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Week of May 27, 2001


Dear Mrs. Web, 

I am a 16-year-old guy and I am dating a 19-year-old girl. I am wondering if there is any legal problem with our age difference. What is the oldest age I could date legally?

Are you planning to make the hearts beat faster at the Betterdays Rest Home, son?

I donít think any state would have a problem with a 16 year old dating an older woman. The problems occur if the adult has any sort of sexual contact with the minor. 

So you shouldnít have any problemÖoh, you are? In that case, each state has different rules about sexual contact with a minor. You will need to call your local police, the state attorney generalís office or look through the state penal code.  

Before you do that though, sign up at your high school for a good active sport like soccer, basketball, or track. You sound like you need a good, tiring sports workout six or seven times a week.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am a divorced mother of a 6-year-old daughter. My ex and I have been apart for approximately 4 years. During our separation, he went to court and had it ordered that I could not move from this state with our daughter. I do have sole custody of my daughter.

Now, I have plans on remarrying. My fiancť is a lawyer who is planning to accept a job offer in another state.

What are my chances? I am willing to negotiate visitation so that my daughterís father can spend quality time during her summer vacation and spring break. Please advise!

Your lawyer will be able to tell you how the courts in your state look upon this issue. I would imagine that your former husband has an enormous say in whether his daughter leaves the area.

If he has been at all involved in her life, it would be terribly unfair to rip her Dad away from her. Perhaps, in this case, your fiancť would be able to find work somewhere in the area, if necessary. She comes first.



Dear Mrs. Web,

Can a girl become pregnant even if she had her underwear on? Please answer, I am 15, and this is very important.

Yes, she could get pregnant but it is not likely. Whenever young and healthy people mate, or try to mate, their bodies are designed to make a baby, and will try to do so. 

If you are having these sorts of situations in your life, at age 15, your biggest problem, is not a possible pregnancy. Your biggest problem is how you value yourself and others.



Dear Mrs. Web,

What is the socially acceptable waiting period to become engaged after divorce?

I donít think there is a magic number, but one would hope that one waits long enough for children, if there are any, to become acclimated to divorce before bringing in the new model.  Divorce is difficult for children; remarriage is difficult for children. Give them some breathing room. 

When children are not at issue, I would think some down time between spouses might be edifying. It also gives the extended family time to adjust. In your shoes, I would wait between 6 months and a year. Particularly if there is a trophy in the wings.



Dear Mrs. Web,

My boyfriend broke up with me about 6 months ago and is involved with someone else. I still have feelings for him and canít seem to get over it.

Every guy that I have dated has always broken up with me first. I don't know what I am doing wrong. Recently, I canít seem to make it to a second date. What am I doing wrong?

Letís begin with the boyfriend. You are having a difficult time shaking the boyfriend from your heart. That is normal. When we let someone into our heart and soul the way a boyfriend or girlfriend is permitted, we experience pain and loss. We are not television characters, we have many more dimensions, and when we play with our emotions, we get hurt.

That is why I favor courtship over dating. I think it is an emotionally safer path for relationships and the best way to find oneís life-mate. Next, dating is about shopping. Most people think it is a venue to grow relationships. That is not true because it is such an artificial situation. 

You are not unusual, I hear many women and some men tell me they have a difficulty maintaining a dating relationship.

Get out of the meat market and read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and other books about courtship.



Dear Mrs. Web,

Is a divorced women known as a "Mrs?"

My grandmother used to call divorced women "grass widows." I just love the phrase. 

The official formal social title of a married woman is Mrs. John Smith. With a divorcťe, if she keeps her former husbandís surname, she becomes Mrs. Mary Smith.



Dear Mrs. Web,

My best friend has been dating this guy for about three years. At the very beginning of their relationship, he and I spent an evening together. We almost ended up in bed but we both realized in time that it wasn't the right thing to do.

I never told my friend about this little moment, and now they are happy and in love. They are planning their wedding for this autumn. I feel that this past event is keeping me from being completely open with her. It was a long time ago and I don't even know if it would really matter to her now, but I can't stop thinking about it. 

I don't want to ruin her relationship or our friendship. Should I tell her?

No.  Of course it would still matter to her. You and the boyfriend almost made a mistake, but you didnít. This is both your burden and your responsibility. I donít know why you want to dump it on her. It would be unkind. Friendship is not about blowing up peopleís relationships.

Let me give you one piece of information: friendship is not about being completely open. Friendship includes the flexibility of tact, warmth, and discretion.

