Dear Dr. Wallace:

My closest girlfriend and I have been best friends for several years. We attend the same church and go to the same high school. She’s a lot of fun, and I really like her, but there is one thing she does that irritates me. Whenever things don’t work out for her, she tends to blame everyone but herself. If she doesn’t finish her homework, she blames her sister for pestering her. If she fails to make the volleyball team, she blames the coach for selecting other athletes who she says are the coach’s “pets.” I think you get the message I’m sending here.

I’d like to help her overcome her “blame others” philosophy, but I’d first like to know what causes people to always blame others for their own errors. Don’t get me wrong; I really like her and hope that we can be lifelong friends. I just want to delicately and diplomatically help my friend in this one area where she has an obvious need for improvement.

— Good Friend Who Cares, Wichita, Kansas

Dear Good Friend: People who often provide excuses for their own failures and mistakes haven’t yet developed a sense of responsibility. They fear dire consequences if other people ever find out how imperfect they really are — and unfortunately, these individuals often don’t realize that people see right through them.

Anytime a friend like yours isn’t being real, the best you can do is not let her get away with it (as tactfully as possible, of course). Try to get your friend to understand that we are all far from perfect and that we all make mistakes. Being responsible doesn’t mean being 100% successful with every venture. When she starts playing the blame game, gently challenge her. You can make it safe for her to start admitting her shortcomings if you are able to bring up — and laugh about — your own.

Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m a 17-year-old girl who is a fairly popular high school student. I’ve dated several guys, but I’ve always had a crush on one particular guy. He’s a great athlete and also happens to be quite good-looking.

About three weeks ago, he asked me out, and, of course, I told him I’d think about it. I didn’t have to think too long (only overnight!) to decide to go out with him. During our date, the conversation got around to sex, and he told me all about all of the different girls he has had sex with so far! Wow, I was really surprised; I knew some of the girls he named, and he seemed so casual talking about all of this.

He then asked me to tell him all about all of the guys I have had sex with. I told him I didn’t want to mention names but that I have been intimate with several different guys. However, the truth is I’m a virgin. He also said he never had sex with a girl on the first date but I should be ready for sex on the next one.

Now every day at school, he wants to know when our next date will take place. I told him to wait until football playoffs are over. I’m stalling and now don’t know what to do from here. What do you think I should do? The football season ends when the team loses a playoff game, and that could be as soon as this upcoming weekend.

— Closet Virgin,

Waco, Texas

Dear Closet Virgin: You must immediately stop playing this guy’s game — and I’m not talking about football. It appears to me that you’re nothing but another potential conquest to him.

If you keep going along with this nonsense, there’s only one possible outcome: He wins, and you lose. Don’t fall for that; have respect for yourself.

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