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Living in Sin: Desire and taboo

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Jen Sincero is a sexpert, musician, and the author of the bestselling book, The Straight Girl’s Guide To Sleeping With Chicks and the semi-autobiographical novel, Don’t Sleep With Your Drummer. She currently hosts the weekly sex talk radio show Dr. Happypants on killradio.org. Every week in Living in Sin, Jen provides advice for LA's sexually confused and curious.

Got a question for Jen? Ask her. We promise to be discreet — all questions will be posted anonymously.

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Dear Jen: I'm a virgin who's always been afraid of and nervous about sex. Growing up we were made to feel that it was wrong, dirty, or dangerous, and that we should save ourselves for marriage. But I'm ready now! The problem is, I'm afraid that I'll suck at it. I've read books on the topic and none of them really helped. Any advice?

When I was in my very early twenties, I moved to Barcelona with a bunch of friends from college. We lived like pigs, rocked and rolled all night, and partied every day. Wine was cheap and, dude, you never got carded cuz there was no drinking age! Fiesta dude!

One time I took the train to Naples, Italy, to visit my relatives on my Dad's side of the family. I couldn't wait to rage in the old country with my cousin Valentina, get in on the local scene, bond with her, and maybe even hold each other's hair back while we puked in the Italian gutters together.

Much to my horror, our big Saturday night out involved getting gelatos and strolling around the plaza, people watching. If we were feeling especially wild, we'd go back and get ANOTHER gelato. It was like going into detox, and as disappointed as I was, I couldn't help from feeling a pang of shame every time we passed a bunch of staggering, American twenty-somethings, drunkenly screaming "oh solo mio" in the streets.

Unlike American me, Valentina grew up with a bottle of wine on her dinner table, and, unlike me, was not met with a raised parental eyebrow and a "just what the hell do you think you're doing?" whenever her under-aged hand reached for it. This is why she was having wholesome, Annette Funicello evenings out, and I was on my way to waking up in the emergency room with a stomach pumping tube shoved down my throat.

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Desire + taboo = hysteria. Be it booze, sex, expensive shoes, fattening food...whatever it is, if what we want is denied us, we obsess over it until we're either too freaked out to go near it, or we over indulge until we explode.

Between your parents and the negative messages our uptight society sends out, it's not surprising that you're having trouble getting started on the sex game. But that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, it just means you got a little scared off. And trust me, sex is a big deal for a lot of people. I suggest you stop viewing it as this Thing you want to do, and start attaching it to a person that you trust and like. Go on dates, find someone who gets you all hot and bothered, and then let nature take care of the rest. Everyone had a first time, and nobody knew what they were doing, so don't freak yourself out.

Ask Jen your sex questions.