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May 22, 2000   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need



To BG from Hayduke:

Howdy again, it's me, Hayduke. You may remember me from such shoutouts as "Shy Guy Speaks Out" and "Shy Guy Clams Up" back in the long, hot summer of '99. So as not to bury the lead, let me cut straight to the point of this letter, a revelation that's dawned on me over the past few months: it's okay to be alone.

That's it. The rest of this is just window dressing; ignore if you choose.

As long as you're still reading, though, let me take you back to the mid-80s of my high school years. Small, skinny, didn't fit in, couldn't get a date. Had a bunch of good friends, but couldn't get a date, which, of course, was all that mattered for a young fellow like myself. The very picture of misery.*

Fast forward a couple of years, now age 20: after a certain amount of hitchhiking, work, and travel, I decided to go to college. Suddenly, I meet a lot of fun people who are taking similar classes and -- surprise! -- have similar interests. They like me. I get dates. Wow! As the years go by, I get more dates. I find myself dating women who, before dating them, I couldn't imagine giving me the time of day. Who knows how long this will last? I make sure I'm dating someone all the time.

Okay, fast forward about ten more years: I get engaged, it doesn't work out, I MUST be dating someone so I keep "dating" (somewhere in there I write you -- eventually met subway girl; she was married by the way...), and then ... somehow ... I just stop. I'm still recovering from my engagement. Dates are too much work. I'm really having a lot of fun, getting a lot of stuff done, spending solid time with my friends (male and female) all by myself. And it dawns on me, at age 31, that it's okay to be alone for a spell. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's healthy. It doesn't mean I will be so (alone, that is) forever. Huh. Who'da thunk?

So, though I don't visit your site as much as I did last year, I still check in now and then (it's my only remaining connection to Brooklyn ... or was, anyway), and I see people struggling to "move on," "get over," and "meet someone new." But, you know, maybe they shouldn't be trying so hard. They don't need to put that kind of pressure on themselves. Something else is coming down the pike ... I think I'll just kick back and enjoy myself until it gets to me.

* Note to any depressed and isolated high-schoolers who may be going through the same thing: pick two creative types -- musicians, actors, writers -- you like, and read about what their high school years were like. I guarantee you at least one -- and probably both -- will say something along the lines of, "I was an outsider." Listen to me: IT PAYS OFF IN THE END. The only places I've found in which originality (and you ARE original, not a freak) is a drawback are high school and boot camp. As soon as you get out of your hometown, you're home free.

BG responds: Brilliant. Thanks. I have nothing to add, which is saying a lot.

To Joey "Tight Lips" from She That Is:

I was out with a bunch of actors last Saturday night and after a few beers, we began to play Spin The Bottle. Yep, a bunch of twenty-somethings playing Spin The Bottle. Lemme tell you something, Joey. The worst kisser at the table was the married guy. The moral of my story is that when it comes to kissing, practice does NOT necessarily make perfect. So lighten up and it will happen.

And from Sarah:

Mostly what I want to tell you is that even after you've kissed someone for the first time, well, the next time you want to kiss someone new for the first time, it's the same kind of hurdle. Having previously kissed doesn't really help when it's someone new and you're not sure if it's the "thing to do." The feelings still get all tangled up and tripped over. I'm in the middle of trying to draw out a deliciously shy man who sounds a lot like you. He's a great friend, and a real sweetheart. It's just tough to tell whether he's shy or just isn't interested sometimes. But every once in a while, there seems to be something. I have the feeling that if I don't try to rush things this time, it might all work out the way I'm hoping. Or maybe not. It's so very hard to tell.

And Pseydtonne:

I'm putting in my two cents about "Joey 'Tight Lips,'" a great hoodlum name if ever the nation needed one. I thought I was the only one like you. I was in your boat until one weekend two years ago, when I went from "Never Been Kissed" to Deflowered Male in one night. I'd like to offer advice I wish anyone could have offered me then, as it's a topic that even my most sexually experienced friends felt were too cool to discuss:

1) I agree with BG: play it cool about not having kissed anyone. Admit about being a virgin and be ready for weird reactions. Some people will not believe you. Others would rather "let Captain Kirk go where no one's gone before" and will tell you to get lost until you have some experience. Don't let that phase you ... and someone get me away from the sci-fi lingo.

2) Try your dangdest to avoid going all the way to sex in one night. The neurochemical release from sex can be overwhelming, confusing, and impossible to discuss with a person that just went to sleep. Make sure you feel safe with this other person and aren't doing it to "get it over with." All I'd wanted to do was get it over with and wound up being used. You'll likely want to bond with said person, and the other person may want to grab a soda and walk away instead. Sex can warp your mind ... oops, Trek again.

3) When it does happen, enjoy the kiss. Take it slowly; after all, there are so many different kinds of kissing and things to try. If you can help it, close your eyes when it finally happens. The sensations are more intense because there's less sensory conflict. It will be a pure, nonpareil moment: enjoy it. Feel no remorse! Waiting, while it can make it more intimidating, can make it more enjoyable because you won't take it for granted. In turn, don't let the other person take you for granted for giving you that gift. Enjoy the spring!

And Anonymous:

The guy I'm going to marry was a virgin well into his LATE 20s and had almost no experience with kissing and other forms of intimacy. And Joey, Breakup Girl is dead on: when we first started dating, there was a kind of longing in those kisses that just made me weak in the knees. Best kisser/lover of my entire life. Anyway, don't worry about it; you'll be fine. Experience isn't what makes a kiss magical.

