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“I Haven’t Had Sex in Four Years!”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

I’m in my early 30s and I’ve had two relationships in my life. My first boyfriend and I were together for five years. Unfortunately, I was miserable for three of those years, but was so scared of being alone again that I stayed in the relationship hating him (and myself) ’til neither of us could stand it anymore. I lost my virginity to him when I was 20.

After that relationship ended, I was single for four years. Then I met someone online. We talked and “dated” online for about a year, then decided to meet. He flew out to my state and we spent a week together. I only saw him once after he returned home when I drove to his state and stayed a couple days. Unfortunately, he was not the person I thought he was, and I ended the relationship. I’ve been alone ever since.

I’m self-conscious about my weight, how I look, scars I got from surgery, and the fact that I’m disabled. People judge me when I tell them I can’t work, and they pity me when I tell them I’m a chronic pain sufferer, neither of which I can stand.

Anyway, in a couple weeks I’ll be going to an event in another state, and it will be attended by people from all over the country. I was thinking that maybe I could (try to) meet someone there — not necessarily for a long-term relationship, but maybe just some temporary companionship. The trouble is I tend not to respect people who pick up a guy (or girl) in a bar, take them home for sex, then never see them again. I don’t sleep around, and I don’t want to be someone who does.

I’ve never had casual sex. I can’t do it. My two boyfriends are the only sexual partners I’ve ever had. I have to trust someone in order to be with him. I’m terrified of diseases even though I use condoms (I don’t want to make out with someone and end up with cold sores for the rest of my life. Gross). I’m scared someone will hurt or kill me or make a blackmail video. But I’m in constant pain, and not just physically but emotionally too.

I’m miserable to my core. I’m so lonely, and I want to feel good for a little while. For goodness’ sake I haven’t had sex in four years, one month, and one day! I would like to have an orgasm some time this year. But mostly I want someone to want me.

I don’t know if that’ll even happen. I thought I was good at hiding my depression until someone said my pain is written all over my face, which made me even more self-conscious. I can stuff all 192 lbs. of me into some Spanx and a dress, but I can’t make myself attractive, and I don’t know if someone will be interested in me. And if by some miracle that happens, I don’t know if I could go through with it, and if I did, I’m not sure how I would live with myself afterward.

I don’t drink alcohol. I never had “wild college years” and I never could understand how some people could be so promiscuous. But I’m not really talking about becoming promiscuity. I just want to be with someone who wants to be with me, even if it’s for a little while. And I’m hoping that, since it’s in another state, I might never have to see the person again so I don’t have to feel so guilty, or have the people from my home state judge me.

Am I being too uptight? Too judgmental? Is this something I should do? Should I “let loose” and be with someone at the convention if I get the opportunity? Or should I stick to my morals and resign myself to spinsterhood and eventual frigidity? — Miserable to My Core

Forget about what you look like for a minute — the scars, the 192 lbs. (which isn’t really that much, anyway. I’ve known plenty of women who weigh more than that and are gorgeous), and whatever else you think makes you unattractive. Forget what you look like and think about what you SOUND like. In nine paragraphs you go on and on and on about what a miserable person you are and how much contempt you have for anyone who doesn’t share your moral superiority, which I can assure you does little to endear you to potential friends (platonic or otherwise).

But even if you had friends — even if you hooked up with someone at your convention to momentarily ease the crippling loneliness you live beneath, you’d never stop feeling lonely. Not even for the minutes you felt desired. Because no relationship — sexual, romantic, platonic — will relieve your loneliness, even momentarily, because it’s not so much a lack of company making you feel lonely, it’s your own company. Until you learn to appreciate your own presence, you’ll never feel comfortable, let alone happy, with anyone else.

There are a few things you can do to feel better about yourself. First, get yourself to therapy (duh). You have some deep, deep issues that I can’t begin to help you with. You need the support of a qualified, compassionate therapist who can guide you to a healing place. I cannot underscore this need enough. If you’ve tried therapy and didn’t like it, try it with someone else. If you’re in therapy currently, consider trying it with someone else.

Second, make use of your time. You don’t work and that seems to cause you great anxiety and shame. So, do something that will make you feel of benefit to society. Volunteer somewhere! Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to relieve your pain. Why mope about feeling totally useless when you could be visiting with seniors in a nursing home or playing with attention-deprived animals in a shelter or reading to low-income children in a neighborhood library or cooking meals in a soup kitchen or doing something — anything — for someone other than yourself?

Third, smile more. It sounds corny, but it’s true: the more you smile, the happier you’ll feel. You’ll also look a thousand times better. Start walking around with a smile on your face and notice how people respond to you differently.

Four, good God, get a vibrator already. Why have you waited four years to have an orgasm? No wonder you’re so unhappy.

Five, meet more people in your own town. Quit long distance internet dating or fantasizing about hooking up with some random person at a convention. Neither of those things will bring any lasting fulfillment, and I’d say that they carry the risk of bringing you even more unhappiness if they don’t live up to your expectations — and they won’t since what you expect is to be relieved of your loneliness. But friends who can become a real part of your day-to-day life have the potential of making a difference — of creating a web of social support that it doesn’t seem you have.

You can’t escape yourself. No relationship is going to pull you away from your own company. The only way you’ll ever be happy is when you learn to be happy with who you are. And there’s no advice I — or anyone — can give you that will change that or give you a shortcut to personal fulfillment. You’ve got to say, “Enough! Enough with being miserable! I’m tired of just existing. I want to live!” And then you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work, because living isn’t always easy. Creating a happy life takes effort, particularly if you have a mental illness, clinical depression, or physical limitations. But you CAN do it. You just have to be willing to ask for help, face some of your demons, step outside your comfort zone, and risk rejection. There’s no shortcut. You can’t skip any of the steps. And while there’s no guarantee that if you do A, B, C, and D, you’ll find happiness, I can guarantee that if you don’t — if continue doing nothing, you won’t find happiness. You’ll just keep on being miserable. And at 32, you’ve likely got a lot of life left to stay miserable forever.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 142 comments… add one }

avatar kerrycontrary February 11, 2013, 9:11 am

WWS! This is so spot on and I have nothing to add.

avatar zombeyonce February 11, 2013, 2:08 pm

Agreed. I’m pretty sure this is the most perfect advice Wendy has ever given. It’s spot on, comprehensive, and no-nonsense. THIS is why I keep coming back to the site (even when I occasionally don’t agree with her).

I just hope that LW takes every single line of Wendy’s response to heart. She really needs it if she’s ever going to be happy.

avatar tbrucemom February 11, 2013, 6:07 pm

I too agree with WWS. I have to add that if the LW doesn’t have a doctor that specializes in chronic pain she should find one ASAP. Nothing will completely erase your pain, but there are many things that can make it more bearable (physical therapy, meditation, aromatherapy, music therapy, non-narcotic drugs, hell narcotic drugs if it makes you function as long as you follow the directions your doctor gives you).

avatar cdobbs February 11, 2013, 9:15 am

LW please listen to what Wendy has said! print her answer out, throw it in your purse and every time you start to get down READ IT! I’m sorry you feel so lonely…but I really believe if you start taking the steps that Wendy outlined in her response you can slowly turn your life around and finally be happy! Feel better soon!

avatar Eagle Eye February 11, 2013, 9:19 am

So, I entered into my first relationship older than most, and as I grew older and developed more insecurities I always figured that once I got a boyfriend I wouldn’t have them anymore, because someone would love and want me – so by all rights I’d be fixed!

Needless to say, while my boyfriend is lovely nothing was fixed – all of those same insecurities? I still struggle with them today and still work really hard to overcome them and better myself. Is it nice to have a cheerleader, like my boyfriend? Yes! Did he fix anything – Nope, not one bit. It’s still me, that never changed.

avatar AliceInDairyland February 11, 2013, 9:23 am

Love this, and very true. I came to that realization the hard way as well… “You mean once someone loves you everything isn’t magically fixed?!”

avatar MissDre February 11, 2013, 9:29 am

Very true.

avatar Eagle Eye February 11, 2013, 11:15 am

Hah, yeah, I think that it first occurred to me when I realized that I was still bugging out about my weight, my bf certainly doesn’t care, but that didn’t change the fact that I did.

I remember thinking, well crap, so much for that quick fix!

avatar ktfran February 11, 2013, 9:20 am

Great response Wendy. Nailed it.

