DEAR ABBY: I lost my virginity in my mid-teens to a young boy who then informed me that he already had a girlfriend. In the 15 years since, I've had dozens of failed relationships. They were all characterized by the same mistake: becoming intimate too quickly!
To cope with the pain, I either jumped into new relationships in order to forget, or abstained from them for years. Alternating between pain and loneliness is not much of a choice.
I'm well-educated and pretty sharp about a lot of things, but I was slow to slow down. While my own painful experiences cannot be erased, perhaps parents and young people can be made more aware that the music, media and the lack of family involvement carry our relationships along at speeds detrimental to our physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Last month I began dating a delightful man. We have spent many hours talking and laughing without revealing more about ourselves than makes us comfortable. And we have done no more than hold hands. It is by far the sweetest relationship I have ever known. -- WISER NOW
DEAR WISER: It takes courage to examine the reasons we behave the way we do, and you are to be commended for it. That which is truly worthwhile requires time and effort.