The 40-Year-Old Virgin starring Steve Carell was a smash hit comedy that highlighted the social issues older people face when it comes to talking about sex if they are yet to have had it. And while it was both hilarious and heart-warming and might be uncommon in real life, older virgins do exist. We spoke to a 42-year-old Chinese man – who has asked to remain anonymous – who is one of them.
I was originally put in touch with “John” – (he doesn’t want his name to be made public but wants the story to be put out) to talk about gambling addiction in the Chinese community. Being the Nee Hao correspondent for the North West of the UK, a lead suggested we interview John as he was a reasonably prolific gambler in Manchester and could help us out with insights to an article we were compiling at the time.
However as the interview progressed it was clear that there was an underlying reason to why John had a gambling problem. As the conversation evolved, John told me that his bad luck wasn’t only at the gaming tables, he also had bad luck with dating and finding a mate. To the extent that he has never had sex before or any form of intimacy with someone.
This then led to the writing of this article, to highlight an issue within the Chinese community in the UK, something that is not talked about often, but nevertheless, there could be many people in the community who are going through the same thing. And that’s why it’s important to put out the story.
Growing up in Malaysia
Ever since he was a young child growing up in a Chinese family in Malaysia, John was always conscious of his looks. Chubby with bad acne as a teenager, John said he was the typical boy who would be constantly picked on at school and he found it hard to develop social skills. “I was already naturally shy but felt more and more left out during my school years growing up,” John tells Nee Hao.
Moving to London in the 1990s for University
John then moved to London for university in the early 1990s and settled here gaining British Citizenship, but unfortunately his people skills didn’t get better and neither did his confidence or looks. He still found it hard to fit in and began to realise that having sex would be an even harder task, especially due to his ethnicity. “Now, it seemed I wasn’t just finding it hard and being ostracised for my weight, but as a Chinese guy, girls just weren’t interested,” he says. “People obviously had their stereotypical views about Chinese guys and it certainly didn’t help with the way I looked either. Most of my university friends had girlfriends and it was at this time I started to go to Casinos as I felt welcomed there and people didn’t judge me for my looks.”
A stable career but still too self conscious
These days, John is earning a decent wage as an accountant and at one time thought that having more money would help change his luck. But alas, it didn’t. “You hear many stories about some girls who don’t care for looks, but just like the idea of dating a man with a lot of money,” John says, “but I didn’t get anywhere with that either, which continued to knock my confidence seeing as that was really the only plus side I had. I did go on a few dates with girls, but within 5 minutes into the date, I would always freeze up and then get really self conscious about whether I was too fat or if they could see the spots on my face.”
John also tried online dating, thinking that he can mask his shyness when talking to women over the Internet, but again hit a snag. “Once again I think my pictures put them off,” he says. “I often tried starting up conversations on some websites but would either be ignored or met with a curt ‘no thanks’.”
Turning to a prostitute
Things appeared to get even worse for poor John when earlier this year he decided that the dating world was too hard for him to get into and just wanted to lose his virginity in the hope that it would suddenly boost his confidence somewhat. “People say having sex does increase your confidence, no matter how shy and awkward you are. But I felt the only way I could do that was by paying someone,” he tells us. “So I hired a prostitute.”
Unfortunately, despite even offering her a higher rate than she wanted, this prostitute still refused.
“That was a real kick in the balls. I had to summon all my confidence to ring the door bell of this apartment which was a temporary brothel. It took about 5 minutes for this Eastern European woman to answer the door, and she ushered me into this dingy room. I paid her £110 and then she left the room for another 10 minutes and came back to say she was double booked,” John says sadly yet also with frustration.
“I don’t know whether she was really double booked or not, but it seemed like she didn’t want to have sex with me. The fact that someone who is paid to have sex for a living still said no!”
She apparently gave John the details of other prostitutes who would be willing but he was so depressed and angry that he instead stormed off to a casino to blow thousands of pounds on gambling and alcohol that same night.
Friends but who knows what lies ahead?
