Dear Margo: Sex and the City

Today’s culture of “hooking up” makes dating feel impossible; what’s a girl to do? Margo Howard’s advice

Sex and the City

Dear Margo: My daughter, 22, refuses to go out with men. Why? It seems that girls of her generation have created a situation where the young man summons the young woman to his apartment to “hook up.” That’s the date: no phone call, just a text message. Then, after the event, the girl wonders why he doesn’t call. In addition, the young lady is expected to wax her privates and carry baby wipes in her purse so she can be fresh and ready for anything. This is because men like “young” girls.

If you recall our college days, gentlemen called you no later than Wednesday for a Saturday night date. They wined and dined you and walked you to the door for a goodnight kiss, if they were lucky. Sex came later, when the woman felt she was in a committed relationship. Young women today should all unite, stop waxing and “take back the night.” — Sally

Dear Sal: You and I wouldn’t have gone for the routine that you say is today’s norm. I think our generation was lucky that sex meant something and “virtue” had value. The hook-up culture of today strikes me as bizarre, with its practitioners the losers.

I don’t think you’re asking a question so much as voicing a protest. Your views seem to coincide with your daughter’s — and I’m guessing she got hers from you. I hope you’ll make an effort not to be nervous on her behalf, because there are men who find the hooking-up culture shallow and demeaning. People are getting married all the time, and I seriously doubt all those romances began with a booty call. And guess what? Following is a letter from your daughter.

Sex and the City: Part II

Dear Margo: My mother wrote you in regard to me and men. I know she’s concerned that I don’t date, and I want to give you my perspective. I knew about sex at a young age and felt comfortable being open with her. I chose not to lose my virginity in high school; my mother always told me not to settle. I went to college, and a voice in my head told me to wait. I was not interested in one-night stands in a fraternity house. I was mysterious, an enigma.

The “virgin thing” went from enigma to stigma in the real world. I’ve been working for a year, and I’m 22 and still a virgin. My confidence makes me attractive to men, and I have a head-turning Kim Kardashian figure. Desirable men flirt with me, but I know they are only after one thing. I am mature for my age, which comes off as sexually experienced. Men don’t ask me on dates; they just invite me to their humble abodes. I feel disinclined to accept any of these offers because of my “secret.” All I really want is for someone to see me for me. — Virgin Whore

Dear Virg: I believe your mother understands where you are coming from and, in fact, agrees with you. Her concern is that you will never find Mr. Right if you refuse to go on dates. I think you are shortchanging the appeal of not being easy. Sexual America may be on a faster track than before, but there are still men with standards. My recommendation would be for you to accept what you imagine to be invitations to hook up and then treat them as dates — you know, with things like “conversation.” If the guy is disappointed, well … he might also be intrigued. You will at least have given him a chance.

Do not buy into the “stigma” business. Somewhere there’s a man who doesn’t think much of hooking up and is looking for a girl like you, and the only way you will find him is by accepting dates. I have been around a long time and know that when the chemistry is right, you can pretty much have things your way. — Margo, determinedly

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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123 Responses so far.

  1. avatar blue tooth says:

    Margo, I’m not sure I can agree with you on this one. It seems to me not so much that the mother agrees with her daughter as that the daughter agrees with her mother. Also, and I feel this is urgent enough to say it first, under no circumstances should she go to a man’s house, for dinner or any other reason, unless she has already been out with him a few times, knows him well, is comfortable with him and feels safe with him, and knows that his values about respecting women align with hers. Date rape is very real, and many men act charming and courteous towards women until they get them alone. And then, wrestling is seen as all in fun, and no means maybe and sometimes yes.

    To the young lady I would say, stand your ground for what you believe in. But I would also ask you if you really haven’t found anyone who was worth getting to know, and maybe developing a relationship with. In college there are tons of Frat Boys, true, and lots more guys who are only looking for sex, but there are also a lot of guys who are genuinely friendly, sincere, caring, and looking for a real relationship. Did you not meet any of those guys? What did you think of them?

