Seek good person, not pretty package

Q: Having read your column on the subject and spoken to a number of single men, I'd like to respond to all those "nice men" who say there are no nice women out there, and that the ones they do meet are taking advantage of them. Has it ever occurred to these men that it is not the women who are flawed, but the "nice guys" and their priorities?

There are lots of wonderful women out there, but some have superficial flaws. If finding a nice woman were truly important, men would spend more time trying to get to know her (her personality, her values, her hopes for the future, etc.).


But it seems to me that these days, when visual images are everything, people want only a nice girl/guy if they are well- packaged. So, if that is someone's priority, they have no right to be disappointed in the outcome.

I am glad I was not as closed in my values as are many singles, because I would have missed out on many wonderful friendships -- and a wonderful husband!


A: In the final analysis, we get what we deserve: The people who insist on pretty packaging, male or female, usually wind up with a pleasing image -- but nothing more. For most of us, that's not enough; we need the real stuff -- closeness and harmony -- and will gladly compromise on the superficialities when we find it. Getting to that point, though, is a process of trial and error, which takes time, a point in favor of later commitments. Knowing what you need in a partner enables you to make a decision that will stick because it's bedrock.

Q: I too am one of the millions who is single and suffering from the herpes virus. I've only had it a few months, but there have been several outbreaks, about one a month.

At any rate, I'd love to find out more about this herpes dating service; the thought of dating is almost killing me! If I meet a man who is not infected, he probably wouldn't want intimate relations because of the virus. I know condoms are a must because I could spread it, and that wouldn't be fair, plus it is painful. (And of course there's the possibility of getting AIDS.) But very few people know I have it; no one in my family knows.

Please send any information you have on the disease plus details on the dating service. I'm only 25, and I don't want to go through life alone.

A: For your peace of mind (and mine), consult with your physician and learn how to manage the herpes virus; call for an appointment this week. Remember, he/she is a medical person, intent on healing, not placing blame. Go with a list of questions and don't leave the office until you have discussed every one. (I urge you to consider sharing the issue with your mother, because she will probably want to go there with you.)

You are young, too young to feel alone in the world, and the more support you have right now, the better. As you know the facts and feel more comfortable about herpes, dating won't hold such terror for you. I suggest a pause in dating, a voluntary timeout so that you can confront the situation head-on. As you do that, the virus will shrink to its rightful size in the big picture of your life, and then you'll be more ready to socialize. At first you might consider only men who share your condition, but the goal is to feel so good about who you are that mingling freely feels OK. A positive self-image will in time reduce the virus to an incidental part of your identity, which is all it merits!

Herpes Anonymous (Dating Service), P.O. Box 278, Westbury, N.Y. 11590, ATT: Lenny Sobel. For more information, call the Sexually Transmitted Disease Hotline: (800) 227-8922. Another reliable source of facts and news: Herpes Resource Center, P.O. Box 13827, Research Triangle Park, N.C. 27709 (ask about their newsletter, the Helper).