Advice

Miss Information: I haven’t been single since I was seventeen and I’m freaking out.

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Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I’m a twenty-two-year-old girl fresh out of a relationship. I’ve been in various long term relationships for the past five years, with little time between them.

I know I’m young and that I need to be single for a while. I just don’t know how to be single. Can you tell me how it works? How do I stop myself from jumping into relationships with every awesome guy that comes my way? How should I pace myself meeting new people? Most importantly, how am I going to get laid if I don’t want to nail strangers? — Fleeting Single

Dear Fleeting Single,

There are two kinds of people: serial monogamists who jump from one long-term relationship to another and the persistentally single bachelor or bachelorette. The Relationshipers are good at opening up, sharing their emotions, and being vulnerable. The Solo Artists are good at entertaining themselves and looking after their own needs first. A Solo Artist is skilled at self-soothing, a terms typically associated with raising babies. It means letting a child calm themselves down during late-night crying fits without relying on their parents. It’s a painful process, learning to self-soothe as an infant, but it’s an important skill to learn, especially for when you’re a single adult.

In order to be single and stay single, you need to be able to go through the whole spectrum of moods without having someone around to comfort or be elated with you. You might think you already know how to do this: I’m not needy. I don’t get jealous. Ex-boyfriends don’t call me psycho. But I have news for you, Fleeting Single: being self-reliant in a relationship is not the same as being self-reliant alone.

It’s natural to want to be in love. Don’t feel bad about that. Shame is a shitty motivator. The goal is to find what habits — changes, activities, ambitions — will help you, over time, feel happy even when you’re not part of a couple.

Committing to being single doesn’t mean sex is out of the question. There are a ton of nice people who want to get laid but aren’t looking for relationships, and I’m not talking about the type that post close-ups of their glans on Craigslist. Ask your friends to make some introductions, hit some meat-market bars, or try an old ex who’s open to having fun but isn’t a drama risk.

Dear Miss Information,

I recently started dating a new gal. We’ve been out on four dates. No sex. We haven’t talked about exclusivity, but it did come out in casual conversation that neither of us is seeing other people. After that came out, we got quiet and awkward.

She’s going on a business trip this weekend. It happens that a female college friend is also coming to visit — the kind of friend that’s platonic until we have a lot to drink and get naked. Is it alright to sleep with my friend, assuming I don’t do it again if things get serious with the four-date girl? — Under the Wire

Dear Under the Wire,

How intense were those four dates? Did you reveal any deep personal secrets? Make any of those creepy vows like they do in eHarmony commercials? If not, you’re in the clear. You haven’t slept together and you haven’t had “The Talk.” Exclusivity by intention is not the same as exclusivity by default.

This would-be indiscretion is with a designated fuck buddy and a long-distance fuck buddy at that. Your fuck-friendship isn’t transforming into a committed relationship anytime soon. Plus, since she lives far way, it isn’t likely you’ll have to explain to your new maybe-girlfriend who that friendly lady is you keep running into.

A fling like this can be good in the early stages of a possible relationship. You get all that sexual frustration out of your system with one last, safe hurrah. You can make decisions based on whether you actually like four-date girl versus needing to relieve your blue balls.

Be prepared for this question: “How was your weekend?” I recommend the vague but honest answer: “An old friend came to town.” Four-date girl might drop it at that. If she gets jealous though, you have the perfect opportunity to discuss the rules going forward.

Readers, would you be pissed if you were four-date girl? Why or why not?