BODY IMAGE AND EATING DISORDERS
How Do I Get Myself to Love My Body?
Q: I'm 20 years old (in a month) and I've been in recovery from anorexia for about 9 months now. I eat pretty normally now, except for a few quirks I have. But that body image thing won't give. I know that I am not naturally stick thin, and it makes me crazy that I just look "average". I don't think I'm fat, but I don't think I'm thin, either. I feel funny when people look at me because I'm nervous they are going to notice that I gained weight and that I "couldn't keep it up". I was caught early, and while I know deep down that that's a good thing, it makes me feel that I wasn't ever sick enough to deserve help. There are so many suffering way more than me. Anyhow, I have the curves and stuff that are so out of fashion. I wish there was someway to change body structure. My hips are so wide and my tummy sticks out especially after I eat...but it always sticks out. I'm trying to like myself and know that I'm good - but it's tough.
A: It is wonderful that you are able to express these things, and that you are in recovery. Anorexia takes so many lives - - it is truly a credit to you that you managed to overcome this illness. I hope that you have the proper network of support to help you stay healthy.
As to body image, it truly is difficult in these times of Baywatch and even Friends to deal with a less-"perfect" - than Pamela or Jennifer body. What all of us must keep in mind, however, is that we each have our own beauty, and the essence of that beauty is being healthy and strong. Making our bodies work and function to their fullest potential is the sexiest thing around - look at the WNBA players!
Being thin and angular so that we look like we are about to die is an ideal which parts of society have pushed and which we must actively reject. Who cares what shape is "in?" I think weak, paper thin women just look like they are about to expire - and like they can't lift a knapsack if they tried.
Exercising is the surest way to love your body and to get it into the best shape YOU can. So find a sport you love, and just do it! After a while, you will love your body for what it does for you.... Also, please stay in touch with a therapist and nutritionist. Anorexia is a haunting illness, and you may need the support in the future....
Communicating With Parents Whose Minds Are Made Up
Q: My parents are different ... they aren't exactly up to try new things. Once they say something, that is how it goes, you're not going to change anything they say ... and that's that. I know that I argue my fair share, but they think everything is all my fault. I just don't know. Will you tell me what you think please?
A: Hi. You know what worked for me when I was a teen? I would write my mom letters - outlining what I saw as the problem, asking for her to reconsider her opinion, giving her my reasons, etc... That way, you never say anything you regret - because you read it over first - and it gives your parents a chance to reconsider stuff slowly without reacting right away...maybe give it a try?
Can I Keep Dad's Drug Secret?
Q: A few days ago, I caught my dad doing drugs. He said that if I told my mother he would divorce her. I can't help but worry it will slip out... I cant sleep ever !!
A: You are so brave to be asking about this, and I understand how this could make you really stressed out. This is a big burden to be carrying around! And you shouldn't have to. Your father's behavior is typical of drug users - - blaming, hiding and denying. It might be hard for you to start dealing with this because to do so you will have to be thinking of your dad in terms of being a user - both of substances and of people - and that is a painful and uncomfortable realization about your own dad.
If you tell your mother and your dad does indeed divorce her, the responsibility for the divorce is not yours, no matter what your father tells you. It is his marriage and his life, and HE is screwing it up, not you!
Please do not let him guilt you into "protecting" him - because really, hiding this secret is just extending his lease on the vehicle that is taking him nowhere fast - and your family along with him.
You might want to try saying something like this to him: "I love and you're ruining your life and harming mine and mom's. I will tell Mom because that may be the only way to get through to you. If you decide to run away, that's your choice, and if Mom decides to divorce you for your drug abuse, well, that's the consequence of your sneakiness and your lies. Maybe someday you'll get the help you need and you'll get control of your life."
I wish you much luck - continue to be brave!!!!
