Advice, Hope

Advice – 19 And Counting

Dear Cary,

I’m a freshman in college, I just turned 19, and I’ve never been kissed or even had a serious boyfriend. I was totally fine with this in high school — I went to a very small school  and so the guys in my grade felt too much like brothers to go out with. In ninth grade, I went out on a few dates with a junior, but I was shy and he was much more experienced and we stopped dating a little awkwardly. The next year, we randomly ended up interning at the same company and I started to like him a lot, but he was leaving for college and he didn’t seem interested. Junior year, I found out that he was, and we reconnected briefly over winter break but decided not to date long-distance. There were other guy friends of mine who expressed interest, but I didn’t connect in that way with any of them. There weren’t significant relationships by any means but there was enough of that teenage intrigue to occupy my time and make me feel wanted. I had my own crushes. I was on student council and the honor roll and I had an inseparable best friend and a great group of larger friends. I’m very close with my family. Sometimes I felt impatient and wondered when I would meet a guy that things might stick with, but overall I was happy. I’ve always been confident in my looks – I love clothes and makeup. I’m an athlete. I even did a little modeling in high school. I always was fine with waiting and trusted that good things would happen in college.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been true. I’m from the West Coast going to school on the East Coast, and I’ve experienced significant culture shock. It’s been hard to make friends, especially guy friends since I live on an all-girls hall. I have a great gay friend and three really close girlfriends, but it’s been a struggle to find a larger group. I don’t drink or do drugs, not for any religious/moral reason, just because I don’t like their effect on me. Since I’m an introvert, I don’t do as well in big group settings. But I really am good at close relationships – they’re incredibly important to me. I’m fiercely supportive of and loyal to my friends and family. I’m a good listener and I love taking care of people. I think I would make a great girlfriend, but I haven’t had a single guy express interest in me this year. There’s been the typical “so-and-so thinks you’re cute,” but I don’t trust people who like girls based purely on looks and rely on middle-school tactics like that. I’m usually pretty laid-back, but I’m starting to freak out about this a little bit. I can’t talk about it with my friends here because most people just assume I’m more experienced than I am and I’m too embarrassed to tell the truth. This embarrassment is new to me but the label “19-and-never-been-kissed” seems so awful.

I worry that it will never happen. I worry that my shyness is more off-putting than I realize, and that I don’t know how to get over my introversion. I worry that I come across as too old-fashioned and formal: I wear mainly vintage dresses and I love domestic things. I worry that I come across as prudish because I don’t swear or take part in the college party scene. I worry because having a family one day is incredibly important to me, and falling in love is part of that. I worry because this is not under my control. I can’t make it happen, and yet lately I can’t seem to let it go. It’s more than embarrassment, it’s sadness. Love and lust and all related things seem like such an integral part of the human experience, but I have no personal understanding of them yet. How can I grow up if I’ve never kissed a boy or been in love? How do these things start happening? Should I be worried? Should I keep waiting for somebody important or should I just go for guys to get past this awkwardness?

I feel like I have to put in the obligatory disclaimer here that I’m a feminist and I have big goals for myself, academically and career-wise, but this is an area I need help in.



This question was emailed to me by my lovely friend LillianLemoning who seems to always know what I need even when I don’t have a clue.

Oh, 19.

I myself was (am) a bit of a late bloomer.  I thought it meant something terrible about me.  In high school I feared that I would graduate college with little more than a kiss under my belt (not like that, get your mind out of the gutter).

Here’s the magical part.  From the day that I feared no guy would want to kiss me ever until the day after I had the best kiss I could ever have dreamed of, I didn’t have to change a thing.  It wasn’t like it took a hollywood makeover or a class in how to flirt so that someone could find me attractive.  All I did was ask someone to hang out and kiss me.  Then I started paying attention to the way guys treated girls they liked and started noticing that behavior being aimed at me.

You’re a freshman in college.  I know that seems so old to you because it’s the oldest you’ve ever been but when I was a never-been-kissed 14-year-old I thought that was old maid material too.  It took until a year after I graduated from a tiny private school surrounded by ‘brothers’ for me to figure out how to interact with guys too.  Don’t feel left behind, you’re right on track.

Other than that, if you aren’t into drinking (which is fine, but it might eliminate potential mate-meeting events) you’ll just have to meet people in other places.  I know it sounds so cliche but join clubs and teams.  Make friends with the girls on your floor and grab lunch with her and her co-ed buddies from bio.  Also, you don’t have to drink at parties.  Bring a soda bottle and don’t tell anyone what’s in it (you won’t be the only one pulling that trick).  Who knows, maybe there’s some awesome designated driver there praying someone awesome and sober is around to talk to.

Go places, meet people, look them in the eyes and notice when they like you.  That’s basically the important stuff.

