Never been kissed

There are awkward conversations. And then there are conversations you would do anything to avoid. There will be a whole tranche for each of us that fit into this latter category. For me they start something like this:

“Danny, what’s your worst ever dating experience?”, or maybe, “When did you have your first kiss?”

I can’t answer them.

This week I had one that ended up along similar lines, but I didn’t see it coming. For some absurd reason I started a blog last summer and chose relationships as my specialist subject. I had opinions and I wanted to share them. Whether anyone was listening was comparatively unimportant, and if they were I planned on ignoring them. That illusion was shattered the moment I walked into church and saw the people who had shared my post or commented on the blog.

I was writing about a subject people cared about and wanted to talk about. Just not out in the open.

Except I had made the charge out into the open as a forlorn hope to furnish my waiting audience with advice and expertise. Soon the unofficial church relationship blog took on a life of its own. Every other conversation I had was on the issue, drinks became informal focus groups. Emails, tweets, messages and comments all came in with dilemmas of what to do, and asking that I replaced my discursive conversational style with some didactic answers that would help tackle these tricky waters. They wanted to know what to do.

A couple of my more distant readers even thought I might be married.

My writing changed my real relationships, there were things I expressed in my posts that I had left veiled to all but a very few, which now stood between us. For some that was a conduit which encouraged more blatant displays of attraction. For others it was a stumbling stone that made me out to be something I was not.

It changed me. It made me take stock of my feeling towards other people. It forced me to act with integrity, and act in the way I was exhorting others to. In particular, it meant that I had to tell someone I was attracted to them. And that was the end of that.

Because I’m not married, and I’m not in a relationship. I’m not an expert with years of experience to share with my loyal readers. Nor do I even have catastrophic mistakes to learn from and walk away a stronger man. Because I’ve never been in a relationship.

It’s something I avoid admitting. It’s a frailty I do my utmost to cover over. I’ll massage the truth, avoid the topic, change the conversation, revert to conceptual, abstract, answers, all to escape admitting the complete void of romantic life experience between me and another.

Yet I write about relationships.

This conversation earlier this week, partly provoked by my writings, partly guys sharing a drink in the pub: I was asked for my game plan for prospective relationships. ‘When do I show my hand and ask her on a date, when does dating become a relationship?’ Interesting questions, questions about which I have already pondered and plan to ponder more. But questions to which I have no anchor in reality. Answers that are based on other people’s experience and my own efforts of speculation.

I don’t know if I lied in answering the questions, I certainly was evasive and have lied before in response to such an inquisition. If I recall I tried to massage conceptual thoughts into an account that appeared to be my own without explicitly acknowledging as much.

The stigma that brands me and pushes me into my corner of shame is as present in the church as it is throughout the wider world. When I was 18 it was an embarrassment, when I was 21 I discovered more people in the same boat than I could have imagined. Now I’ve maybe engaged in a grand exercise in deflection to mask the truth. And I knew it could not hold. This confession has been brewing for a while: I’ve hinted at my inexperience, inferred the absurdity of my supposed expertise.

Maybe I had hoped it would never be needed

–that I would find the girl of my dreams in the comment threads. Or someone would see my writings and declare their love for me. I desperately hoped for things to be different than they were.

I have a life of experiences. I may not have a litany of disaster dates. I may not be a Christian gone off the rails with a story of redemption from sexual hedonism to share.

I have what I am. What lies behind me and remains today around my feet. I have the challenges of singleness and the frailty of a history I am ashamed to bear. I can share from the pain I feel, the fear I know, the love I want. I walk a road of wounded souls and I am as fragile as any.

[photo: Hannah Yoon]

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  • Michaeleen

    Danny, thank you for sharing so honestly.

  • Mary

    Hugs Danny. This touches my heart. My advice is to forget advice. Believe with all your heart that our lovely loving God can put you together with your mate in a way that will be utterly unique and totally satisfying and better than anything you and your friends could imagine. If He could do it for me, he can do it for you!

  • Katherine Hickey

    Thank you for this. I have been reading your blog for some time now and am grateful for your always humble tone. You don’t write to impress. That is true authenticity worth celebrating!

  • Lucie

    The great thing is that so many are engaging with your blog. I’m sure it fills a need.

  • Katie Axelson

    I’ve never been kissed either. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve never kissed anyone may be more true. A boy I was dating (but not in a relationship with) aimed for my cheek but hit my ear. Another day he did successfully find my cheek. I was also kissed on the cheek in a romantic skit. That’s it. That’s my entire kissing history in three sentences. (And I’m a few days shy of being 23).


    • Danny Webster

      Thanks, I guess technically I have kissed someone, but that was in a play, and having never done so in real life made a weird situation all the weirder!

      • Katie Axelson

        My skit-kiss was unplanned… the (married) man I was performing with just did it without giving me a heads up first. Let’s just say the blush was genuine.

  • Louise

    This is so brave of you to open up with so much honesty. Definitely relate to a lot of what you wrote.

  • Just Thinking

    Define relationship. Sounds to me like you “get it” far more deeply than many, many couples out there. “I have what I am.” You have everything you said. You also have more than you said. You have everything that lies ahead of you and remains today in the plans God is working out. You have the opportunities only singleness has been able to keep possible and the strength of a history only you were strong enough to bear. You can share from the healing you’ve received, the courage you’ve found, the love you’ve given. You walk a road of redeemed souls, and you are as precious as any.

    • Danny Webster

      Thank you. That’s about all I’ve got.

  • 1lori_1

    Danny, don’t worry you have your whole life ahead to get involved in relationships. Sounds to me lime you are way ahead of the game in that you don’t have the regret that so many of our youth have now at starting out way too young. You are a brilliant writer with a great head on your shoulders! Lori

    • Danny Webster

      Thank you. I’ve avoided many regrets which if I had my own way I would have otherwise walked right into. Sometimes I don’t feel in the game, never mind ahead or behind it!

  • John

    I don’t think that a lack of life experience in romantic relationships disqualifies you to speak on the issue at all. I have dated, but my strongest motivations and convictions about relationship are not based on my personal experience. I think that your actions in a romantic relationship should spring from your intentions, and your integrity and character, all of which should be cultivated before you are actually involved. The relationship experience that matters most, comes from our relationship with God. If you have taken time to cultivate character, and have learned something about how to treat a romantic interest the same way God treats us, then you should definitely have some advice worth giving. In my opinion all the other questions are based on lesser details, which are of lesser importance.