Sad Story Mirrors Personal Experience

By Dr. Robert Wallace

August 31, 2019 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: Although I'm no longer a teenager now that I'm in my early 20s, I still read your column regularly. Recently, I read a letter from a girl who could have been me when I was younger. She asked for your advice about a guy who had three nasty habits: smoking, excessive drinking and ongoing drug usage. She said she was a pretty straight arrow and had never been involved with such behavior herself. She believed she could get him to stop all three habits with a combination of nagging, patience and love.

I recall that I, too, once believed I had the power to help someone change his ways. When I was 15, I dated a guy who was 17. He was very much involved with cigarettes, pain pills, cocaine and alcohol. My parents thought this guy was a loser and tried to get me to stop seeing him, but I still saw him because I thought my love and nurturing would change him. Unfortunately, he didn't stop any of his habits. In fact, things got worse, and he began stealing to support his addictions. After several run-ins with the law, he wound up incarcerated in Texas.

After feeling deprived, disappointed and frustrated, I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't make him change because his love for drugs and alcohol was stronger than his love for me. He was the only one who could change his life and turn it around. No matter how patient, supportive and logical I was with my pleadings, he simply continued his destructive behavior the entire two years we were together back then.

So, young ladies, please, do yourself a big favor and do not try to change a guy you believe you care for once he demonstrates this type of ongoing behavior. Simply stop dating him but let him know you will be willing to listen if he wants help in ending his addictions someday. Say that you will remain his friend, but the relationship is over. You'll be saving yourselves a lot of time and heartache. Take it from me: I know this firsthand. — Been There, Done That, via email

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Unfortunately, only a scant few people do change their nasty habits, and those who are ultimately successful first must want to change, and then ask for help so that they can do so. From there, a long, hard road must be traveled in order to kick destructive habits and addictions. Your suggestion to end the relationship with an offer to be there to help if and when he seeks it is quite wise. Thanks for your message; it's right on!


DR. WALLACE: We have homework four days a week in my summer school class. I do all my homework by myself, but my best friend's mother helps her with hers. I average B's on my homework, but my friend averages an A.

I don't believe this is fair. Both of us are competitive, and we want the best grades possible.

I feel that my best friend is actually cheating by having her mom do the work, and because of this dishonesty, she probably will get a better grade than I will. This really irks me. My mother is mad, too. She wants me to tell the teacher about my friend and her mother, but I said no because I'm not the type to squeal on a friend.

If you print my letter, maybe my friend and her mother might stop this behavior, as I know they read your column. — Anonymous, Columbus, Ohio

ANONYMOUS: If your friend's mother is actually doing her daughter's homework for her, that's not just cheating but also terrible parenting, as she's depriving her daughter of the opportunity to learn and, in effect, condemning her to ignorance.

But if this mother is simply working with her daughter, helping her to understand the subject, then that is what parental oversight of homework is all about, and she should be praised. My guess is that this is likely what's happening here. However, you and I are not in that household when the homework is being completed, so we will never know exactly how they are interacting on this matter.

My advice is to forget about the grade competition and focus on doing your personal best.

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

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

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