Dear Ann Cannon • I was raised in a conservative religion and taught that sex was reserved for marriage only. I am now divorced and seriously dating someone who is not of my faith. The sex conversation has come up and I am conflicted. I would like to have sex with my boyfriend, and I am no longer a believer in the religion I was raised in. I know my parents and friends would be disappointed in me. I’m 30! I feel conflicted! How do I navigate this situation? My boyfriend is supportive of whatever I decide.
Dear Struggling • Because you’re a bonafide adult at the age of 30 now, you don’t need my permission (or anyone else’s) to have sex or not to have sex. I also don’t think it’s anybody else’s business either — and that includes your parents. This one is totally your call is what I’m saying here, although I do understand why you’re conflicted and I am not unsympathetic to that. Even if you’re no longer a believer in the religion of your childhood, it’s difficult to walk away from a culture’s norms, right? Those norms can be very powerful, possibly making things more difficult for you than you might want or anticipate.
Bottom line? Just make sure that if you do have sex with your boyfriend, you’re having it because YOU want to and not because you feel pressured or rushed — either by him or by yourself. It’s still OK to say “no.” If, on the other hand, you do say “yes,” remember to keep it safe. Good luck to you!
Dear Ann Cannon • I recently got married and kept my maiden name. I have received so much push back from my in-laws, church and random people. Any advice on how to handle this?
— I Like My Birth Name
Dear I Like My Birth • Wow. I can’t believe something like this is still an issue in 2019. Anyway, what you call yourself is nobody’s business but yours and your spouse’s (apparently, I am all about advising everyone to say IT’S NONE OF YOUR BEESWAX today). But seriously. Just smile and say, “My spouse and I are good with this,” and leave it at that.
Dear Ann Cannon • One of my dear friends recently got married. I thought it was a family-only ceremony, so even though I felt bad I was not invited to the ceremony, I understood. Recently, though, I’ve heard from several of our acquaintances who were at the ceremony, people who I did not think were nearly as close of friends as he and I. I don’t want to say anything to him about this. After all, the ceremony is past so there is nothing that can be done about that. And, also, I think him feeling happy about his wedding is more important than me feeling excluded. However, I find that I am very sad about this and that the feeling of sadness has not gone away. What should I do?
— Hurt Feelings
Dear Hurt • First, let me say I think you’re wise not to say anything to your friend. In fact, your decision to remain silent shows what a good friend you really are to him, which is awesome. Meanwhile, what should you do with your feelings of sadness? I would just accept them for now. Own them. Sit with them. Remind yourself it’s both OK to feel sad and that the intensity of your feelings will lessen over time.