Responsible Teen Blues - Part I
Q: I am 17 years old and a senior in high school. I get excellent grades and have been accepted to a great college already. I don't drink, smoke or use any other drugs. I help out at home and am active in school. However, my mother has just set new curfew rules that drive me crazy. This year was when I really started to go out a lot, mainly because I have a car and a night license. I have a group of friends that I go out with every weekend. My mother used to have the rule that as long as she knew where I was and I was honest with her about where I was I had no set curfew. This worked absolutely fine until a few weeks ago. I have a cell phone and I would call her when I knew where I was going to be. The latest I ever came home was 1:30. My group of friends hang out at this kid's house because he has this shack thing separate from his house, with couches and a TV and a radio, and it's a lot of fun. My mom asked me if the parents were there and if there was drinking going on. I told her the truth, like she always wants me to, which was that the parents weren't there and sometimes there was drinking and she was ok with me going because she knew I would never drink and I would never put myself in an unsafe situation. Then all of a sudden she got to have a big problem with it after talking to other parents whose kids have curfews at 1 am. Now I have to home by 1 and I am not allowed to sleep at my friends' houses unless we arrive there at 1 and I am supposed to call her when I get there. We have caller ID, so calling from somewhere else is out of the question. The girls that I hang out with have no curfew, as long as their moms know where they are, so they don't go home until 3 or so. My dad, on the other hand, was perfectly content with the other rules. How can I make her go back or at least lighten up a bit? I drive my friends to wherever we want to go because I am the only one with a big enough car (a minivan) and a night license. I am responsible and I have NEVER done anything to betray her trust and I don't understand why she needs to set these rules. Next year I will be in college and there will be no parents ANYWHERE and no curfews. My dad and I both agree that the situations, like that kid's shack-house, are similar to college life and the choices I will have to make about my actions will be similar as well. I can see my mother's points and can relate to her reasoning, but what can I do to convince her to let me go out with my friends? We have been fighting a lot about this and I just want to resolve it.
A: It sounds like there are a lot of things going on here. Let's try to break the problem down into its smaller parts:
1. You act responsibly and maturely and feel you deserve to be treated accordingly. You figure, if kids like you can't get privileges and latitude, who can? And, if you can't, why continue to be so trustworthy and truthful?
2. Your mom seems to have switched the rules in the middle - which can be confusing. First she was cool with a later curfew and no parents around; then, out of nowhere, she wasn't.
3. Your dad and your mom disagree on the new rules, and are sending you mixed messages.
4. You are wondering why this year is any different than next, when you will be in college, and independent anyway. May as well "practice", you're thinking.
The way I see it, you have every reason to be confused. You are getting a bunch of mixed messages.
You should realize, however, that while being a good citizen should certainly earn you special privileges, it does not absolutely guarantee them. Your being responsible is amazing, and good practice for life as an adult. But even adults need to realize eventually (and, sadly, many of them don't) that the only definite outcome of good, solid actions is accountability to yourself. Also, no matter how responsible you are, there will always be things that it's just not a good idea to do.
Let's look at things from your mom's point of view for one minute. Maybe she heard things from those other parents that scared her; or maybe she felt she was being too lenient with you, and was neglecting her duties as a mom. Maybe she was afraid to tell you "no" before because she knows how hard you try to be trustworthy, but once she found out that other parents were "putting their foot down", she felt more comfortable doing so and risking your being upset with her. Or maybe she is extra tense this year precisely because you will be in college next year. Parents can get like that on the verge of the "big separation".
While it is true that nothing seems to have changed except your mom's mind, maybe it's worth discussing with her exactly what led her to these decisions. Hear her out.
It's also worth asking your parents to discuss this over between themselves first, and to let you have a united decision. I think it's really tough to be in a triangulated situation with your dad and mom volleying the disagreement ball over your head.
Here's what I suggest:
Write your parents a letter, like you wrote to us, outlining your position, why you think you should have certain privileges, what you think went wrong, etc.... Make sure you are non-emotional, non-angry, and to the point. Request specific things of them - a specific curfew time, a specific friend's house where you want to hang out, or specific rules you think should be added / reversed / changed. Then write a list of your commitments to their rules - that you won't drink, won't do drugs, etc... In short, draw up a real contract.
Ask your parents to review this contract, together, either in writing or in person, and make any comments they have.
You should be able to come to some sort of agreement this way - once it's all laid out in a clear, non-hysterical way on paper. Very often these struggles clear up quickly once they are stripped of their drama.
You sound like an intelligent person committed to making this work out.
See WholeFamily's articles on Parents and Teens...
Should Older Siblings Intervene?
