DR. WALLACE: I am 16 and living with my grandmother because my mom couldn't handle me. Last January, I ran away from home for 10 days. During that time, I met a guy who was 26 who I truly felt related to me. He said all the right things and made me many promises, which sounded so good at the time. I fell in love with him and, yes, we had sex. Well, we were out and about, and the police pulled his car over for a traffic citation and then discovered he had a probation violation. They asked me who I was and where I lived. I got scared because I almost got exposed as a runaway. I knew it was wrong, but I just couldn't help it. My parents gave me a good home. I love them, but it was as if this guy had a spell over me. So, I returned home and put up with all of the grief my parents gave me over this situation.
Finally, my parents sent me to live with my grandmother because all my parents and I would do is argue all day and night.
So far, I'm doing pretty well at my grandmother's house, but I'm afraid the spell will come over me again, and I will run back to this guy. Help! I don't want to run away again, but I am afraid I will. — Anonymous, via email
ANONYMOUS: This guy doesn't have a spell over you. You became infatuated with him because you felt grown-up, free and important when you were with him. But those feelings are illusions, as you clearly see, and it is completely within your power to end this destructive relationship. You have already surmounted some tremendously difficult obstacles, first by admitting you have a problem and second by asking for help. A young lady who can do that is well on her way to getting her life back.
There are many good organizations that can offer you a chance to be a normal teenager again. Get involved in school, social activities and community affairs. Once you meet and date a boy in your age range, you will forget about this older man who should be behind bars for statutory rape.
NEVER TELL LIES ABOUT FRIENDS
DR. WALLACE: I'm a 16-year-old girl and have three good girlfriends at school. The four of us have all been good friends, both individually and in a group. One girl has a boyfriend, and a second friend from our group danced with him at an after-school dance. These two girls then had a major falling-out. A lot of drama then took place, resulting in one girl telling me to stop being friends with another and to never speak to her again. This girl said she would drop the other girl as a friend, but I said that I wouldn't do that. Now two girls won't speak to the remaining girl and me. I don't mind that, but I do mind that they are spreading nasty rumors about us.
Now my remaining friend wants us to start even more dramatic rumors about the other two. Our classmates would believe us because we both have excellent reputations at our school. I don't like this idea. I think things will die down once our classmates realize the gossip was just a bunch of rumors. Do you agree with me? Also, there is word on the street at our school that the girl who danced with the other girl's boyfriend is now seriously going after this guy — and will get him! — Loyal Friend, Houston
LOYAL FRIEND: Wow, my head is spinning! That's a lot of unnecessary drama in my opinion, but I understand these things happen regularly within the social circles of many high school students across the country.
Your instincts are correct — stay out of any further escalation of this situation. You have earned a good reputation thus far at your school, precisely by avoiding gossip, rumors and getting mixed up in the drama of others. Fortunately, most teenagers are excellent judges of character. It won't be long before your classmates realize the rumors about you and your remaining friend are not true. Discourage your remaining friend from fanning the flames of this story further.
Telling lies about your ex-friends would mean that you have stooped to their level. Never allow this to happen.
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.