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Dear Carol. (Help!).

Dear Carol,

I broke up with my boyfriend. But just one week after we broke up, he had a new girlfriend. It bothers me, even though I don't like him anymore.

Bothered by Breakup

Dear Bothered by Breakup,

Since you don't want to go out with him anymore, you can't really object that he found a gal who does. Maybe you're bothered because you don't want to think of yourself as replaceable (which you shouldn't!). Perhaps you still have feelings for him--even if you don't realize it. All of these are normal emotions following a breakup, even if you did the breaking up. But, um, his moving on so quickly sure doesn't make him catch of the year anyway, does it?

Dear Carol,

My dad died when I was 9. My mom now has a boyfriend, but he's a jerk. He only pays attention to me when he wants something done around the house. He always spends time with my brother, and they leave me out. He blames me for stuff I didn't even do. And get this-he got mad at me one time and threw a plate of food at me! I mean, I feel totally alone all the time. What should I do?

Mom's Boyfriend is a jerk

Dear Mom's Boyfriend is a jerk,

I'm so sorry your father passed away. It's hard to bravely carry on after a parent dies--and it can be especially difficult when the other parent is dating someone you could definitely live without. Have you told your mom or brother how you feel? Don't flat out tell Mom her boyfriend is a jerk--but calmly and maturely relay to her specific instances of when you've felt ignored or unfairly blamed. Maybe she will talk to her boyfriend about it. In the meantime, is there some way to improve your relationship with this man? Maybe you can find his good side (sounds like you've already found his bad side). It may help to pretend he's a friend's father and then treat him like that. Be courteous and polite. It's possible he'll get the idea and treat you with a little respect in return. Nobody says you have to be best buds. It might not be easy, but if you compliment him or make him a holiday gift, you might get some kindness back. If not, and he throws another plate of food, talk to your mom or a school counselor! Fi nally, since you feel alone, think about some good stuff you can add to your life next semester. A lot of school sports and other extracurricular activities gear up in January, so the timing is excellent. Write, "Join new activities," on your list of New Year's resolutions.

Dear Carol,

My friend wears the same clothes over and over. How can I nicely tell her to change her clothes?

She's a One outfit Friend

Dear Friend,

You could suggest a little shopping trip to the mall. Or you could hold one of your shirts up to her and say, "You look awesome in red! You should wear more bright colors!" Or even, "Ugh, I get so sick of the same old clothes sometimes, don't you?" If she's smaller or you two are the same size, offer her a pile of clothes you've outgrown or clothes you haven't worn for months and say, "I loved this shirt. I'm so bummed it doesn't fit right. But I thought you might like it." OK, now that I've answered your question, I have two for you: Are you sure she can afford new clothes? And why are you so concerned about what she wears?

Dear Carol,

My parents founds out my BFF's dad abused her. Now, I'm not allowed to go over to her house. She doesn't know I know, and it's getting tough to come up with excuses. Should I tell her?

Banned from Bonding with BFF

Dear Banned from Bonding,

I don't blame your parents for wanting to protect you, and I don't blame you for being loyal to your friend. This is a loaded dilemma. First of all, I assume the abuse is a fact and not just an awful rumor. Nothing would be worse than going along with unfounded town gossip. So, that said, I worry that if you come out and confront her, she will be devastated. Even if the abuse happened in the past, your friend still deals with its scars every day. Abuse is not something most people feel comfortable just talking about, even with their best friends. Hopefully, she is discussing her feelings with an expert. So tread lightly and confront the issue of what's going on in her family only if she reaches out to you for help. She may be relieved to have a sympathetic and understanding friend to talk with. Meantime, instead of hanging at her house, make an effort to see her at your house, parties, school or at other friend's houses.

Dear Carol,

Whenever my friend comes over, she doesn't like doing anything. I like her, but I'm always bored.

Bored Bud

Dear Bored Bud,

Make a list of stuff you like to do--alone and with other friends. Get creative, adding everything from playing Scrabble by the fireplace to making peanut butter brownies, Instead of asking, "What do you want to do?" and getting a shoulder shrug, throw out some suggestions. Or list your top three faves and pick together. Maybe she just hates making decisions or being put on the spot. If you make it easy for her, she might jump right in. If she isn't the least bit interested in your ideas and doesn't offer her own, it doesn't mean she's a bad friend. But, you also don't have to invite a wet blankie over when you're looking for some fun. Maybe she's a good lunch buddy or phone pal. Surely, you have other friends who'd love to come over and hang out.

