Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A mean joke

I have been a naughty boy and told a couple of fibs. What, with it being April 1st and all, I have led the whole of blogdom to believe that I have broken the laws of physics as we know them over a cappuccino (extra shot and sprinkles) and a brownie.

As if that was not bad enough, I've told them I'm moving to China to research this mythical masterpiece of photonic wizadry. I had toyed with announcing my engagement to one of the UK press as well, but thankfully avoided that lawsuit with a quick "delete". I'm quite flattered that even those that know me believed that I was capable of performing such an act of shear black magic but feel like a royal shite that I have suckered some of the brightest people I know.

Could you please advise me on how to dig myself out of this hell-hole?

Shenzhen Ken

Dear Ken,

There is a special circle of hell reserved for people who play jokes on others on April Fools' Day. Congratulations on joining the circle! You've joined the ranks of Google, Chicago Public Radio and The Sun. That's right, you read that correctly. The Sun.

Perhaps the only way to repent for your sins would be to carry through on your plans. You've done the UK and the States...why not move to China? Perhaps that journalist wouldn't mind a fancy date before the engagement announcement? It's time to live a little, Kenny.

But if you can't make it up to your friends by following through, at least treat them to cappuccinos and brownies. Extra sprinkles. It's the least you can do.

April Fools!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Who do I choose?

I'm a freshman in college and I had been a wonderful relationship with my boyfriend the summer before I started college. We had been dating for six months, and had what I would consider a near perfect relationship. We never fought over anything, we could easily just hang out together and most importantly, we made each other happy.

However, right before I left for college (12 hours away by car) my boyfriend broke it to me that he didn't think he could handle the distance. He's still just a senior in high school (yes, he's younger) and I'm his second serious relationship. He said he couldn't be sure about making that kind of a commitment to me unless he was able to explore around a bit more.

So I went to college heartbroken, but I quickly started to work past it. My best friend at college, started to show interest in me, and we suddenly became curious about giving each other a shot. So, a few weeks into me being at college, we decided to try and start dating. We had been friends for quite some time before hand and things moved very quickly.

But after only being together for a few days, my ex wrote me to say that he needed me back. He had started dating another girl, yet when she kissed him for the first time, he said it didn't feel right and that was the proof he needed to come back to me.

I was torn over what to do. In the end, I chose to go back to my ex, thereby hurting my best friend. But, as best friends go, he did quickly forgive me and I thought everything would be okay. I started a long distance relationship with my boyfriend but after nearly a month, I felt like he was distancing himself from me. This made me nervous and it was horrible timing because at that same time, my best friend confessed to me that he still had intense feelings for me. He began to make moves on me, knowing very well that my relationship with my boyfriend was in some turmoil.

When I finally was able to talk with my boyfriend again, he expressed his fears about our long distance relationship. How he was afraid that it would be a cycle of us falling apart, and then building back up once we were reunited. He also had been under immense stress and had been frustrated that I wasn't there for him to lean on. He said he did find someone to lean on for support, and had then started to develop feelings for them, and this had scared him.

During my brief relationship with my best friend, I spent the night with him and did things with him that took months for me to do with my boyfriend. I had to tell my boyfriend during the time we were trying to get back together what had happened. He was hurt by what I had did, but in the end he decided he still wanted me back. However, it still seems to haunt him and because it was my best friend that I did it with, I'm still around that person all the time.

Because of my boyfriends doubts, its been making me question my own faith in us. I've started to look at my best friend again, as he tries to get closer with me again. It's harder to stay loyal to someone when you aren't sure if they are willing to give it their all too.

I'll be coming home finally in about a week. Finally, I'll be able to see my boyfriend again and hopefully we can get back on track, but I wonder if its really worth it. I wonder if maybe I should let him go now to spare us any further heartache down the road. I know my best friend would be an amazing boyfriend and it would be great since I would be around him whenever I'm in school but I still just can't walk away from the person I love.

I need advice on whether or not I should drag out my relationship with my boyfriend and hope he comes around and learns we can still work, or if I should reach out for my best friend while he's still willing to fight for me.

Torn Girlfriend

Dear Torn,

None of the above.

I'm sure you heard from a friend, sibling or cousin about how hard it is to keep high school relationships into college. If you don't grow apart, the distance will get you. Relating to one another from afar, especially when it isn't interspersed with physical activity, is difficult for anyone of any age. It's much harder for someone at your age because these are some of your first sexual experiences.

So let's look at your candidates. Boyfriend isn't "sure about making that kind of a commitment to me unless he was able to explore around a bit more." This means he doesn't know if he wants to be a relationship with you, despite the fact that he already is, unless he can try out a few other girls first. And Best Friend? "He began to make moves on me, knowing very well that my relationship with my boyfriend was in some turmoil."

If you had a friend in this situation, would you advise she stay with someone who wants a pass to sow his oats and still get all of her attention? Would you tell her to go out with the guy who doesn't respect boundaries of other people's relationships? Neither of these candidates are promising, Torn.

What I find most concerning is your final question. It indicates to me that you have problems being alone. Why else would you try to choose between two shitty suitors?

Don't lead your boyfriend on. Either you want to really commit to long distance relationship or not, sexual dry spells and all. As for your best friend, well, he might not make a bad boyfriend in the end. But before you start dating, I want you to seriously think about what he's fighting for. The only thing I can see him fighting for is the chance to get in your pants, and that only makes for a good one night stand.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thinking of asking her

I am becoming increasingly confused with how how to handle a girl that I know. I met her a couple of years ago when I started school. She has a heart of gold, and she's a cutie too. I asked her out about a year ago, but she was already seeing someone, so nothing ever came of that.

Fast forward a year: we're still decent friends (I'll hang out with her on occasion, and I see her at school quite a bit). I still care deeply about her, and with her being currently single, I'd love to ask her out again.

There are, of course, a couple of issues that complicate things. First off is that her last boyfriend, although obviously able to charm her also made her cry during dates. They dated on and off until earlier this year, when he broke up with her about a month before one of her major school exams (where major means failure = kicked out). Friends with better girl-reading powers have hinted that she needs time to be single and find herself again, implying to me that she's still recovering from her last breakup, and hence does not need a new boyfriend right now.

The other issue stems from her performance on the major exam. The school gave her a year to take classes, with the ultimatum "pass these classes or goodbye". Most of her friends and labmates have been offering to help her prepare for classes and study. However, I seem to have become her tutor by default.