Q: I am not a parent, but a 19-year-old big sister. I have been spending the summer at home, but am about to return to college for my sophomore year. I am a little upset about something that happened in our home over the weekend. I wonder what I should do, if anything.
My 9-year-old sister got into trouble over the weekend. She has a habit of going off without telling/asking anyone. In this case, she disappeared early in the day and we could not find her. We called people. I went driving around to look for her. My mom called the police. We were really worried. My sister finally came home at around 8:00 pm from some kid's house blocks away. Mom was furious. She gave my sister a good chewing out, sent her to her room, and then gave her a bared bottom spanking.
I question my mom's judgment. Was a spanking a bit much besides the chewing out, being grounded for a week, and having to write an apology letter to the police officers. Is mom laying it on a little heavy?
Should I talk to her before I leave or stay out of it?
A: It sounds like you are a great big sister, a good daughter, and a good person. I understand your concerns, and that your feelings of empathy are divided between your mom and your sister, which is tough.
Let me begin by saying that if there were a situation of abuse here, the answer would be unequivocal: Go get help.
But it doesn't sound like there is any abuse going on here. It sounds to me like a terrifying parenting experience dealt with in a less-than-perfect way.
I will not deal here with how I think your mom should have dealt with the situation, as this is not really relevant to your question of whether or not you should get involved.
As you correctly note yourself, you are not a mom, and not the mom of the child in question. You are in a frustrating situation, but you seem to be fully aware of your limitations in this scenario.
My advice to you is to stay out of it. In this way, you will allow your mom and your sister to develop a relationship whereby your sister is able to follow rules and empathize with your mom's concerns for her safety, and act more responsibly. Similarly, if you do not get involved, it might be easier for your mom to evaluate why she may have overreacted, and how she would rather handle a similar situation in the future.
By throwing your hat in the ring, so to speak, you could inadvertently give both your mom and your sister the opportunity not to deal with the issue at hand, which is their relationship with each other. Instead, your mom could chose to deal with her feelings about your intervention, and your sister could chose to use this an opportunity to escape responsibility.
If you step back, I think you may find that you feel freer. I have a hunch that your mom and your sister may be able to work things out themselves.
Good luck in college!
RELATIONSHIPS - PARENTS AND FAMILY
Responsible Teen Blues - Part II
Q: Hi, I'm a senior in high school. After graduation a group of my friends (the cream of the crop - all honor roll top of the class students) are taking a senior trip to Myrtle Beach. I have helped organize it all the way through and we finally have reservations to Myrtle Beach Resort. I drive a truck that was given to me by my granddad and, since I'm the only one going that owns a truck, people are needing me to drive so that I can haul luggage. My passenger would be one of my best friends, also a 3.8 GPA, student. I have never drank alcohol, experimented with drugs, or anything of that nature and have even drove to D.C. for a NASA Internship that I received this summer. My mom is adamant about me not driving to the Beach. I really need to and want to drive...Any suggestions of how to approach this?
A: Well, you have a tough situation here. As an objective observer, a not-so-long-ago teen, and a mom, I can see both sides.
On one hand, you are a responsible guy and a leader. You earn good grades, are involved in your community, hang out with a good crowd, and handle other teen challenges responsibly. You feel that you have earned some independence and some trust. You figure, if you can't be trusted to drive down to the beach, who can?
On the other hand, your mom has a right to worry. Teenage boys do historically have the highest rate of fatal car accidents. Teenagers tend to have a sense of "nothing can happen to me" - especially guys. This scares the hell out of mothers. So even if you won't drink and drive, let's say you are tired, or euphoric, or distracted - - all feasible when you are driving to or from a trip to the beach with loads of friends - - your chances for getting into an accident increase.
Even the most responsible, careful drivers get carried away by music and a good mood. In a mother's mind, these dangers are real and present - even if to you they seem like distant chances.
My suggestion is to draw up a "contract" with your mom to "help your cause". Maybe you could promise in writing that you will not drive on less than seven hours of sleep; will not drive for at least 12 hours after consuming any alcohol whatsoever (which you legally shouldn't but we can assume you will); will not drive in the dark; will always have that other responsible passenger with you - and no others; will not speed or drive recklessly; will not eat or drink or smoke while driving; and any other things you or your mom wish to add.
