DR. WALLACE: I graduated from high school in June. A few months after graduation, my best friend and I got an apartment together. My mother is upset because she doesn't want me "wasting" my money on an apartment and she doesn't like my friend. She thinks my friend is a tramp and that sharing an apartment with her will ruin my own reputation. My friend dresses provocatively, but she is most definitely not a tramp. She's actually more of a free spirit.
I'm 17 and won't turn 18 for one more month. My mother says she will call the authorities and report me as an incorrigible teen because I'm not 18 and don't have her permission to leave home. Can I be forced to return home to my parents? I have a good job as a waitress and can comfortably pay my bills already. — Out on My Own, via email
OUT ON MY OWN: As a high school graduate who is almost 18, you are legally considered to be an emancipated minor. Your mother can't force you to return home. She has to encourage you to return home the old-fashioned way: by showing you love and respect. Whatever you decide, please keep things civilized with your parents, especially your mother. You never know if you will need her help or assistance at some point in the future, and after all, family is family. Good families strive to stick together and work through moderate differences.
MY GIRLFRIEND IS VERY POSSESSIVE
DR. WALLACE: I've been dating a great girl for over a year, but lately she has become extremely possessive of my time. I always spend every weekend with her, but during weekday evenings I like to spend time with my buddies sometimes. This has really set her off, even though I've been hanging out with these guys long before I met her. I've tried reasoning with her, but it doesn't do any good, at least so far. Do you have any suggestions about what I should do next? — Torn Between the Two, Chicago
TORN BETWEEN THE TWO: Nothing suffocates a relationship more quickly than one partner's extreme possessiveness. It's important for you to see your friends, and you should absolutely continue to do so. It appears that your girlfriend is not comfortable sharing you with others at this time.
Forget about discussing the matter further without the conversation going anywhere. The time has come to sit down with this young lady and tell her that you truly do care for her, but you are not going to spend all your free time with her. Try to be reasonable and provide her an opportunity to tell you why she feels so clingy and possessive. Is she lonesome? Does she not trust you? There are potentially many reasons why her behavior has changed in this department. If she's lonely, tell her you'll commit to sending her a few texts each evening you are out with your friends, and maybe even a photo, too. That way she'll feel as if she's connecting with you while you are spending time with your friends. If her concern is a trust issue, hit that head on and be honest with her, no matter what. In any case, communication is the key here. It's never good to be nagged, nor is it healthy for the person nagging to continuously do so without addressing the root cause(s).
You may wish to encourage your girlfriend to spend time with her girlfriends or family during the week and to keep in touch with you via texts and photos.
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.