Corona, CA: I apologized for my insensitive advice

Dr. Wallace: I am a 20-year-old psychology student specializing in adolescent counseling. I have read your column for at least eight years and had considerable respect for the majority of the advice you have given. That’s why I was shocked to see your response to Lauren. She wrote to you saying that despite the fact that she was a personable, attractive 17-year-old young lady, she hadn’t had much luck getting a boyfriend. Your response was: “You might have a flaw somewhere in your personality.”

Since when is our value and acceptance as human beings based on our status with the opposite sex? I know so many attractive, intelligent young women who do not have boyfriends, not because they have some flaw but because they just haven’t found the right guy.

The idea that our approval is based on whether or not we’re seriously dating someone is ludicrous. Many brilliant people remained single throughout their lives. Besides, a serious boyfriend at 17 can pose many tough situations (college, sex, etc.).

I hope you will retract your response and encourage young people everywhere that they are valuable and wonderful as they are — they don’t need a significant other to prove that. Single teens can be just as happy (or even happier!) without dating. Friendships last. Boyfriends don’t.

— Sheila, Corona, Calif.

Sheila: I received several responses asking — telling — me to reconsider my advice to Lauren. Your letters were effective. I’ve rethought my answer and decided my initial response was flat-out wrong. It is perfectly all right to be a 17-year-old girl and not have a boyfriend. The only flaw evident was in my reasoning. One’s sense of self-worth should never be a function of one’s status with the opposite sex.

I have already contacted Lauren and apologized for my insensitive advice. I also sent her copies of the letters I received. Your explanations were excellent.

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