Dear Alice,

I am a nineteen-year-old college student and am seriously involved with my boyfriend who is a twenty-year-old college student. We have even talked of getting married someday. Our relationship is very close and we talk about everything, and he is very wonderful and supportive. I feel very committed to him and would really like to have sex with him. We have tried twice, but it hasn't really worked out because my vagina is too tight. I am pretty sure the problem is just that it needs to be stretched more, because I have been to the gynecologist and don't have any infections. He says that he is okay with whatever we do and that he loves me no matter what, but I still feel guilty about not being able to go all the way. How do I get over this guilt? I will be leaving college for the summer soon and we will be separated for awhile and I want to make sure that our relationship is as solid as possible before I leave so we have the absolute best chances of surviving the summer!

Dear Reader,

As there are no guarantees with any relationship, having sexual intercourse with your boyfriend will not ensure a solid relationship to get you two through the summer. Rushing to have sex with your boyfriend before a temporary period of separation because of fear of loss of the relationship when you're both back at school in the fall and/or guilt for not having first intercourse by a certain time may not be the best reasons for making this decision.

Your boyfriend sounds pretty special and seems to care deeply for you. He appears to be comfortable with whatever intimacy is happening now in your relationship. Perhaps you can take to heart his reassurance about not stressing about the intercourse, too. Having your body open up to someone takes time, trust, privacy, and even personal commitment. If he is as special as he seems, there is plenty of time to work this out.

As far as surviving the summer is concerned, many couples who were separated by distance at one time or another, for various lengths of time, have been able to maintain their bonds successfully, as long as both partners make an effort. Granted, long distance relationships can be difficult and are not for everyone, but regular and creative uses of mediums to stay in touch, such as e-mail, snail mail, phone calls, and videoconferencing, as well as visiting each other whenever possible, have been helpful in many of these cases. Yes, you may miss the physical closeness these forms of communication cannot offer, and regularly making contact with one another does require effort, but the emotional intimacy that both of you can continue to develop in this way can become intense and satisfying in ways that being together physically may not offer. This is an opportunity for both of you to learn more about each other.


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