LW, I’m a pretty happy person and I actually like myself. I would want to be friends with me. With that being said, there are times when I let lonliness take over and I could easily slip into depression. Those times are fewer and farther in between than when I was younger and when they do happen,they last no longer than a day. Do you know why? I actively choose to not let these feelings overcome me. I actively choose to get out of the house. Sometimes, it would be easier to curl up and hide from the world. It takes work to get out and do something, but I do because I don’t want to be unhappy.

As Wendy said, see a therapist. Work out your issues. Then choose to be happy – because it is a choice – and everything else will fall into place. I truly believe that.

Jess Jess February 11, 2013, 9:21 am

Beautiful advice Wendy.

avatar lemongrass February 11, 2013, 9:23 am

I think that you aren’t really so terrified of stds or cold sores. It’s an excuse because you’re really afraid of the emotional risks it takes to get them. Get yourself to therapy and do all the things Wendy said. It’s a cliche for a reason- you have to love yourself before others can love you.

avatar spark_plug February 11, 2013, 12:18 pm

Totally agree! It doesn’t sound like you’re afraid of STDs, it sounds like you’re afraid of taking a risk and getting hurt. Also, your moral judgement of others who engage in “loser” sexual behavior sounds well, like, jealousy. Whenever people go out of their way to paint a very big difference between themselves and others, its because they’re a secret part of those people in them that we’re hiding. I’d def say that you have some deep rooted issues as well. The reason why I bring this up is because I also had a friend who was very anti-people who meet somebody and hook up with each other – and I’m pretty sure it was because she had a terrible fear of getting hurt and was really jealous of people who could take risks with their heart with such abandonment. Once she loosed up a bit.. guess what she started doing! Not saying you should go out and start hooking up with random people at bars if that’s not your think, but Wendy is spot on – think about what you sound like and what that says about YOU, not other people.

avatar csp February 11, 2013, 1:05 pm

yea, I was thinking she should stop watching so much dateline NBC.

avatar MissDre February 11, 2013, 9:28 am

This LW sounds like me when I was depressed. LW, listen to all the things Wendy said. Happiness comes from within yourself. I have shared the following bits of advice on DW before and I’ll share them again here, because in addition to therapy and medication, they really helped me. Maybe they can help somebody else who is hurting.

#1. This is advice given to me when I reached out to someone for help at one of my darkest moments:

“Remember we are all on a journey and that it is not the end result but the actual process of the journey that are the real substance of what life is really all about. When you feel ” “If only I had an education I would be happy… If only I could lose weight I would be happy… If only I had a boyfriend I would be happy… If only I could move away from my town I would be happy… If only I had these clothes or if only I could travel here or if only I could get this or do that…” you are focusing on the end result. There will always be something else that we are not satisfied with within ourselves if we continue to focus on the end result. I have certainly fallen in to that trap as well. I now believe in really cherishing the moment. If we enjoy the moments we are in, the small moments weave together into hours, days , weeks, months, etc. There are still tough times but much less with this approach.

D. you need to focus on D. You are wise when you say you are not happy with you right now and you will not be happy with anything until you come to terms with who you are and why you are such an amazing person. I am glad you are seeking assistance at the hospital. They may suggest regular counselling where you can talk about how you are feeling and why. It is important to get that out, discuss it and then put steps in place to forgive and move on. Forgiveness is key. When you do not forgive you carry all that resentment around with you to your own detrement. It is virtually impossible to move forward when you hold on to resentment. Sometimes it includes forgiving yourself.”

#2. My best friend shared this with me around the same time, and it helped me to read it every single day.

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

avatar Taylor February 11, 2013, 10:47 am

Lovely words from clearly a great friend. And wonderful you for inspiring such a friendship!

avatar GatorGirl February 11, 2013, 9:29 am

WWS.

And seriously buy a damn vibrator.

katie katie February 11, 2013, 9:54 am

can i just give more support to vibrators? confession: my boyfriend bought me my first one ever a few weeks ago. its AMAZING.

avatar GatorGirl February 11, 2013, 10:01 am

I’m trying to justify spending the almost $100 on the one Wendy listed on the Valentine’s gift guide, I need an upgrade.

katie katie February 11, 2013, 10:20 am

now i wonder how much jake spent on mine… haha

avatar kerrycontrary February 11, 2013, 10:15 am

I got one for valentines day last year (cheesy…I know). But it’s awesome! Anyone who doesn’t indulge in self-love is seriously missing out. I don’t understand why people have hang-ups about it. I think the LW has some deep seated issues relating to sex.

katie katie February 11, 2013, 10:20 am

i agree very much about the deep issues. usually, in my experience, the people who carry the most judgement about things have the most deep-seeded issues about the same thing…

avatar lemongrass February 11, 2013, 11:52 am

Just now??? I have several! Including a make-your-own.

avatar GatorGirl February 11, 2013, 11:55 am

You have a clone-a-willie??

I have several too but they are all “old” and I’m bored.

avatar lemongrass February 11, 2013, 12:12 pm

I do! It’s my fave. We made it back when we first got together. My husband made me promise that if we ever broke up then I had to throw it at him while yelling “here’s your dick back!” Because that would be hilarious.

katie Katie February 11, 2013, 1:41 pm

Yes, just now. *hangs head in shame* lol

avatar lets_be_honest February 11, 2013, 2:22 pm

Did he make it himself? Sorry, I can’t get over the wine rack apparently. Just in case he did, don’t use a wooden vibrator. Just askin for trouble.

lemongrass lemongrass February 11, 2013, 3:25 pm

We got a kit. It was a 2 person job!

avatar Nadine February 11, 2013, 11:33 am

I think every woman should own one! Single, coupled, whatever.

Dear Wendy Wendy February 11, 2013, 12:06 pm

That reminds me, I saw a bright pink rabbit one lying in the snow yesterday on a walk with Jackson.

avatar lilypad February 11, 2013, 3:53 pm

A moment of silence for our fallen vibrator brethren. :(

avatar Sue Jones February 11, 2013, 4:45 pm

I’ll bet he was curious about the pink bunny!

avatar Nadine February 11, 2013, 4:57 pm

I dont want to know why it was outside.

Dear Wendy Wendy February 11, 2013, 5:07 pm

The funny thing is that Drew also saw it — we both passed it at different times over the weekend — and yesterday he was like, “You’ll never guess what I saw lying on a pile of snow!” I did guess.

Brad Brad February 12, 2013, 12:20 pm

Way to steal your husband’s thunder, haha.

Classic Classic February 11, 2013, 9:32 am

Such a lovely and thoughtful answer. LW please follow Wendy’s advice. Wishing the best for you LW and wishing you happiness.

theattack theattack February 11, 2013, 9:41 am

Holy crap, Wendy!!!!!! Best response you’ve ever written! Probably the best thing I’ve ever read from you, period. Absolutely marvelous.

avatar Amanda February 11, 2013, 10:29 am

I was going to say the same thing! I LOVE Wendy’s response, by far it’s my new favorite. LW, I’m sending you some love so that you can learn to love yourself. Until you learn to be the attractive, lovable person that you are capable of becoming (without changing a damn thing about your physical appearance BTW), you will find it very difficult to attract love to you. You have a difficult journey ahead of you, but you can do it LW. We are all rooting for you to find happiness in yourself.

Dear Wendy Wendy February 11, 2013, 12:06 pm

Aw, thanks.

avatar Older and (hopefully) wiser February 11, 2013, 9:42 am

LW, Wendy’s advice is great. I’ll take it one step further and remind you that we are not just physical beings. Since your self-worth seems to be tied to your physical body (pain included), perhaps you might consider exploring your spiritual self. I highly recommend reading Eckhart Toll and Alan Watts. These are essentially “how to” books and will shift you. And people are attracted to those who do spiritual work.

avatar EricaSwagger February 11, 2013, 9:42 am

I just want to say thank you, LW, for not saying “goodness sakes”. Drives me bonkers.

katie katie February 11, 2013, 9:43 am

wow.

first off, you probably have already been exposed to the “cold sore” virus… almost everyone has. you dont have to kiss someone for that to happen. and second, going along with that, wow you are judge-y. just wow.

