Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m 17 1/2, and I’m dating a guy who is 20 1/2 and lives alone with his widowed mother. My guy is all right, but he’s no great catch, if you get my drift. He’s kind of lazy, and he only works part time and does not attend any school or even any trade school to try to better himself. He’s kind of a mama’s boy. He treats me OK most of the time, but there are times he throws tantrums like a small child over the smallest of things I might have said or done. We end up in huge fights over literally nothing, and then it takes a week or longer for us to find our footing together again.

To my face, his mom is sweet, but behind my back, she says things that make me think she despises me. Some of the stuff she says comes back to me because she is a good friend of my mom’s best friend. Therefore, I get the scoop about what she’s thinking and saying about me.

What can I do to keep her big mouth shut about me? It appears she almost never has a kind word to say about me, but she’s quick to criticize me about the smallest and most trivial of matters. I kind of wish I had never heard about any of this, but the fact is I have heard more than enough to know exactly where she is coming from.

— Not Happy With My Reviews, via email

Not Happy With My Reviews: Stop dating her son! And if he asks why, feel free to tell him what you’ve told me here, but do so diplomatically, please.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations that just don’t really fit, and unfortunately, too many people continue on and on in situations that are, shall we say, less than optimal.

Don’t be one of these people. Make a clean break, and seek to move on to a new situation that will not frustrate you and cause you to worry about your “reviews.”

Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m a regular reader of your column and have noticed that, several times, girls have written to you about dating a former boyfriend of their best girlfriend. You always advise against it, and I must say it’s the right answer. When I was 17, my BFF and I were so close it was crazy. We were the type that could finish each other’s sentences. We went through a lot together — problems at home and school, plus a serious automobile accident. We stuck together through it all. We were each other’s rocks of support.

We were, that is, until the boy she dated for three years asked me out after they broke up. When I told her I was going out with him, she cried, called me a traitor and then simply stopped communicating with me. Sadly, that was the end of our longtime friendship. Soon after I went out with this guy, I realized I had made a huge mistake. That guy and I went our separate ways, but the end result was that brief dating relationship cost me my very best girlfriend’s friendship. Now it’s 10 years later, and I’m married to a wonderful man and have a beautiful daughter and a very happy marriage. I’m very happy with 95% of my life, but I will readily admit that I often miss my great high school girlfriend and the friendship we shared. My soul aches that she’s no longer a part of my life.

I just wanted to share my story for the benefit of today’s teens, especially the girls. Yes, they can all make their own decisions, but they should remember that the ex of a close girlfriend will rarely turn out to be the one for you — and if you elect to pursue a dating relationship with a best friend’s ex, don’t be surprised if you later discover the trade-off was not even close to worth it.

— Been There and Still Regretting It, via email

Dear Been There And Still Regretting It: Thank you for sharing your sad and unfortunate experience of dating a best friend’s former boyfriend.

Hopefully, your story might inspire some to say, “No, thanks” to a best friend’s former boyfriend’s invitation to go out with him. This is truly a situation and a topic with no right answer, as each and every situation is different and has its own dynamics. But your story is valuable by pointing out a potential downfall that can exist between some very close friends.

I suggest the carpenter’s rule here: “Measure twice; cut once.”

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.

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