DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: This wonderful, beautiful woman lives across the street from me. I must confess, I've been watching her in her living room window at night with my new birding binoculars. I don't look at her bedroom window — I'm too much of a gentleman for that — but I've now spent most of my summer vacation time in my front yard pretending to be a new gardener, just to be available. She's a passionate gardener, so I've ventured over to ask her a few questions. She answers cheerfully, and then goes back in the house, kind of quickly. I'm harmless — just a shy, old-fashioned, intellectual middle-aged man. Is it wrong of me to watch my ideal woman this way? — Impressed By Her Beauty and Charm, Winnipeg
Dear Impressed: Yes, it is wrong to look in her windows at night and your ideal woman will certainly call the police once she finds out. That means the binoculars must go out to the locked trunk of your car now and used for birding and nothing else. Get that temptation right out of the house! It's not healthy for you to be spying on someone instead of looking for a real relationship. So let's address the basic problem: your shyness. Experts say shyness is a gene, somewhat influenced by the way you are brought up, of course. You can learn to alter your shy behaviour to the point where you're able to date and find regular in-person love. Therapy can help. Try a psychiatrist on Medicare referred by your physician. A psychiatrist can also prescribe medications for social anxiety which can sometimes open up a person's world. If fantasy is all you want, you still have to get away from that window. You'd be better off enjoying fantasy in film and literature than to continue spying, which could bring the police to your door.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm a woman, 49, and new to dating. I carry the genital herpes virus. It was diagnosed in the early SSRq80s and I've had no problems for over 20 years. I do plan to discuss this with potential partners and I know what to say. My concern is not to say anything too soon. I've been chatting with one man for about a month and we've been talking about sex, preferences and protection. He's allergic to latex and therefore has had very few partners along with one faithful 28-year marriage. Should I disclose my herpes situation even before we meet in person? I'm trying to find the best time without getting too personal in messages. I'd appreciate your guidance. — Thanks In Advance, Winnipeg
Dear Thanks: Timing is everything with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) confession. Wait until you've established a warm in-person relationship with sexual interest on both sides. As many as 80 per cent of online flirt buddies meet for first dates and reject the idea of a sexual relationship outright because there is simply no sexual chemistry in person. There's no need to mention anything about herpes then! But, if the first meetings go well and you both decide you want to get intimate one day, you need to tell him that point. You should know this man can use condoms made for people who are allergic to latex, but that isn't a 100 per cent fail safe method if the herpes skin lesion is outside the condom's realm of protection. Check on the substances used to make different female condoms as well, which could offer wider protection than the male ones. The fact you haven't had a flare-up in 20 years should be somewhat reassuring to this man.
Give him a chance to think about it after you tell him. His first reaction (some shock) may not be his last (acceptance — "OK, what can we do to be safer?"). Herpes simplex virus 2 is known to lessen from medium to severe outbreaks to almost nothing over the years. You need a man who's willing to take a small chance because he cares for you as a person so much, and that takes time to build.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6