Dear Harlan,

I’m 18 years old and in college. I’m a virgin. I’ve never dated any guy. I’ve never even kissed anyone, though most of the time I tell people I have if they ask, which I’m ashamed to admit, but there it is. Guys have asked me out before, but I’ve never accepted. I don’t know why. I think I’m worried that it’s not the “right” guy or something. This is so silly because I understand that the whole point of dating is to find out what you like and experiment with different people. I already have an idea of what my “type” is, and I shouldn’t because I’ve never tested any of the possible waters. I fantasize about being in a relationship with someone — anyone — but when I am faced with the opportunity to start a relationship, I bail. What the heck is that about? I just don’t understand why I am this way when it comes to dating. Do you have any kind of insight for me, or am I a hopeless case?

Single Virgin

Dear Single Virgin,

You’re scared. Instead of going on dates, you reject yourself before allowing anyone else to reject you — it saves time and pain. It’s safer for you to avoid dating. You’re afraid of doing something wrong, being judged, getting hurt, turning someone off or getting rejected. Why else lie about kissing? Do me a favor and remove the word “date” from your vocabulary. Call it “getting to know people who may or may not want to kiss you.” Go out. Focus on what you want. See if you like them. Give yourself permission to be inexperienced. Trust that the right guy will find your lack of experience attractive. The sooner you can embrace your innocence and inexperience, the sooner you’ll change from a single 18-year-old virgin who hasn’t been kissed to an attractive, interesting and selective 18-year-old who wants to find a man who is worth kissing. If you can’t take the next step, find a therapist who can help you learn to love yourself. You’re not hopeless — just afraid.

Dear Harlan,

This is in response to a recent column about the concept of waiting for boyfriends to pop the question. I can’t believe in this day and age women are still waiting for a guy to pop the question. My husband and I have been married for almost 30 years, and it was a mutual decision on our parts to get married. No one really asked the other one. Putting the pressure on the man to do the asking is ludicrous. The man and woman in a relationship should be equal partners, deciding together when to get married.

Sarah

Dear Sarah,

I loved popping the question. I got a rush out of planning, plotting and surprising my then-girlfriend. And I got her. It was 10:30 on a Saturday night on the other side of the city when I arranged for a limo to pick us up following a work function. When she stepped inside the limo, I told her, “Your life is about to take a dramatic turn.” And it did. Of course, we talked about getting married months before actually popping the question, but she didn’t know when it would pop. The letter writer in question mentioned her friends were dating men who weren’t ready to get married. While the pop might be a surprise, the concept of getting married seems to have been discussed.

Harlan is author of “Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober).” Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan!, 3501 N. Southport Ave., Suite 226, Chicago, IL 60657.

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