Other than that I’ll tell you this story that makes me feel better when I think I’m going to die alone surrounded by cats (which would suck because I hate cats.  When I become an aging spinster I’m going to have an awesome aquarium!):

My friend *Sari got married a few years ago.  Sari is the kind of girl who has been dating for almost her entire life.  She kissed some boy in middle school and hasn’t been ‘single’ for more than a few months at a time since then.  When she was a kid she was best friends with the only other girl she’s ever met named Sari.  Other Sari never dated ever (yes seriously this is a true story).  Other Sari lost her virginity to some guy in college who she didn’t care about too much and broke up with a few months later.  Original Sari did it with one of her many boyfriends somewhere between high school and college.   Original Recipe Sari technically hit all the benchmarks earlier.  First kiss, first boyfriend, love, virginity, you name it.  Other Sari was understandably bummed most of their schooling years.  A few years ago Other Sari got married (a little after Original Recipe Sari) to someone great.  Apparently Other Sari met him and just knew.  She didn’t need first hand experiences with other guys to know what was going on with this one.

You’ll be fine.  Just keep on trucking and saying hello to strangers.  Doesn’t matter which kind of Sari you are, they all end up happy in the end.

Hope, Intimacy, Relationships

What I Want

I think it’s worth putting out here that this is what I want from life:

It’s not a lot but it’s what I want, yeah, that’s what I want.

I’d take a dash of this too.

Friendship, Hope, Intimacy

It’s 20:20

I read a great article on one of my favorite sites lately and it really resonated with me.

The Magic Trick

It outlines the authors short affair with a married french man.  She has an affair with a man and when she has to imagine him leaving she becomes very upset at the thought of this nice man leaving her life.  But then she realizes that while he is wonderful for right now, he’s not permanently wonderful and she should let him go.

The truth began to dawn on me. This is a nice man. It’s nice to be comforted by a nice man. And that calmed me down to the point where, as he stroked my hair, I asked myself, did I love this guy? Honestly? Tell the truth. No, I didn’t. I liked him, but did I really want to keep him forever? God, no, I told myself, look at him! He’s 35 years old and dresses like one of the Three Musketeers! He has long fingernails, which he likes to put varnish on. These were little quirks I’d never asked about or thought to object to, reasoning that he wasn’t mine, so let him do whatever he wants, right? Nobody’s going to think I’m dressing him, after all. I’m not his wife!

…I hadn’t suddenly lost my interest and desire for him. I’d simply realized there was no need to overindulge. A four-month romantic interlude was pleasant — perfect, even. Five minutes more than that might lead to despair.

It’s an important lesson.  Sometimes people are perfect for right now.  They’re nice people.  They occupy an important position in your life.  You learn important things from them.  But it’s important to remember that they are occupying that place in your life and are not indeed your soul mate.  Because these are important people you don’t want to hurt.

Self-awareness…yum.  Hindsight, eh?


Right Under My Feet Is Air Made Of Bricks

I’m in a strange and new place with strange and new friends who I’m slowly starting to love.  Unfortunately, though, they are obsessed with love.  I’m starting to find that most people I meet, at least people I meet who are near to me in age, are obsessed with love.  Maybe they’re normal for being this intent on love, marriage and babies and I’m just odd for spending so little of my time thinking about it.  Sometimes I seriously think that this makes me…broken.

This is how I feel when I close my eyes lately.  Imagining being held by someone out there who I haven’t met yet, who I cannot see yet and who doesn’t know I exist yet.  Someone who’s arms fit perfectly around me and who’s neck begs to be lightly petted by my fingers.

On good days this is the most time I spend thinking about love.  On bad days I spend a lot of time asking myself questions like this.  Is everyone else crazy and narcissistic for spending so much time asking for my opinion about their relationship or am I broken for not caring enough about my romantic future?

Mr. Fox I’m waiting for you.  And I think it’s to my credit that I have other things to think about all day than just you.


Now I Need A Place To Hide Away

Today I found something that inspired me to write for the first time in a while.

Here goes:


Sometimes there are people in your life who stop being positive forces and start being negative forces.  There is someone in my life who once brought me a lot of joy and who I considered a very close friend.  This person made me feel special and smart and like I was a really important friend.  And recently I’ve found that all those good feelings are gone.

And so I’ve decided to give myself permission to put some distance between us.  It doesn’t make me a selfish person or a bad friend.  It’s just necessary because what we have right now isn’t functioning.  It’s broken.

Dan Savage says that when you end a relationship you need to “cut it off and cauterize” before you can be friends with your ex.  This goes hand in hand with the ‘you break up because it’s broken’ theory which I thoroughly believe.

This person (or gangrene hand) is causing you problems, messing up the rest of your life.  If you keep it you’ll die.  But if you really want to have a relationship with it you need to cut it off, go to therapy for a while, and then once you’ve come to terms with your armlessness steal it back from the biohazard lab and put it in a jar on your fireplace.

Isn’t that what you read in your Anatomy Coloring Book?

Confidence, Hope, Queer, Sexuality

It Gets Better

Hello world!  Yesterday I took a day off from posting because I did two the day before and I must admit to feeling a little guilty.

Last night I was catching up on my favorite weekly advice columns and came across something really great in Dan Savage’s Column that I wanted to share with you.

