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You and me, baby, ain't nothin' but mammals;
so let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
If there's nothing missing in my life,
then why do these tears come at night?

The woman I am listening to sits slouched on my sofa. She is a lovely woman with eyes so tired and depressed I can hardly believe she is only 20 years old. She hates being in a counselor's office, but she's got to talk to somebody. It's her life that's the problem, she says. It's not going well. She wishes her boyfriend were more attentive and her father had not married this difficult woman, her stepmother. She wonders about her relationship with God. And yes, she sleeps with her boyfriend, answering my question as though I were asking something I should already know. With that fact on the table, though, she suddenly turns the pages of her life back five years. She begins to talk about the first time she had sex.

"I didn't want to have a bad experience in losing my virginity—;like some of my friends," she says. "So I found a guy I knew but didn't feel anything special for, and I had sex with him. That way I could just get it over with."

Your virginity was something you wanted to "just get over"?

"Well, sure. That way I could enjoy sex more with guys I really cared about." These words explain her logic, one alien to my own but so representative of the sexual world of her generation. Losing one's virginity, in many cases, is a girl's rite of passage into relationships and sex—;where, it seems, all the happy people live.

This picture looks a bit different at 30. Then I see women like Molly, who is married and has children, a job, and one small problem—;Molly hates sex. What can I do to help her overcome her reluctance? It's boring, distasteful, and her husband ...

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July 10, 2000

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