Dear Carol,

I don't have a chest and haven't gotten my period. Everyone else is growing up. People say I'm lucky. I don't feel lucky.

Lucky or Not?

Dear Lucky or Not,

I don't know if you're lucky or not, but I do know you are developing and will get your period. The average age of a first period is 12 and a half. While lots of girls start at 11 or earlier, many start at 13 or later. But there will be signs--breast buds, pubic hair, wider hips, a little weight gain--to signal puberty. On average, girls get their periods within a year or two of these preliminary changes. Be patient, and enjoy your body the way it is right now--because it won't be that way for very much longer.

Dear Carol,

My best friend committed suicide. My friends don't want to talk about it, and I don't know how to react anymore. She was 15, and I really liked her because she was so nice and thoughtful all the time. Everyone is accusing me of being a bad friend because I didn't know that she was having so many problems with her family and in school, I feel so bad.


Dear Not Guilty,

I'm so sorry for you--and your friend. Suicide is overwhelmingly painful for everyone left behind. But it is crucial for you and your friends to understand her death is not your fault--nor anybody's! These kids accusing you of being a bad friend do not understand how suicidal people can often be very savvy at hiding their feelings. You were a friend who added joy, not pain, to her life. Can you talk to your parents or even hers about your happy memories or feelings of loss? I'll bet your friend's family is also feeling guilt mixed with sorrow.

Carol Weston is the of author three advice books Private and Personal, For Girls Only, and Girltalk: All The Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (Harper-Collins) and the novel The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf).

Dear Carol,

I like to chat online. Everyone in the chat rooms has e-BFs and e-GFs. I've recently been flirting with this boy. First of all, is it safe to have an e-BF? I mean, I know all the basic rules, like never give out your real name, address, phone number or picture. Second, should I tell him I like him?

Internet Crush

Dear Internet Crush,

If you don't lust know the rules but stick to them, it may be safe to have an e-BF. That is, as long as his flirty lines don't turn to gross ones. But if you ever, ever arrange to meet your crush, you run a serious risk because there have been tragic cases of girls getting kidnapped and abused by online "sweeties." Let me add that a lesser danger of having an online boyfriend is that it's too easy in a bogus way. You can type in that you think about him all the time, he can type back the same, and yet, your e-romance is not reality-based. In real life, you might have little in common and not be each other's type at all. In fact, he might say he's 14 but actually be 41 and have a thing for young girls! I would not tell this person you like him. Even if you e-mail all the time, you have no clue who he really is. Some creeps on the Internet have mastered the art of sounding young, fun, nice and genuine--but they're not. That's what makes it so scary. I think falling for an online guy can spell offline h-e-a-r-t- a-c-h-e or worse. Try to get to know some boys at school instead.

Dear Carol,

I'm 13 and have an imaginary friend. Well, more like an imaginary boyfriend. know I'm way too old for this. I wonder if I have this imaginary boyfriend because I don't get attention from boys at school. Or do I need to be put in a mental hospital? As for my Romeo, I've tried to get rid of him, but I feel lonely. If my friends knew, they'd laugh.

Mr. Invisible's Girl

Dear Mr. Invisible's Girl,

You don't need to be put in a mental hospital Lots of people have fantasies and ideas about a perfect friend or boyfriend. It really doesn't mean you're kooky. But if you ever find yourself buying two packs of gum--one for you, and one for Romeo--them I might worry. Sounds like you're well aware that your guy is imaginary--which is a good thing. If this is distracting or tripping you up, confide in a therapist or school counselor rather than a friend. You're right--your friends might not understand. Meantime, be friendlier with real guys, and Mr. Invisible might fade away. Sounds like some holiday flirting should be at the top of your list. Who's got the mistle toe?
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:teenage advice column
Author:Weston, Carol
Publication:Girls' Life
Date:Dec 1, 2001
Previous Article:College Bound? (Short Stuff).
Next Article:Party princess. (GL friends).

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