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WEIGHT LOSS SHOULD COUNT AS EXPERIENCE

Dear Carolyn: Until I was 26, I was overweight, unpopular, shy, and depressed. Two years ago, I reached a point where I couldn't take it anymore. I started working out, changed my diet and started talking to new people. After a year, I had reinvented myself as a 100-pound-lighter, in-shape, social, confident individual.

Toward the end of my transition, I met my girlfriend. She is pretty, smart, athletic and funny -- the type of girl I never dreamed of even talking to when I was overweight. She accepts me for who I am and for who I was. I want to spend the rest of my life with her, and she feels the same way.

I guess you could say I was lucky to meet her right off the bat, but I didn't really get the chance to play the field. My girlfriend is the first girl I have ever kissed.

Part of me says it would be smart to try to put our relationship on hold until I have "sown my wild oats." But then again, I really can't imagine my life without her. Maybe the real problem is that I still haven't completely gotten over the first 26 years of my life. Any thoughts?

-- Wondering What Could Have Been
A: A little secret: There is no "could have been." There is only what is.

And you is a hot guy in love. Yay for you.

Your struggle and epiphany and private victory all count as life experience. As long as you've accumulated enough to know and trust yourself, I don't think it matters what that experience is (or isn't).

However: If you're not sure whether you want to sow your wild oats, or feel you should sow your wild oats, then you don't yet know and trust yourself enough to make any rest-of-your-life decisions.

So don't make any. Relax, and give your life time to make sense. Or is it, give your time life to make sense. Either way, while you contemplate, you can keep loving and enjoying this woman as long as you still love and enjoy her. Another yay for you.

Lost in the crowd

Dear Carolyn: I'm 23 and have been dating a great guy for about a year now, but he sometimes forgets I'm around when we are out with his friends. I try my best to be a part of the conversation, but is it too much to ask that he flash me a smile or say a thing or two once in a while when we're all out? He is wonderful when it is just the two of us. Am I asking for too much, or is this a sign that things might not be what they seem?

-- Confused
A: Could be. Or could be he's socially green.

Or it's a sign that a year has passed and you still aren't part of your boyfriend's gang. Or: It's a sign you should compost your Encyclopedia of Signs, and trust your feelings. If it's a deal-breaker, say so. If it isn't, get used to it. And if you're not sure, keep plugging along till you are.

e-mail: tellme@washpost.com.

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