DR. WALLACE: This summer I went to a three-week summer church camp in Texas and met a really nice guy. After a week of camp he asked me to go out with him and I said yes. A week later I asked him to go steady with me and he said yes, but first he had to write a "Dear Jane" letter to his girlfriend in New Mexico. When the camp ended, we were a steady couple.
We called each other twice a week and we both tell each other that we are in love. I'm in love with him, but now I'm not so sure about him. His best friend wrote to me last week and said that he was dating his old girlfriend and that they are going steady and had never broken up. It seems he never mailed the "Dear Jane" letter. His friend said he was letting me know all this because he didn't want to see me get hurt. He even gave me the girlfriend's telephone number in New Mexico.
Now I'm totally confused and I don't know what I should do. Can you help me? — Karen, Atlanta, Ga.
KAREN: I have never felt it wise for teens to be involved in long-distance romances. The teen years should be filled with social relationships and this includes boy-girl dating. There is no reason why this boy and you can't remain good friends while also dating others. Apparently, that is what he is doing right now! In your next letter, inform him that you would like to remain good friends, but that the "steady" bit is history. Suggest that he date his "ex" girlfriend. He'll get the message.
NEVER TALK ONLINE WITH AN OLDER MAN!
DR. WALLACE: I'm a 15-year-old girl and have been "talking" online to a guy from Vermont and I enjoy it very much. We have shared a lot of personal things about each other. When we first started talking on line I thought he was a teenager, but I later learned that he is actually 40 years old. It really doesn't bother me because he seems like a very nice person.
Yesterday, he called and told me that he was going to stop talking with me online because of my age, but that he is willing to wait until I'm 21 to correspond again. Now I think about this guy every day so it will be hard for me to stop corresponding "cold turkey."
Now I am thinking that he knows my first and last names and that I live in Tampa, Florida. I don't really think he would come looking for me, but I'm not sure. How do you think I should handle this situation? — Nameless, Tampa, Fla.
NAMELESS: A 40-year-old man has no business whatsoever sharing personal things with a 15-year-old girl, or telling her he will "wait" until she's 21. Wait for what? Your correspondent sounds disturbed and profoundly untrustworthy.
My advice to you is: First, do not, under any circumstances, "talk" with him again. And second, tell your parents about your online communication with this man immediately! They need to be aware that somebody like this has been in contact with you and knows personal information about you.
Above all, do not agree to meet with this man! If he tries to set up a meeting, have your parents alert the police.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.