Adults Who've Never Had a Partner

Adults rarely confess to the fact that they've never had a partner. However, the media and social media confirm that the phenomenon exists. In fact, it could be bigger than it might seem.
Adults Who've Never Had a Partner
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 17 December, 2022

In the West, the first romantic and sexual relationships usually occur before the age of 20. Therefore, you might be surprised to learn that there are some adults who’ve never had a partner. However, it’s not as strange as it might seem. 

Unlike other species, in humans, sexuality has complex connotations. It’s not only a survival instinct but is mediated by a whole set of psychological, cultural, and symbolic aspects. There are adults who’ve never had a partner but this doesn’t mean that they’re ‘abnormal’ in any way.

In fact, it seems that, while adults who’ve never had a partner aren’t that common, they’re not that rare either. Indeed, there are groups on several social media platforms that bring together people in this situation. The BBC  published an article on their website about a man who’d never had a partner. It prompted many other readers to write in with their similar experiences.

I am now 60 + and retired. I have never kissed a girl and certainly never had sex. The closest I came to a woman I liked was maybe 30 years ago.

-Lennart-

Boy thinking with doubts

Adults who’ve never had a partner

Adults who’ve never had a partner may be suffering from a disorder, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, the circumstances surrounding these situations are extremely varied and they’re not always due to psychological problems. For example, in restrictive cultures, celibacy can be a highly valued option.

It’s also possible that, in certain historical or cultural circumstances, the desire to have a partner is inhibited. This has happened in 21st-century Japan, where it’s estimated that about a quarter of people have never had a partner or had sex. It’s a social trend.

That said, it must also be stated that, in many cases, there may be some type of individual limitation or difficulty in establishing a romantic relationship or experiencing sexuality. Not all of them are serious, but neither are they realities that should be ignored.

To have or not to have a partner?

Having a partner isn’t always the best option and not having one doesn’t necessarily imply any kind of deficit. Broadly speaking, there’s really only a difficulty when the individual wants to have a partner but has never achieved it. Or, when they flatly deny the possibility but don’t really know why.

Behavior isn’t automatically healthy for the simple reason that most people exhibit it. It’s also not automatically harmful just because it’s unique. What defines a problem is an inconsistency between a desire and an act, as well as the radical inhibition of behavior without reason.

Some adults have never had a partner and feel comfortable with it. It’s a conscious decision or certainly one that doesn’t cause them any concern. Nevertheless, it must be said that relationships provide valuable elements for personal evolution. Therefore, those who deprive themselves of them are also giving up enriching experiences.

Woman thinking

When to worry

There’s a cause for concern when adults who’ve never had a partner experience upset over it or have confused feelings about it. This behavior may be the result of psychological circumstances that they haven’t dealt with properly. It could be a trauma, a phobia, or an extremely precarious relationship with themselves.

The problem is that these difficulties aren’t always so obvious. Sometimes, the individual may appear not to be interested in anything related to sexuality, but this is only a facade, and the problem goes much deeper. In fact, it’s common for there to be deep fears, doubts about their own sexuality, or traumatic experiences that they haven’t overcome and that manifest as rejection.

Asexuality and aromanticism

If we want to destigmatize the circumstances of adults who’ve never had a partner, we need to recognize the orientations that may lie behind these circumstances. For example, asexuality and aromanticism.

  • Asexuality: A lack of sexual attraction to others. These people show no (or really low) interest in sexual activity.
  • Aromanticism: These individuals lack the need to bond with others in a romantic way. In effect, they lack the sensations of what we know as falling in love.

Given that these are natural conditions and both are present in the human population, it’s worth considering them before judging someone who’s never had a partner. As a matter of fact, many of them suffer because they believe they’re ‘broken’ in some way. Therefore, it’s important not to put social pressure on people in the sexual and romantic aspects of their lives. Each individual must be free to identify themselves.

Conclusion

Multiple aspects of the human being come into play in a relationship. Insecurities, emptiness, and unhealed wounds come to the surface. When an individual falls in love, they enter a state of vulnerability that enriches them but, at the same time, frightens them.

Whoever loves also suffers in one way or another. Indeed, that’s what love is like, whatever its type. However, as a rule, this suffering isn’t excessive and is manageable.

Venturing to love requires courage, both to see ourselves as well as to open up to others and risk getting hurt. After all, our partners won’t always do what we want them to do. In fact, relationships offer us unique chances to mature. They offer great joy and allow us to grow. That’s the magic of them.

It might interest you...
How Our Concept of Sexuality Has Evolved
Exploring your mind
Read it in Exploring your mind
How Our Concept of Sexuality Has Evolved

Our concept of sexuality has been affected by many factors over time. This article deals with the influence of Victorian ideas and misogyny.



  • MORANO, C. D., & depois de Freud, C. (2006). Sexualidade e celibato: considerações psicanalíticas. Revista de Estudos da Religião, (1), 50-86.
  • Bogaert, A. F. (2015). Asexuality: What it is and why it matters. Journal of sex research52(4), 362-379.
  • Ghaznavi, C., Sakamoto, H., Yoneoka, D., Nomura, S., Shibuya, K., & Ueda, P. (2019). Trends in heterosexual inexperience among young adults in Japan: analysis of national surveys, 1987–2015. BMC Public Health19(1), 1-10.
  • Granger, R. (2020). Amatonormativity, Aromanticism, and What Defines a Relationship.

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.