    Now that you’re older, you’re right, you’re a rare person. A lot of men would want to bed you just because you’re a virgin, but those sound like the men that you’ve already met. Some men, who you might like to meet, might hesitate to get involved with you, because of the emotional weight of being the first. And some men who might want to explore a relationship with you, may be unwilling to forgo sex while they are seeing what develops between you.

    It’s a hard situation. I wish you luck. Remember that there’s sex, but there’s also companionship, shared experience and values, emotional connectedness, and intimacy.

  2. avatar Kathleen Hein says:

    Yeah, I’m with Blue Tooth on this one. Under NO circumstances would I ever go to a man’s house until I knew him fairly well. Certainly not on a first date! As an alternative, however, the daughter could suggest an alternative of meeting for coffee or dinner in someplace nice and public, if she is attracted to the person doing the asking. If he is interested in more than a hook up, he’ll agree. If not, then it’s his loss.

  3. avatar D says:

    To the mother:
    I have some spilled milk for you and I will get someone to play a Stradivarius for you. One thing I have learned is the good ole days are never as good as people seem to think they were.

    Your description of the “hook up” culture of today is quite comical and wrong. You act like the only people that want to “hook up” (seriously, when old people start using slang words or phrases, that slang should die) are guys and that certainly is not the case. By the way, even in today’s culture, women never lost the night. Men just have to do different things to have sex (assuming that is what they want).

    To the daughter:
    For me to believe that you have a Kim Kardashian figure, I would need pictures. How you view yourself may not be how everyone else views you. But for the sake of this comment, I will take you at your word that you have a Kim Kardashian figure. I like Kim Kardashian’s figure. If I see a woman with Kim Kardashian’s figure, I will look, maybe even stare a bit. There might be certain things going through my head. Contrary to what this comment may make you think, I am a nice and good guy. Men, even the nice guys, tend to be visual creatures and will check you out. That is just life. The nice guys are smart enough not to tell you what they are thinking.

    Having said all that, Margo’s advice is solid. However, if all of the men that you are going out with just want to have sex, the problem might not be just them, it might be you and the man choices you are making.

    By the way, if someone is describing herself as a “virgin whore”, I would think she is a tease. That is the absolute worst.

    • avatar Dani Smith says:

      Your last paragraph summed up exactly what went through my head when I got to the end of her letter – a “tease.”   I came away with the impression that she started out as a chaste virgin with the right intentions.   “I want to save myself for the right guy who isn’t just looking for a one night hook up.”    Then once she got to college she realized she was getting attention for being a so-called “enigma.”  She also began to like all the attention she was getting.  She began to think very highly of herself (hence describing herself as confident, with a head-turning Kim Kardashian figure.)   Nothing wrong with that, but over time, all of this has combined together and now it’s the desire to confidentally strut around in front of men with her head turning figure, watching them watch her, being an “enigma” who believes she’s denying them what they want.  In other words – a tease.   

      I say, if she likes having her head turning figure being looked at so much while simultaneously denying men the head turning figure and being some mysterious enigma, then at least make money for it.  Become a stripper.  Or even a “burlesque dancer,” if stripper isn’t classy enough.  😀   Seriously.   That’s what strip tease is all about.  Strutting your stuff, flaunting your figure, having men watch you, desire you, fawn over you, but not actually hooking up with them.  Then getting paid for it all.   I dunno, sounds like a perfect fit to me.  😀

      • avatar Carrie A says:

        Wow. You are projecting a lot onto this girl that’s not there. She’s frustrated because men only want to hook up, not date, and suddenly she’s a stripper? Why, because of a two word signature that she probably thought summed up her problem (I’m a virgin, most guys only want whores). You sound pretty bitter that she hasn’t slept with a billion guys for some reason; I see nowhere in her letter where she was getting attention because she’s a virgin. In fact, unless she’s wearing a sign around her neck, I would bet these guys have no clue she’s a virgin. That doesn’t seem like something you just share with every guy that you talk to.

        How sad that just because she apparently has a nice figure and some confidence people like you assume she has to be a whore or a stripper. I guess the men she has been talking to have the same view. What she really needs to do is find a better class of people to associate with.

        • avatar Anais P says:

          I do believe that rather than her own opinion or experience, Carrie’s parenthetical expression (“I’m a virgin, most guys only want whores”) was meant to be Carrie’s assumption of what LW2 was thinking and therefore why LW2 used “Virgin Whore” as her signature name.

