DEAR READERS: A few weeks ago, I printed a letter from a counselor in Pasadena, Calif., who was alarmed by the number of teen-agers who get pregnant. At her suggestion, I asked my readers to tell me how they just said "No" to sex. I was unprepared for the flood of letters that poured in from women of all ages (and even some men) eager to share not only their ideas, but also their experiences. I regret that space limitations prevent me from printing all of their letters. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: In college in the mid-'70s, I heard what I considered the best response ever. A friend of mine rejected the advances of a classmate by informing him that she had the opportunity to inherit a million dollars -- but only if she remained a virgin until age 25. After college, I used that ploy on more than one occasion (adjusting the age upward as necessary), and it worked for me, too. One young man even offered to help me remain a virgin if I'd cut him in for a percentage.
But the way my daughter handled the situation was even better. She recently attended her second junior high school dance, where she was introduced to a young man from another high school. While dancing and conversing, the boy became "grabby." My daughter mentioned it to me at breakfast the next morning, and I asked how she handled it.
She said, "I told him I wasn't ready for that kind of relationship and furthermore he was making me very uncomfortable, so to please stop it!" He promptly stopped. They continued dancing and talking, and a week later the boy called to invite her to a dance at his school.
This proves she didn't have to be rude or lie; the truth works, and good guys appreciate honesty and nice girls.
Young women shouldn't fear that they'll lose a good man if they refuse inappropriate sexual advances. The guys that "just don't get it" are not the ones a girl could have a meaningful relationship with anyway. -- FEMALE ATTORNEY, MELBOURNE, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: You asked how to say no to sex. For me it was easy. I told them, "If I have sex with you and get pregnant, you'll leave me. But my mother will KILL me." It worked every time, and the bonus was they continued to date me and respect me. -- BEEBIE IN PHOENIX
DEAR ABBY: As a Christian, I don't believe Jesus approves of premarital sex. So when I was dating, I reminded myself that Jesus was sitting there with me -- and I would ask myself if he would approve of what I was doing. Sure, it was hard sometimes. But I figured if he would rise from the dead for me, it was the very least I could do for him. Needless to say, I remained a virgin until I married.
Even if you have already slept with someone, it's never too late to say no -- and after that, don't ever put yourself in a tempting situation again.
The campaign called "True Love Waits" is a great way for young people to make the commitment to either remain a virgin or to become "secondary virgins." A secondary virgin is one who promises to abstain from sex frOm that point on until marriage. Most Baptist churches (as well as other denominations) have information on this campaign. Spread the word, Abby. It's worth the wait. -- GLAD I WAITED IN MISSISSIPPI
DEAR ABBY: Diplomacy is nice, but in matters of sex, it's better to be blunt. "No" is all you need to say, and "Because I don't want to" is the only argument you need to give.
On three separate occasions, different men told me I needed to see a psychologist and get some therapy. Apparently they believed that any woman who would pass up sex with them must be emotionally disturbed.
I'm now 29 years old and still a virgin. I haven't had to deal with gonorrhea, genital herpes, chlamydia, pregnancy or AIDS. In spite of the fact that I still haven't seen a therapist, I'm very happy.
As for the three men who were so concerned about my mental health, I never saw any of them again. I can't even remember their names. -- SHARON IN STATE COLLEGE, PA.
DEAR READERS: More on this tomorrow ...
DEAR READERS: If you would like your letter considered for publication, please include your name, area code and telephone number.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)