Dear Harlan,

I have a very snobby friend who thinks anything sexual makes a girl a stupid slut. I recently lost my virginity. I feel like a sucky friend for not telling her but telling all of my non-school friends what happened. I think she’s going to be extremely judgmental, even though she has no idea what my ex and I went through and why I decided to lose it with him. It’s surprising because she’s pretty liberal when it comes to sexual orientation and religion –just not with sex. I don’t want to ruin our friendship because she might think I’m some dirty slut because I did it one time with one boy who I was comfortable with. AND we used protection. Should I tell her?

Confused About Friendship

Dear Confused,

If you’re really this comfortable with your decision, your friend’s reaction shouldn’t matter. Which makes me think you’re not that comfortable. If you want her to say nice things to you, you might not want to tell. If you want her to be honest and respond freely, then share. The biggest mistake would be expecting her to change how she feels and support your decision. Give her permission to judge, disagree with your choices and tell you how she feels. Expect her to be brutally honest. If brutal honesty makes you uncomfortable, that’s not her problem. Her job is to tell you the truth and love you. And that’s all you should ever want from a best friend, even if the truth hurts.

Dear Harlan,

I have had feelings for my ex-boyfriend since we broke up when I was 17. At 21, I still come back to him after he did me DIRTY (verbally abused me, was in a serious relationship with someone else for two years, etc.). I am a big girl, but I am beautiful, have a wonderful life, so much to live for, and have an excellent group of family and friends. I have faith that I deserve someone good, even though it’s been so long since I’ve partook in anything substantially romantic. I yearn for romance and sex, and know I deserve someone good because I am a good girlfriend. Why do I keep running back to my ex-boyfriend? It does not make sense. How do I stop living life sexless and single, despite whatever that jerk or anyone is doing? Please help me, Harlan!

Can’t Stop Running Back

Dear Can’t Stop Running,

Stop dating him. Yes, you’re still dating your ex. That’s why it’s hard to move forward. You’re emotionally involved. You can’t date other people when you’re still emotionally involved with your ex. Break up with him again. This time, make it for real. No sex. No Facebook. No texts. No conversations. Really break up. If it’s too hard cut loose, find someone to help you (like a psychologist or therapist). As for not finding other people to date, I can’t imagine you’ve done enough to meet someone else. You probably haven’t been emotionally tied up. When you finally break up with him, try online dating, fix-ups, singles’ activities, volunteering and things that will help you connect with other singles. Once you get your ex out of your life and get yourself into rooms with more single people, you’ll be able to see other opportunities. You have options. Once you break up emotionally and cut loose, you’ll know what it’s truly like to be single.

Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober)” (St. Martin’s Press). Write Harlan at [email protected]

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