Dear Abby: Please print this so "Out in the Cold Up North" can see it. She's the 14-year-old girl who thinks she should have sex because her friends do.

I felt the same way she does when I was 14. My reason was very similar — to be like my friends. That decision was the worst I ever made. I am now 18 and have a sexually transmitted disease I can't get rid of.

When you're young, you don't think something like an STD can happen to you, but I'm here to tell you it CAN. I live in pain every day — emotionally and physically — and if I could make one wish, it would be to take back my decision.

I hope that girl realizes there are plenty of other ways to fit in. Sex doesn't have to be one of them. Next time she's tempted to have sex in order to be popular, she should remember, "What is popular is not always right — and what is right is not always popular." — Anony-Miss in Helena, Mont.

Dear "Miss": I hope "Out in the Cold" heeds your advice. If you aren't already receiving support in coping with your STD, you would be wise to contact the American Social Health Association (ASHA). The organization can be very helpful. Write: ASHA, P.O. Box 13827, Research Triangle Park, N.C. 27709. The Web address is www.ashastd.org. Read on:

Dear Abby: Please urge that girl not to have sex because her friends are doing it! When I was 14, I decided to have sex with someone I thought I loved. He, on the other hand, wanted to have sex with a virgin. I regret the decision to this day. Needless to say, the guy told all his friends, and they all tried to have sex with me, too. I have had 10 partners since then, and I'm 18.

I have been married to my last partner for a year, and we have a newborn daughter. I don't regret the family I have, but I would rather go out with my friends and have fun than stay home.

I'm not saying this will happen to "Out in the Cold," but she might end up pregnant and the guy won't care. Every time she has sex with someone, a part of herself will be taken away, and she'll regret it. Sex isn't a solution to anything; it just brings more problems to a teen-ager's life.

I wish I had waited until I met my husband, because then I wouldn't have all the heartbreak and pain that I do now. — Been There, Done That

Dear Been There: If you can possibly arrange to have some counseling to come to terms with your guilt and pain, I urge you to do so. It will greatly improve your life. Ask your doctor to refer you, or seek a family services center where fees are based on your ability to pay. Your county's department of mental health may also be able to refer you to affordable counseling, as can United Way. Please check it out. Read on:

Dear Abby: I agree with you that "Out in the Cold" should thank her lucky stars that she hasn't been subjected to the pressure her friends have. When I made the choice not to have sex until I was married, I channeled my energies into studying, working and earning an advanced degree. I cultivated many rewarding relationships with family and friends along the way. I found there were many nice young men who were looking for nice young women — and there still are. That girl needs some new friends.

There is a growing movement of teens who are committing themselves to purity before marriage. It may seem hard now — but if she will just enjoy her current status, she'll have a far happier life. — Marietta, Ga., Reader

Dear Reader: I am aware that many teen-agers are signing purity pledges these days and wearing promise rings that signify their determination to remain that way. However, I seldom hear from them because they are not the ones having problems.


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