While I can't complain about tutoring a pretty girl, I'm more than a little worried about what would happen if I asked her out again and she responded negatively. Of the least harm would be if she felt awkward around me and found someone else to help her. But the worst case scenario would be creating a giant distraction from her studies and jeopardizing her career. That would put me in the same league as the last guy.

Do I stand a chance at coming out of this situation with my sanity intact?


Dear Interested,

I think you're making a few assumptions here that are causing you to be confused.

To start, you seem to think that asking her out means you will have a relationship. It will not. You also seem to think that your friends with "girl-reading" powers actually know what is going on inside her head. Unless she talks to them, they do not know anything.

I admit, this is a tough situation. You stood up and got rejected a year ago, and still pined for her. Now she is having some other things go on in her life and you're assuming she can't take on a relationship too.

But don't assume that you asking her out is going to distract her from her studies. You're the one who is helping her out with her studies. And that complicates things.

Since you waited a year, I think it's fair to assume you're over the moon about this girl. She's available. In a normal world, you would ask her out.

If you haven't already, start romancing her a little. Bring a snack to your tutoring sessions. See if she wants to get coffee after class to talk about what went on. Bring her favorite bottle of wine to dinner. And then ask her out, no strings attached. If she's interested, she will say yes. If she's too busy, she'll tell you that. If she doesn't want to date you even when she's single, at least you have a close friend.

No matter what the outcome, you can get your love life started again and stop waiting for the right moment.

Aunt Amy

Monday, September 03, 2007

Can we do it yet?

My girlfriend and I are both 14 and we've been going out for two weeks. In the past 14 days we have talked about things from our dreams, to SEX.

At first I did feel too young for any sex. I even told her that we have to wait at least until we hit a month or two. I still feel as though we are way too young. But I'm not going to lie to you or to myself. I really want it. And she does too. We talk dirty on the phone pretty often too. She tells me all the things she wants to do to me and it drives me crazy.

We are really comfortable around each other hence the reason why we talk about sex and stuff. She tells me she only wants to do it with someone she really likes.

Are we moving too fast? Are we too young? Should I even consider having sex with her? I truly can't picture losing my virginity to any one else.

Ready or not?

Dear Ready,

Let me answer your signature: you are not ready. It's one part age, one part what you've said and one part what you're not saying.

I hear your hormones talking loudly, but I don't hear much about protection. How will you prevent pregnancy? Do you know your options? I hear you do a lot of talking, but not a lot of making out. Have you two ever been physical before? Have you ever had a relationship longer that two weeks? There is a lot more to learn about each other.

The biggest red flag is that you yourself think you're too young. Listen to yourself. It's important.

At the risk of sounding like an old fogey when I haven't reached 30 yet, you're too young to have sex because I don't think you've thought out the above questions. I hope this inspires you to start talking about them and determining whether or not you're ready to have sex.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, August 09, 2007

An angry son

I have a wonderful sister who is an amazing single mother to three kids. She works full time in order to support her kids and loves them beyond words. She is divorced from a complete idiot that is as useful as broken doorknob.

The problem is her eldest is having anger management issues with her and only her. This happens even worse when he comes back from his father's for a visit. What can she do? She sent him to anger management class for kids, but it didn't seem to help.

Any hints or tips I could use for helping her with this? She is not only my sister, but my best friend and I really want to help her.

Concerned Sister

Parents often underestimate the effects a divorce can have on their kids unless the symptoms are severe. Unfortunately, some of those symptoms are brought on because of parents talking trash about one another.

I suspect your friend's ex is bad-mouthing her and, well, turning her son against her. If she can, she needs to speak with her ex about what is said in front of the children. Their son's anger could very well turn on him. If her ex doesn't stop, she can probably stop those visits with a simple return to court. Family court judges really hate child brainwashing.

As for picking up the pieces, your friend should continue to be a good mother to her children. She also might consider family counseling to help everyone through this tough time.

Aunt Amy

Friday, August 03, 2007

Back in the sack

I have a very good friend who is experiencing difficulties in his marriage. His wife of many years' standing has changed in recent months. From what he tells me, it's been some while since they have made the bed springs dance, and he seems to be hinting that they may be destined for divorce.

It's tricky, as Bill is not a man who easily heeds advice. He actually had a rather disastrous spell as an Agony Uncle himself, and I think he finds the whole process of listening to other people's views a little tedious.

What can I say to him too make him step back from the precipice, where he risks destroying a partnership that has endured more than 30 years?

Helping Out

Dear Helping,

From what I understand of your friend Bill, he has a high-powered career and is at least pushing 60. At this point in his life, the only thing he doesn't want is change for the worst.

You say his wife has changed, although without the specifics I can only guess. She started dressing nicely? Stopped wanting to have sex? Maybe she's not at home as often?

Bill is one of the lucky few who has the power of the press. Let him use it! Let him write a love note printed in every periodical telling the world just how much he hates the current situation and profess his love once again! If that doesn't work, well, 65 is a really good age to find a young, hot wife. Women go nuts over those press hats.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hearing attitude

How do you deal with constant family misunderstandings?

I'm having issues with my Dad. We tend to take each other's comments the wrong way, but I think he isn't hearing me at all. For example, today I told him I forgot to go to the pharmacy to pick up toilet paper. He offered me the roll in his bathroom, but I would need my own because I had a separate bathroom.

I said "But that's what I'm saying. I need to have some in my bathroom." Then he got angry at me and said I should have thought of that while I was at the store the other day. Later on, we talk about the conversation and he said he thought I copped an attitude and told him to buy me some toilet paper. He said he can't be wrong every time this happens.

I don't know what to do. I can't talk to my parents much. It's like having two angry roommates as opposed to parents.

Can Hear You

Dear Hear,

I read this letter over and over again and while there are clearly other problems at home, I think this one doesn't have to do with any of the others. If you are accurate in your description of what happened, and your Dad wouldn't normally flip out on you for reminding yourself that you need tissues, then I think your father has a hearing problem.

You might want to handle this one delicately. I'd sit down with him and tell him you've noticed the both of you have had a lot of misunderstandings, and you don't think you're copping an attitude with him most of the time. I'd see if he would be willing to go to an otologist and have his hearing checked. If you have to, pay for it.

If hearing is the problem here, and I think it is, maybe a few more problems would clear up in your parents' relationship, too.

Aunt Amy

Monday, July 23, 2007

Totally useless

I have an advice column of my own, and I am concerned about one of my contributors. After a few questions, I feel he isn't up to par with the answers he submits. How can I gently let him know he's fired?

Did I mention he is my brother?

