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Don't Give Up

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 5/5/2004

I'm an 18-year-old college sophomore, and I went out with a guy who was in one of my classes. I'm very attracted to him, but he has a girlfriend he told me he's very happy with. We're both affectionate, "touchy-feely" people, so we've kissed and done some fooling around, but we always stopped before going all the way. He told me he's not interested in starting a relationship with me, but I want us to stay friends at least. I really like this guy. He says he's happy with his girlfriend, but I don't really believe him, because if they were happy together why would he want to fool around with me? I'm still a virgin, but I'm really attracted to him and feel like I'm ready for sex. But at the same time, I don't want to do anything I'll be sorry for. Should I have sex with him?

Young and Ready

Dear YAR:
I am a strong proponent of (safe, always safe) premarital sex and firmly believe that anyone whose hymen is intact on her wedding night is a fool. But it's idiotic to try to convince yourself that a man who insists he's happy with another woman is secretly covering up an unhappiness that only you can cure. Believe me, if this guy tells you he doesn't want to start a relationship with you, he means it. He might still want to screw you, because a horny guy will screw just about anyone, but he's giving you fair warning that that's all it would be. So if you're naive enough to think that any man who makes love to you must fall in love with you, this guy will be a big disappointment. If, on the other hand, all you're looking for is a guy who turns you on enough and you like enough to do the deed and get it over with, without any expectations, then maybe this guy is OK.

The best sex, though, is always with someone you love, who loves you back, so you might want to hold out for that. It's not a question of morality, but one of quality. Although some people have no problem separating sex from emotion, for most us great sex requires a feeling of connection. Indifferent sex with someone you'll probably never see again won't make you feel good, and, worse could make you feel not so good, and worst, could give you a very wrong idea about making love and how beautiful and incredible it can be.

My husband died when my daughters were toddlers. It wasn't easy because I had to work to support us all, but I adored my two little girls and we had a good family relationship. About three years ago I met a great guy, and a year ago we got married. I moved to my new husband's home, which is less than 20 minutes away from the condo I shared with my girls. They're still living in the condo, rent free, while they finish college.

Since my marriage, my older daughter Linda, who is 22, has been furious with me. She complains that I don't visit her enough, don't spend enough time with her, and that I'm so preoccupied with my new life and new husband that obviously I don't care what happens to her. But when I do visit her, all she wants to do is start arguments and bring up every negative childhood experience that she can blame on me. I've suggested that she see a counselor to deal with this anger, and even offered to pay for it, but that only makes her angrier. She says I'm just trying to cop out of my responsibilities and foist them off on some shrink. I love my daughter just as much as ever, but it's very difficult to spend time with her. My younger daughter, Carol, is as sweet as ever, and I'm trying not to drag her into this conflict.

Baffled and Depressed

Dear BAD:

Since Linda was very young, she and Carol were the most important people in your life. Sharing you with her sister was fine, because she always had. Then you met your future husband, and naturally your focus shifted away from your daughters and toward him. You cared what he thought and made an effort to please him. He made you happy, but to Linda he was a threat, an interloper, a rival. Your marriage confirmed her worst fear--that you love him more than you love her.

You did nothing wrong by getting married--you're lucky you found someone--and kudos for not using Carol as your go-between, but you need to talk to Linda, or at least listen to her. It may be that all she needs is reassurance that you care about the pain she's in. If it's too difficult to do so in person, try writing her a letter, telling her you love her and that you want to be friends again. Tell her you want to understand how she feels and why, but that you see things differently. Don't get defensive, because the minute you do that you invalidate her feelings and communication stops.

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