Afraid of intimacy
I am 19 years old and completely celibate. I have never had any sort of physical intimacy, not even holding hands, with any boy. It's very hard for me to open up to people, and on top of this I have low self-esteem, so I think I come across as either intensely shy or aloof when I am with boys. I have a very sarcastic sense of humor that also keeps people at a safe distance.
I can't see myself ever getting past these barriers I have built - although I did make some progress with one of my best friends (female). She has made me feel so comfortable with her that I can hug her or put my head on her shoulder without shame. At first I confused this with lesbianism, but I definitely know that I am attracted to boys and not girls. I think she was just the first person who "let me in."
How can I try to develop healthy relationships with boys and get past my physical intimacy issues?
Does "late bloomer" mean something to you? Please stop putting yourself under so much pressure and please accept that some people mature physically and/or emotionally sooner than others. That means that others (like you, for example) develop physically, emotionally, or socially later.
You can try, and succeed at, developing healthy relationships with males the same way most other women did it: by offering value to a companion, by behaving in ways that he perceives to be rewarding to him, and by clearly communicating your needs and getting them met. After you have selected a man to spend time with based on age, height, looks, race, religion, and all other factors important to you, you then "date," which I prefer to call "auditioning" so that you can refine your values - what is important to you - and determine your partner's compatibility with you intellectually, emotionally, and physically. To the extent that you are each sufficiently rewarding to each other the relationship will continue.
You would likely benefit from a relationship coach or from suggestions from friends. If that is not possible, seek the services of a marriage counselor. They are well trained in relationship matters.
This question has been answered by Dr. William Fitzgerald, a.k.a. Sexdoc. He is a bona fide sex therapist. He is one of the sex therapists at the Silicon Valley Relationship and Sexuality Center, in Santa Clara, California. For more of Dr. Fitzgerald’s work, visitors can check out Ask the Sex Doc, his website devoted to answering questions about sex therapy, sexuality, and relationships.For more information visit: http://www.sexdoc.com/