Dear Margo: I am soon to be 27 years old, and my only serious relationship ended a few years ago. In hopes of avoiding the standard meat market of dating, I'm considering registration with eHarmony.com.
I've also had my share of casual relationships. Now that I've experienced some hard lessons, I've chosen to abstain from sex until marriage. My reasons are complex, but simply, I'd rather become serious about the next guy based on friendship and compatibility. Sex can come later — after marriage — and when it does, I can then feel secure and safe about it, as well as have fun.
My question is, how do I let a new person know this? Do I post it under "miscellaneous facts" about me, or do I wait until the first or second date? My concern is clarity, timeliness and how to say this without coming off as prudish.
After all, I'd like to be honest about the past (to an extent, of course) yet be firm about my new decision. At all costs, I want to avoid what could be an embarrassing misunderstanding. — Seeking Celibate Advice
Dear Seek: There is nothing wrong with wishing to be revirginized. I would not, however, post this fact on any dating site. I suspect you would get zero responses if you were to write: "Likes movies, dining out, swimming, but there will be no sex till marriage."
This is no "miscellaneous fact" for people your age. The time to impart your new philosophy is when the relationship is beginning to look promising and you have established there is definite potential.
I feel quite certain, from my mail, that there are men out there who feel as you do. I admire your making this decision, and my instinct is that, for you, it will be a win-win situation. — Margo, virtuously
WHEN THE LAP-DANCER'S IN THE OFFICE
Dear Margo: Three months ago, I got the shock of my life. My husband of 30 years was late coming home from work. He seemed distant and nervous, so I questioned him. It turns out he had been spending a lot of time with another woman — a woman who works at the same place he does.
At first he says they were "just friends," then they started having lunch and spending more time together. He says he began seeking her out, wanting to spend more time with her. She is also married. He says he tried staying away from her, at one point, because he was afraid of his feelings.
He told me that they never went "all the way," just kissed a lot and petted. He claims they came close when she stripped down to her bra and panties and wiggled around on his lap, but he couldn't get an erection. He believes this was due to his feelings of guilt about betraying me.
At the time of this confession, he asked for a divorce to be with her. Then two days later, he says it's over and he made a terrible mistake! I am so confused and angry I could just scream! And I'm not sure I believe his not going all the way, either. What are your thoughts? — Angry and Confused in New Jersey
Dear Ang: Wiggling around on his lap, huh? I don't know about "all the way," but he clearly went too far. The good news is he's probably not an experienced cheater; the "distant and nervous" attests to this.
The length of your marriage suggests a severe midlife crisis. You need to find out what he thinks is missing at home, and also explore whether or not you can forgive him.
I suspect this would be best done with an experienced couples counselor, along with what the docs call "the tincture of time." Good luck. — Margo, probingly
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.