I'm in my mid-twenties and I've never been kissed. Am I doomed?
Dear Miss Information,
I'm a female just past her mid-twenties. I've never been on a date, I've never been kissed, I've never had sex, I don't have many friends, and I'm without a defined sexual orientation. My "nevers" and lack of social network are getting harder to handle as I get older. I want to get out there, but I have no idea how or where to start. I'm beginning to think that I might be screwed and looking at a lifetime of solitude. Any advice on how to get my life going, both social and romantic?
— Just A Few Problems
Dear Just A Few Problems,
You are absolutely not screwed into a lifetime of solitude, though "Lifetime of Solitude" sounds like an excellent Tumblr of bad poetry, and if you don't start it, I will.
Start small. Pick up your local alt-weekly and find a bowling league/book group/cooking class. Use MeetUp.com to find activities with like-minded people, or find a worthy volunteer cause to work with. Pursue activities you are passionate about: passion is an attractive quality, and others will pick up on it. Friendships will be made when your attention is elsewhere. Go for the pottery, stay for the cute boy in the back.
It takes relationships to make relationships. And, in general, to make relationships, you have to allow vulnerability. Vulnerability is the difference between a conversation that starts, "How about this weather we're having?" and a conversation that starts, "Oh my God, let me tell you about how I just fell in a puddle in front of a group of nuns." The former is so boring that it makes listeners want to crawl under a table; the latter creates a spark and a list of follow-up questions. These are two extreme examples, but generally, the more of yourself you put out there, the more others will have to connect with.
As for your list of "nevers": they may feel big to you, but in the scheme of things, they get a shrug. Each of us is on an individual and separately-terrifying trajectory. Ultimately, you are not behind. Self-discovery is vital at any age. A lot of people couple up, get married, and have kids without ever having to look inward. Those are often the people who cave later in life. Get that introspection out of the way now, and you'll set yourself up well for the future — angst-Tumblr or no.
Dear Miss Information,
I met a girl in a brothel in New York a few months ago. We had sex and it was really lovely. We left each other with assurances that we had both had fun, and that we would see each other again. She was quite special, and I hoped to see her again, perhaps regularly. After a week or so of phone tag and reschedules, I saw her again. We met, and talked, and played about, and had just as good a time as we did the first time we met. So I asked her to have dinner with me. She accepted. This is rare. This is good.
I picked her up after she finished work one day and we walked to a restaurant a few blocks away. It was fabulous: we ate, drank, talked, and laughed for hours in the restaurant. We shared our life stories; I told her about my checkered past, she showed me pictures of her son. When the waiters threw us out, I offered her a ride home. She accepted, she invited me up, and I spent the night.
We've seen each other often over the last few weeks. Each time we meet she is more relaxed, less guarded, more forthcoming: more giving, more open, more honest. She's said she's in love, and so have I. We both mean it.
There are, of course, one or two little flies in the ointment:
First, the girl: she supports herself, and has for some few years, by sleeping with men for money. When we first met on a professional basis, she told me, in full tough-guy mode, that she liked what she did and was proud of being able to do it. I wanted to believe that that was the truth, and I was happy to believe her. Now that she's in love, the (other) truth emerges that she is seriously miserable.
I am of an age and a disposition such that I don't want a stable relationship and a child in my life at this point. Thirty years ago, perhaps; now, no. I have the resources to support her while she reorients her life, but this seems like a huge thing to offer without a commitment to a relationship of a more enduring sort. On the other hand, I don't want to leave her in a situation which she now finds distasteful.
We've talked around this situation a little bit. Any thoughts?
The "I can take you away from all of this!" trope should warn you that you are on the wrong track. Well-intentioned though it may be, it's a tired cliché. In actual life, Julia Robertses aren't swept away by Richard Geres. Every sex worker I've ever known has rolled their eyes at the frequency — and misguidedness — of these proposals. They are far more common than one might think. Often, they are their own form of fetish.
Call girl or not, nobody should financially support anybody else in a casual relationship: that dynamic hinges one party's entire livelihood on their relationship with the holder of the bank account. You supporting her would be just a slight variation on the "money for affection" transactions that are already making her miserable.
Your willingness to improve her life is understandable, in that it's hard to watch someone shiver when you have means to light a fire. But she's an adult woman who has (presumably) made informed choices in her life. If she's seriously miserable, then it's contingent on her to save herself. Granted, sex work pays the bills more efficiently than almost anything else, but that's a cost-benefit ratio she needs to work out for herself. She can find a way out if she wants; she just has to rely on herself and a network of supporters — preferably supporters whom she's never seen naked.
If you want to support her financially, you can continue to be her client. If you want to be in a relationship with her, you can buy her a white picket fence. But you can't do both.
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