One Useless Man

Dear Useless,

This is going to be much easier since he's your brother. From the time you both popped out of your mother's womb, you two were best friends and mortal enemies. You spent your childhood hanging out and trying to kill each other.

To start, find the appropriate time to tell him. It's best if someone had just killed his dog or his wife cheated on him. As he's weeping, grab him from behind and get him in a sleeper hold. Scream "You like that? You like that? You're fired!" Then wrestle around on the floor a little and take him out to get a beer.

It's the least you can do.

Aunt Amy

Friday, July 13, 2007

Famous friend

I have a cousin named Raph. He left today for Hollywood because he got a part to play as Zack and Cody's cousin on "The Suite Life."

I am so sad he left. What should I do? I didn't even see him leave; I was helping the librarian when he left. I have his e-mail, so should I e-mail him or will he forget me because he's famous?

Keeping in Touch

Dear Keeping,

Some people do leave their friends behind when they become a star, but you'll find plenty of large and small stars who never stopped being friends with those who know them best. Fame on all levels doesn't mean you become a shitty friend.

You didn't say whether or not your cousin was moving, too, but I bet your mom has your aunt and uncle's contact information if you need it. Since you have his e-mail, send him a message. He'll appreciate it.

Aunt Amy

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hard-partying beau

My boyfriend of four years is way too much of a party animal. I knew this all along, but when he had a stroke two days after a real hard binge, I snapped to my senses and realized this is just way too out of hand. He is two different people.

He loves to drink hard, which causes him to do drugs occasionally. I used to party right along with him. He drinks until he has no brain left. I, on the other hand, am interested in health and natural healing. It has gotten so that I do not go out with him. He waits until I go out with my girlfriends, then he goes off.

I so miss going out and having fun with him, but it is not fun anymore because he has gotten us thrown out of places. When we get home, he gets verbally abusive. When I talk to him about it the next day, he is "oh so sorry," and just says it was because he was drunk and stupid. He doesn't want to stop, because it has been his way for his whole life.

I have gotten mad and asked him to leave, but then I calm down and get all kinds of sad to think of him not living with me anymore. He is not much of a companion because he spends most of his time in front of the computer or the TV, which is why I am finding myself out with the girls, just to relax and get some companionship.

I need to be strong and keep my resolve. We are both 50 and way too old for this behaviour. I can't believe I am even writing this, but even as I speak, I am tearing up. Please help me.

Level-Headed Girlfriend

Dear Level-Headed,

I'm having a lot of problems discerning your boyfriend's other personality. He seems to be stuck on the hard-partying, angry side and not on the side you must have seen in him when you first met.

While I don't have all of the details, I think your boyfriend has a serious problem, and I completely understand why you want him to walk away. The man had a stroke from the drink.

I think you need to make a tough decision. If this relationship has only gone south recently, it might be worth giving counseling a try. For this to work, he would probably need to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or some variant thereof and actually give up drinking. If getting help isn't something he's willing to do, I hope you'll rely on those terrific girlfriends of yours to help you get out of this relationship.

When it comes to addiction, it is impossible for one person, especially a lover, to help their loved one break the habit. Remember this as you go forward.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Friend or just tolerated?

I recently made a new friend but I'm not sure if I can really call her that. She only is nice to me when we're at home and our kids are playing, although we did go shopping together once.

Her husband is at home a lot and she doesn't ask him to watch her child, but she doesn't want to take the kid with her either. He does watch the child when my friend goes to work.

She doesn't want to bring her child with her shopping even if I bring my child because her kid is always throwing fits. I asked her to go shopping with me again, but she said "We'll see" and ended up taking off with her family instead.

This is so confusing. If she friends with me or not?

Puzzled but friendly

Dear Puzzled,

You're right, this is so confusing. Your friend can only really take her child to places where he won't throw fits, and seems to not be comfortable asking her husband to watch him for two hours even though he already watches him while she's at work.

I think there are some forces beyond your control here that might prevent a decent friendship from occurring, but only time will tell. Back off a little and see how your relationship with her goes.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Romance over the Web

I'm in college and halfway around the world from my boyfriend. I only get to see my boyfriend once a year, but we talk often on IM and on the phone. Unfortunately usually when he's online or calls me, I'm in class or doing homework. I don't know if he's getting tired of this, but he tells me he loves me every chance he gets.

I got mad at him last week because my Internet was messed up and he told me that since it wasn't working that he would go to bed. I texted him and told him "Fine! Go to bed! This is the only time I get to talk to you and I am trying to fix this Internet and you're going to go to sleep on me?" He replied with "If you're having a hard time with the long distance relationship, this is even harder for me, bye! Have a good day!" We resolved it and are still together, but I can't help thinking he really is having a hard time.

How can you juggle up a stressful college life and a boyfriend who lives in the other side of the world?

Loving from afar

Dear Afar,

Long distance relationships only work if there is an end in sight and regular visits. Eventually, for you two to grow as a couple, you have to be in the same place at the same time for a while.

You weren't clear in your letter whether or not you were attending school away from home, or met your boyfriend at school and he moved away. Either way, I don't think seeing him once a year is a good solution in the long term. Both of you are starting to snap.

Do you love him? Have you been together a long time? Do you want to make this work? If you answered these questions with a yes, call him. Figure out if you both plan to have your lives intersect again. This may have to wait until the end of school for both of you.

If you haven't been together long, this relationship is probably more work than it's worth, and much less sex than there should be. I'd consider breaking it off and staying friends. Maybe your paths will intersect again and a relationship will be feasible.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wanting her covered

As I've been getting to know my girlfriend, we've been sharing more about our pasts and habits. I'm writing you today about one of them.

I don't like the idea of other people looking at my girlfriend naked. She's very comfortable with that, but I'm not. Apparently she doesn't have a problem changing openly, like when she shares a tent with friends while camping.

She has a very nice body, and I would like to be the only one to see it. I love her and I don't want her to be naked around other guys. It's just not right for other guys to see her sweet body...it's just not right. Am I being selfish?

Disapproving boyfriend

Dear Disapproving,

I know a few people like your girlfriend, who don't really care who sees a stray body part while she's changing into a bathing suit. Those people tend to do this around close friends of the same sex.

You didn't describe your girlfriend as a professional stripper, nor as an exhibitionist. Thrusting those probabilities aside, I think it boils down to your girlfriend feeling comfortable around her friends regardless of of their gender.