WWS. you need help.

theattack theattack February 11, 2013, 9:52 am

Definitely agree with you. Yes,yes,yes! That comment was really judgmental and mean. If the LW has ever shared a drink with someone, tasted someone else’s food, touched anything with the virus on it, etc. She almost definitely has been exposed to it if she’s had sex with two people.

katie katie February 11, 2013, 9:56 am

its like, just because its related to a possible intimacy between two people its “gross”. thats weird and just simply an incorrect way of thinking. sure, you could get it from kissing someone- but you can get it from like a thousand other ways too.

is the common cold “gross” now too? because you could sure get that from being intimate with someone.

theattack theattack February 11, 2013, 10:03 am

I mean, to be fair, cold sores are not pleasant to have. I get one occasionally, and I wish I didn’t. They really suck. But the LW sounds grossed out for the reasons you said (“I don’t want to be one of THOSE people” kind of attitude), not because they’re just unpleasant. I think the LW is just so insecure in what she doesn’t have (ie: intimacy) that she’s lashing out in judgment at the people who do. That misplaced hatred runs so deep in her that anything associated with what she doesn’t have is immoral and gross.

avatar Emma February 11, 2013, 11:02 am

You hit the nail on the head. She sounds really angry, not just at others, but at herself. That sounds exhausting and painful. (Not that I don’t know anything about that.)

Diablo Diablo February 11, 2013, 10:54 am

Katie, I take your basic point, but have to differ with you just a bit. I am currently suffering from a common cold, most likely brought on by intimate contact with my adorable but obviously plague-bearing wife, and it IS most assuredly gross. Not that I wouldnt risk it again for a bit more good lovin’.

LW, you are treating people as a means to an end, and it isn’t any wonder they don’t respond well. Take Wendy’s advice, but also think of what you have to OFFER people. If people sense you are just trying to use them to solve your problems, you won’t find the kind of friendship that will make your life fulfilling. Your circumstances are very challenging, but it’s still on you to make your life better.

avatar Eagle Eye February 11, 2013, 11:13 am

I think that your second paragraph is a really good point and I think that it speaks to the fact that she’s never been in a real working relationship before.

LW, relationships are wonderful, but they are work, they take time and effort and thought and constant consideration of someone else. There is very little room for selfishness, your conception of a relationship is what you see in movies, not how it plays out in real life.

avatar GatorGirl February 11, 2013, 9:59 am

Sharring Chapstick, sharing food, sharing makeup- it’s seriously one of the most transmittable viruses and completely manageable!! I was really put off by the comment as well.

avatar BreezyAM February 13, 2013, 1:14 am

It doesn’t look very manageable to me. I have several friends who suffer greatly from it despite pharmaceutical intervention and I am grateful they watch out for me and are not casual about it and take great care to minimize infecting others and do not ever brush it off as no big deal.

avatar GatorGirl February 13, 2013, 8:59 am

Well I’m sure it depends on each individual, but with my quick google search I’m coming up with an average of 3 or 4 out breaks per year. When you compair 3 or 4 cold sores to another STD such as HIV or even a chronic illness such as diabetes- I would say cold sores are pretty manegable. Perhaps your friends should consult a different doctor if their outbreaks are more frequent.

This is coming from someone who is about to marry a man who has the cold sore virus. I never said it wasn’t a big deal, just that it’s no reason to call a person “gross” nor is it a huge deal.

avatar Datdamwuf April 19, 2013, 9:50 am

For some people herpes outbreaks are not trivial and not easily contained with anti-virals. I got it from my husband after he cheated on me so the whole, can’t have casual due to STIs thing, meh. LW has serious slut shaming issues, it’s got nothing to do with STIs

avatar 6napkinburger February 11, 2013, 2:14 pm

Dude, of course she needs help! That’s why she finally wrote in!

I’m not gonna rag on you for “not being supportive” but come on man, no hedging at all? Way harsh, Thai. Way harsh.

You know how “admitting the problem is the first step to recovery?” Well, LW is admitting that she has all these judgmental thoughts about people who hookup, but she admits that they seem to be happy in a way that she isn’t and she’s wondering what she should do to change her attitude and her judgments. That isn’t BEING judgey; that’s being honest and open to help. I don’t think that calling her out on having negative opinions of people and behavior as unfair/wrong when she’s saying “here are my negative opinions of people and behavior but I don’t think they’re fair” isn’t especially helpful.

PS I keep getting tested and still manage NOT to have cold sore virus and am super psyched about it. (knock on wood). It’s prevalent but not a forgone conclusion. And not everyone has genital herpes. I don’t think it’s judgey to be super strict about that — paranoid, maybe, but not judgey (as she’s medically correct).

avatar GatorGirl February 11, 2013, 3:03 pm

Something like 60% of the adult US population has hsv1 or the cold sore virus. The LW refering to the majority of the US population as “gross” was really off putting. Obviously there are much more pressing issues with this LW, but using the word “gross” does make me feel judged.

katie katie February 11, 2013, 3:04 pm

eh, id still assume you have at least been exposed to it. there was a recent forum post about it (http://dearwendy.com/forums/topic/help-hsv-1-antibodies/), and one of our med students summed it up nicely: “If you were to disclose your HSV-1 status to a potential love interest, you would basically be saying: “Hey, I may expose you to a virus you have definitely been exposed to before.”

i mean, we dont live a bubble. its ok. stuff gets transmitted. the flu happens. cold sores happen. its just a hazard of living.

avatar 6napkinburger February 11, 2013, 3:37 pm

I don’t disagree. I just dont’ think that being weirdly adamantly opposed to exposing yourself is judgmental. Weird and possibly ineffective and futile? Sure, but not judgmental.

I had a friend who had no judgments about people’s sexual choice and would have sex with guys she liked, but was so “paranoid” about stds that she wouldn’t have oral sex (giving or getting), a condom went on before any sort of genital touching, and she point blank asked them about cold sores as well as about any stds. We thought it was funny/she was nuts (in a cute way), but never that she was judgmental.

And I do think it’s “gross” that you can kiss someone and be stuck with a virus forever; or you could have sex with the love of your life who had one partner before you, and contract HPV even when you received the shot when you were supposed to. It is gross! and so unfortunate! It is the reason they are working on vaccines and cures and meds and everything else. It doesn’t make the PEOPLE gross, at all. Being gross doesn’t mean it isn’t common place or that people shouldn’t do those activities because of it. But I find it sort of tragic that that’s how it works and I wish it didn’t work that way.

And a lot of the stories people are telling, someone with a transmittable STD disclosed to their partners, and the partner made an informed decision, which was that the STD was not that big of a deal and was worth the risk/harm. We would be (and have been) outraged when someone was knowingly putting others at risk of STDs (e.g. sleeping around with herpes without a condom) without disclosing (assuming they know). I think we all agree that that is “gross.” Her feeling about the spread of diseases via kissing is the same, just less socially acceptable and more prevalent.

Listen, I don’t believe in STD shaming or that someone’s life is over if they get an STD or that people who have them are dirty or gross (they are like 1/4 of your friends). But I also don’t feel the need to judge someone for taking seemingly extreme cautions against them or for considering the ease with which viruses can be spread as “gross.” I think spreading the common cold is gross (someone else’s snot getting on your hands then in your mouth or nose? seriously eww). This LW clearly has issues with intimacy and sex, and physical contact, and I just don’t think her squimishness is meant to be, or in fact is, hurtful.

katie katie February 11, 2013, 3:43 pm

well, agree to disagree, i guess.

statements like “The trouble is I tend not to respect people who pick up a guy (or girl) in a bar, take them home for sex, then never see them again”, ” I’m terrified of diseases even though I use condoms (I don’t want to make out with someone and end up with cold sores for the rest of my life. Gross).”, and ” I never had “wild college years” and I never could understand how some people could be so promiscuous.” dont strike me as just over-careful thoughts. they just sound really, really, judgmental.

avatar GatorGirl February 11, 2013, 4:05 pm

katie they don’t sound judgemental, they ARE judgemental. Seriously.

And 6, while I get what you’re saying- that the virus is gross and not the person- think about it this way. If I said your weight was “gross” or your level of education was “unfortunate” or something like that you would take it personal and feel like I was saying you are gross or unfortunate. (I don’t think those things, I’m just using examples, FWI.) Saying a part of a person is gross, well implies the person is gross. If the LW would have just said “I don’t want to make out with someone and end up with cold sores for the rest of my life.” All would be well, but adding in “gross” is unneccisary, judgemental and rude.

