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Dear Bossip,

I am 23 years old and I am currently a college junior.

I am having some serious thoughts. I am single and not really looking, but not really looking to stay single either. I have trouble keeping friends and maintaining relationships at all levels, from friendships to romantic relationships. I would consider myself an introvert because I enjoy a lot of time to myself. But, as of late, I have been feeling depressed. I would like to have a relationship with someone, but I am not sure how to go about it, starting with the fact that I am single.

When I was maybe three or four years old I was molested by a cousin of mine who is currently in jail (for an unrelated crime). My family is very supportive. I grew up with an amazing mother and great family members. My father is a different story. He was in and out of my life growing up. There are so many times when he promised that he would come see me and my sister, but he never showed up. When I did spend time with him everything was a joke. For fun he would call me ugly and laugh at me and say things like, “You not the brightest child.” Although, I do not believe he meant those things it still hurt me very much. It still hurts me to this day. These days I do not really have a relationship with my father. I choose to keep him at a distance because I am tired of the excuses and his immaturity. I speak to him once a month and I typically keep it at that.

I blame my father and my cousin for my reactions to friendships and romantic relationships. Everyone around me is going out and having fun and enjoying their college experience, but I am left alone in a corner. Because I cannot hit it off with anyone I am feeling depressed. Oftentimes I am thinking that I am not good enough for anyone and feel worthless. I have been hurt by other people like past boyfriends and things like that. Like I said before, my mother is very supportive. She always told me that I can do whatever I put my mind to and she tells me that I am a beautiful girl, but sometimes I feel like she is only telling me these things because I am her daughter and she is supposed to say that.

My question to you is, am I being sensitive or do I have a real problem? I want to have a talk with someone that is a professional. I have never told anyone how my father has spoke to me because I am afraid of people laughing at me. Honestly I am tired of feeling this way. I want to do something about it but I do not know how. – 23 and Depressed

Dear Ms. 23 and Depressed,

I am truly sorry to hear about how you feel, and how your father has treated you when you were younger. I am also very sorry to hear about what your cousin did to you when you were young. So many young men and women have been molested by a family member and have not told anyone, and it impacts them later in life. I wish we had more conversations and ways to heal around the topic of sexual assaults, especially from and by family members. But, I digress.

I do feel that what you are feeling is a result of what both your father and cousin did to you. I highly recommend that you seek out the psychological and counseling center on your campus. You mentioned that you are a junior in college. Most colleges and universities have psychological and counseling centers on their campuses and they are very good at providing services for students. And, it’s free! So, please take advantage of this free service and speak with someone. It is confidential, and therefore you don’t have to feel uncomfortable with speaking with someone you may feel will say anything to anyone else. I urge you to call and sign up as soon as possible.

The things you mentioned around depression, and your relationship with you father, including being molested by your cousin, and your inability to make intimate relationships are all tied to one another. I’m glad that you notice that something doesn’t feel or seem right with you, and you are looking to seek help. Being an introvert is okay, but when it is causes you stay withdrawn, and involved in intimacy, then it’s a problem. Also, depression, and these other factors will impact your academic grades, including, afterward when you enter the workforce, and your future relationships with men. Please seek help and speak with someone.

What your father did to you is not okay. Though he felt he was joking, it has really harmed you. Why would he make fun of and joke with you calling you “ugly”? Where is the joke in that? And, why would he say you are not the brightest child? That is not funny. If that was his “in” and his way to get close to you by making fun of everything and joke with you at your benefit, then it did more harm than good. And, he needs to know how this has impacted you. Thus, it explains why you keep him at a distance and not included in your life. And, it explains how you interact and engage with other men in your life. Your relationship with your father is your first relationship with men in your life. He damaged and soured that relationship, and it continues throughout your life. With the help of counseling and therapy it will provide you with the tools and language to have this necessary and important conversation with your father in order that you heal yourself.

Also, you should speak with someone about what your cousin did to you. The psychological and mental damage this has done is part of your intimacy problems. Again, speaking with a counselor or therapist will help you to resolve and heal this aspect of your life, and possibly to speak with your mother about what happened. This is terrible and it’s sad.

Until you work on these, and start to heal and resolve these issues, then, you will continue to be impacted in your personal and intimate relationships with men, and other people. You have the power to heal these aspects of your life, and to move forward. You can change your future, and your future relationships. This is going to take work, and lots of introspection. It will include going within, and healing parts of yourself that you hold closed off to the world. It will be hard and painful. But, the end result will be a wonderful pay off. You deserve happiness, greatness, love, and joy. It is yours and you have it. Explore it and walk into you. It is waiting for you. – Terrance Dean

Hey Bossip Fam, what do you think? Share your opinions and thoughts below! Also, e-mail all your questions Terrance Dean:  loveandrelationships@bossip.com  Follow Terrance Dean on Twitter:  @terrancedean and “LIKE” Terrance Dean on Facebook, click HERE!

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Make sure to order my books Mogul: A Novel (Atria Books – June 2011; $15); Hiding In Hip Hop (Atria   Books – June 2008); and Straight From Your Gay Best Friend – The Straight Up Truth About Relationships, Love, And Having A Fabulous Life (Agate/Bolden Books – November 2010; $15). They are available in bookstores everywhere, and on Amazon, click HERE!

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