But of course, you wouldn't like this. Being naked immediately means sex or an orgy, doesn't it? In your eyes, her body is such a peach that someone else would immediately take a bite if they saw it. That's why no one is ever allowed to see it again. She's your dessert, no one else's.

Since that's not the way she sees it, she's probably not going to listen to you if you ask her to never undress in a situation where people are undressing unless it's with you. Some people are just not supermodest; usually that Puritanical trait goes out of favor in locker rooms as you get older. You should see the number of old biddies who are naked at the Y! I'm certain their husbands or partners aren't complaining about that.

I don't think your feelings are selfish so much as kind of normal, but this is one of those situations where your girlfriend probably won't feel the same way as you do. Take that information for what you will.

Aunt Amy

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dangerous habits

I have known my best friend since I was 3 years old. We've grown up together, and we know pretty much everything there is to know about each other. He has told me that I know him better than he knows himself.

But despite our close friendship, we have had very different upbringings. He was raised by his mother, who is, I suppose, what you may call a permissive parent. He wasn't very strong on discipline and never made him push himself in school. As a result, he was held back a year. In high school our paths diverged slightly, he turned semi-goth and plunged into a deep depression. We finally became closer again in sophomore year, and have remained that way since. I always knew him to be a good guy and despite his appearance and reputation of taking drugs and being a trouble maker, I knew that wasn't the case.

Only now, I have found out that he is picking up some bad habits. He has picked up smoking, which I don't suppose was too difficult to predict since his mother is a heavy smoker, but it is still not a good sign. He has gradually been smoking more often, and despite what he tells me, I am certain that he will get hooked. He even tells me that he has an addictive personality, and I tend to agree.

But I also found out that he was driving without a license, and getting drunk. Drinking is typical of a lot of teens, but I think that there will come a point that he will be in so deep over his head with the choices he is making that he can't control them anymore. What's more, he crossed a line with me that he swore he would never cross. I know it can only get worse. His mom doesn't know about any of it, and this is my dilemma.

Should I tell someone about what he's doing? He'll be 18 in a few months, but he'll still be in high school. I know that he needs to worry about himself and that I can't live his life for him, but I want to try to prevent a disaster before something happens that that he can't get out of. Where is the line between being a good friend and keeping his secrets and acting negligent to the point where if I don't step in, and there is something I can do now, that he will get himself into deeper trouble?

Concerned for her friend

Dear Concerned,

Yes, I do think you need to tell someone about his behavior. He's moved from the appearance that he's "dangerous" (dressing goth, being depressed) to actually being dangerous (getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking). He has crossed the line of which you speak.

You have a few options as to how to get the word out. If you're comfortable with his mother, you can speak directly to her. However, I think it would be a better idea to speak to someone at school, such as a counselor or a teacher to whom your friend is close. Tell them your concerns. They will take it from there, most likely calling his mother and informing her.

After you say something, realize that things might not go perfectly. If your friend realizes you have said something, he might get mad. Know that 18 is not a magic "I'm an adult" card for most kids, who are still living at home and going to school. His parents will most likely have an influence on him after his birthday.

I know it might feel like you're betraying your friend, but he's making choices that could change his life and the lives of others in a very negative way unless someone says something. Since you know, it has got to be you.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, June 17, 2007

When hormones attack

My girlfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half. We are both 22 and have talked about getting married in two years. Because we are Christian we gave up sex until we are married. I am doing my best to resist, but the hormones are running rampant and my libido is alive and well.

Recently she has gotten cold feet about marriage. She wants to marry me, but doesn't know when. We're not virgins due to past mistakes and right now I don't know if I can hold out longer than two years.

I think sex is a good thing and I want to obey God and love her. I am stuck. What is the Christian thing to do?

Want it back

Dear Want,

I can't tell you what the Christian thing to do is in this situation. I don't think God can play a role in your sex life at this point.

Let's look at that facts. Both of you have had sex before. While you call it a mistake, it's clearly a mistake you want to make repeatedly with your current girlfriend in every position possible. I don't quite understand why you'd search for a second virginity at such a young age. Such decisions are usually made by older people.

Thing is, you're both 22. You haven't completely grown as people, and getting married now is statistically more likely to end in divorce than if you waited 5 more years. You may never get married anyway, because your girlfriend sounds like she is not ready. This fact is probably not good for your relationship, especially if you're waiting on sex.

It comes down to this: If you want to have sex, have sex. You are doing yourself no favors not having sex when you've had it and clearly enjoyed it. I do not want to imagine a God who would punish you every time you have sex before marriage, because most of us would be doomed. If you're following your religion's logic, you've already broken that rule. As long as you're not being unChristian in your other actions, I think you're going to be fine.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Groomsman-thong connection

I am getting married in September. My fiance asked my brother-in-law to be a groomsman. My sister is a bridesmaid. My sister automatically said that my brother-in-law couldn't be in the wedding because she would not allow him to go to the bachelor party held at a strip club.

I know she has her insecurities, but I'm really upset. This is my wedding day and I think she could make some exceptions. He could just not go to the bachelor party. I think this whole situation is very disrespectful to me and my fiance. Asking someone to stand in your wedding is a big deal and should be respected.

This has affected the relationship I have with my sister. Am I overreacting?


Dear Bride,

I'm inclined to agree with you on pretty much all points. Your sister doesn't seem upset that your fiance has asked her husband to be a groomsman so much as the strip club orgy that's sure to follow.

"Wait, what?" I can hear you asking. This is exactly what your sister is thinking. Some women really don't like the idea of their men ogling other naked women because they think they might cheat. It's very possible your sister thinks the same whether or not her relationship is in jeopardy. This is her issue to work out.

If the lady doth protest loudly again in your presence, I wouldn't respond. Her husband is going to have to make this decision on her own. No matter what happens with the strip club, here's hoping he chooses to stand by your soon-to-be husband in support of your pending marriage.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, June 03, 2007

An Internet thing

At the tender age of 16, I find myself feeling intense feelings for a boy. At first, I was absolutely positive it was merely obsession, because I: 1) met him on the Internet, 2) hadn't known him for more than six months before I started feeling like this.

I'm pretty average on maturity level, but I do have a solid head on my shoulders. So I figured if I got to know him better, the feelings would either straighten themselves out into oblivion or into something a little bit more clear. I'm pretty sure I messed up with my plan somehow, because as soon as I started telling him a little bit more about who I was (in hopes he would do the same), he started closing up, talking to me less. After that, I slowly edged back a bit, because I didn't understand why he was being so cold towards me, and I still don't.