Giving your mom your absolute word on these things may help her swing her vote in your direction - but remember: If she still says no, then you will need to think about your options.
Are you willing to openly defy your mom and go anyway? What would be the consequence for you and your relationship with her? In addition to the ideas that I've suggested perhaps you can think of other ways to help your mom feel okay with letting you go.
I'm sure you'll have a good time at the beach no matter who drives!
See WholeFamily's articles on Parents and Teens
FRIENDS AND PEERS
riend With Heavy Problems
Q:What real steps can a friend take when her friend unloads heavy problems on her, like you're her lifeline? Her parents overreact sometimes (like suspecting she's using drugs, etc.-which she's not) and make her feel terrible and stupid other times and then piling on the chores (babysitting her kid sister, cleaning). She's had problems and talked about suicide off and on for over a year, sometimes it's too much. How do you know what to do -- is she serious? She doesn't sleep regularly, but her grades are ok and she loves art.
Your friend obviously needs help, and it is not fair for you to feel that the burden of all of her problems are on your young shoulders. A lifeline? I'm sure keeping one life together - yours - is hard enough!
As her friend, you need to ENCOURAGE HER TO SEEK HELP - like from a guidance counselor or teacher or another adult in her life who she trusts. There are also many excellent hotlines and websites on suicide which she can try.
(See our Crisis Center)
If she resists this idea, tell her you will do it for her, but that you can't be responsible for her. She needs other help.
I think that the only thing YOU can do is BE there for her, and you can tell her this - that you will be her shoulder and her ear, but not her wheelbarrow.
Best of Luck...You sound like a good friend.
LOVE, RELATIONSHIPS AND SEXUALITY
Beware of Cyber Infatuation
Q: Hi there! I'd appreciate it if you could give me some advice. I'm 14 and I'm in a very, very odd situation. A year and a half ago or so, I met a 28-year-old guy online. No, no, we're not "in love," just friends. Besides, I don't think it's possible to fall in love online. However, I really do like him a lot. Sometimes I'm infatuated with him, sometimes I'm not, it's all very confusing. I won't go into all the details about why I like him so much, it's just that he's SO much better than any high school chump I know. Now, he said that he was mildly attracted to me (or maybe not, he's very vague when talking about that...sometimes he'll say he's fallen for me, sometimes he tells me to chill out with my emotions, etc.) but he won't act on it until I'm a lot older, like 18. He also won't meet me unless my parents agree to it (which they won't.) So...what do I do with myself? Should I try to harness my emotions? Should I just live my life and see what happens, should I tell him when I feel strongly for him?
DO NOT GET INVOLVED WITH A 28-YEAR-OLD GUY!
I am glad he has refused to meet you - - because if anything happened between you, he could get arrested - and you could be in real emotional trouble down the road.
What I don't understand is why he is even engaging in computer flirtations (if not more...) with a 14-year-old girl. He is obviously conflicted about it, as he well should be.
It is understandable that people with common interests find themselves in like or in love or infatuated or whatever with people online. It's a very sexy thing, cyber flirting. You have time to think about what to say, time to be at your most charming.
And you can totally improvise the other person's reactions and expressions - half of what you're feeling is made up. The most tempting kind of love.
What do I suggest? From experience I can tell you: Stop it. It sounds harsh, but just stop it.
Tell him that it hurts you too much to be yo-yoed like this, and you know it's not right, what the two of you are doing, teasing each other when there's no way that you can be together in real-life.
Virtual relationships are real, don't kid yourself. I am friends with a woman who met a man online and left her family to be with her cyber-lover. They now live together.
So don't play with fire. Flirting with someone twice your age, when you are a minor especially, is fire. There are plenty of sickos out there, and, even if he is not one of them, he is certainly not 100% if he's flirting with someone half his age.
So my advice: End it, as hard as know that will be.
Hope this helps!
Confused About My Sexual Identity
Q: My best friend and I are really close. We help each other with everything and spend lots of time together. Last night, we were just hanging out like usual and she just ended up spending the night. (We'd been drinking earlier, but that had been about 4 hours before.) We were both just lying on the couch and I was running my hand through her hair because she couldn't fall asleep. She grabbed my hand and we started holding hands like you would do with your boyfriend. After a little while, we both leaned into each other and kissed. We were both kind of scared, but we started making out. Neither of us had ever done anything like this before, and now we're both totally confused and fearful. Neither of us want to lose each other as best friends, but neither of us necessarily didn't like it. We've both had boyfriends, and neither of us are "lesbians", but it's just kind of scary. What does it all mean and what do we do from here??