However, as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. That same late night, a Chinese lady who was also there gambling approached John. “Leung” – her surname – saw he was alone and in a mood and decided to talk to and comfort him, despite her friends preferring to go home.
“I was obviously not in the right mind at the time and of course a little wary that a woman wanted to willingly talk to me, even as a friend,” he says. “But as they say, alcohol does lower your inhibitions and it is was suddenly a little easier to communicate with her.” Leung, in her mid 30s, helps her elderly parents run their family chippy but has also invested in a new Chinese takeaway nearby.
They chatted away for a bit that night with Leung helping John sober up a bit and both say they immediately felt a connection between them, at least as friends if nothing else. Leung says she herself has also suffered social anxiety and had issues meeting and talking to new people. “I’m not a virgin myself and it’s difficult to feel sexy and in the mood but my love and sex life have been dead for quite some time, I have recently felt like I might as well be,” she tells us with a laugh.“When you have been working flat out in a Chinese take away all day and night, it’s hard to feel sexy and also even if you did, the right person wasn’t exactly easy to come by,” she added.
Leung says her ethnicity has also hindered her before when it came to dating. “With online dating I was only really getting the most attention from older white guys, which I guess is almost expected, if stereotypical. My parents would kill me if I dated a white guy, so I need to find someone Chinese,” she says with a wry smile. “Some offered to be my ‘sugar daddy’, but seeing as I don’t need the money and am definitely not that kinda girl, it was a no from me.” She has also felt that her looks haven’t helped her when it comes to finding someone too. “I’m certainly not a slim miss and I don’t believe I’m that attractive either,” Leung admits. However, while she doesn’t necessarily feel sad about that, but is fully aware this has been a factor.
Both John and Leung feel they have a lot more in common than they originally thought and hit up a friendship very quickly. Now, recently they have been taking it very slowly in terms of potentially turning that friendship into dating, having done a few things such as trips to the cinema, picnics in the park and cooking for each other.
“She’s a very lovely lady, but I feel I’ve still got a lot of issues that I need to sort out with myself before jumping into anything,” John says with a small smile, “Leung has definitely been a massive help to me recently though, which I never thought possible.”
Leung says John is very sweet and deserves happiness and love. “Who knows if this will lead to anything more,” she says with a little smirk, “he’s a great guy and I don’t want to push him because although he wants to lose his virginity, he’s still very sensitive about the problems he’s had.” She even hinted that she could potentially be an even greater friend by being the one to take his virginity. “Well, they do say sex is best when you’re comfortable with each other and we are definitely getting more comfortable with each other!” She laughs.
When I asked John what he thought of that idea he simply replied with a cheeky grin, “how would I be able to say no?”
Both of them hope that their stories of finding love and sex are relatable for others out there, especially Chinese people. “While it’s not necessarily racism when white chicks don’t find you attractive, racial preference appears to be a major problem for quite a few of us,” says John. Leung adds that it’s harder when stereotypes surrounding your race aren’t exactly always positive either. “Many people just see us as bookish and boring,” she says, “from my experience, most guys want more ‘exciting’ and interesting ladies and I think most Chinese girls they may come across – which I doubt is a lot – are just not.”
They also say these problems with finding love and sexual partners isn’t helped by typical overbearing Chinese parents. John says both of his parents are no longer alive but even when they were and living back in Hong Kong they would still want to constantly know whether he had found someone. “My older siblings are all married and they and other relatives still try to nose about in this part of my life,” he says, “and it’s hard when you don’t have any good news to tell them because they look at you with disdain, almost like you’re the black sheep who will die alone.”
Leung has also found that her parents are still constantly asking about her personal life too. “With me being nearly forty, it’s like social suicide to be single and even moreso when you come from a Chinese family,” she sighs. She adds that while parents don’t want to hear about their children’s sexual exploits, they’ll always be overly curious when it coms to love and marriage. Leung’s never had a long-term boyfriend to introduce to her parents but half-jokingly said that John could be the one they get to meet at some point.