And GJ:

Hey BG, I just HAD to write in after reading what Joey "Tight Lips" wrote! I have a really good friend (female) who is 25-years-old who also has never been kissed. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. She gets really frustrated and sort of embarrassed about the situation at times. (In fact, I think I'm the only person who knows this about her. We were suffering sisters in this area until I was 18!) All I can say is, keep looking! She hasn't given up! She's not ugly or a freak or anything like that. She's just (surprise!) really shy and introverted. And one of the nicest, sweetest, coolest people I know! Like BG said, keep looking for a girl you like, and let all the birds and bees stuff come naturally! And let your friends set you up if you're REALLY hesitant about striking up a conversation in the grocery store. Just know that you're not the only one! (I'm SO calling my friend tonight and telling her that she's not alone either!)

BG responds: Hey, Joey! Don't you just want to kiss all these people?

To In Love and Confused from NCW:

Am I the only one who finds the phrase "emotional affair with my former psychologist" deeply disturbing? That anyone who would commit such a breach of professional responsibility and decorum wouldn't immediately void himself from consideration? That such behavior should mean that you should run, not walk, away from this one?

BG responds: Nope.

And from MaryK:

Girl, this guy is SOOOO bad news! If he'll cheat on his wife and baby-to-be with you (and yes, kissing and holding and surreptitious e-mailing IS cheating!), he'll cheat on you with someone else if you should be so (un)lucky to end up with him. AND ... as a psychologist, he is breaking every rule in the ethics book by being involved with you this way. PUH-LEEZE report him to the appropriate licensing board and go find a decent therapist! You're playing with fire here, and you need to cut it the heck out before you and a lot of other people get burned.

To Torn in Boston from Michelle:

After I read your letter, I HAD to write in to you. I have been in the "Best Girlfriend of the Guy" position before, and it is not fun. While the two of us thought there should be no concern from our significant others, most of the time, it just does not appear that way to others. Many people say that men and women cannot be friends because one or the other will always have the LIKElike feelings. Anyway, as BG asked, is there a problem with your having the best girlfriend and occasionally staying at her house? Probably not. Speaking from experience, save all who are involved any heartbreak and take a taxi home to your own bed. I now do not speak to my best friend because it has caused many problems in both of our relationships. He has cut off contact with me for a SECOND time due to his feelings for me and his girlfriend's feelings for me. Spare yourself and anyone else the pain!

To Jill from Tummy:

It sounds to me like he may have the wrong expectations as to what physical attraction is. You said you have a great relationship, and things are good in the bedroom. Sounds like a good sign to me. What I suspect is that he is over the hump of his sexual peak but hasn't realized it yet. The timing is right; you said he is in his early 20s, right? Most men peak in their late teens. He might be expecting the throw-you-down I-have-to-have-you-NOW I'll-die-if-I-don't-get-it-NOW intensity of the sexual peak to last forever. Obviously it doesn't. If it did, we'd never get dinner cooked or be able to earn a living -- there would be no time. Talk to him to see if he has more subtle feelings that also constitute physical attraction. It may be that now, sexual feelings take the form of his nibbling your ear or caressing your belly rather than throwing you on the floor. When he does one of these sweet, tender, sexy things, encourage him to go with it and see what happens. He might figure out that this is what feeling sexy means now that he is a little older. Good luck!!!

To Rachel from Rachel:

As one who shares your name AND who has been in the same situation you describe, I have to disagree with BG. I'm sorry, BG, but if Rachel is not physically attracted to this guy, what kind of relationship beyond friendship can she expect? Is it fair to date a guy to whom you are not physically attracted? Put the shoe on the other foot...how would you feel if you found out that the guy you were dating wasn't physically attracted to you? OUCH! Rachel, you should choose to date someone with whom you connect on an emotional level, someone who gives you butterflies in your stomach every time you catch sight of him!

I got into this situation myself after having dated a run of very attractive jerks. I thought, "This guy is different. He is an extremely nice, funny, sweet guy wants to go out with me. I'll give him a chance, even though I'm not physically attracted to him." Needless to say, it didn't work out. I always caught myself comparing his appearance to other guys. I was actually repulsed at the thought of kissing him. YICK! That's just not fair to the other person.

Rachel, keep this guy as a friend, and if something more comes of that as a result of the friendship, great! If not, then you haven't lost anything; you've gained a friend. But if you date him before you feel any sparks, you risk losing not only a potential boyfriend, but a good friend.

To BG from Jeannie:

What a shock to see my letter as a "predicament!" But, I really appreciated the answer, and you were right. Long story short, I took a trip to MT, and erased everything from my mind and concentrated on the MAN. It didn't take long for me to realize I wasn't in love, and it wasn't going to "grow," no matter how much I wanted it to. In all honesty, that moment brought me peace because the agony was over. All the other factors (the kids, the ex, the ranches, lifestyle...) became irrelevant.

Bottomline, I'm not going to let my age (50) or "I should" or other people's opinions be reasons to compromise or give up on my dreams. I'm going to hold out for being totally in love with my man (preferably mutually!), and I'm still sticking with the western trappings, with a bit of flexibility thrown in (maybe). It is comforting to wake up each morning knowing I'm still available for "the man," rather than shutting the door by marrying someone. Anyway, the MT rancher deserves likewise! And, if he never shows up, at least I'll know I tried my darndest.

As further encouragement to other ladies (especially older ones) -- you're right: There is no drought. I'm keeping myself entertained with a sweet cowboy hunk (no ranch but that's OK!). Doubt that he is "the one," but it certainly is a fine way to spend some time. I love your column; your advice is real.



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