      • avatar blueelm says:

        The guy that raped me called me a tease. You have issues. She’s dealing with the fact that women are objectified and appreciated only for their hole. It’s either “pure” till some one gets their junk in it or “impure.”

        I would suggest she spend some time vounteering for a woman’s shelter, get to know her local feminists, and meet better men. Better men than you as well.

        You say there’s nothing worse than a “tease” and I say there’s nothing worse than a “nice guy” ™.

        • avatar nikkylee says:

          Wow, that’s a heck of a jump you just made. Not to minimize how horrific rape is, and believe me my family has some awful insight into that, but saying “no one likes a tease” doesn’t make him a pig who objectifies women, worthy of being compared to a sicko.

          I agree that women are objectified (men can be too, you know!), and that the amount pressure put on us to be sexy and perfect is insane and sickening… but I don’t get the impression that’s all that’s going on here. There are creeps (of both genders), and the media sucks… but the dating world isn’t the pervert infested hole I think she sees it as. A lot of her letter DOES make it sound like she’s a little bit full of herself. Sorry, even the very confidant women I know don’t describe their bodies as “-insert celebrity sex symbol- head turning”, but a lot of the fairly arrogant ‘teases’ do.

          Even as a woman, I have to agree with D on the tease thing. The girls out there, of which there are MANY even if the LW isn’t one herself, who dress like whores with 5 lbs of makeup and glitter and boobs flopping all over and shorts 2 inches below their butt… They’re obnoxious. Especially when they spend a night drinking, hanging all over half a dozen different guys, and then complain that all the guys want is sex? No right to complain about being objectified when 90% of your conversations involve parties and whatever other vapid things come out when you’re trying to come off as cute and sexy. There are men in the same mold, who have no problem treating women like dirt and using them simply because if one girl wont, they can go out and find another who will. And I’m 23, so don’t take this as me just ragging on “youth today”.

          Stay away from that crowd, and there are a lot of good men out there. I’m with one, and I know a lot more who really DO want a relationship, and would be willing to wait, or prefer to wait themselves.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          blueelm: It is not uncommon for rapists to refer to their victims as “teases”. Before you begin berating me for minimizing what happened to you, or anyone else, consider this: I was trapped with a 65-year-old “Dear Family Friend” for three weeks. I was sixteen and a virgin and had never even kissed a boy. Said “friend” spent the three weeks sexually assaulting me in every way imaginable accept actual intercourse…but only because he was savoring the torment of building up my fear. He called me a Little Tease, too. I spent every night bleeding, in pain, furious and fearful.

          I also know the difference between a rapist calling his victim a tease, and the sort of woman to whom D is referring when he suggests that Virgin Whore (ooo, I said it again) is a Tease. There are women who dress provocatively (yes, there is such a thing as dressing provocatively, even doing it deliberately. Yes indeed there is), flaunt their figures (I am not saying one shouldn’t…if you’ve got it, darling, work it), and deliberately give the impression of being sexually available through physical and facial tells, body language, physical proximity they keep to others…and then are offended, disgusted and contemptuous when they actually garner even the mildest of male attention. I had friends who did this, as well as a sister. This behavior is not flirting. Most people who flirt want to be noticed, and accept the attention they get with a certain good humor. Women who are the kind of tease being referred not only have no sense of humor, are resentful and condescending toward men who show them any attention, but also tend to be unable to handle situations that…YES…they create themselves.

          My sister horribly teased and provoked a much older man (whom she thought of as pathetic, malleable, fat, repulsive and old) who was involved in ghost hunting in order to get access to parties and events. At one of these, he backed her against a wall with his hands on either side of her shoulders (she is size 2, 98 pound, 5′ 4″, and weak as a kitten…and was wearing a nylon cire dress that barely covered her butt, with fishnet stockings and five inch heels)…without ever touching her, tried to kiss her, then professed his love for her. My panicked sister couldn’t even scream for help…which was about ten feet away in the next room…with an open doorway between her and them. As it happened, the hall contained the restroom, and inevitably, she was “rescued” by several someone’s needing the facilities. All of whom thought she might be either involved with her masher, or attempting to start something with him based on her behavior all night long, and less than understanding when she claimed she had been “assaulted”. Especially given his public and heartfelt apology. Yes, he’d had several affairs with younger women of woo-woo…but never forced anything with anyone. She did continue going to events at which he was also present, but only for a short time…probably because others in the same circle were short on sympathy. Including the females. Because she had been playing the tease.