So basically A trans-lady wrote in.  She was asked out by a guy at a sandwich shop and didn’t know whether or not to trust the guy doing the asking.  Was Mr. Sandwich a creep who wanted to take out some trans-hate on our dear reader or did he have honorable romantic intentions?  Our new trans friend here was lacking a little confidence.  And, as usual, Dan said something universally insightful.

My inbox sags under the weight of e-mails from straight/straight-identified guys who are desperate to meet transwomen/trans- somethings, and not all of them prefer passables. So it’s possible that this guy saw trans- something, unpassable you and decided to go for it because you’re everything he’s ever wanted.

Followed shortly by

if he begins to treat you like you’re stuck with him because no one else will ever want you (not true—remember my inbox!), dump the motherfucker. It’s better to be alone than to be with an asshole who preys on your insecurities to keep you coming back for more abuse.

Next time you’re feeling down just remember that someone out there is writing to an advice columnist, moaning on about how they can’t find that wonderful person that is you.

And I’m so excited to stick around and hear about them.

Friendship, Hope

I Wish You Well. I Wish Myself All Of The Above.

I feel like a lot of my friends have been pairing up lately which means I’ve been meeting more and more boyfriends (or whatever you want to call each other, let’s face it though, he’s your boyfriend).

I don’t really have an opinion about this.  It’s just really nice to see my friends so happy.

And I LOVE scaring the boys out of their wits, threatening them life and limb if they should harm a single hair on my friends head.  That is by far the best part.

I wouldn’t say that these guys complete my friends because I don’t believe in that.  But these guys, I meet them and watch them complement my friends beautifully.  My friends and I can bond over all sorts of things but I can’t talk about helvetica or vegetarianism like these guys can.  And watching them bond over things they have in common gives me hope.  Because if my friends can find guys who love them for (rather than in spite of) their magic card addictions then I can find someone who appreciates my love of show tunes.

Relationships, Sisterhood

And I Hum To You Sweet Clementine

So I recently wrote about how all forms of love are equally important whether they’re familial, romantic, or whatever. The problem is that I rely heavily on this idea that all love is equal.  That just because I don’t love romantically (yet) doesn’t mean that my heart isn’t filled with love.

But then I saw this art piece that threw me for a loop.  It had poetry written by a friend of mine with choreography and music mixed in.  It seemed to point out to me all the ways that romantic love is superior to anything I call love.

While this art piece was breathtakingly beautiful it also rocked my foundation to it’s core and completely knocked me off balance.

However I want to keep believing in this:

Could romantic love and platonic love and parental love all be different facets of the same diamond–brilliant, no matter which face is turned up to the sun?
~Jodi Picoult (Vanishing Acts)

So instead of saying that I’ve changed my mind.  I’ll just say here that I’m feeling doubtful.  And this:

I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for.
— Sally Owens (Practical Magic)
I won’t specify that it must be romantic.  Just that it should be.  And perhaps that it will help me get my faith in love back.
Media, Relationships

Just One One?

So a while ago I wrote a post about QuirkyAlones.  And while I like the basic premise, I would like to add something to it.  I’m a classic QuirkyAlone in the way that I approach relationships.  I would rather not date someone just for the sake of dating someone. However I don’t think that’s what makes us QA’s.

Let’s do some easy math.  According to Wikipedia there are 6,877,400,000 people on this planet.  Let’s say 1/2 of them are too young/old for you.  That leaves 3,438,700,000.  Let’s say that 1/2 of those people are a gender you aren’t attracted to 1,719,350,000.  That’s a good round number to start with.

So lets say we have a pyramid.

So far we’ve concluded that the number of potentials for you is 1,719,350,000.

So in my theory we say that the people on the bottom rung could fall for 214,918,750 people on earth.  That’s 1/8 of the above number.  That means that if you met everyone on the planet (in the age/sex that you prefer) you could potentially fall for 1/8 of them if tossed into the right situations together.  A lot of them don’t even speak your language.

In South Pacific Lieutenant Joe Cable meets Liat and even though they don’t speak the same language they fall instantly in love.  He is one of her 214,918,750 and it doesn’t matter that if there weren’t a war going on they would never have met.  Those people aren’t QuirkyAlones because they fall for everyone.  It’s not that their standards are low, it’s just that they happen to click with a lot of people.  On the next rung are people who only click with 53,729,687 people.

Then 13,432,421

Then 3,358,105

Then 839,526

Way at the top are the few of us who consider ourselves QuirkyAlones.  We’re only potentially interested in 209,881 people in this world most of whom we’ll never meet.  No wonder we’re perpetually single.  There are fewer options out there for us.

Acting like a QuirkyAlone is a reaction to being a MatchFew.  We’re not QuirkyAlones because we hate people and love knitting and kittens.  We’re QuirkyAlones because while Joe Cable and I have met the same 1,000 potentials in our lives he could have fallen for 125 of them and I could have fallen for 0.1220703125.  I just need to meet a few more thousand people before I can belt at Carnegie Hall too.