I lack experience

Happy Patriots Day.

Happy Marathon Monday.

Because it's a holiday, I'm running a letter that's urgent -- but similar to another letter that we dealt with last year.

Be kind. Stay hydrated.

Dear Meredith,

I have an awkward issue that until recently I was never embarrassed to admit. I'll be turning 28 in a few months and I've never been in a serious relationship and am still a virgin. For some vague background: I had some serious life issues in high school and a social life was the last thing on my mind. By the time I got to college, I was just trying to calm down and relax, and was more interested in friendship and my schoolwork. After college, there was more turbulence in my life and when everything finally straightened out, the last thing I wanted to do was enter a relationship. I went through some rough years and I admit I had some trust issues because of it.

My life has finally been on a good path for the past year or so, and I figured it was time to explore that unknown territory of dating. Going on dates isn't my problem. The problem is letting anything progress into a relationship or having sex. To be honest, I never thought I should be ashamed of my lack of experience, but I know people can be cruel about it. People tend to either laugh in disbelief and pity, think I'm joking, or wonder what's wrong with me. And I know that you're supposed to go through the awkward learning stages of dating and sex in high school and college. I'm pretty sure men my age won't find it charming to have to take on the responsibility of teaching me about sex and dating. I've found that they're usually looking for someone who has it all together.

So, I need some advice on what to do. Am I worrying too much about this? Is my problem weird? How do I go about admitting to someone that I'm almost 30 and completely new at this?

– New at this, Boston

First of all, no one has it all together. Second, you have life experience that others don't have. While your peers were dating and having sex, you were learning how to get through tough times on your own. That makes you experienced. Just in a different way.

We learn from every relationship, which means that when you start dating someone new, you'll have plenty to teach.

My advice is to get comfortable with your status in your own head and understand that even the most sexually experienced people fumble through new relationships. Ignore anyone who is cruel -- but if someone scoffs because they are surprised, give them a moment to recover and apologize.

Also, you don't have to volunteer this information until you're ready to disclose the other details about your past (those serious life issues). Something tells me that if you put your lack of experience in context, it won't be that much of a shock.

There's no right time to tell someone this stuff, but you should probably wait until you're having one of those lets-share-everything conversations. And when you're having that talk, make sure you ask him about his life. He'll have his own stories to tell and they might make you scoff in surprise.

Readers? When should she volunteer this? Is it a big deal? Are people really cruel about this stuff? Discuss.

– Meredith