends. However, I bet they’ve ‘played’ with themselves before.

  • ali May 1st, 2013 3:44 PM

    To Jen!

    I didn’t have my first kiss until my 18th birthday. I was in Italy, travelling on my gap year, and was in a tiny town in a club which was more like a goat shed with so many foreigners! It was crazy. I was actually really forward with this one guy in there and he was like meet me outside in 10 minutes so i was like okay. (I want to have sex hm) (which i did and that’s another story!).
    Whilst waiting for him i was smoking and talking with some gorg scottish guys and when they found out it was my birthday I kissed them all as birthday kisses. Then the Italian i was meeting came out and we stopped to make out every five metres! It was so much fun. He tried to teach me how to make out properly. A skill to be worked on.

    Anyway I think that if you’re not ready to kiss or have sex, it’s sometimes subconscious. At home I was super shy. Like all i could think about was kissing people and having sex, but i never did, never said to a boy “look i want to kiss you how do you feel about a snog/pash/make out session?”, and now i know it’s because i didn’t want to kiss ANY boys i knew at home, or perhaps I wasn’t even ready. I go out legally for the first time in my life, in another country, and end up having sex because I was the forward one.

    Anyway, hang in there, masturbate all you want as it’s good healthy fun, and kiss people when you’re ready to be forward with them.

  • fallingstar May 1st, 2013 6:37 PM

    OKAY STELLA something very similar happened to me and feel the need to tell you I’m not really sure if I have advice for you because I’m still dealing with the consequences..but feel free to take out of this what you may…
    So there was this guy I liked- girlfriend yup- but he was in an exclusive club also 4 geeky/awesome guys that just hung out on fridays (driving around, watching movies, sitting in mcdonalds until 2am, etc). So I finally got admitted in and it was the best memories I have of high school. So eventually he broke up with his gf. I flirted with him more. He flirted back like REALLY showing interest. This went on for awhile and I was confused why he wasn’t making a move. Then towards the end of the year we were with all our friends in the city and he hooked up with one of my friends in front of me. Apparently he had decided he wasn’t interested anymore awhile ago but kept playing along because he didn’t want to hurt me. Needless to say, we’re not friends anymore and I got hurt anyways. I’m not in the group and now things are awkward when all of our friends hang out. I’m not ready to forgive him though. He barely even properly apologized.

  • Ellen May 2nd, 2013 7:40 PM

    to Stella,
    Please, for the sake of Womankind, be tactful and kind when dealing the guy with a girlfriend! Even though I’m rooting for ya, remember that this boy’s girlfriends exists and has feeling too. I was once that girlfriend and it sucks to be cuckolded.

  • goldielocks June 2nd, 2013 8:51 PM

    This time 6 months ago (I’m 17), I was literally beginning to think that no boy would ever even realize that I had a vagina, let alone want to kiss me!! I had never been properly drunk, never touched a boy and was feeling pretty horrible about it all.
    Within 6 months, I have kissed 4 boys, got to 3rd base multiple times and go to parties almost every weekend. I didn’t realize how much had changed until the other day when my friend was like, “You get with all the hot guys!”
    My first kiss was from the hottest guy in my school, and there I was thinking a potato wouldn’t kiss me. I have to say I kind of lowered my expectations, but not everyone is going to come across prince charming when their 15.
    Consequently I have also found a new friend group who don’t shun me for hooking up and getting drunk, I’m a teenager for god sake! I love kissing so much now, and I’ve realized it’s not really a big deal! Hang in there baby!