DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm gay; I love the company of men. But, what I feel uncomfortable about is sex. I just like to have it once in awhile, but not every single time. But, every time I meet men, they always want to have sex. For me, I love being with a guy, just hugging, holding and touching. There aren't many gay guys who like to do that, and many are judgmental if you don't want sex. Then I meet this person and he's married and straight. He likes the same thing -- hugging, holding and touching without sex. Just over an hour and it was the best experience that I had! It was relaxing and comfortable. But, he is here for only a short time. With stress and everyday life, sometimes compassionate touch is all we need. Where can I find another who is like this? -- Compassionate Touch Needed, Winnipeg
Dear Touch: Use the phrase "cuddler" in online personals and explain your situation. "Compassionate touch" sounds like someone who needs sympathy. You will be able to find other cuddlers who aren't overly sexual and certainly don't want to be grabbed for sex on first encounters, nor on every meeting after that. Some gay men, especially within loving couples, settle down after the initial stage, and are also like you. It's interesting you think your cuddling friend is straight. It's more likely he's bi-curious.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is for Waterbaby's boyfriend who's afraid of water. I had a bad experience in a pool as a kid, and was also completely terrified. When our family moved back to Manitoba and cottage country with a two-year-old, I decided at age 30 I just had to learn. I enrolled in a "pre-beginner's class" -- 10 terrified adults standing in the shallow end and learning just to tolerate dunking our heads under. Little by little, with a lot of swallowing and spluttering, I learned to tread water and do the front crawl. The first time I entered the deep end and couldn't touch the bottom with my feet, I was trembling uncontrollably and panicked a few times. But my instructor was sympathetic. Between lessons twice a week, and an hour at the pool practising every day and a helpful book where I learned the mantra "rhythm and relaxation" I progressed through seven swimming badges in five months. To my own amazement, I love to go on boats and swim. Go join a class! You won't be alone, and people will be glad to help you. -- Buoyant, Winnipeg
Dear Buoyant: This sounds great -- but where was the class and this wonderful instructor? Could pools who offer these pre-beginner's classes please email my column with details of time, place and extra-understanding teachers and I'll pass on the info to other readers terrified by water.
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