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I have been seeing a really sweet guy for three months. He is intelligent, fun, considerate, and generous. My issue is that he is a virgin and doesn't seem very interested in changing that. We are both in our early 30s. I am recently divorced—my husband was a compulsive cheat—and have a 2-year-old son. I have discussed sex with “James” and he said that he originally wanted to wait until marriage for religious reasons, but now doesn't feel that is necessary, he just wants it to be with the right person. We were making out the other night and I whispered to him how much I wanted him. He said he wanted me, too, but he sounded awkward and unconvincing. He always tells me that we can't do anything because he doesn't have condoms, but he hasn't made any attempts to purchase some. I can tell he is aroused when we kiss, but I’m worried that he just isn't very interested in sex. That would be tough for me to handle long term. Is it wrong that I expect our relationship to be further along after three months? My friends say I need a man with more heat and passion but I am hesitant to pass up an otherwise great guy.
“I don’t have a condom” is “The dog ate my homework” of the lifetime virgin. You say you’re worried he’s not interested in sex. Since he’s never had it, despite your giving him the opportunity, you may be onto something. Of course, it’s possible he is interested in sex but, having gotten to this point in life without knowing what to do, he may be terrified about disappointing a sophisticated woman like you. It could be that he has some kind of sexual hang-up, or feels self-conscious about his body for some reason. But here he is, with a knowledgeable partner eager to get him over the hump, and he keeps balking. You have just been deeply hurt by the man you thought you would spend your life with, and I understand there is not an abundance of lovely, eligible men. But having a partner you’re certain will never cheat on you because he’s apparently incapable of doing the deed is not the answer. You also must know that even if you do get him in bed, it’s likely to be a frustrating experience. See the hilarious consummation scene at the end of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. I believe in the value of going slow, but three months is long enough to see if a relationship is worth investing more time; one way to find out is to explore your sexual compatibility. If you’re willing to lead the guy by the hand, then have a discussion with him explaining you think it’s time, and you will purchase the condoms. If you two still can’t get into bed, that’s evidence enough your relationship won’t survive outside it.
Dear Prudence: Failure to Communicate
My wife and I have been married for 18 months and have a baby girl. We have a strong marriage. When we were engaged, I noticed that my future wife was spending lots of money on fancy name brand items. She does not come from a wealthy family and it was concerning to me. About two weeks before our wedding I went shopping with her and her sister and they confessed and told me that they wear most of the items once and return them. I was a bit floored as I come from a very honest hard-working family, and we would never stoop so low. What she does makes me sick, and I have confronted her many times about this, but I can't get through. My respect for her and her family has taken a hit. I don’t want our children thinking this is acceptable behavior. I want them to know that through hard work they can obtain the items they want, but also that it isn't necessary to show off your brand names. This has become the underlying issue in most of our arguments.
Dear Keep It,
Your wife has unlocked the secret of how to be a woman who never wears the same thing twice—and never pays for it, either. What your wife does is bad for retailers’ bottom line, but it’s better for yours that she’s a compulsive returner and not just a compulsive shopper. I share your distaste for this practice. This recent Wall Street Journal article shows that while Nordstrom’s will take back just about anything, the return is then subtracted from the commission of the original sales person. And this follows up on another Journal story on how sporting goods retailer REI had to limit its return policy from forever to one year, because too many customers were returning worn items bought decades ago. I agree your wife is being somewhat dishonest—although let’s give her credit for wearing the stuff only once—and that she should build a real instead of virtual wardrobe, one she can afford. But you’re not going to win this argument. I bet the whole process of selecting items beyond her budget, showing up dressed to kill, then getting her money back gives her a kind of high. You’ve said your piece about her rag trade, and this simply is not worth collapsing your marriage over. Since the retailers won’t even back you up, you need to back off. Let’s just hope stores start balking when your wife tries to return spittle-covered onesies your daughter has outgrown.