DR. WALLACE: Justin and Leah had been dating for over a year. About two months ago, I met Justin at our mutual friends' wedding. We talked for over an hour and fell in love together, right then and there! He told me that he was dating Leah, but he would consider not dating her if I would go out with him. I said yes. A week after we met, Justin called and said that he and Leah were no longer going to date, so he asked me to go out. Happily, I said yes.
Everything is perfect now except for one thing. Leah has been telling everyone in town that the only reason Justin left her was because she wouldn't give in to his sexual demands and that he and I were both "sex maniacs." These were her exact words.
This is a huge lie because we are not having sex and don't plan to. My dad said I should start spreading nasty rumors about Leah in retaliation, but I really don't want to do this. I don't like to lie or spread false rumors about others. —Justin's New Girl, Tempe, Arizona
JUSTIN'S NEW GIRL: Vicious rumors can inflict a great deal of pain, but the best weapon you have against them is personal integrity. Don't compromise your integrity by spreading counter rumors! Your father loves you, but his advice is lousy. I'm glad to hear that you were already leaning away from following that path before you contacted me.
These rumors have less power than you think. Teens are excellent judges of character. Most of them can probably see through Leah's self-serving lies immediately. If and when this topic comes up in conversations with your friends and peers, take the high road. I suggest a comment or two along the lines of: "I understand she's upset with the situation, but I hope she moves on successfully soon, for her sake. She's too nice a girl to spread such ugly, unfounded rumors like that."
Also, keep in mind that Leah has been hurt by the turn of events. This does not mean that her actions are justified, but you likely know why she is lashing out. You only need to think about things from her point of view for a few moments to understand how she feels right now. Speak well of her whenever her name comes up in the future. Hopefully, she will eventually move on to a new relationship that will absorb her time and focus such that you are no longer on her mind.
IT ISN'T FAIR
DR. WALLACE: I'm 17 and have a brother who is 18. Our parents own a greeting card store and work their 60 hours each week. Every Saturday morning, my parents "strongly request" that I help them open the store and work the cash register. My brother gets to sleep in late. When I asked why he can't work the cash register, they said he doesn't know how to make the correct change.
I feel ripped off. I'm smart and I get punished. My brother is not so smart, so he doesn't have to help! That just isn't fair. Do you agree with me? — Better Student Than My Brother Is, Oklahoma City
BETTER STUDENT: No, it isn't fair. Since your brother can't make correct change, he still could do other things that would be helpful. When you and your parents open the store next Saturday, your brother should be there, too. I'm positive the three of you could find something useful for him to do, perhaps clean the stockroom or sweep the floors.
Make sure your mom and dad see my answer to your question. I feel it's important for parents to provide their children with roughly equal opportunities in life and, similarly, equal responsibilities as well. It sounds as though your hardworking parents are so focused on running the store that they've missed the inequity between you and your brother. It should be easy to remedy.
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. Email 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.
Photo credit: 3194556 at Pixabay