I'm 16 and have never had a boyfriend, or even had feelings this intense. I don't have many friends, and can't tell my parents because they've warned me that they'll restrict the Internet if they find I've been getting too involved with those on the other side of the wires, and my sisters would tell my parents out of concern (it's not a strict family, but perhaps an overprotective one).

Eventually I tried again, and then made friends with one of his friends. She was really nice, and figured out from the way I talked about him that I had feelings of a more romantic variety towards him. She called it puppy love, and spilled the beans "by accident" to him. He immediately contacted me and told me that I was "too young to know what love is" and that "I shouldn't tempt him, not at my age". Now he won't talk to me at all, ignoring me when I try to initiate contact.

I still have feelings for him, though I'm pretty sure that it was never the kind of love that people get married to. I'm just really hurt by the way both of them treated me. They were the ones who called me "mature for 16," and then she goes and mocks me, and he tells me that I can't love yet.

I'm pretty sure that it isn't true, what he said. Maybe I shouldn't have feelings for a man 7 years my senior ("not until I'm 18 years+," WTF!?), but I think I'm allowed to love anyone I want, and that I can love anyone I want. Or is what he said true, and it's just all hormones and no brain until after I'm legal? I don't get where he's coming from, especially when I told him I didn't want to even think about romance, just friendship, until I was older and more able to have a mature relationship.

Miserable and Confused

Dear Confused,

As I'm sure you've realized, the Internet has a vastly different dynamic than in real life. When I was 17, I met someone who was in his late 20s on the Internet in Napster chat. We started talking about politics and music and who knows what else. We took our chats off Napster and eventually started e-mailing. Our relationship has faded since because he is not usually at a computer, but that tends to happen.

I think the difference between my relationship with him is that while I could love his opinions, I didn't know him and couldn't think of him in a romantic way. As for him, well, he is married and shouldn't be talking to young girls on the Internet if he is going to flirt with them or try to bed them.

I'm pretty sure the reason your Internet friend laid off was because he could tell you were interested in him on some level. You can tell him you're only looking for friendship, but you're telling me you have intense feelings for him. There is an allure in a 16-year-old which you might not be aware of. Sixteen-year-olds often look like adults and can sometimes be coerced into having sex with much older men. They're immature forbidden fruit, and at 23, your friend would have probably gotten into trouble if he kept getting closer to you.

No matter how mature or level-headed you think you are at 16, you're not. You can be in love with someone at your age, but real love is mutual. I'd forget the Internet and try meeting some boys your own age at school. They may not be the boys you marry, but you will get relationship experience and be able to identify what you want in a partner.

Aunt Amy

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A friend-ly chat?

Several months ago, I was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance of mine. In the following months, I moved back home with my parents in order to piece myself back together. Most of my friends have been amazingly supportive, and I am so very grateful to have them. However, I am having trouble with my college roommate, one of my closest friends.

At the time of the attack, my friend was overseas, and I called her several days later to tell her what had happened and what I was doing, just to let her know I was okay. I didn't expect her to say all the right things, and I knew she would have a hard time coming up with what how to respond (who wouldn't?). But I also didn't expect her to turn on me, asking if I had been drinking, how much I drank--giving me the third degree on my actions and implying I should not have partied so hard. This hurt me very much, and I tried to tell myself that she didn't mean what she was asking.

Since then, she has had very little contact with me. I have sent her e-mails and messages ranging from personal updates to "housekeeping" emails about our apartment. She has responded only once to give me information I asked for and to tell me she is "too busy" having just returned from overseas. At the same time, I am speaking with my other friends and I know that she is not "too busy" to party and go out with them, and it hurts me that she hasn't sent me any other e-mails or messages.

Because I am out-of-state staying with my parents, I feel out of the loop as it is. I want very much to reconnect with my friend, but I don't know what to say to her. She is a sensitive girl, and I don't know if she is intentionally avoiding me or if she really is "too busy." How should I approach her without accidentally accusing her of being a bad friend, which is what I think will happen if I tell her how hurt I feel.

At a Loss

Dear Loss,

I would have been willing to give her a pass if she didn't have anything to say after the assault because she didn't know what to say, but to actually grill you on the details of your boozing heads way into crappy friend territory to me. So if she does feel that you're calling her a bad friend without saying it, then I have little sympathy for her.

I can't tell whether or not your friend is growing in a different direction than you or if she is the kind of person who blames the victim, but something has definitely changed in her. Since you're out of state for a while, your only chance to talk to her before school starts again is probably going to be on the phone or through an e-mail.

I'd approach it like this: tell her that you've noticed your relationship with each other has changed a lot since you revealed that you had been sexually assaulted. Ask her why. If she stonewalls, ask her point blank whether or not she is still your friend. The result may end in a little screaming from her side, but these are things she should have communicated to you months ago.

I realize your apartment together will make this conversation difficult, but regardless of what happens, you should reconsider living together. Sure, she communicates about basic apartment needs, but she is like a clam about everything else. I doubt that is a good living situation.

Aunt Amy

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My friend, the mosquito

I have this friend who always says I'm his best friend, but he doesn't treat me like it. He has been having problems with this girl for a long time now and I always help him with it. I listen to everything he says and give him advice. He listens to all of his other friends' problems except mine. Whenever I say I have a problem, he just tells me to shut up and stop whining.

I'm kind of sick of this. I feel like he's draining me, like I use up so much of my energy to cheer him up that I can' t make myself happy. What can I do?

Drained Friend

Dear Friend,

I have definitely had friends like this. The most recent one was in college, except instead of telling me to shut up, she would counter with something worse that had happened to her recently. This sort of one-upmanship is why we are no longer in touch.

Her actions remind me of your friend's. He's telling you his problems endlessly, and you're solving them because you want to be a good friend. Good friends are there for each other and help each other out when there are problems. Good friends reciprocate. This is why your friend is not a good friend, and you know it.

What I find particularly troubling is that your friend isn't just talking over you, but he's talking at you to tell you he doesn't want to hear it. He only wants to hear you when you're talking sweet to him. I think he is using you as a de facto shrink, and you clearly aren't enjoying it.

You may decide it's time to let this friendship go, because talking about it won't really help. Besides, he has stopped listening already when it counts.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A date for church

I have been dating a girl for about 4 months. I'm 28 and she's 26. I am a practicing Catholic, and my faith plays an integral role in my life. My girlfriend was raised Catholic but isn't really practicing. While she still identifies herself as Catholic, she hasn't gone to Mass in years except for weddings and funerals.