          Not that this stopped her behavior at other times, or in other venues. A man couldn’t even politely ask her for a dance without her becoming condescending, nasty and contemptuous. As in “How dare he? What does he think I am? A whore? I’m a Good Girl” (which in her case could be spelled the same way as in LW2’s: v-i-r-g-i-n). Women who tease are not good. No one likes them, not even other women. And before you come out swinging, no one, male or female, deserves to be raped. But D is right…teases cause themselves, and other women, and men, enormous amounts of grief, anxiety and pain.

  4. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Well, I certainly agree that no one should go to a man’s apartment without knowing them well.  And I wouldn’t accept an invitation to a man’s apartment unless I was ready to have sex…assuming that the description of today’s dating culture is correct and its understood that accepting such an invitation means sex is part of the program (actually..I think it always has been understood to mean that).  I don’t think its a good idea to accept such an  invitation and then try to turn it into a conventional date.  Better to say…I’d love to meet you for drinks/dinner/coffee a movie if you want to see if the guy is worth your time, not to mention your virtue. 

    I think it has always been thus that one-night stands rarely are followed by a phone call and rarely end up in a conventional dating relationship but I suppose it happens now and then. 


  5. avatar Briana Baran says:

    To Sally: Precisely what generation do you think you belong to? My older son is 2o, and I delivered him at the age of thirty-two…which makes me an “old mom” of 52 as of this year. I would hazard a guess that you are more of my “generation” than of Margo’s (no offense, Margo, you will see my point soon).

    You say:
    “If you recall our college days, gentlemen called you no later than Wednesday for a Saturday night date. They wined and dined you and walked you to the door for a goodnight kiss, if they were lucky. Sex came later, when the woman felt she was in a committed relationship.”

    This would indicate that you matured in the late ’70’s and the ’80’s. I don’t know where you grew up (a convent? A strict, religious, small-town environment?), but many of the girls I knew in 1977, when I graduated high school (a school in the academic top 5th percent in the nation, just to give some perspective, and in the middle of the Top Ten Public High Schools in the USA…again, simply to clarify) were already “hooking up” (though that is a relatively new term)…of their own initiative. I will say that Raves, girls dressing in lingerie and wandering from 300+ person party to even larger party inebriated and staggering was not quite as much the norm as they are now on college campuses…but one-night-stands certainly were. And men were inviting women to their rooms and apartments (not as many single men had houses…even if they were older) just as hopefully as they are now. And girls with a bit of sense were saying “No”. It was not just the era of “Fear of Flying” and “Scruples”…there was also the terrible warning implicit in “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”.

    Not every man demands that a woman wax…hardly…and plenty of women your daughter’s age are adamant that a man be completely free of hair or it’s a no-go. Surprised? Women expect and compare notes on “booty-calls” too. You may be waging a protest…but you’re living in an information-deficient dream. Time to face reality…it isn’t just those pesky, oinking males…

    To Virgin Whore: “Virgin Whore”? Really? What? What does that even mean, in your case? A virgin, clinically, is a woman who’s hymen is intact…and a whore is a woman (well, anyone actually) who takes money for sexual services (though in the common parlance, that can extend to “payment” or “gain” for “virtual whoring”, ie: doing something a bit disgraceful or against one’s ethics, morals or better judgment for dubious gain). You have never had sex, ergo, a virgin (though at times that bit of intact membrane is a bit misleading…I’ve know women who have done everything…and I do mean everything…penetrating except vaginal, and considered themselves “virgins”. Technically correct. In actuality…well…what can one possibly say?). But why a whore? And why only men who want to bed you? You say, “I was mysterious, an enigma.” You certainly are, my dear.

