The 23-year-old virgin

Joey Garcia

I’m 23 years old, and I’ve never had a boyfriend. I lie to my friends and to my parents so that they won’t know. I am so ashamed that everyone else seems to have this part of life figured out and I don’t. My female friends assure me that I am attractive, but I feel awkward and cry all of the time. Please help.

Stop assuming that having a boyfriend is an indicator of normality or attractiveness. And stop assuming that having a boyfriend will jump-start your life. Yes, being in an intimate, committed relationship with another person can be wonderful, exhilarating and nourishing. But it can also be frustrating, heartbreaking and exhausting (sometimes all within the same day). One person’s romantic interest in another person is not a validation of value or beauty, just as an absence of interest is not an invalidation of worth or beauty. So don’t lie to family and friends. Instead, see yourself as a pioneer. Be in love with life without needing to attach that love to any one person. When you stop obsessing about what you believe is wrong, you will be able to embrace everything good and right about yourself and your life right now.

I have a colleague who considers herself a healthy eater, certainly healthier than me. When we go to a restaurant, she gives the waiter the third degree about everything, from what kind of oil was used to whether the vegetables are organic. She’s not in the best physical shape but acts like she is, and it’s annoying. I’m sure you’ll say don’t dine with her, but that’s the only time I have for socializing. She works in the same industry that I do and is a valuable source of information for me. Any suggestions about how to deal with her food issues in a constructive way?

The next time you’re at lunch together and your colleague is ordering, smile. As you do, be fully grateful that you allow a low-maintenance activity (ordering food) to remain low-maintenance. On the occasion that you are not in the mood to listen to her dissect the menu, be the first to order when the server arrives. Then, before your colleague begins her investigation, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom, or to the restaurant’s waiting area. When you suspect that the order is complete, return to your seat and enjoy the rest of the visit. In other words, let your colleague be her complicated self while you enjoy a different way of living.

My wife of 20 years doesn’t even want me to touch her. I don’t always expect sex, but if I reach out to hold her or kiss her, she pulls away as if she thinks it has to lead to sex. I understand what she wants, but how can I get her to believe what I want: just to be close to her?

Regain her confidence. Your wife does not trust that you only want to be affectionate. You don’t trust your wife’s boundary regarding affection. At some point, one or both of you began to be dishonest about what you really enjoy about physical touch and sexual intimacy. Clear up the deceit, and you’ll be back to hugging, kissing and more in no time.

Start by having a conversation with your wife about how she wants you to touch her. Then, give her what she wants, but pull away before you would like to. Understand? Your desire for affection might feel natural and free of expectations to you, but she definitely senses something else. So shorten each warm and loving touch. Abbreviate every hug and kiss. Ignite your wife’s desire so that she is longing for more of you.

Meditation of the week
“It's not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we're alive—to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are,” wrote Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Are you free of convention?

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