I really like her a lot. She is pretty much perfect in every other aspect, or at least it seems that way at this stage in the relationship. However, I really want a girlfriend (and eventually a wife) who shares my religious beliefs so that we can raise our children the same way.

She said she respects my religious beliefs and every time I ask her if she wants to join me for church on Sunday, shows forced interest but never actually attends. What should I do?

Love for God

Dear Love,

I take it that a girl who "isn't really practicing" is no longer really interested in the religion she was born into.

Children are usually born into the belief system of their parents. As they grow up, they will figure out pretty quickly what they believe and what they don't. Some will be happy with their original religion, while others will drop it completely or even convert to another one. Some people, like your girlfriend, haven't outlawed their original religion, but no longer identify with it. She goes to church out of familial obligation.

I don't think you're going to change that, and if you try, she will resent you. I understand why you'd want a girlfriend (and future wife) who shares your beliefs, but if that's important enough to you, you should be picking up ladies at church.

As for your current lady, well, she's perfect. Maybe she's just not perfect for you. I'd let her go while it's still early if you can't get past her beliefs. She wouldn't want to know you were preparing to marry her that early in the relationship anyway.

Aunt Amy

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Unfair bride?

I'm a freshman in college and my best friend is getting married in September. She asked me to be her bridesmaid and I was very excited because I love weddings.

The time to get the dresses came and she sent the other bridesmaids and I the price for the dresses. The price for
me is not that bad, but it's $150. I wish this were the only problem with her wedding planning, but obviously there is more.

She has informed us that we will not be included in the pictures she will take with her husband and that we will have to find our own way of transportation to church because we are not going with her in the limo. Is is fair for us to not be in the pictures? I mean, how will we have proof of even participating in the wedding?

I have spoken to the other bridesmaids and they do not think it is reasonable to not be included in the pictures or transportation. All of us are freshman in college and one is still in high school and we don't have the funds to pull off all of her genius ideas. So is there anyway that we can let her know in what position she is putting us in? Do you think this is fair?

Stressed by Bride

Dear Stressed,

You are one of the unlucky freshmen who get to take Intro to Weddings 101 about four years early. I do not envy you; the tests are taken in a minefield.

Because your friend is so young, I'm willing to bet that someone's parents are orchestrating this whole event, right down to the corsages. I doubt she is making many of these choices alone, especially since she probably isn't old enough to finance this wedding.

But in case she is in control here, well...she should know better. $150 isn't pricey for a matching bridesmaid dress for working adults, but she should have realized that none of you are making enough to justify that one-time purchase.

As for transportation, typically the bridal party does not ride with the bride and groom. You're all old enough to have your licenses; arrange to carpool. Your qualms about the pictures continue to make me think the bride isn't the main decision maker here. Pictures often include the bridal party and family, but don't have to. Maybe it's too expensive. That's okay. If you want pictorial evidence that you were there, take the pictures yourself.

Since there are cost concerns, I don't think it would be inappropriate for those guests with small wallets to speak with her privately and tell her they can't afford $150 for a dress. Hopefully they all can come up with a compromise.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Friend's future in jeopardy?

I have a really social, caring friend who has this guy she loves to be with. The main reason is that he was her first crush...but I think this guy is not right for her. He's an introvert and is sometimes demanding and sometimes sweet.

My friend has a chance to be in the United States, which she loves, and this guy tells her he doesn't like to work there. Her parents even convinced a family friend's son to ask her to marry him so they can live happily together. I do think that is the best thing.

When I told her I thought that was best, she ended up crying and saying things like "why do all of these things happen to me" and "why do I have to suffer all of the time." Did I do something wrong? How can I help her?

Wants what's best

Dear Wants,

The first thing I thought of when I read this letter was, damn, can't anyone let your friend make her own damn decisions?

Her first crush (and current love) may be demanding, which is a negative trait, but just because he isn't as outgoing as she is doesn't mean he isn't right for her. What may indicate that things should end is that she's about to make a big career move to the States, and he doesn't want to join in. She has to decide if he is worth it.

And now, in a seemingly bizarre fashion, her parents have gotten someone to propose to her, as though it were a magic pill. Her best friend's opinion of that disgusts her, and she's acting like a perpetual victim. Girl has GOT to make her own choice.

That means you can't do it for her. You've expressed your opinion, so let that remain and stop discussing it. Here's to hoping she can stand on her own two feet and not make decisions based on what everyone else wants.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Providing a friendly service

I have a friend who is in massage school. Last weekend we were chatting about the techniques she had recently learned and she asked if I wanted a massage. How could I turn it down?

So I got the massage but then when she was done she acted really uncomfortable. I asked her what was up and she said her fee is usually $20. I didn't really know what to do because I thought she was doing it as a favor, so I just ended the conversation and left.

If your friend was in massage school and offered you a massage, would you pay her or expect it for free?

Relaxed yet tense

Dear Relaxed,

When I am the recipient of a service, I expect to be told certain things. What can I choose? How long will it take? What are the side effects? How much will it cost?

But this happens when I'm in a doctor's office or a hair salon. I have come to them for a service, specifically, and expect to pay for it. You, on the other hand, said you would be a recipient of a service that your friend is still learning. You did not receive this service in a massage parlor, and it was under the guise of showing off her talents.

Every good friend gives some freebies. For me, it was discounting the occasional friend sub when I worked at delis. For her, it is showing off a skill she is learning to friends.

It's up to you on how to handle this. Depending on her personality, she may get really offended if you don't pay her. Why not try talking to her, recap the situation and explain you didn't realize she wasn't doing this for free? Either way, be careful about future massage offers from that friend. You're better off sticking with the professionals.

Aunt Amy

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Seeking sister

About three months ago, my sister met this guy on MySpace and added him to her AIM friends. He keeps sending her IMs calling her a whore and other names. Yesterday, she was on her way home from the drugstore and he saw her and started following her, trying to get her to pull over. She said he had to floor it to get rid of him.

What should she do?

Concerned brother

Dear Concerned,

Ironically, this same situation is sort of happening to one of my co-workers right now, except for the name-calling and violence. Instead the guy is just telling her that he sees her in certain places where she has actually been, and that's enough to creep us both out.

But this has reached far beyond merely chatting on IM. This guy doesn't really know her. He's calling her bitch and slut and whore without knowing her. Now he's actually trying to stalk her. No wonder your brother radar is going off. This guy is no good!

I think it's time for your sister to completely cut off contact with this guy. He needs not to be able to see her MySpace or IM name. If he finds her, she needs to floor it to the police station. Make sure she gets his license plate number, especially if she doesn't know his last name.