I donít know why you are still carrying this issue around. Quit worshiping and worrying it and let it roll off your shoulders. Moreover, continue to behave yourself around her beloved. Dance at their wedding with a clear conscience. You both did the right thing.



Dear Mrs Web,

I am 15 and I need your advice. A boy I have known for a few years, he has just been a friend, and I got together at my house the other day. He is cute and we had been flirting. 

Well, we ended up talking in my room. We were talking about sex and he told me he wasnít a virgin and I told him I was. I told him I really wanted to have sex. He said he had a condom and if I wanted to, he would. I was a little hesitant, but I thought it was a good idea. I was tired of waiting, I donít believe in waiting until marriage and I donít think sex is wrong. So, we did it. It was uncomfortable. I made him stop after a while and he dressed and left. The whole thing took about five minutes.

I told my best friend what happened and it spread through the school like a fire. A few of my girlfriends think I did the wrong thing, one even told me that she thinks less of me now that I have had sex with someone I was not involved with. The boy and I are just friends; wellÖthings are different between us now.

It seems like I am going through a lot of stress about something that just wasnít a big deal and I am confused. Mrs. Web, I had no feelings about it. I was curious to find out what it was like and I had the chance to so I took it. I don't want to regret it because I don't like to regret things.

I don't know how I should feel. I didnít think it was a real big thing, and I wish that everyone would just forget about it. It seems like no one is going to let me live it down. Can you please help me...give me any advice you have on what to do...? About the boy...about my friends...about my morals...anything. Thank you for listening...

We have different values, you and I, so you will need to bear with me. Unlike you, I think what you went through was momentous, not a mere biology experiment.

You put yourself in a sexual situation with a young man who was not your beloved, betrothed or husband. You opened your body to him out of curiosity and a sense of "let's get it over with" which is a reflection of the beliefs you have gained from the common culture through the media. It sounds like you went into the sexual act while emotionally numb and continue to feel numb about it. How sad. Sharing your body is an intimate and private moment reserved for the beloved, the person who accepts and loves all of you.

I consider sex as a physical manifestation of sharing the heart. I am sorry you were with a young man who did not value your body and heart enough to walk away.

You have told your friends and now it is school gossip. Sex between two who are beloved is an intimate and private subject, not something to be opened to the scrutiny of friends. We live in a time where sex is discussed casually in the media and people model casual sex on television. However, the magazines and television shows are all orchestrated public relation manipulations and scriptwriter fantasies. None of it is based on the reality of human emotions.

It seems as if your emotional numbing has made you not able to understand the big deal of mechanically rubbing you genitals with someone.  In one sense, you are right, when looked at in such a narrow perspective, it is just genital rubbing. However, when your heart, soul, and body are involved instead of being cut off, it is momentous. Your friends are reacting to the momentous whole.

Your friends are gossiping. The best thing you can do is to ignore it and move on. You now have some insight into the importance that your friends attach to sex outside of committed relationship. You broke the norm. You are going to have to work a bit to regain your footing with your friends. 

Both you and the young man used each other. Because of the intimacy involved, your relationship, although it may not ever go forward, cannot go backwards. It is forever changed.

This is all about your moral perspective, how you value yourself and others, and how you want to treat others and be treated in the future. Given your experience and your friends' reactions you will need to decide whether you want to link your heart emotions and your sexuality together in your life or keep them split apart.


Week of May 20, 2001


Dear Mrs. Web,

I always enjoy helping people. However, I am beginning to think I overextend myself with my boyfriend. I do an awful lot for him and really don't get a whole lot in return. He tells me about different things he wants and plans to do for me, but they never seems to happen. 

This past weekend, he had a busy schedule and then was going to a fund-raiser for an old friend, about two hours away. Because I was getting out of work early that day, I agreed to let his dog out at lunchtime. 

I knew he was going to call me to drive the 25 minutes to his house that evening to let his dog out again so I intentionally missed three of his calls. I returned his call later in the evening leaving a pleasant voice mail for him on his cell phone.  

He called me the next morning and said he tried to reach me to let his dog out so he could be out longer with his friends. He also asked me whether I would watch his dog for three days while he is out of town. I said I wasnít sure; I had to think about it. He was surprised I said this, but you know, it felt good! Should I feel guilty?  

I canít imagine what you think you might be doing wrong. Everyone should have boundaries. Relationships are like tennis, you hit the ball, and your opponent hits it back. There should equal generosity in relationships.

When you lose your boundaries, you get forgotten, put-upon, and used. Even well meaning people tend to push boundaries as far as possible. 