    You see, even with a figure like Kim Kardashian’s (Really? I always worry when someone begins describing themselves in slightly, oh, hyperbolic language), and “confidence (that) makes me attractive to men”, men only want to invite you to their, ahem “humble abodes”. Humble abodes? Does this mean cheap, pukey apartments? Or starter homes? Or seedy hotels in which mashers lurk? Or does this have more to do with that “confidence” coming across like “sexual experience”…which comes across as, perhaps, being overly aware and acutely conscious of that Kardashian-like voluptuousness and perhaps displaying it to its best advantage?

    Before I get slammed by every female on this board, let me explain. Virgin Whore (good grief, but it’s HER self description, and one does wonder, doesn’t one?) says men ONLY hit on her for booty calls. Men are visual. Men see and respond to certain signals, culturally, socially and anthropologically. Once upon a time, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth (proof positive that people did exist with saurians, that’s me), I did have an eye-popping hour-glass figure. 38-22-38, on a firm, 5’2” frame. Back in the Bad Old 1980’s. The Sexual Revolution. I worked in a business (comics and role-playing games) in which 98% of my customers and co-workers were male. They aren’t just geeks, nerds or losers, either, that’s actually the minority. I had plenty of men who wanted to date me, and two who married me…the current marriage having just celebrated 17 years. Yes, I sometimes wore (and still do, it isn’t THAT bad) interesting and provocative clothing, five inch heels, black leather, studs, spikes (yup)…and I rarely got hit on for hook-ups. It is the mind-set you project. Some of the guys hit on anything that moved…but they asked me for dates. Hung around for hours, hoping. No, I’m not bragging…what I am saying is that Virgin Whore’s problem seems to be not with All Men…but her own.

    Calling yourself Virgin Whore is your first clue. Never getting any offers of dates (not even “let’s go get a coffee”? Or would that be settling? You give off some strange vibes) at all…only leering invitations for sex, and only by text (I know some young women, very nice, very attractive…at college, still virgins…and guys phone them for dates and confirm by text or email)…did you ever think, just possibly…maybe it’s you? You “know” any man who flirts with you is only after one thing. Yes…men want sex (clue: so do women). A lot of them are also willing to wait for it…a long time if they like you. You’ll never find out if you see them as filthy leering creatures after only one thing (men also want love, respect, security, comfort, relationships…they are human. Did you know that? I didn’t think so…). How can anyone, mmm, see you for you (Who? A Virgin Whore? What does that MEAN?) if you don’t give them a chance? Are you really afraid of “settling” because of what mama said? Or are they all to “humble”? Or have you come to the conclusion that actually having sex with a man IS whoring…even if you love him and he loves you? Because you’re afraid that he won’t be good enough, that you’ll end up selling yourself, your confidence, and your head-turning body too cheaply and “settling”?

    I really don’t think men and today’s horrid, debauched, loathsome society is your problem. It’s you. Virginity is not a Gold Standard, a bargaining chip, or a measure of one’s worth. It’s a physical state that can be rendered meaningless by a fall of the support bar of your bicycle, the front of your horse’s saddle, a bad landing in gymnastics…whatever. You won’t be sacrificing, selling or whoring yourself if you decide to have sex. I am not saying run out and do it. Having standards is not a problem. But you are very self-involved, and very reality-challenged. When a situation, such as always encountering the same problem with the same type of man, repeats itself endlessly, it’s time to stop blaming them, and ask yourself, “What am I doing to constantly attract this type of man, and get this type of response?”. Or even better, “Are my perceptions correct? Is this really what his attention means? Or should I try that coffee and..? Maybe give him a chance?”. Maybe therapy would help…but only if you are willing to acknowledge a problem, and able to accept aid in finding a coping strategy. Therapists are not magicians, and they can’t help someone who doesn’t believe they need help, or want the help they get.

    Whatever. The Soulless One has spoken…starting at 3:43 am. How I love insomnia. Mazel Tov. Over and out.