A: You sound pretty shaken by this experience, which is understandable. Suddenly, your best friend is also last night's date! But here's the question back at you: Are you really attracted to women, or were you bored / lonely / curious / still a bit buzzed? Also, is this something you want to deal with now? Or would you rather agree with your BFF to stay "platonic" from now on, and then put this on the shelf for a couple of years, until you can look at the issue again with more life-ready eyes?
I don't think you can label yourself a lesbian or a bisexual on the basis of one experience, while you can't and shouldn't ignore this, either. And while you both may have enjoyed it, I can think of loads of enjoyable physical sensations which I would not necessarily recommend repeating because of the heavy price they carry with them. The kind of true, unburdened friendship you two have now is a very big price which you'd have to pay if you went on with this new aspect of the relationship. I don't think it's worth it at this point.
You may have to take a deep breath, wait this one out, and see how you develop before drawing any conclusions. So grab a comfy chair and watch yourself unfold.
Best of Luck!
P.S. If you find that you've become really confused about your sexual identity or if it becomes a major focus for you, I think you should seek the advice of an adult you trust - a parent, relative, teacher, guidance counselor or whatever. (Really! I'm sure your guidance counselor has heard everything by now. Trust me, she won't be shocked.)
My Mom Is Kinky
Q: I am 13 and have recently become sexually active. I know that it seems young, but when my heart tells me something is right I tend to listen. My mom asked me if I was sexually active and I told her I was, but I feel a little strange how she is promoting me to do it as often as I want, and be kinky and stuff like that, because she is that type of person. She is really making sex seem like a sick, twisted thing to me. (She has always been really kinky and I don't mind her life, but she is like trying to get me to get involved in that...I don't want to be.) I just want to know how to break it to her.
A: It sounds like you have a lot of intense stuff on your shoulders at a very young age.
First things first: Hearts tend to tell us lots of stuff at many stages in life, and they are not always the wisest of body parts (although they are far from the dumbest...) 13 is indeed awfully young to be sexually active, and you may want to reconsider if this is a responsibility you want to tackle right now while you are still in the middle of growing in so many ways. Sex is the ultimate act of sharing, and I think you need to be a bit more selfish right now - with both your body and your soul. Have you thought about who the person is with whom you are sharing so much of yourself and if he deserves this privilege? Have you considered what you would do if you got pregnant? Or if you got AIDS? Or even a simple infection that could turn into something serious, and prevent you from ever having kids? Have you considered why you are having sex in the first place? Is it a reason that always makes sense to you, and that you feel whole with in the light of day? (See Sexuality/ Teen Sex )
Second: It's great that you and your mom have open channels of communication and that you were able to tell her that you are having sex. However, it's a shame that she is burdening you with such mature messages so early. Most people your age are just getting used to the fact that their parents actually do it; to hear amplified details is kind of disturbing.
If hearing this kind of thing from your mom is making you feel weird about sexuality - and about your mother - try saying something like this: "Mom, it's really great that I can talk to you about sex and I'm glad that you are so cool about it, but I'm not ready for all of this kinky stuff. I'm not even sure I should be having sex at all. Are there more mainstream things that you feel I need to know about sex? Right now, I need a 'mommy' and not a Dr. Ruth." I'm sure your mom will understand - you're not dissing her, just asking for a different approach.
(And by the way, if you are having sex, I hope you are seeing a gynecologist. Besides for checking to make sure you are OK and serving as another sounding board, she can give you all of the info you need on STD's, pregnancy and AIDS. See Crisis Center / Pregnancy and STD's .)
Cyber-Boyfriend Pressuring Me
Q: I have a boyfriend over the net and he is asking me if I would live with him, but I don't know. He's older than I am and I just don't know what to do. He says that we should move to New York City and have kids and a family like everybody else. What should I do? I don't want to say no and ruin his dreams. Please give me some advice.
A: Hi. I understand your not wanting to hurt this guy, but that is never a reason to drastically change your life or do something that is uncomfortable for you.
