It seems like everyone around me has had much more romantic experience than I have, and the ones who haven't had much experience don't care about it like I do. I'm extremely embarrassed to be a virgin at 17 and to have had very little romantic experience with anyone.
I've been building up more self-love over time, which will help my case, but I always find myself depressed about this. What can I do to make myself feel better about being inexperienced, and what can I do to actually get some experience?
Romeo Is Ready (male, 17)
First, let's dispel the myth that everyone's "doin' it" but you. A 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than half of high school kids actually are not sexually active. So don't beat yourself up. What you are experiencing is totally normal.
I know it's frustrating, but try to ignore the pressure from your peers and pop culture. Things aren't always as they appear. Your friends are likely overstating their experience, and TV and magazines are in the business of peddling sex and romance to the masses. That kind of action is airbrushed and only skin-deep. It's just not real.
Don't have sex just to have sex. Don't waste this incredible experience on just anyone. You can't hurry love. And not all sexual experiences are good ones. Wait until you meet someone you care about and who values you.
Since you want to be proactive, work on getting comfortable with yourself and your body. You're right: Confidence and self-love are key to getting dates. Try to build friendships with people whom you find attractive, and focus on the parts of your life — sports, hobbies, schoolwork — that will round you out as a person and make you more interesting to others.
Finally, start masturbating if you haven't already. Get used to how your body works and in touch with what turns you on. It'll relieve some of your worry and help you not to climax too soon when you finally meet your first Juliet.