In the future, make sure she isn't giving away all of her personal information to someone she doesn't know on the Internet. I suspect that is how he was able to get so close.

Aunt Amy

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Helping him through

I am sure, of course, that you (along with everyone else in this county and many others) have heard about what happened at Virginia Tech this week. It is sad and depressing and the source of my problem.

My boyfriend attends there and I don't. I live several hours away and work full time, so although we try very hard to keep in touch (and have been doing fairly well), this new stress has brought with it unprecedented trouble.

He is a civil/environmental engineering major. As such, he was friendly with many of the under and graduate students and several of the teachers were killed in the shooting. His favorite professor was one of them. While my boyfriend was not in Norris Hall (one of the locations in which shootings occurred), he was, of course, struck by all this.

I am heading down there Thursday night, but I do not know what I can possibly say or do besides the basic, mundane, meaningless platitudes that might help. Do you have any suggestions to help me help him through this?

Caring Girlfriend

Dear Caring,

I am sorry to hear that your boyfriend had some experience with the Virginia Tech shootings. I think you're being a very kind girlfriend to want to be there with him, especially since the first thing you need to do is just be there.

Actively listen to what he has to say, and be compassionate. That includes not criticizing what he has to say, or talking about the media accounts of all of this. I doubt anyone on that campus wants to get into a gun control debate ala Rosie.

Also, avoid any of the following phrases:
  • "I know just how you feel."
  • "I am sorry for your loss."
  • "You are holding up so well."
  • "Time will heal all wounds."
  • "At least they didn't feel pain."

There is nothing worse than cliches in a time like this, so if you can't think of anything to say, just rub his back or hug him or otherwise show you care. You might consider bringing some comfort food with you (dorm kitchens are crap for making cookies). As Jews have learned from shiva, food sometimes helps.

You know your boyfriend better than most people. Pay attention to his signals. And don't be afraid to take a few moments for yourself when you two are apart. You're walking onto a grieving campus, and becoming overwhelmed by it doesn't help.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Moving baby and me

I'm 18 years old, and I'm graduating high school this year. I have a son and my parents have guardianship of him. I gave it to them for health insurance only.

My 19-year-old boyfriend of a year and 6 months recently got a job offer in Louisiana. I live in Indiana. The job starts off at $50,000 and maxes out at $100,000, and is something he has always wanted to do. He will never make this much money in any other profession, and I would like to move with him.

I understand it may not work out between us, but that's risk everyone takes. He is not the baby's father, but he might as well be. He has been there for my son and I for a long time. He will be able to fully provide for my son, my college, health insurance and everything else I need.

But I think my parents will hate the idea so much that they may not give my son back to me. They will think I am being selfish and taking him away from them. The only thing that makes me think they won't take him away is that they would not actually have to take care of him. They're very busy taking care of their rental properties. Also, my dad went through this situation with my real mom when I was two years old.

I think my boyfriend and I are more mature than most people our age. Really, I am just trying to do what's best for what I feel is my new family. It's a little soon to move but this a chance that will probably never come up again. It will benefit all of our futures.

My boyfriend and I are planning to just talk to a lawyer to see where we stand, but how do I talk to my family? Is there anything I could say to make them less angry? How can I show them this will benefit my son? Do you think this is a bad thing to do?

Mother May I?

Dear Mother,

Simply put, probably. But let me explain.

You have a chance to move away with your long-term boyfriend. In your e-mail, you described your relationship as strong. It sounds like he is supportive of you and your son, and intends to keep supporting you if you come with him. Let's start with that.

There is just one problem with this situation: he is not legally obligated to support you. It sounds like he's willing to pay for child care while you continue your education, but he doesn't have to do that. What happens if things go bad? Will you have a savings account all your own in case you need to leave him? Will your parents take you back at home? Essentially, you are a single mother with a support system in your parents house. He is neither the baby's father nor your husband, and he's asking you to move to a place where you have no ties. You will need money or an extra job or something just in case. And please, please don't think it could never happen to you. So many single mothers have faced similar situations and found themselves without help, and having a plan will make it more likely that your parents will let your son go.

Now that I've stated this, let's say you've already planned for that possibility and are ready to leave after June. I agree that you need to see legal counsel in case your parents use their status over your child as a bargaining chip. After you speak with an attorney, you and your boyfriend need to sit down with your parents. Your boyfriend needs to calmly explain that he is moving and why and to what. You then need to explain that you would like to go with him, and tell them how you've prepared for this. All of you will need to discuss these topics before you discuss your son's guardianship.

If this doesn't end well as you have imagined it, you may need to pay for an attorney to force your parents' hand. I do not recommend this, however, unless as a last resort. Family issues are best dealt with internally at first.

Your parents can't prevent you from leaving the state with your boyfriend, but they can prevent your child from leaving, and I bet you really don't want to leave him behind. If you approach this as maturely as you say you are, I think you will find the outcome will be favorable.

Aunt Amy

Friday, April 13, 2007

Getting her to like me

I really like this girl a lot. The Thursday before my spring break, I wrote her a letter about my feelings to her. Then she came up to me and said she doesn't want be in a relationship with anyone right now.

But 3-4 weeks before that, one of our friends told her that I liked her and she confronted me and wanted to talk about it, but then I got shy and walked away. I have a shyness problem I'm working to get over it. I've also tried getting her phone number, but she totally overlooked that.

I'm wondering how can I get her interested in me and have a relationship with me? We really don't know each other besides our names.

Boy in Lust

Dear Boy,

How to get a girl to like you, huh? It really starts with pheromones, a chemical triggered by all humans and creatures in response to another member of the species. But in your case, you're hoping to bag a girlfriend by changing the reaction in her head and heart, not her nose. And you're definitely fixated on this one.

Despite being one myself, I can't tell you how to attract girls, because there is no one real way. Everyone is attracted to something different, like good guys and bad guys. Some like tall guys, some like ones with long hair. I like intelligent men.

Most women at least like to know something about a guy they want to date, so I think your first step is to actually get to know this girl. Show her your awesome side. Be kind to her. And find out about her too, because it might turn out you aren't as attracted to her as you thought.

And if you do figure out the magic key to getting a girl to like you, write back. I bet my readers would love to know.

Aunt Amy

Monday, April 09, 2007

An unwanted situation

I'm in my late twenties and have been married for 3 years. My husband and I have high-paying jobs and would easily be able to give a child everything he wants. The problem is that I don't like children, and my husband knew that from the start. He said he would be happy to give up having children if it meant being with me forever.