Even if this guy was your boyfriend in "real life", and not over the net, I would still say that moving to New York and getting married and having kids sounded premature. Teen marriages fail at a very high rate; it's better to wait till you are ready in every sense. Especially since you say he is older than you - he may be pushing you into something which he is ready for, but you are not yet.
Don't let him. Listen to your instincts. Don't worry about ruining his dreams. What about your dreams? Follow those first.
As for your net relationship: relationships over the internet can be dangerous. It's easy to pretend on the net, and you never know for sure all about the person who you are trusting with so many things. You should be very cautious - - there are a lot of weirdoes out there.
Even if your boyfriend is not one of them - even if he's a regular guy - the fact that he is older and pushing you towards a step you are not ready for is not a great sign. It is actually a bit scary.
Please let him know that this makes you uncomfortable. And if he doesn't back off, I urge you to break it off. Guys who pressure younger girls to take drastic life steps are not great to have as boyfriends, to say the least.
It may be smart to tell a parent or another trusted adult about this, in case it gets too much for you to handle alone. You would not want to be caught with a complicated situation alone.
Could I Be Pregnant from Fooling Around?
Q: My boyfriend and I fool around, but we never have had sex. Last night he had his hands down my pants and I had my hands in his. Then I felt something come out of him. We still had our underwear and pants on. Is there any chance I could be pregnant?
A: Most of the time, if not all of the time, you can be pretty sure that pregnancy is not an issue if no sperm came into contact with the general area of your vagina. It is highly unlikely that a sperm will find it's way through four layers of clothing (your underpants and pants and your boyfriend's) or from your hands to your vagina, and then from your vagina to your uterus. So pregnancy should not be your main concern.
However, if you are so freaked out at the possibility of pregnancy, you need to reconsider how far you want to take this "fooling around." The fact that you sent in this question indicates to me that that your boyfriend's reaching orgasm with you (which means that he "came", and "something came out" of his penis) is a new step for you, and is causing you a bit of anxiety.
You and he should re-evaluate how far you are going to take this "fooling around", and where your absolute "Do Not Cross This Line" is, so there is no misunderstanding. This type of activity often leads to "real" sex in no time, and it sounds like you are not ready for sex and all of it's risks - including pregnancy. These risks are clear and present no matter how careful you are.
In any case, I suggest you talk to an adult you know - a parent, teacher, counselor - anyone you feel comfortable discussing this stuff with - and get all the facts you need on fooling around, sex, birth control, STD's, pregnancy, etc..., before you find yourself in an even more confusing - and more difficult - situation.
Does Race Matter?
Q: Hi. I have a question. Does race matter when it comes to liking them or loving a person? What I'm trying to say is. Is it wrong for white and black to be together?
I don't think so because I think God looks at us all the same and not by our color. Some people may think that's it's not right because of the way that different people were brought up, but I don't think that just because some people were brought up to stay with their own color, that if you date someone that's not your color it's wrong.
Because God has a perfect someone for every person in this world. He never said that they would be the same color as we are. Do you understand what I am saying? Because my mom heard me tell this black guy that I love him and she was kind of hurt over it and tried to tell me that it was wrong. She tried to tell me that if the guy was white she would love for me to date him. I don't understand that. Because she knows him and likes him as a friend and everything.
She still does, but she thinks that it's wrong for me to like a black guy. Color shouldn't matter. You know. It's what's on the inside that counts. Not what's on the outside. I think that whatever makes me happy should satisfy her.
Because this guy is different from any other guy I know. He's a year younger than me though. But that doesn't matter. He's nicer than any older guy I've ever met. He's nicer than any white guy I've ever met. He's nicer than most of the black people I've ever met. Because as you know most guys just want to have sex with someone and then leave them, but he's not like that. We don't even talk about sex. It came up in our conversation one time and he said that sex isn't even an issue with him because he has feelings for me too.
So color has nothing to do with it. It's just that he's different and he means so much to me and if he's the one that I'm suppose to be with then I don't want to lose him and be miserable for the rest of my life.
A:Hi. It sounds like you have done a lot of thinking and soul-searching around this issue, and that you have come to one major conclusion on your own: That you want to be with this person.