When someone overlooks their responsibilities in a relationship or disregards them with a "I planned to it for you," it is time to reevaluate. There are plenty of boarding kennels for Ol' Bowser. I think it is time to pull back and see whether he is committed to you or the convenience of you.



Dear Mrs. Web, 

My boyfriend has his own business and is working hard. He has little free time these days and we donít get a chance to enjoy some of our usual activities. Recently, I handled my disappointment poorly. We ended up in an argument. 

He asked if I missed him and I said: "No, but I need to start having more fun." He did agree with me but I am sure I hurt his feelings. I said this because I was disappointed because I felt that if he really wanted to be with me, he would have made the time. I had not seen him for almost a week. 

Please help.

Why donít you tell him that you overreacted because you were feeling disappointed because you were not seeing him, it had been a long time, and how important he is in your life. Talk together about how you both can balance work and play so you both get what you need and want.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I was coming out of the mall with my girlfriend over the weekend. When we got to my car, there was a note on the windshield. My first thought was that someone had hit the car and was leaving behind drivers license information. 

Instead, it was a note leaving behind a name and a telephone number. It said that if I was interested in sexual release (although not in those exact words), I should call. I thought it was the work of someone playing a random, practical joke. Or, it could have been an enterprising, businesswoman, looking for work. On the other hand, it could have been one of my dumber "friends" trying to be funny.

My greatest concern was that my girlfriend might think there was something to this note or suspect me of this sort of behavior, or being involved with another girl. This bothers me. What do you think? 

I think if it was a joke it was a poor one. If it was a business offer, it was not effective. It may have been embarrassing for you or your girlfriend. Life throws us the unexpected. We deal with it. We communicate to keep the lines clear.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am divorced mother of 4 beautiful children 5 to 14 years old. I had a three-year relationship with a divorced man with 4 children of his own but he backed off because he was overwhelmed with the thought of 8 children and the responsibility of raising them all. The breakup hurt a lot, but, I have bounced back.

Recently, I met a nice man, divorced, no children. We had a few dates and things were going well - until I mentioned my four children. He backed away from our relationship and placed me in the good friend category. I realize it is going to be difficult to find a man who wants to be a father to 4 children, but I am only 34 and I want someone special in my life.

Should I give up on the idea of having a man in my life at this time and wait until I'm 40 when the kids are older, or should I continue to look? I've heard that there is someone special for everyone, but I'm beginning to believe that is a fairy story.

There are few men or women who want to take on other peopleís children, especially four of them. They are out there but they are rare birds. I think you are correct that the issue will hinder some relationships. Women with children are at a disadvantage in the dating/marriage market.

At the same time, big-hearted men and women take on big responsibilities in stepparent roles every day. People who do it well and give it their best. People who go the extra step in commitment. Stepfathers who are delighted in a ready-made family. In my life, the men I have seen willing to readily take on multiple children have been men from large families, and widowers with children of their own. Not that I am suggesting that you scan the obituaries for possible husbands. It is just an observation.

You are a young woman with many responsibilities. I have four children about your children's ages. It is exhausting work to rise them well. Without a husband it would be lonely and at times isolating. I can understand your wish for a mate.

In your shoes, I would leave my heart open to the possibility of a husband. I would make sure my children are protected from any dating or relationships I have. Keep the men you do see out of their lives. Remember, they come first with any choices you make. Children should not be subjected to a parent's love-interest; they donít have the understanding and filters to manage it.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I met a guy in December and we immediately hit it off. We both go to college and work. We never did much together except hang out.

Three months into the relationship he took me to the Caribbean on spring break. Everything in our relationship was perfect and the vacation was perfect too. It gave us time to do things together.

A few days after we returned he broke up with me. He said had had initial doubts about our relationship, which diminished over time. They returned after our trip. We have not seen each other in over two months. I think he has these doubts because he got scared in the relationship. I am so confused. I want to know if there is a way to make him open up and work this out.

I think the young man has made it clear that he doesnít want to be involved anymore. You have apparently concocted an entire fantasy that he is somehow afraid of the relationship with you. I see no evidence of this. 

In some circles, one would say you had the honeymoon without the wedding. I think he tried out your relationship and changed his mind. I am sorry. It is difficult to physically and emotionally open yourself to someone and have him walk away. It hurts.

Try the Dear Mrs. Web Bookshelf for books about dating and courtship. A deeper look at the choices made in a relationship and their long-term consequences might help you here.



Dear Mrs. Web,

My boyfriend has a friend who doesnít like me. He consumes a lot of my boyfriendís time and whenever he has a party or event, I am not included in the invitation. He recently had a fundraiser and did not include me.

