Dear Margo: I often see references in your column (and elsewhere) to “friends with benefits.” Where can I find a woman like this? It sounds wonderful. I can have sex and do nothing for her in return. When did this “friends with benefits” start? When I was a young man, we used to call those women sluts. So today we rename the sluts, and they fall for it. I wish I were 30 years younger. I could use a friend with benefits. — John from Essex
Dear John: Thanks for the laugh. Your sly take on this subject is most likely shared by everyone who is middle-aged. My guess is that this new casual approach to what used to be something meaningful is post-sexual revolution, if not post-post-sexual revolution. Somehow the kids went off the rails and decided sex was just something to do … you know, like a video game or playing darts.
The women you call “sluts” I would call “loose,” and they have been around forever. That behavior, however, was not sanctioned, as it is now; there was usually a reputational price to pay, if not a venereal disease. (Those are still possible, by the way!) Around the 1780s, Count Talleyrand observed: “In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” So you see, dear, the activity has remained the same; only the name has changed. — Margo, historically
Some Bumps on the Career Military Road
Dear Margo: My fiance is in the military, and for the past few years, we’ve been moving around the South. I am a New Englander, so this has been a completely new experience for me. While I’ve appreciated my time here, have learned a lot and have come to love a few things about this area and culture, I am hopelessly heartsick for home. My fiance and I usually make friends easily, but at our current location, we’ve both had a difficult time doing so, which no doubt adds to my misery. I’ve talked to others who’ve been in the military for decades, and they say it was harder to meet people at this base than at any other. So it’s not just us, but that doesn’t make me any less lonely.
I do what I can and try to enjoy the little things. I get home to visit as often as I’m able. I’m lucky enough to have found a great job here, which is not the case for many military spouses. And I know to some extent I am idealizing home. This is all particularly jarring and somewhat disappointing to me as I’ve always been the optimistic, go with the flow, I-can-be-happy-anywhere type. While I hate our location, I like military life in general, and we are in this for the long haul (18 more years). In his field, it is virtually impossible that we will be stationed anywhere near home. There’s a slight chance we could go overseas, which I would love, but most likely, we’ll be bouncing around the South for quite a while. How do I lessen my homesickness and enjoy it more than I do now? — Left My Heart at Home
Dear Left: My position has always been: “It’s the guy, not the place.” While I understand and sympathize with the problems having to do with your particular base and being parked in a different part of the country, I do see some bright spots. You have a job you enjoy, and you get to go home to visit. I can’t exactly figure out why your particular base is tough in terms of finding friends, but I suspect it can be done if you put some effort behind it. There has to be a town near your base, so perhaps through work or an affinity group you could broaden your horizons beyond life at the base. I hope you’ll start humming the song “Accentuate the Positive” and let the lyrics be your guide. I think you’ll be just fine. — Margo, optimistically
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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