Excerpt: 'Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity' by Kerry Cohen

PHOTO: The book cover "Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity," by Kerry Cohen is shown.

Kerry Cohen is a psychotherapist, and the author of the memoir "Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity."

In her latest book, "Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity," she examines the many reasons teen girls may engage in sexually promiscuous behavior.

Cohen also has written three young adult novels.

Read an excerpt from "Dirty Little Secrets" below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library.



You see them everywhere. They walk along busy highways in low-slung jeans and tank tops, peering into every car that passes. They sit with their friends in diners and coffee shops, searching, their thoughts clearly on who is looking at them. They catch the eyes of the boys they pass. They smile and flip their hair. They post photos of themselves in bikinis on Facebook. They are just girls. They are your sister, your daughter, your friend, your niece. They are not remarkable, really, in any way. They are almost every girl you see. They believe in their hearts that they are worth nothing, that they have little to offer. They believe boys will pull them out of their ordinariness and finally, finally, transform them into someone better than who they are.

They have sex too early and for the wrong reasons. They get STDs, and they get pregnant too young. They are "friends with benefits," but with no benefit to themselves. They give out blow jobs like kisses and hope for love in return. They are ignored. They don't get called. They get dumped again and again. They lie alone in their beds and hate themselves for being so unlovable, for being so needy, for not being like every other girl, for not being able to just have fun. But they aren't sex addicts or even love addicts. What they crave is the attention, that moment when a boy looks at them and they can believe that they are worth something to someone. They can believe that they matter.

When these girls grow up, they find that in this way, they are still girls. They carry their pasts with boys into their futures. They remain needy, desperate, anxious for someone to prove their worth. The boys, though, become men.

For much of my life, I was that girl. When I became a therapist, I learned that there were many others like me. And when I wrote my memoir, Loose Girl, about my experiences, I heard from many, many more girls like me. They assumed that they were the only ones, that they alone suffered this peculiarity. How could this be? How do we get so far into our lives and into these experiences without sharing them—and our feelings—with our friends, our parents, or a caring adult? Because we feel so alone—because we carry immense shame about our behavior and, more so, our desperation. Some came from divorce, like I did. Others had lived through severe abuse. Still others had untarnished childhoods, intact families, and the feeling that they had been loved. Some had sex with only three men; others with fifty. The number of men isn't important. It is the feelings these young women experienced—that if they got a man's attention it would mean they were worth something in the world.

You might be this girl, too. Maybe in some ways you have experienced such feelings even if you never acted on them the way some of us did. You have met eyes with a man and thought, Maybe he could save me. You have done your makeup and dressed provocatively to attract men at an event. You aren't immune to the feeling that a man will make you feel something more than just love, more than just sexy—that he will make you feel valuable.

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