I don’t want to totally thread jack because this LW really does seem to need the well thought out advice Wendy and a lot of other commentors have given her.

theattack theattack February 11, 2013, 4:15 pm

Seconded. I was trying to say this but couldn’t find the words. Also, LW wasn’t saying that the concept of being able to transmit something by kissing is gross. She’s saying that it’s gross to have cold sores, which means that people who have them are gross too. Untouchable people for her.

And as an aside, just to continue what John Rohan is saying down below, eliminating such a large portion of potential partners from her dating pool isn’t helping LW any. I think this is something she needs to let go and move on from. Sometimes people who are perfect for us are imperfect. It’s so sad to think that LW could be missing out on the love of her life because a cold sore that pops up on occasion is gross to her, and it’s even sadder that he could be missing out on her because she’s too busy judging him. People have moles and long nose hair and hair on their toes too.

avatar 6napkinburger February 11, 2013, 4:24 pm

But you don’t think a cold is gross? I do, even when I have one, and I think I’m gross when I have it. I think the difference is that colds are permanent and if the thing is permanent, it seems more hurtful and cruel to describe it negatively. (note, I am not saying that people who have STDs are gross, even though I said I consider myself to be gross when I have a cold) (nor do I think that STDs are gross but I have to say that I think how they are spread is a little gross… but I also think how everything is spread is a little gross, and I think a lot of people thing how germs are spread is kinda gross, though they just don’t think about it on a mid-level of generality very often) (e.g. colds are basically spread by eating or breathing someone else’s snot).

I guess, it’s not that I don’t understand what you guys are saying. If the LW wrote it and was like, what is with all these people who sleep with people and don’t see how promiscious they are? and they make out and get herpes, don’t they see how gross they are? I’d totally agree. I guess I just disagree about the statmeents in the letter being “judgmental” in a way that calls for censure, rather than “an honest explanation of how she feels though she realizes it is flawed and wants to know what to do about it.”

And I just thought that the jumping on the word “Gross” seemed especially missing the point, as there is something a little gross about spreading an incurable (although incredibly prevalent) virus by licking someone else’s tongue and mouth (a yucky way of thinking about kissing). And while sex is beautiful in some ways, it’s also totally gross in other ways [that friends episode where rachel and ross watch their accidental porn? most people don't look good doing that, and a lot of the acts are a little gross when you get right down to it, we just become blind to the gross parts because they dont' actually matter to our enjoyment, our health generally or our understanding of ourselves] — it isn’t sex shaming or sex negative to acknowledge that. (e.g. you put your mouth on the thing he just peed out of… a little gross, but we just brush past that because it doesn’t actually matter).

theattack theattack February 11, 2013, 4:31 pm

“If the LW wrote it and was like, what is with all these people who sleep with people and don’t see how promiscious they are? and they make out and get herpes, don’t they see how gross they are? I’d totally agree.”

…But that pretty much IS what LW said. She called people promiscuous. She said it’s gross to have cold sores. She said she doesn’t understand how someone can have one night stands. It’s all context.

Also, I have trouble calling the cold sore virus an STD. I guess it is sexually transmitted, but it’s also transmitted by a million other things, like colds. I got it as a kid from drinking after my friend all the time. So did thousands of other people. Big whoop. What about warts? You can get those sexually too, but would you refuse to sleep with someone who had one on their foot out of fear that you would get the virus from them?

avatar 6napkinburger February 11, 2013, 4:57 pm

I feel like it’s as if someone wrote in:

“When I see interracial couples, I immediately think there is something wrong with it and I immediately lose respect for them. I never thought of letting myself do that. But, I’m miserable to my core. I’m so lonely, and I want to feel good for a little while. Am I wrong in judging them? Is my judgment based on a flawed moral premise? Everyone has always taught me that it was wrong and I believed it — should I continue to believe it or is that the source of my unhappiness? Am I being too uptight? Too judgmental? Is this something I should do? Maybe I’m wrong and that’s why I’m so unhappy. Or should I stick to what I currently believe and give up, resigning myself to spinsterhood and eventual frigidity.”

We could blast her for being a racist, of course, for being judgmental of people in interracial relationships. But I just think that misses the point, in that this letter is acknowledging that her judgments are wrong and she wants to know how to right them. This letter is just such a sad admission of a misery that I think calling her out on something she’s admitted is both counterproductive and misconstruing a malovolent intent in the admissions that isn’t there. If she didn’t make those admissions, Wendy couldn’t have given such dead-on advice.

So I think calling those phrases judgmental is the same thing as telling her not to write them — which would have been a mistake. (<- my point!! I finally found it!! yay!!!)

But agree to disagree on that. I agree that herpes/cold sores are incredibly difficult to classify and wouldn't call it necessarily an STD (have you ever asked a doctor if you could spread type I to genitals? I always come away thinking that they said that it magically becomes type II on genitals, even though it started type I! that makes no sense to me!!). I think the stigma is horrible and makes people not talk about stuff they should and that people aren't dirty or gross for having or getting stds. So I'm in agreement about most things — I just think because the LW absolutely should have told Wendy all of that info, it wasn't judgmental of her to include it.

But I'll agree to disagree!

katie katie February 11, 2013, 5:01 pm

i guess my only objection to this is that she actually asked – “Am I being too uptight? Too judgmental?”

my answer is yes. YES, LW, you are being uptight and judgemental.

avatar 6napkinburger February 11, 2013, 5:02 pm

haha, fair enough!!

avatar BreezyAM February 13, 2013, 1:18 am

Please! Cold sores are gross! And they are NOT part of you! Sheesh!

When I was super overweight (as in 100+ lbs) my husband and I agreed the extra pounds were gross. But they were not ME anymore than this horrendous prom dress from the 80s was me. It’s simply a gross extra baggage I picked up but certainly not ME.

avatar GatorGirl February 13, 2013, 9:07 am

Actually, from my understanding from a scientific point of view, a virus does become physically part of a person. When a virus enters a body it begins taking over cells and can never be erraticated. Often a virus will go domate- but you will always have it. So yeah, HSV1 or the cold sore virus IS in fact a part of a person.

How would your friends who get cold sores feel if you said to their face that cold sores are gross? I bet it would hurt. Just as it would have hurt had they said you were a fat slob when you where overweight. The difference is- you could do something to change your weight. Once you have hsv1, there is NOTHING you can do get rid of it or keep the virus domat. You can control you weigth, you can not control the cold sore virus; which is why I take such offense to someone stating it is gross.

avatar Older and (hopefully) wiser February 11, 2013, 9:47 am

Sorry, Eckhart Tolle

fast eddie fast eddie February 11, 2013, 10:09 am

In my 30s I had chronic back pain, recently divorced, and bad self image. At a friends recommendation I took a massage workshop. It helped the back pain a ton and the nudist environment did wonders for my confidence. My website has an essay about those years, click on the Getting In Touch button. It wasn’t an instant transformation but it worked. The bottom line is that you can’t receive love until you love yourself. Hopefully there’s a group of some kind near you that would be beneficial.

What happens in Vagas, stays in Vagas, same goes for elsewhere, go and enjoy yourself. When you get home put on some vibrating panties and let people wonder about the smile on your face.

fast eddie fast eddie February 11, 2013, 5:35 pm

To state the obvious, don’t wear them when going through airport security. It would be awkward to explain to TSA agents. I hope you knew that.

avatar canefan February 11, 2013, 10:18 am

“Am I being too uptight? Too judgmental? Is this something I should do? Should I “let loose” and be with someone at the convention if I get the opportunity? Or should I stick to my morals and resign myself to spinsterhood and eventual frigidity?”

Yes, you’re being way too uptight. Yes, you’re be way too judgmental. Having a “hook-up” with someone you don’t know hundreds of miles away from home is not something you want, as clearly outlined by your entire letter, so why is this even a question? You can stick to your morals without having to resign yourself to spinsterhood and eventual frigidity, but you need a personality makeover if you want to be happy.

One of the things that comes up a lot with my clients is the realization that they need to learn to love themselves first before they can even begin to think about being with other people. I agree 100% with that Wendy and the other commenters have said thus far. You need to be happy with yourself before considering a relationship with another person, because they’re not going to provide the magic fix that you desire. That comes from within. I know its hard when you’re facing what seems like insurmountable “deficiencies,” for lack of a better term, but you need to at least attempt to go out there and try. Unless you learn to do you, you can’t do anyone else.