    • avatar vicki ebeling says:

      briana baran,

      you made me laugh, and i couldn’t agree with you more. mazel tov.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Briana, you bring up a very interesting point: how does this woman come across to others? Is she a good girl masquerading as a sort of Courtney Stodden? [shudder] We have no idea, but if she really is only attracting sleazebags who just want 15 minutes of fun, then… perhaps she is projecting a persona that gives men the impression that that’s what she’s about, too. And that would also serve to repel men who are NOT looking for a cheap whore. It is as you say, “it is the mind-set you project.”

      Maybe she needs to take a hard look at herself – better yet, have a very honest, good friend tell her how she seems to others (it is SO hard to see oneself objectively). And maybe instead of waiting for a great guy to magically appear and treat her with chivalry, she might benefit from getting involved with different group activities that interest her. Great way to meet people of a like mind and to actually have a friendship before romping in the sack.

    • avatar amw says:

      Well said…and especially impressive for the wee hours of the morning!

    • avatar flyonthewall says:

      Briana, I fully agree, too. Love to read your posts.

  6. avatar RobFromBoston says:

    If the daughter isn’t actually going out with these guys, isnt possible that she is misreading them?  Perhaps she’s just a bit too full of herself.  There aren’t too many women with a Kim Kardashian figure but there are plenty of women who think they have a Kim Kardashian figure.

    • avatar amw says:

      I found this description rather suspect myself. I think confidence is a wonderful trait and one that most find very attractive.

      This situation reminds me of a friend whose mother instilled the idea in her children that they were better than everyone else…looks, thoughts, smarts, etc. Their attitudes were not one of confidence but of vanity.

      My friend was witty, intelligent and very nice looking. If I were to compliment him using those exact words, he would react as if I’d just insulted him.

      In this instance, I think the mother needs to clue in to the fact that not everyone on this planet, younger generations included, is trying to live up to the societal standard the entertainment industry plasters all over tv and magazines. If her daughter’s peers behave in this manner, its time for new friends, not a chastity belt.

      The daughter needs to step down from her pedestal and engage in the dating game. Erring on the side of caution is certainly commendable and recommended. However, not every potential mate intends to take you to bed the moment you accept a date. If every man she encounters does, she is attracting the wrong men, plain and simple.

      (For example, if you dress provocatively, how can you be surprised when someone thinks you’re looking for a “good time?” You can still be sexy without looking like a hooker.)

      “Virgin Whore” should spend her time doing the things she enjoys allowing her the opportunity to meet new and different people. If she does receive male attention, she shouldn’t instantly assume that his intentions are negative. Approach life with an open mind and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. There is someone out there who will love her for who she is, not who she resembles.

  7. avatar Sweet Dream says:

    To Mom: Warning, if you think all men and women do these days is “hooking up” you might be watching too many episodes and reruns of Jersey Shore.

    To Daughter: My 11 y/o daughter told me a story of an apple tree. All the good apples are on the higher branches and the rotten apples are on the lower. Lazy men and boys pick up the lower apples, meanwhile the upper apples have to wait a little longer for good workers to get their ladders and pick them. Even at this youg age she understands that she should not settle. I hope my daughter grow up to be like you. I don’t have any problem with sex before marriage, but it has to be special not casual. Please, please don’t ever go to a man’s residence on the first few dates. Not until you are sure and you and he are alcohol free.  

  8. avatar wishuponafallingstar says:

    Stand your ground! Please don’t be disheartened by the people on this board who are willing to jump all over you. I have a couple of friends, both recently married to their respective spouses, who never had sex before marriage. One of the couples didn’t even kiss until after they were engaged. These were typical, American girls, ones whose families had been in American for many generations. There are great guys like that out there, you just have to look a bit harder for them :).

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      Never understood the big importance of that, you might ended up married to someone who is lousy at sex and not even know it, no thanks.

      • avatar martina says:

        My sister is proof of that.  When she was in her early 20s she called me to tell me she met this wonderful guy at a seminar and was going to marry him.  He was like 30 years her senior.  I of course questioned her about the relationship instead of say are you friggin crazy. Being the older, wiser sister, didn’t aske her if she was friggin crazy but instead, asked her how they met, how she is sure he is the love of her life and then asked her if she’d had sex with the guy.  She hadn’t.  I told her she’d better do that before she got married to make sure they were compatible.  Good thing she did because he couldn’t.  That ended that.