DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a man in my early 60s, and as far back as high school, I knew I'd always be completely invisible to the opposite sex. I spent my teenage years and well into my 40s feeling sorry for myself. I started resenting my friends, none of whom had any trouble with women.
When I was 47, I had finally had enough of watching life pass me by. So I started to pick up prostitutes. (I would have done so earlier, but my finances didn't allow it.) The only problem is that when your only two options are no sex at all or having sex with a prostitute, you're going to end up having lots of sex with prostitutes.
I thought I could get away with cutting back my dalliances to a few times a year, but that just whet my appetite for more, and I decided a clean break was the only way to go.
I'll be retired soon enough, and my finances are in good enough shape that I expect my twilight years to be comfortable. After all these years, I would like to settle down and have a relationship with one woman. This is a big step for me, and I need help getting there. Can you offer some advice? -- A Lot Older and a Little Wiser, Grand Rapids, Mich.
DEAR OLDER: I'm curious why you felt in the beginning that you were invisible to women. You need to deal with that emotional block to find your way to a healthy relationship. For some reason, you haven't believed you are desirable.
Go to a professional therapist and talk about your sexual and relationship history. Explore your feelings and behaviors before you begin to look for a partner.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been incarcerated for 17 years, and it's been rough being away from my dad, who is now sick, and my elderly grandmother. I recently accepted the Lord in my life, but people still tend to use me and not speak to me. Prison is a negative place, and I need some help keeping my spirits up while I'm locked up. -- A Little Deflated, Homer, La.
DEAR DEFLATED: I'm sure it can be emotionally debilitating to be in prison and away from your family for so long.
You may want to choose new ways to occupy your time. Reading is a wonderful way to transport yourself to another place. I highly recommend reading fiction and travel books, as well as self-help books that can support your self-esteem.
I practice meditation and highly recommend it as a way to keep up your spirits and help you manage in your current situation. Check to see if any programs at your institution teach meditation, or read up on it. It can be tremendously beneficial.
Also, write letters to your father and grandmother. Reflect on fond memories of when you spent time together. Send cards expressing your love. Stay connected to them. It will help you to endure the negative people around you.