Fabelle Fabelle February 11, 2013, 10:35 am

WWS. Especially about the vibrator. You know you don’t necessarily need anybody else to have an orgasm, right?

Look, I do think you sound a little uptight & judgmental—& you must realize that’s the way you’re coming across, since you literally asked us “Am I being too uptight? Too judgmental?” I also kind of think you want ~permission~ to, as you say, “let loose” & go pick somebody up for a one-night stand at this convention you’re talking about. Reading your letter, I almost wanted to reply like “Yes, PLEASE go find somebody at that convention. Work it, girrrrl” BUT, Wendy’s right. Doing that won’t solve the loneliness & misery you feel. (And if it’s really against your morals, there’s no sense compromising those for a brief encounter that’ll likely make someone like you feel disappointed, dirty, & ashamed)

The other option doesn’t have to be “spinsterhood & eventual frigidity” though. I mean, seriously—first of all, what century are you pulling the word “frigidity” out of? Extended periods of celibacy won’t turn you into a permanently anorgasmic person, so stop it. But yeah, I get that what you’re really saying is “should I resign myself to misery?” Which, no. But the key to your happiness isn’t just finding a willing partner.

Bon Vivant Bon Vivant February 11, 2013, 10:45 am

Well said, Wendy. And WEES.
I’d like to add, that if you don’t like the way you look, do something about it – that’s easy. It’s remarkable what a decent haircut and some lip gloss will do to your image and confidence. Your image sends a message to everyone about what kind of person you are. Put your best face forward and make the most of what you’ve got. Standing up straight and having a smile only adds to your approachability.
Good luck with everything.

avatar Addie Pray February 11, 2013, 11:04 am

WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE SAID! <— I figured it out all by myself.

avatar sarolabelle February 11, 2013, 10:50 am

All I can say is go to Bikram Yoga. It will help you in so many ways. It will ease the physical pain, do something to you mentally (I can’t explain it – it just makes you feel good), and may even cause you to lose a few pounds!

avatar Addie Pray February 11, 2013, 11:02 am

I agree with sarolabelle! Except Bikram is definitely not for everyone – you’ll either love it or it may come close to killing you, or both. So be careful!

avatar kerrycontrary February 11, 2013, 11:22 am

We have a Bikram studio in my neighborhood and I’m afraid it would kill me. I hate being hot, it makes me light-headed. And I also hate Yoga. BUT everyone who goes to Bikram has an amazing body…so I kind of want to try it.

avatar sarolabelle February 11, 2013, 3:29 pm

I hate yoga too. but this yoga has NO downward dog, upward dog and no warrior movements. Yeah!

avatar kerrycontrary February 11, 2013, 5:02 pm

Ohh if it doesn’t have downward dog I can do it. This is wacky, but having my head below my heart for a long period of time triggers my migraines. MAYBE I’ll try sometime this spring. Maybe.

avatar bethany February 11, 2013, 3:45 pm

If you can’t tolerate the heat, it might not be for you… But you never know until you try! :)

othy othy February 11, 2013, 11:36 am

Any type of moderate exercise can help with back pain, like walking or swimming or yoga. One of the worst things you can do is sit all day long. And, exercise is said to be better than anti-depressants.

avatar Addie Pray February 11, 2013, 11:50 am

Yoga and eating well have such a profound effect on every aspect of my well being (happiness, sleep, skin, attitude, etc) that I really don’t know why I don’t do yoga and eat well ALWAYS.

avatar sarolabelle February 11, 2013, 3:22 pm

because sometimes the chocolate chip cookie is irresistible!

avatar Addie Pray February 11, 2013, 3:24 pm

See, now, the chocolate chip cookie does nothing for me. But tortilla chips smothered in cheese and salsa and a generous helping of guac? hubba hubba.

avatar No_Clever_Name_Yet February 11, 2013, 1:24 pm

That reminds me. A close friend of mine had a back injury and they suggested she enroll in a program where they had you exercise in chest-high water! If you have spent any time in water, you know the sluggish feeling where every movement is impeded. It acts like resistance training of some kind.

avatar bethany February 11, 2013, 11:27 am

I totally agree! Even if you hate it, give it at least 3 classes. You might just change your mind :)

avatar csp February 11, 2013, 2:33 pm

LW – if that is too tough, my mom teaches “Restorative Yoga” that helps with pain but it is very very gentle.

avatar Lucy February 11, 2013, 3:10 pm

LW, if you decide to try yoga, and I definitely think you should, please don’t start with Bikram. Sorry to be harsh for all you Bikram-lovers out there, but Bikram is hard on even a basically healthy body. The style does not readily accept or support the kinds of modifications someone who’s had back surgery and lives in chronic pain might need. I would suggest restorative to help with your anxiety and depression, and Iyengar to explore alleviating your chronic pain. Iyengar teachers in particular are rigorously trained to work with people like you. Once you’ve sussed out your flexibility and limitations, then maybe try out a more vigorous style.

Also – please try meditation. Particularly gratitude-oriented meditation. You need to quiet that voice in your mind that’s telling you you’re fat, ugly, scarred, worthless, unloveable. Meditation can help you do that.

avatar sarolabelle February 11, 2013, 3:33 pm

I guess I don’t find it too rigorous.

If you can’t bend down and grab your heals and make yourself into a Japanese ham sandwich then you bend down as far as you can and try to touch the floor.

If you can’t even lift your leg up in standing head to knee then sit that one out or try for seconds at a time to lift one leg.

You don’t have to do the position perfectly to attend the class.

avatar bethany February 11, 2013, 3:44 pm

Lucy, I beg to differ.
If someone has a serious health issue and they talk to their instructor about it beforehand, the instructor will help them through it and teach them modified versions of the poses to accomidate you.
Also, so long as you TRY the RIGHT WAY, you get tons of benefits. It doesn’t matter if you can only do 1% of the pose. So long as you do that 1% correctly, you get the benefits of Bikram.

KKZ KKZ February 12, 2013, 2:39 pm

I have to second Lucy. I am in good shape, have been practicing regular yoga since I was 16 and otherwise am relatively fit, tried Bikram ONCE and swore off it forever. 90 minutes of pure hell. My personal feelings about it aside, it is *intense* if you’re not used to exercise or yoga, and still very tough even if you are.

HOWEVER many studios offer Hot Yoga classes that are *not* from the Bikram tradition (which was designed for the military), and those are very nice. And also have to second Lucy on the recommendation for Iyengar and restorative yoga. BKS Iyengar designed his style specifically for bodies that could not access the regular asana poses for various reasons, so yoga classes with an Iyengar influence are a great place to start exploring yoga for someone like the LW.

avatar rachel February 11, 2013, 3:47 pm

If the LW is on disability, I assume she can’t afford Bikram, but yes, I think finding some enjoyable form of exercise would do wonders for both her mind and body.

avatar bethany February 11, 2013, 4:18 pm

You’ve got a point with that one! It is expensive. She might be best trying a yoga DVD or some of the free ON Demand classes on TV.

avatar Addie Pray February 11, 2013, 5:23 pm

It is expensive…. but guess what? Bikram River North (in Chicago) has FREE yoga Sunday evenings. So if you live in Chicago, check it out!

avatar Addie Pray February 11, 2013, 11:01 am

Perfect, Wendy! That was a great reply. LW, listen to Wendy. Also, if it makes you or anyone else feel better: Addie Pray had no sex the entire calendar year of 2010. And 2011 would have been equally celebate if I had not met my dumbass neighbor. So, frankly, 2011 *should* have been another sexless year. But I also have three vibrators, all which need new batteries, thank you for the reminder. I’m going to Wallgreens today after work. Time to see if they still work.

