Q. Available or not? I have been spending a lot of time with a man I think I could have a real future with. The problem is, he has a girlfriend. He never seems to see this girlfriend and frequently asks me out on weekends, but he does mention her. Nothing physical has happened between us—I won’t go there unless he’s free, and he hasn’t tried—but there is definitely chemistry and I sense he knows how I feel. I think I should probably cut back on my own availability; I worry I’m making it all very easy for him and not placing enough value on my own time and emotions. I also wonder whether this mysterious girlfriend knows he’s spending so much time with an available single woman and how she feels about it. Advice on how to navigate this situation?
A. Dear Available: As I like to say, “If you’re confused, they’re confused,” which certainly seems to fit here. This gentleman is likely giving you some signals but not a green light. I applaud your attitude of not getting more involved under the circumstances. I’m guessing it’s awkward to ask this guy more direct questions about his girl, but have you tried asking him to bring her along sometime? It sounds like neither of you want to make her that real.
At the end of the day, what counts is the fact that this guy is not available, and he’s not being as responsible for his status as he could be. Even if this chick doesn’t exist, he’s still using her as a bundling board* between you two. I do think you realize all that, you are just enjoying the time you spend with him and understandably don’t want to fuck with that. If he’s holding back for whatever reason, whatever that reason is likely to make him a bad relationship bet for anyone. I don’t think he’s fully in a relationship with his supposed girlfriend either and likely wouldn’t be able to be with anyone in the way I think you are looking for. I think it’s important that you see this flaw in him, which will help you to keep from taking his actions, or lack thereof, personally.
When you wrote “…a man I think I could have a real future with” this indicates that you are fantasizing about the future. Fantasy is almost always better than reality. Hanging out in a fantasy world is pretty much a guaranteed setup for disappointment—you need to leave the movie theater in your head.
*Colonial style contraception
Q. Waiting for Sex? In this day and age, is there any merit (be it societal, personal, or otherwise) to keeping one’s virginity until after his or her 21st birthday?
A. Dear Waiting: Though I’m curious as to why you are asking me this question, it’s worth discussing. I think by far, the main motivation for people to hold onto their virginity is because of religious influences which says sex before marriage is wrong and abstinence is the way to go. However, you seem to be pondering the question of whether you should have sex before you are specifically 21, as if you are going to get some sort of certificate proclaiming you are of age to have sex. If you’re interested in what most people do, the average age of that young people have sex in this country is 17.
I think what’s more important is to be able to make a decision that is right for you. In the days before birth control, it made good sense to wait. I get the feeling from the way you asked your question, that you may be out of touch as to whether you are ready to have sex or not. You are the only person that can truly answer that. There may be people who are judging you one way or another, or a whole host of outside influences that are confusing you. This is an opportune time to figure out how YOU really feel and draw you own personal conclusions. If you make a choice that you think is right for you at the time, then that’s the correct decision.
From what I’ve read, when the teens that wait to have sex finally do have sex, they are less likely to use birth control and wind up with more STDs and of course, pregnancies. Conversely, I’ve also read that losing one’s virginity at an early age may lead to problems like depression and substance abuse, which I believe as well.
In my opinion, the person you lose your virginity to and the circumstances at the time will have impact on your feelings and thoughts about sex for the future. You don’t want to break your leg when you go skiing for the first time. I think the most important factor when you start to have sex with someone you trust and even hopefully respect, no matter what age you are.
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