You seem aware that much of society is still not ready for this type of relationship, but the fact is, you seem comfortable dating a person who is a different color than you are, because you love the person as a whole.
It's great that you have such confidence in love and in humanity, and this will take you far.
There is, however, the issue of your mom to deal with. She sounds like a really nice person, and not too hard to communicate with. She likes the guy, you say, and it doesn't sound like she is setting any rules against you seeing him, just that she is "kind of hurt" and "thinks it's wrong". I think this is handle-able.
Parents, like everyone, have certain ideas of how things will turn out for them and the people they love. Even if they don't see anything wrong with a certain action in principle, it is sometimes hard to accept that the action is so close to them. Maybe your mom is worried about how other people will treat you - she doesn't want to see you hurt. Or maybe she is worried about how her family will react. There are a thousand reasons why she may be totally cool with a concept, but less than pleased when the concept comes home.
What I think you need to do here is have an open talk with your mom about all this. You are lucky - it seems that she is just the type of person who can talk openly about stuff. It may be cool for you to realize that your open attitudes come, in part, from your mom in the first place...
It may also be helpful to realize that your mom may need to work out her discomfort on her own. Give her a bit of space, as it seems she has given you. Everyone deserves to feel their feelings without being judged, including your mom.
It sounds to me like you have a great attitude and a great mom, and that your mom has a great daughter, who has chosen a really sweet boyfriend. Good luck with everything!
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE
Am I a Virgin?
Q: I was with my current boyfriend and he pressured me to do oral favors for him. He told me that it was natural and that I shouldn't be "penis shy" as he said. I finally got the guts to do it and well it wasn't that bad. Then that became a daily thing and then when I didn't deliver these favors he would get testy; so I proceeded with the so called "job". After a couple of weeks then he tried to get me to sleep with him. I am 18 and I was or still am a virgin. He was a little drunk and the "job" was not working for him so he then slipped "it" in. I was confused and frightened but as my warped brain thought: "anything to make him happy". It didn't hurt. A little pressure and burning sensation but nothing else, and no orgasm. When I felt him inside of me, I pushed him off. I was in my menstruating week so I don't know whether he broke the "seal". It lasted no longer then 3 or 5 minutes because I was so scared. I mean this is my initial question: Am I a virgin or not? I hope I am because I am now no longer with him because I finally realized if he loved me the way I loved him he would have never pressured me. I still miss him but I let him go. Also, I hope I am b/c I really am trying to rebuild my esteem and respect of my body and my mind.
A: You are very brave to ask these questions.
First: I am so glad that you had the strength and self-love to break it off with this guy, and that you are trying to rebuild respect for yourself. That is so important, and you are already well on the road there, because you have started to deal with the issues, one by one. Good for you!
Next: You need to get help from parents or a guidance counselor or some other trusted adult. This will take some time to heal, and you will need the help of a professional, because sexual assault is a real and legitimate trauma. He has taken something away from you, and you need to deal with that, with a whole lot of support. Whoever you turn to for help can also help you to report the guy for date rape. It may not seem like a big deal to some people if you were already having oral sex with this guy, but it is a big deal to you, and in the eyes of the law. If you did not want to have sex and he forced you to, that is rape. Even all of the oral sex that he pressured you to give him is a form of rape. You need to report him, with the knowledge that you may have to answer some tough questions.
As to your main question, it doesn't necessarily have to hurt when you lose your virginity, and you are lucky - - that burning sensation and pressure was probably it. No one but a doctor can tell you for sure if you are still, physically, a virgin. In any event, you should be checked by a doctor ASAP for sexually transmitted diseases, and just to make sure everything is OK. She can also tell you if your hymen ("cherry") was broken.
Even if you are physically no longer a virgin, which is a strong possibility, that does not have to matter, because you can rebuild your self-esteem without that particular title. There are plenty of non-virgins who have "reclaimed" their virginity by being celibate until they felt that they were ready to have sex with someone whom they loved. These "emotional virgins" are just as "respectable", if not more so, than "actual virgins". I really hope you do get help. (See Crisis Center /Rape and Sexual Abuse; Crisis Center /Pregnancy and STD's.)