I just love over-sharing with you all.

avatar Addie Pray February 11, 2013, 11:37 am

Oh and 2008 was a bad year for me too. High school and college were less than stellar too. Screw everybody with amazing sex lives that go on and on and on! (Sigh)

avatar Mandy S February 11, 2013, 12:08 pm

Preach! I’m in no way differently-abled, have always weighed around 110 lbs, am told I am reasonably attractive, am not suffering chronic pain, and once went 8 years celibate. 8 years, y’all! Of course, I’m lesbian, so having a smaller portion of the population open to me may have been part of the issue. But much of it was:
1) My outlook. The first 4-6 of those years, I was horribly depressed/dealing badly with an awful cheat-y lie-y break-up.
2) My own denial of my outlook: I was totally miserable, and blamed it on everything but myself. Oy!
3) My surroundings: as much as it was me that had the problem, I felt significantly better once I moved 3000 miles – and a year later, met the woman I’m going to marry. New surroundings, new outfits, new activities – bringing new experiences into your life can only help further that chance at happiness. It’s out there – but it doesn’t just arrive at the door magically. We all have to work at it in some way, and be open to it (rather than basking in the safety of our own negativity).

One of my good friends gave me a great piece of advice, which helped me learn to value myself: do something nice for yourself every day. Whether that’s going for a walk, watching your favorite TV show, singing a song you like, playing a game you enjoy – making a conscious decision to give yourself that “me time” can be invaluable, and really helped me when I was in Awful Self-Esteemsville (population: forever 1).

Chin up – there are meet-ups and internet dating folks out there for everyone. Even just using some dating sites to make friends might help boost that happiness quotient. Wendy’s totally right: therapy is the first step. But remember to take care of yourself. Anyone can have sex if they’re willing to lower their standards. But I’ve found that kind of sex unfulfilling to me personally – and suggest getting out and meeting people there might be a real connection with.

avatar Older and (hopefully) wiser February 11, 2013, 11:14 am

My husband keeps reminding me that our great great great grandchildren will be able to read everything we say on the internet. So if you’re using your real name, just be aware (if you care) (some people don’t)

avatar lemongrass February 11, 2013, 12:09 pm

The Internet will be outdated by then! Plus all the freaky sex we have now will seem as quaint as showing your ankle in a swimsuit.

Fabelle Fabelle February 11, 2013, 12:30 pm

That’s what I’m hoping, too!

avatar You Go Girl February 11, 2013, 11:32 am

Chronic physical pain can lead to depression, or make depression worse. In addition to Wendy’s excellent advice, the LW should go to a pain management clinic to see if her pain can be better controlled.

FireStar Firestar February 11, 2013, 11:36 am

You sound so angry and miserable. How so very sad. It isn’t your weight or your scars that are keeping you back from the kind of life you want – hon it’s your attitude. And fixing that takes professional help. Please don’t delay – let finding a counsellor familiar with depression and chronic pain be your first priority. Sleeping with some random stranger will do you more harm than good – it just doesn’t sound like it is the thing for you…which is fine – it is not for everyone.
Wendy gave you the best advice anyone could and while change is scary – surely the alternative is so much worse.

avatar MissSally February 11, 2013, 11:59 am

What Wendy and everyone else said!

Also, about your chronic pain and the reaction you get when others learn that you are a chronic pain sufferer: I guess I, too, am a chronic pain sufferer, although I never thought about it. I had five corrective surgeries for a jaw problem and will probably need more at some point. It hurts really badly pretty often, especially now that I have osteoarthritis in my mandibular joint.

Here is how I handle it. My close friends and family already know the whole dumb saga, so I have no qualms whipping out an ice pack or heating pad around them, or just massaging the joint for awhile. But with new people, I don’t mention it until it explains something I’m doing. Why is there Orajel in my purse, if it spills? Why can’t I eat even though we just decided to go out for dinner? “Oh, I have this problem with my jaw and I had surgery for it, but it still hurts a lot sometimes. So annoying.” And move on.

I guess my point is if you don’t sit someone down for a Big Discussion about your problem, you’re less likely to get the overly sympathetic reaction (which I agree is well-meant but intolerable!). When people do treat me that way, I just answer honestly: “Actually, I’m fine right now, thanks.” “It always acts up before it rains – isn’t that funny?” “The surgeon says everything has healed well, luckily.” And put a period underneath it with your voice.

If you project that the chronic pain is not something that defines you, most people will understand that it doesn’t!

sobriquet sobriquet February 11, 2013, 12:14 pm

Goodness, can we please stop with the STD shaming in this country? Did you know that you can get an std from the first person you sleep with, even if condoms are used? Did you know that some people are “silent carriers” and can transfer the disease without ever testing positive or showing symptoms? You can be incredibly safe and still get one. BFD. Most of them simply give you mild dermatological discomfort. One of my best friends has herpes (hsv 2) and do you know how much it affects her life? Not at all. Actually, it helped her make better choices about the men she dated while she was single. She told her husband about it after a month of dating and while they postponed sex for a few months, he ultimately decided that she was worth the risk. He was mature enough to understand that sex has consequences- herpes being one of them- and that it’s not the end of the world if you get one.

There are so many measures you can take to avoid getting them, but if you are one of the MANY unlucky people to get one, so what? You’re not a lesser person because of it. You’re not “gross”! Sorry, I realize that was a very small part of this letter, but STD shaming really pisses me off!

avatar GatorGirl February 11, 2013, 12:23 pm

Amen. I love this.

avatar Addie Pray February 11, 2013, 12:35 pm

WSS. Isn’t it funny how people can be so judgmental about another’s illness while demanding an open-mind from everyone about their own medical problems (ahem, LW!) No one is saying its good to go out and get an STD but …. Just be sensitive to those with them. You don’t know their situation at all.

avatar lemongrass February 11, 2013, 12:39 pm

Herpes really is no biggie. Lots of people have it and don’t even realize it because it only flares up once and then nothing happens.

Northern Mermaid Northern Mermaid February 11, 2013, 2:34 pm

Right!? I think a big part of the STI shaming comes from abstinence only education that flashes us pictures of the worst manifestations of infections as a sex deterrent.

Shaming anyone for having a communicable disease is ridiculous.

CatsMeow CatsMeow February 11, 2013, 5:29 pm

Thanks. I might have said something similar but I was stuck in an STI/HIV Summit Meeting all. effing. day.

CatsMeow CatsMeow February 11, 2013, 5:31 pm

Basically you took the words right out of my mouth. Hooray for STD awareness on DW!

avatar Anna February 11, 2013, 6:59 pm

I don’t think it’s shaming anyone to not want to contract a disease that can never be cured and that you have to disclose to every future partner forever. It’s a big fear of mine too. I would not knowingly have sex with a person who has a disease for the sake of my own health. That’s not judgmental; it’s looking out for myself. I’m not going to tell them they’re gross or put them down either but I certainly won’t expose myself to something like that just for the sake of not being seen as judgmental.

sobriquet sobriquet February 11, 2013, 11:00 pm

But is that really something that needs to be proclaimed? As if people who have STD’s didn’t feel the same as you? The point is that there’s not a lot of education out there and even when you’re practicing safe sex, you can still get one. And if you do happen to get one, it’s not the end of the world. That’s all I’m saying.

avatar Anna February 12, 2013, 1:09 am

It needn’t be proclaimed to everyone in the world, no. But it should absolutely be proclaimed to anyone you plan to have sex with because that person is at risk. It’s not the end of the world but it’s still a bad situation that can be prevented. One of my best friends has an STD and she will never stop being angry at her ex who exposed her to it without her knowledge. She is now happily engaged to a man who has the exact same STD (they met on an online chatroom for people in that situation). She’s very happy but she still wishes she didn’t have it.

avatar Datdamwuf April 19, 2013, 9:59 am

This Anna! I am in the same boat as your friend (except I don’t have a new man), my ex gave it to me and it complicates my life, I have very painful outbreaks, and I am still angry that he did this to me. And I would not have had sex with him if I had known he was cheating on me. It is true you can get it even using a condom but when you don’t know and your in a committed relationship, it truly sucks.

avatar Meelomilo February 11, 2013, 12:21 pm

I have a lot of sympathy for the LW’s depression and attitude about her condition. I also suffer from chronic pain due to several issues and part of the process for me has just been accepting my limitations. There are things that I just can’t do and I have had to accept it. I know it sounds a lot easier than it is, and in my case it took years for me to accept it which meant making myself far more miserable than I needed to while I avoided things that could have helped like pain management and lifestyle changes. Once I accepted it and made these changes, life became so. much. better. It is amazing how much your outlook changes when you focus on what you *can* do instead of what you *can’t.*

On all of your issues and judgments with intimacy, seriously listen to Wendy. You are angry and need help. A one night stand is a terrible idea when you’re in such a dark place.

avatar Pufendorf February 11, 2013, 2:38 pm

I don’t often comment on the site, but I wanted to respond to say I agree so very much with accepting what you can do. Like the LW, I have significant pain problems and a noticeably scarred and disfigured left arm and leg due to an accident. I also struggled for years with the depression of my limitations, which included going from a fairly active lifestyle to a rather sedentary one. Yet, like you, once I made my peace with the body I now have, my life did become easier and I found it easier to meet and connect with people.

