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Publicado el día: 14 Abr 2024

Love’s Late Bloomers Are Finding Solace Together

Love’s Late Bloomers Are Finding Solace Together

Folks who haven’t had sex or been in a relationship are bonding online

Kendra Okereke is the kind of person who celebrates landing a new job (as a talent producer) by booking a last-minute flight to Ireland for a road trip across the country. She’s warm and funny, an exuberant evangelist for staying in hostels and travelling solo. Okereke is also a virgin who had her first boyfriend at 29, and prior to that, no experience of a relationship at all.

In a different world, that last fact about Okereke might be the least interesting thing about her. But a series of TikToks she’s done about her romantic experience-or lack thereof-have become some of the most popular on her otherwise travel-focused account that has more than 245,000 followers. And she’s definitely not alone: the #latebloomer hashtag has a combined 73 million views and climbing, encompassing a swath of viral videos and stitches asking (or answering) the same question: Am I the only one to have reached 25, 30, 35 without being kissed, without having sex, without having had a boyfriend, without even holding someone’s hand?

Love’s Late Bloomers Are Finding Solace Together

Am I the only one to have reached 25, 30, 35 without being kissed, without having sex, without having had a boyfriend, without even holding someone’s hand?

The answer, based on Okereke’s comment section, is a resounding no. “There’s a lot of us late in life v card holders around,” commented one user on a popular video that Okereke did about still being a virgin in her late 20s. “I’m 36 and this is me!” said another one of the more than 700 comments. “I’ve felt like the biggest weirdo for so long, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else with similar experiences,” read another. “I love this!”

That last comment speaks to one of the reasons that “late bloomer” has become a breakout trending topic. “It’s a very lonely experience,” says Okereke over the phone from her home in Los Angeles. “I don’t think people understand what it feels like to never have felt that mutual attraction, never be loved by anyone or even get any sort of attention.”

Okereke’s lack of a partner is constantly on her mind and has shaped her life experience. “When I was in high school, it affected me because I didn’t get asked to any dances,” she says. “In college, my sorority sisters would be hooking up with guys and I’d be in the corner, drinking my jungle juice.” Later, she moved to a new city and began to build her life, alone, while watching friends get into serious relationships, settle down and have children around her. “I’ve been ready to get married and have kids for a while now, but it’s hard when you’re 29 and there’s no sign that’s ever coming to fruition,” she says. That first boyfriend she had last summer, by the way? “He turned out to be a narcissist,” Okereke says. “It was a really hard thing to deal with, because I’ve been wanting a relationship for so long, and the first person who’s interested in me has a personality disorder.”

When Okereke tries to talk about it with friends and family, she says she generally gets “dismissive” advice, like “Trust me, you don’t want a relationship anyway, they’re overrated,” or “It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it.” The most irksome of all: “You just have to love yourself.” (Okereke likes to counter that clanger with, “You can love yourself enough to desire someone to love you the way that you do.”) That’s why she started a Late Bloomers Facebook group, now more than 3,000 people strong. “We can talk about what we desire and what frustrates us and just be heard,” she says.