Suffering After Sexual Assault
Q: Last October, I was sexually assaulted by a guy at school. I haven't told my parents, but I have told a few of my friends, who have been very supportive. For a while, I thought I had gotten over what had happened... But then I started dating someone, and I can't stand it when he touches me or tries to kiss me. After only dating for a week, he's pressuring me to have sex. I feel dirty and disgusting. I try to "lighten up", but I still feel horrible. I get angry at the guy I'm dating. In fact, I don't think I can fall in love or trust any guy. I feel like so alone.... Should I tell my parents? What should I tell my boyfriend? HELP!!!!
A: I am so, so sorry for what you've had to endure. It is terribly unfair that so many young women suffer through rape and sexual assault, and even more unfair that they feel that they must suffer in silence, and then "lighten up", as if nothing ever happened.
First: You really should tell your parents. You need adult support, beyond the wonderful help your friends have given you. I am sure they would want to be there for you, and it will be a big load off your shoulders to have this out in the open. Remember: You are not alone and you did nothing wrong; your attacker is the only criminal here.
Next: Do not pass go, do not collect $200: REPORT HIM!!!! I suggest you do so now, before he hurts someone else; Sex offenders are notorious for their repeat performances. You deserve for him to be put away in prison, where he deserves to be. (See Crisis Center / Rape and Sexual Abuse.)
Second: It would be best if you let yourself heal before getting involved in a sexual relationship. The fact that your boyfriend is applying such heavy pressure on you to have sex (and so soon) indicates that he is exactly the kind of guy to avoid - especially while sex is still understandably such a painful subject for you. So I would break it off; tell him you are not ready for the kind of relationship he wants.
Third: You need to get professional help. Victims of sexual assault take a long, long time to heal, and they can't go it alone. With time and guidance, you can learn ways to cope with the stresses of love, sex and relationships, and can even learn to trust again. To do this, though, you are going to have to work through a lot of anger, fear and shame, all of which are normal reactions to what you've been through.
Pregnancy Scare at 13
Q: I'm a 13-year-old girl and I've had sex with my boyfriend for the first time this week but without a condom and I can't wait till my next period to see if I'm pregnant or not. I wanna know before - how can I notice it? I know I'm young but I've been seeing this guy for more then 7 months and I love him with all my heart and he loves me to and we both wanted to have sex but we forgot the condom and now we're both scared because I might be pregnant and all my friends say I am ...but how would they know? Thanks.
A: Hi. You have to find a clinic where a gynecologist can check you and help you out. Don't rely on your friends for this type of advice. You are right - how would they know?
Listen, you can't know if you are pregnant by "feeling" it...plus there are many other problems and responsibilities that come with sex besides pregnancy - like infections and diseases. You can't be forgetting the condom! That's very irresponsible...
If you are so nervous that you can't stand the wait each time for your period (because no birth control is fool-proof), and especially if you can't remember to use a condom, you really are not ready to be having sex. Even if you guys love each other, there are many other ways to express that. (See Sexuality/ Teen Sex .)
Personally, I think you should re-think your decision to have sex...it's a very heavy load to be carrying so young...emotionally, as well...Why do you need the hassle?
Anyway, you need to get help from a clinic as soon as you can.
Teacher's a Tease
Q: My bio teacher is young - my big brother's age - and a real piece of eye-candy. He is sometimes very "buddy-buddy" with me (I know him from when I was a kid and he hung out with my brother), which has lately made me feel uncomfortable, like he's flirting. (He's never touched me, though.) How do I get him to stop without making an idiot of myself? Or am I being paranoid, and just need to get over it?
A: The way you ask your question indicates that you are not really sure whether you enjoy the attention or whether it bothers you, and that you are probably sending mixed messages to your teacher. Eye-candy? He's your teacher: Get a grip! I think your instinct of being bothered is probably the correct one. You should not be thinking of him in sexual terms (even if he is cute - he's off limits!) and he should not be acting so chummy with his students that it can be misconstrued as flirting.
I'm glad there's no touching - yet. If a teacher ever touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, go directly to your guidance counselor or parents.
In the meantime, I suggest you write an anonymous letter to your school's guidance counselor, asking her to talk to this teacher about appropriate behavior with students. If he's a decent guy, he'll cut it out immediately. Meanwhile, keep your own temptation to flirt in check - don't put sexual tension where learning is supposed to be.