If teen movies (or Steve Carell movies) have taught us anything about virginity, it’s that the label comes with a lot of baggage. We expect virgins of a certain age to be wracked with shame and angst—they don’t want us to know their dark secret, and yet they also desperately want to end the drought.
As far as 29-year-old virgins go, Lauren seems at ease with the “virgin” label. She’s not exactly screaming it from the rooftops, but she’s not in any rush to get laid either. In fact, she’s pretty chill with the idea of living her entire life without having sex. Part of this comes from growing up with a gland disorder that affects her body’s hormone production, but there’s also an element of genuinely giving zero fucks.
In a deeply religious Manitoban community, it’s this attitude that pushed Lauren to seek a sperm donor and eventually become a single mom—against the advice of doctors and friends. This has been Lauren’s hot ticket out of the dating market, where she says apps allow dudes to act like turds.
“People say horrible stuff,” she told VICE. “I remember when I had an online dating profile the first comment I got was ‘Do you want to come sit on my face?’ For one, does that actually work on anyone? And two, no thank you. People like that turn me away.”
VICE caught up with Lauren to talk about thirsty DMs, pregnancy hormones, and that very specific kind of FOMO that comes with swearing off sex for life. (For the record, her baby’s due in June, and she’s currently taking name inspiration from Game of Thrones.)
VICE: Can you remember feeling different from a young age?
Lauren: I knew I was different from the beginning. I was born with hypopituitarism, which means my pituitary gland is not formed properly. It doesn’t send the right hormonal messages to the other glands in the body, like the adrenaline gland or the ovaries. Because of that I have to take hormone replacements to even myself out. I’ve had it under control now for 29 years, so it’s not an issue now. But it was very obviously different because I was taking thyroid pills and taking a needle of growth hormones every day.
Because of my pituitary gland, I went through puberty super late. I wouldn’t have gone through it at all without higher estrogen levels. I really only started that because I was getting made fun of for being really flat chested, whereas everybody else was getting their boobs and everything at that point. That really sucked because it forced me to do something I wasn’t necessarily ready for.
Was it hard not going through puberty like your friends? Were kids cruel about it?
In junior high I feel like I was getting it the worst. I got teased for being flat chested or having buck teeth. Kids would latch on to anything that was different. A lot of that teasing has given me social anxiety to this day. My life started improving when I started looking like everyone else. I went from a junior high school with only 100 students to a high school of 1,500 with more than 500 in my graduating class. It was really easy to hide and blend in to a different group.
The hardest thing was probably getting pregnant. Initially my endocrinologist said it won’t happen, that I’ll need to get an egg donor and spend tens of thousands of dollars on IVF. I felt really shut down. But he referred me to a fertility clinic anyway. I spent an entire year on a waiting list thinking it was never going to happen and then after one five minute appointment with a fertility expert that all changed.
I’m quite amazed by your lack of FOMO when it comes to sex. Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on something?
Since I’ve been pregnant there have been a few times where I’ve felt like maybe it would be nice to have someone for that—to go out and have sex... Sometimes, out of curiosity, I think maybe I could try a random hookup, but that feeling very quickly passes—I realize I’m not acting like myself.
If you were to act on those rare feelings, what would your ideal hookup look like? Dinner? Netflix and chill?
The best possible situation would be with someone I’ve known for awhile. No dinner or anything like that. I’d be strictly seeing what this sex thing is all about. I feel like I would chicken out if there was a big lead-up to it. I’m a fairly anxious person, so I feel like going out to dinner with someone, I would either try to find reasons why I don’t like this person, or try to talk myself out of it.
You’ve said that dating feels pointless. Can you tell me more about that?
I don’t know. I’ve tried dating here and there. I had a boyfriend in Grade 10 and we would hold hands and stuff like that. We mutually agreed it wasn’t working out for us. We’re still friends and there’s never been anything negative between us. I haven’t had negative thoughts about the people I’ve gone on dates with, it’s just not for me. I’ve tried going online to dating websites. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me at all. The most recent date I went on was around last Christmas. I remember a friend was trying to hook me up with her brother. Nowadays I just do what I want to by myself. Not having to worry about anyone else is easier.
Does kissing appeal to you at all?
I’ve been kissed, very awkwardly. It’s not something I want to relive.
Is masturbating a part of your life?
I tried it, and I didn’t really like it. Never did it again.
What do your friends think? Do many people know?
With the group of friends I grew up with, it wasn’t a big deal, which was kinda nice, because it wasn’t like I felt pressure to do anything I didn’t want to do. These days I talk more about their sex lives than mine. It’s not that they’re not supportive, I just feel like if I don’t bring it up, they won’t push.
It’s hard to say who knows. I live in a fairly small religious community, it’s very Mennonite. It’s gotten a bit more progressive lately, but up until a few years ago it was a dry town. So it’s not something you’d openly talk about. People know I’m single and having a kid by myself. But they don’t necessarily know the virgin part of it.
Did you want to be a mom for religious reasons?
I make jokes about it but basically this is me giving a middle finger to the people who told me I couldn’t do it because I’m not married yet. It’s the opposite of a religious reason. If you’re telling me I can’t do this, I’m going to do it anyway.
Is there something you think non-virgins out there could learn from your situation?
I think it’s just about knowing yourself. The more you know yourself, the more you’re going to be comfortable with the choices you make. I know what I’m comfortable with, I know what I want. I think people always say to take time to love yourself. It sounds so friggin’ cliche, but that’s the best thing you can do. Once you know what you want, who the hell cares what others think?
Do you think you’ll ever change your mind? Maybe wake up at 35 and decide to just go for it?
I feel like that would be terrible. Even just thinking about being in my 30s and telling someone I’m a virgin at that age, it would be like that old Seinfeld episode. It’s too embarrassing. At a certain point, if I wanted to hook up I would just not mention the virgin part... Maybe I will have regrets in ten years. Who knows.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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This article originally appeared on VICE CA.