That’s not to say it’s always easy. Sometimes people will say things that make me spiral a bit (latest one: a new coworked asking incredulously, “What did you DO to your arm?!?!”). But my mental health is now such that, while I can’t shrug it off, I don’t allow myself to fall into a black pit over thoughtlessness.

One last note: if you do decide to up your activity level, per some of the suggestions above, please make sure to pass it by your doctor. I only say that because, for example, my orthopedist ruled out yoga due the instability of my joints.

Good luck!

avatar painted_lady February 11, 2013, 12:28 pm

Sweetie, I think one of your biggest issues is the fact that you seem to think that your only options – since you aren’t finding a relationship in a reasonable time frame, which is so, so frustrating – are becoming a frigid spinster (I wasn’t aware it was still 1910!) or sleeping with random strangers. I think it speaks volumes that we live in a society that gives women the impression that those are our only options when we’re single.

Be the girl who goes out with girlfriends and flirts up a storm at live music events or poetry readings or bars (don’t drink? Have a soda!!!). Go to meet ups and work on your confidence. Be the girl with the best friends and the best time anywhere she goes. Having a guy is – or should be – only one facet of your life. Work on the rest.

Yes, you do sound really judgmental, but I’m getting a lot of self-loathing and maybe fear behind your words. What is it you’re afraid of? Rejection? Because it sounds like you’re using this anger to distance yourself from people – if you reject them first, you can’t be rejected. Which feels safer, but man is it lonely.

avatar John Rohan February 11, 2013, 12:38 pm

I’ll chime in on this one. LW, I agree with Wendy’s advice, and with most people here who are telling you to raise your self-esteem. But I’ll try to add a more concrete suggestion.

I personally have two male friends who I know could write an EXTREMELY similar letter to yours. They are really good guys, but you might not even consider dating them because they would be outside your “norm”.

So consider expanding what you see as your dating pool. You don’t have to lower your standards, but you might consider looking in other “categories” of people around you. I think this limits a lot of people toward potential partners. Maybe you tend to see only people of your similar age, race, cultural background, etc as potential mates. For example, what about that 20 year old bagger at the supermarket that flirts with you? He’s an adult, so he’s fair game. Flirt with him back. What about the hispanic guy that cuts your grass? He shouldn’t be off-limits if he’s single. What about your father’s business partner who you always liked? Just because he’s friends with your dad, doesn’t mean you can’t date him. You get the idea. There might be a lot of good people that you come into contact with every day, from bus drivers, to waiters, to even the minister at your Church, a lot of opportunites that you might be passing up without even realizing it.

avatar John Rohan February 11, 2013, 12:54 pm

I meant to add that the same advice goes for searching for partners online, although it’s easier there – all you have to do check more boxes and expand your search parameters.

avatar GatorGirl February 11, 2013, 1:53 pm

I think this is great advice! People often have a laundry list of “requirements” for a partner. Over 6 foot, under 200 pounds, brown hair, etc etc. Don’t lower your standards, but maybe let go of some of the superficial qualifiers.

avatar Ammie February 11, 2013, 8:37 pm

This is awesome advice. I came to a point where I realized my dating requirements were really rigid, too… had to be within 3 years of my age up or down, had to have finished college (grad degree preferable, since that’s the route I’d gone), had to be a member of my faith tradition but to about the same level of commitment I have toward it, had to like the same kind of pets I did… you get the picture.

Eventually that boxed me in to just people I ended up not having chemistry with, and I finally had to tell myself to lighten up and stop being so constrictive. I dated around, went out with some guys I would’ve never considered before, had a great time, and coincidentally, am now seeing a guy who… actually fits (nearly) all my old criteria to the t. Heh. But I wouldn’t be the person I am now if I hadn’t had those other experiences, and probably wouldn’t have ever met him. There’s something to be said for dating enough that you get confident about it, and that’s true even for those of us who have had a fair number of relationships over the years… sometimes you get in a dry spell that’s hard to get out of unless you just take the plunge.

avatar Turtledove February 11, 2013, 12:41 pm

I think a new mantra in your life is called for, LW. Because in a lot of your letter, it’s about what a relationship could give you (an end to loneliness! orgasms!) and what you get from others (pity) and what you give to yourself (condemnation, self-loathing, pain). And these are real and painful things. But they all come from the same place, which is your own self-pity, self-loathing and the fact that you wallow in them. People judge you less than you think– how you feel about yourself shines through in your manner and bearing and people tend to just take that at face value.

So look, in every situation and every interaction ask yourself, “What can I give of myself that will bring joy to this?” If you are sad or feel unattractive or in pain, what can you give of yourself and to yourself to bring joy and self-soothe? If you are lonely, how can you ease someone else’s loneliness? I get that you can’t work, because of your pain and because of our whacked out system that says that if you are capable of doing anything, you must be capable of doing everything therefore you don’t qualify for benefits. But you can still give of yourself, even in small ways. Your body is broken, and for that I am sorry. So you must cultivate a life of the mind. Read books, do book clubs, take up art or music or knit sweaters for the homeless. Find your own talents and give of yourself freely. When you give of yourself, you will bring to yourself the things that you want– joy, pride, companionship, beauty, courage.

bittergaymark bittergaymark February 11, 2013, 1:05 pm

WWS. Sorry to disappoint — but I simply can’t bring myself to be at all snarky about this one.

avatar You Go Girl February 11, 2013, 1:31 pm

I am glad that bittergaymark has decided not to be snarky.

bittergaymark bittergaymark February 11, 2013, 1:39 pm

There’s just nothing funny about back problems and there is nothing funny about being the victim of a drunk driver, either. If I had my way, I’d round up all the drunk drivers and simply have them shot on the spot. Seriously. I have lost several people in my life to drunk driving — meaning my patience with those who choose to drive drunk is at an absolute zero… If a serial killer had any class or sense of justice, he’d simply target drunk drivers and do the world a lasting favor. I certainly would be willing to look the other way…

Brad Brad February 12, 2013, 12:30 pm

Possible plot for Dexter season 8?

avatar SweetPeaG February 11, 2013, 1:46 pm

Hi LW,

First of all… that stinks! I can’t imagine what it would be like to live with chronic pain like that. It has to be awful. I am trying to step into your shoes right now, for a brief moment. And, I can really understand where some of your negative attitudes have come from. When I am overly hungry, have cramps, or a headache, or just a bad day… I can turn pretty mopey. You are dealing with a lot. So, I am sorry. I will say a little prayer for you.

That being said… I am confused. You said ” I just want to be with someone who wants to be with me, even if it’s for a little while. And I’m hoping that, since it’s in another state, I might never have to see the person again so I don’t have to feel so guilty, or have the people from my home state judge me.” LW, your thinking is a little haywire! What you are saying is that you wouldn’t have to feel guilty for a one-night-stand because, given the distance, it would be out of your control. That makes very little sense. You would still be going into it knowingly.

Look, I absolutely understand your personal moral standards. I (used to) always say I’d never have a one-night-stand. But, life happens. It just sort of sounds like you are trying to convince yourself of your morals. You are trying to give yourself a free-pass with some convoluted rules. I say screw the rules and give yourself that free pass. Not just for being intimate with someone physically (if you feel comfortable, of course), but for enjoying life. There is a lot of baggage you have to let go. You can make your own path. There is no clear distinct line that separates the “sluts” and the “good girls”. You can make choices that feel healthy & happy to you. I am guessing some of the judging of you that you feel is taking place is imagined. No one really cares. And if they do? They are stupid, gossipy, and not people you should bother with. LET GO!

