On why it’s okay to feel your feelings.

Dear Coquette,

Whenever I work hard for something and succeed, I feel like I don’t deserve it. It took a lot of work to even accept that this reaction is irrational, but how do I let go of that feeling completely?

By all means, work hard and succeed. That’s great. Just don’t get caught up in whether you deserve success or not, because guess what? You don’t.

No one deserves anything. Fortune and fate have nothing to do with merit. No one deserves to be the Prince of Wales. No one deserves to be a starving orphan in Malawi. The whole notion that any one person deserves any more or less than any other person is predicated on a fundamental belief that there is some form of cosmic justice. There isn’t.

Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. The universe is totally indifferent, my friend. Life isn’t fair, and the guilt you feel from your personal success is merely a side effect of your conscience reacting to this cold, hard truth.

The good news is, these feelings are an expression of your humility, which under the right circumstances is one of the higher virtues. You don’t have to belittle your humility by calling it irrational. You merely have to accept it.

If you want to let go of the feelings that you don’t deserve your success, start by recognizing that it’s perfectly OK not to deserve it. Instead, respect the fact that you worked hard. You earned your success, and that’s enough.

What’s the best way to disassociate sex from emotion? Is it even a good idea to do? I can’t bring myself to have sex with someone unless I have an emotional connection with them, even if it’s a small one. Is this normal?

Disassociating sex from emotion is a horrible idea. Actually, disassociating from your emotions in general is a horrible idea. That’s the kind of things victims end up doing to cope with trauma. I think maybe what you’re trying to do is enjoy sex without intimacy or commitment. That’s perfectly fine, but please understand the difference.

Even when it’s “just sex,” emotion is still involved. It doesn’t need to be love. It doesn’t even need to be passion. Sometimes mild bemusement will get you where you need to go, but an emotional connection on some level is definitely something you want to have. The connection may not be intense and it may only last for a one night, but those emotions are still a valid and important component to the experience.

I sleep with guys to feel a little less lonely because no one wants to commit to an actual relationship. WTF is wrong with me?

Nothing is wrong with you. Stop having sex to fill an emotional void, don’t confuse loneliness for being alone, and don’t let your relationship status have an effect on your self-worth.


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