My boyfriend went alone, and although he didnít lie to me about going, he didnít tell the whole truth either. I think he didn't tell me about the fundraiser because he knew it would cause an argument. I told him that it hurts me more when he lies to me, than the fact that I am not invited. What should I do?

I think you did just fine. Your boyfriend sounds like he stuck between that rock and hard place we hear so much about. Eventually, if your relationship becomes committed through betrothal or marriage, he will need to make a decision about your boundaries as a couple around this man. Remember, in marriage the beloved comes first.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am trying to figure out how to trust again or even if it is worth the trouble. I am 37 years old, single again for the past 2 years after 11 years of a relationship and marriage.

We never fought, but did have our problems, like everyone does. Unexpectedly she slapped me with a divorce. My life was shattered.

Now, two years later I still have major trust issues. My ex-wife, on the other hand, found someone else, and has even left him for a third man!

I don't know how to move on, I am out of love with her, but I'm not sure if I am capable of love again. Any advice?

Trusting someone is a choice. Anger, bitterness, and grief, all cloud the choice we have to move on and have a life that is open to relationship, love, and commitment.

One of the best ways I have found for opening the paths to my heart is to spend time looking at what happened in my past relationship, and discover my responsibility for its failure. Then I am able to clearly map out the ways I can avoid such pitfalls in the future. For example, perhaps you both would have been more successful with a few good arguments to clear the air. In this instance, looking at your current communication skills, your comfort with anger etcÖ may be valuable for you.

Once I was able to own up my responsibility and learn and choose different behaviors I no longer looked at my self as someone who could not trust because I was an active participant in relationships and my future. I could choose to trust because I knew that I was more knowledgeableÖ. Is it foolproof? No. Frankly, sir, life is a series of risks.  Remember, we put ourselves in our own boxes sometimes.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am currently in a situation that many women may find themselves in at one time or another. I am 23 years old and my boyfriend is 21. We began living together in college, when my mother was in a sense 'footing part of the bill' for my living expenses. I found a wonderful and great paying job soon after he moved in. I eventually had to tell my mother that he was living with me and she was very upset. The rest of my family ostracized me, too.

My mother almost took my car away; it was in her name. She demanded my car keys, and her house keys. She ended up letting me keep the car. She said I had dishonored, and disgraced her and the whole family again sided with her.

My boyfriend and I are planning to marry soon. My mother dislikes him. She wonít be a Christian about it and forget the past. I know I'm not perfect and she may not agree with my life choices, However, I feel like she is my mother and should love me anyway, as I love her. My boyfriendís family treats me much better than my own family.

Right now, she thinks he has moved out and he is upset that I am 'hiding' him from her. The family still treats me as if I was 12 years old. How do I repair my relationship with my family, especially my mother? I am afraid our past and current problems will carry over into our marriage.

You are absolutely right, your past and current behaviors will affect you relationship with your family now and for years to come. A marriage to this man would be difficult for the family to accept. You are in the difficult place of having broken your family norms. It is sad to have your life and future family compromised in this way.

You broke your familyís rules, their moral and ethical beliefs. You lied about living with your boyfriend, and are still lying about it. You complain because your mother almost took her car back. Now you whine for Christian charity, unlimited love, and unconditional acceptance.  

Dear Mrs Web thinks it is time you grew up. Part of growing up is realizing when you step out of your familyís values and beliefs, you will be held apart. People hold such standards as a way of measuring behaviors and in order to live in accordance with their beliefs and worldviews. If you choose to break those boundaries, you have no right to stand outside of them whining for unconditional acceptance. You are not the "center of the universe, " requiring everyone to change to accept your values. Being an adult you make your choices and you live with the consequences.

You mother has told you her values. You want something you cannot get from her, acceptance of your life, which she considers immoral. Think of something that you might consider immoral, for example: using cute puppies for target practice. Would you like to be told you needed to accept this immorality because a family member participated regularly in it?

I think what bothers me most about your letter is that you are still lying about playing house with your boyfriend. It shows a weakness of character and selfishness. You want it both ways. You could, if you wanted to discard your family for his, but I can assure you that an in-law is just an in-law.

In your shoes, I would get my boyfriend out of the apartment or face your family honestly about it. you have your boundaries and values, and they are different from your mother's. Reach out and tell your mother how sad you were that your choices hurt her.  

It allows you to continue to be the woman you choose to be but also acknowledges the chasm you have jumped. It would be a way to mend at least a part of the relationship.




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