"I was an awkward teenager. I went stag to my prom. I was a virgin until I was 20 years old!" the Cosmo for Latinas covergirl reveals in the Fall 2014 issue.
"My mother was raising five kids on her own, I wasn't just going to sit back and be a horny teenager and continue some cycle of teenage pregnancy – I wanted more opportunities."
And she got them, although her confession ironically runs in opposition to the role that made her famous, playing a sexually active teen in Kids.
But the 35-year-old Sin City: A Dame to Kill For actress – whose organization Voto Latino, which encourages young Latinos to vote and be involved in politics, is celebrating its 10th anniversary – does admit she "loves romance."
What does it take to make Dawson fall deeply in love?
"For me, it's about forethought," she says. "For my 25th birthday, my then-boyfriend prepared a beautiful bath for me. He put flowers and a bunch of little candles everywhere. He was crazy busy, and he knew I loved a great bath!"
Adds Dawson: "I remember it was so small but it was so special to me because he thought it through."