I would take everyone here’s advice seriously. They are offering you some good and practical stuff. See a therapist, do activities that make you feel accomplished, make friends, smile at strangers. The rest will come. And then maybe you will too (wink, wink).

avatar kerrycontrary February 11, 2013, 4:59 pm

I also doubt that everyone in the LW’s entire state knows who she is or thinks about her sexual activity.

avatar EmJay February 11, 2013, 2:04 pm

To quote Dr. Phil (go ahead and laugh) “You can not change what you do not aknowledge” and “85% of questions are really statements in disuise”. LW you know the answers to your questions are yes. You also know that these feelings are big problems, fixable though, but big self worth problems. No one can fix these for you, you have do fix them yourself. First and foremost you need to get into counseling. Then look into a pain management program, physical therapy, or join a gym after discussing with your doctor what exercise is good for you do to your injury. Work on your sense of self. Look in the mirror. Go ahead, take a good hard look. What are your favorite attributes? Your eyes? Cheekbones? Lips? Then go to the drug store and buy some makeup to highlight these features. Look on line and in mags for makeup tips. A lil bit of makeup can go along way. Or go to the mall and have a mini or full makeover done. Get a new haircut and some highlights to compliment you. These things sound so trivial yet make such a big difference for your sense of welf. It n be empowering to see the before and after. It can help make a lousy day a lil bit brighter. Trust me. I was an ugly duckling in my eyes, and then I grew up a lil, changed my look and it made me feel sooo much better, and it helped me get outta the ‘ugly duckling’ mindset. Do this for yourself, no one else. Counseling will help the emotional pain, exercise helps the physical, and you can go the extra step and help yourself build up some confidence and self esteem. You are worth it girlfriend. Dear Wendy knows it, your family knows it, its time foe you to see it, know it, feel it, and own it!. Good luck with all my heart, i hope you get the help you need. There is a beautiful girl in there waiting to come out, waiting to be seen, waiting for you to way this is the real me!!

avatar EmJay February 11, 2013, 5:48 pm

I also wanted to mention….do you have any sisters, girlfriends, or female cousins you are close to? If so ask them to go shopping with you to help you pick out some flattering outfits. Find a style that looks good on you and helps you feel good about yourself. Shopping therapy!!! Lol! But I can not stress enough the importance of counseling. What you are feeling and going through everyday is impacting your life sobmuch and it is not healthy. The way you are feeling can cause bad stress, high anxiety, and deep deep depression worse than you have it now. And really really listen to Wendy’s advice. She is so smart, and she does care about the LWs who write in.

avatar EmJay February 11, 2013, 5:52 pm

One more thing, try looking for support groups for chronic pain sufferers. It would be a great way to meet people going through the same thing and it might be helpful to able to share your experience and here others stories as well.

avatar 6napkinburger February 11, 2013, 4:02 pm

Have you tried acupuncture? I know that it isn’t helpful for people to make suggestions because you’ve likely tried everything, but my mom has fibromyalgia and it took her years to get around to doing acupuncture (she was skeptical that it would work when nothing else had) which was a G-dsend.

Also, I’m going to throw something out there which a lot of people on this site will disapprove/disagree with. Are you religious at all? Do you affiliate with any religion? If so, get involved with that. Many religions have great programs for engaging their younger members through social events and philanthropic activities. Even if you aren’t very devout or religious, if you identify with a religion, give it a shot. Meet ups are great suggestions and so is getting involved in philanthropic endeavors, but from my experience in a new city, nothing works to find a community as easily as a religion — and this LW could use some easy positive reinforcement. It is also true if you are really into anything — knitting, bowling, running (I’ll never get it), musicals, cheese, etc– that communities often exist and you just need to go find them, so I highly suggest doing that as well. But, if you do self-identify with a religion, there are people whose job it is (and who enjoy) helping people find a place for themselves within the community, in ways that isn’t as surefire in other settings. If you’re a wine person, there is definately a community of likeminded people, but there isn’t always a sommelier who makes it their mission to make sure you have friends – there usually is within a religious community. And who knows, they might also be able to offer more therapeutic guidance as well about self-esteem and finding the good within yourself.

(Note: if the religion is traditionally sex-negative, don’t reach out to them for that kind of help, but just use it to facilite friendships. Then again, if the religion is sex negative and this LW is pretty sex-negative, she might be able to find a partner and friendships with others who are on the same wavelength as she).

avatar kerrycontrary February 11, 2013, 4:58 pm

I don’t think a lot of people on DW would disagree with the LW finding/joining a church. Wendy and other commenters often suggest this as a way of meeting people/getting involved in a community. So I agree that if the LW is looking for a group of people she should definitely try out a church if that’s her thing.

avatar 6napkinburger February 11, 2013, 5:02 pm

I also meant “might” not “will.” I just thought some might have seen it as me suggesting to become more insular, rather than openminded; or as suggesting that she shouldn’t be open to a lot of people and experiences, as some people have negative experiences with some religious communities being closed off. I just didn’t mean either of those things and did the “explain in advance” thing, but i did it too strongly.

Dear Wendy Wendy February 11, 2013, 5:06 pm

I think it’s a great idea and I even meant to include it in my advice but got side-tracked, I guess, and forgot.

avatar Rachel @ Reality Chick February 11, 2013, 5:22 pm

“Four, good God, get a vibrator already. Why have you waited four years to have an orgasm? No wonder you’re so unhappy.”

Love your work Wendy :)

kaluu Katia February 11, 2013, 6:42 pm

Short of therapy, get out of town , maybe volunteer in an orphanage somewhere or apply for a language class in Europe if your parents could afford that
I got the same impression as wendy…. Too judgmental and too much Internet dating.
Another volunteering idea… Support group for newly disabled/injured people? Start one, help out or go to one

avatar Anna February 11, 2013, 7:10 pm

If 192 lbs is too fat to get laid then it really doesn’t make sense that I’ve had to turn down multiple guys looking for hookups. I don’t disclose this often but it might make you feel better. I weigh 200 lbs and I’m 5’4″. The difference is that I have self-esteem even at a size 14. So much can be gained by dressing the body you have rather than the body you want. Dark wash jeans are your friend. So are belted tops where the belt goes above your natural waist to hit your smallest part. Heels of any kind are definitely your friend, even comfy heeled boots that are easy to walk in. And any outfit can be glammed up with a smoky eye, pretty lip gloss and great hair. I don’t know what kind of scars you have but I bet they could be helped with concealer. And if someone does notice them, tell them your story!

I appreciate that self-esteem and happiness have to come from within and that’s very true, but external changes can go a long away towards achieving those changes. I used to have a serious problem with my self-esteem because I’ve never been skinny. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve discovered beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Ever since the first time I looked in the mirror and said “I am beautiful” I’ve never looked back on all that negativity.

Classic Classic February 11, 2013, 8:10 pm

I am just so impressed with what you said here, Anna. For some reason, it really got to me– your strength and maturity really comes through.

avatar Anna February 11, 2013, 9:09 pm

Aw thanks!!!!

Emily Emily February 17, 2013, 9:50 am

Newsflash, no one feels like she has the perfect body. Every woman I know, no matter how beautiful has some insecurities. I agree strongly with Anna. The right outfit and makeup can totally change your attitude. For me, when I wear vintage dresses I feel like an old movie star. The bottom line is wear something for you: a scarf, a broach, a t-shirt or a piece of jewelry. You should always have a story to tell handy. It can provide something for others to comment on or when conversation lulls a story you can literally pull out of your pocket.

Caris Caris February 12, 2013, 8:05 pm

You don’t need a bf to get an orgasm O.o. Are you against masturbation or something? Fingers and/or vibrators are all you need if you don’t want to do casual sex.

Emily Emily February 17, 2013, 10:01 am

WWS, I feel like we reap what we sow to some degree. LW, have you looked into a support group for your physical condition and/or disability? Sometimes it helps to know that we’re not alone and there are many others out there who share our pain. The cliche “You have to love yourself first” is quite true. Loving yourself gives you options, it allows you to decide whether you want to date a man or not. It allows you to choose which people to surround yourself rather than your loneliness driving you to it. I love knowing that I choose to be with my boyfriend and being single is fine with me. At some point in life you realize that unless you work through your own pain, nothing and no one can save you. The hardest journey is to heal yourself from the inside out. You can do it but it will take time, lots of tears, hours of therapy, and learning to have self-compassion. I promise that it does get better!

avatar Amy August 2, 2014, 11:07 pm

My husband refused to have sex with me the last and only time was 47 years ago. He lives in the basement and I have the upstairs. We’ve never slept together a full night, he never talks to me.

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