We have taken every precaution possible short of surgery, but I am now eight weeks pregnant, and I don't want this baby. It’s going to ruin everything. All of my hopes and dreams for the future will go down the drain. I feel like I'm being punished.

Although I don't want kids, my husband doesn't want an abortion. He said he wouldn't be able to get past it because he considers this baby a miracle. My parents and my best friend who's been trying to conceive for four years think I'm being selfish, but they're not the ones who will have to deal with a screaming baby when it arrives. Adoption isn't an option because my husband refuses to let someone else raise his child when he can do it.

Having the baby, divorcing him and letting him raise it is out of the question for me because of the way everyone will look at me for abandoning my child when I never wanted it in the first place. Why can't anyone accept my decision? Why should I have to lose everything because of a baby I never wanted in the first place?

Not the Momma

Dear Not,

Not everyone was meant to be a mother, for one reason or another. They may have a mental illness that would make them an unfit parent, a general dislike for all children or a lifestyle unsuited to having a baby. When it comes to you, you don't want children and your husband has agreed to that. You both have taken an extraordinary amount of precautions barring ones your doctor will not allow. And yet, you have become pregnant.

I always find it a little strange when people assess situations using factors that aren't in front of them. That baby doesn't exist yet, and yet your husband would be willing to sacrifice his marriage for it because it might come into existence. He's ignoring your wishes that he agreed to in favor of you becoming an incubator for a future son or daughter. I think your husband does want children, and here is his chance.

I think you made a mistake in telling your family about the pregnancy early on. You must have known they would try to convince you otherwise. Your sister wants a child, and your mother had children, so she can't relate to you.

You need to do some soul-searching here. First ask yourself if you really never want children. Most careers can co-exist with kids, although I think that's not the problem here. Once you're sure you don't want children, you need to sit down with your husband. Having children is a make-or-break clause in a long-term relationship. If he really wants that child, he will be raising it himself, without you. And he'll be asking you to be a long-term incubator for it. Is that his intention? No matter what, to get what you want (no children), something will have to be sacrificed unless he is willing to change his mind.

If you do go the abortion route, you need to consider whether or not you'll tell your family that it happened as opposed to saying you lost it. You seem to want to avoid conflict in this situation, but it's going to be hard without a few well-placed lies.

Aunt Amy

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Date a higher-up?

I have a crush on, none other, than my boss's boss. Cliche yes, but there is a context for this crush. A few months ago, I had to make a decision to stay with my current job and break up with my boyfriend, or try to "work things out" in a failing relationship and take a higher-paying job. Talking with my boss's boss, without revealing anything about the decision, made me realize how fortunate I was to have a choice about my relationship direction. Other friends helped me to realize that leaving a failing relationship was a smart move, but my boss's boss is one of the reasons that I stayed with my current job. In the course of talking, I got to know him really well, and found in him someone else who is as much of a geeky workaholic as I am.

Even in some of the worst days of my post-break-up gloom, I was always happy to talk to him, and chatting for a few minutes with him could leave me smiling all day. Lately, it's been really easy to get distracted thinking about this person who I think is brilliant, honest, and kind.

Now, I'm starting to remember what it feels like to be happy. I have a new apartment with a great roommate in a great town outside the city, and I owe some of that to my boss' boss, who is now my crush. Recently, he and I have gone out with a group of people to a local bar, and I'm not sure the crush is mutual, but I can only hold back the shoulder rubbing, giggling touchy-feely for so long when I'm tipsy.

Should I pursue something further? At the least, I want to thank the guy for affecting my life in such a positive way. Any recommendations for how to do that without it being awkward?

Conscientiously Contemplating

Dear Contemplating,

Unless you two have forged a friendship outside of work, I think it's going to be awkward. It's going to be even more awkward because you actually like the guy.

Whether or not you realize it, that choice you had to make about your relationship did not really coincide with your job unless you and your former mate were working in the same cubicle. Perhaps it was coincidence that the two came up at the same time, but the job choice had to be based on what was best for you. You chose a supportive team of people lead by a great guy, and that's a smart match that some people don't make because they were blinded by money.

As a good co-worker and boss's boss, your crush was patient and kind and listened to you. This is what good co-workers do. Perhaps rather than thanking him directly, you could thank him by listening back when he needs it.

As for the crush, making something of it is going to be exceptionally difficult because you do work together and couldn't follow The Golden Rule of Dating in the Workplace. It's really only going to have a chance of working if he isn't somehow your superior and isn't in your department. Neither of you should have control of one another if things go sour.

If you have your heart set on it, I'd at least wait to see if he shows interest before flirting. Make sure you have your head about you if you do end up flirting, so start drinking glasses of water in between drinks. It doesn't pay to make a drunken pass at someone.

Aunt Amy

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Funding a dream

I'm a 16-year-old trying to make money. I have a part-time job making $7.75 an hour.

It's not enough. I want to earn $50,000 to $100,000 in 6 years so I can successfully move away to my dream residence. I'm currently working 20 hours a week. I want to get a second job for some extra cash and maybe even a job at school working on spares. If I need to work everyday, I will.

I plan to graduate, but I don't plan on going to university. I plan on opening a franchise when I grow up. Right now, I save every penny I can find. How should I make some more money?

Earning all of it

Dear Earning,

When I turned 8 or so, my father started giving me one dollar per grade level. I saved up that $3 a week and more and eventually had two $100 bills in my bedroom. I only bought one Barbie for myself the whole time.

When I was 16, I got my first over-the-table job cleaning a deli/convenience store. I eventually moved up to making sandwiches and running the register. I stayed there for a year, and as a matter of corporate policy, was given three raises during my tenure. I don't remember how much I made, but on average I worked 15 hours a week. I saved every penny.

After a year, I had to leave for college. With me, I took something like $2,000. I worked for 10 hours a week but never could save any money again because it was my spending money. When I graduated, that cushion helped me buy furniture and pay for the security deposit on my apartment.

Yes, like you, I once had grandiose dreams.

I haven't been on this Earth long, but what I have learned is that there is no shame in loans. Or debt, but only the good kind (like student loans). People who can't take the occasional loan, like school districts who never bond their facilities projects, often find themselves without any savings at all when it really matters. And without a line of credit, you will find it hard for people to trust you with loans even if you've always paid your bills.

I gather from your letter that you want money, and you're willing to work for it. That's good! You realize that money doesn't grow on trees. So let's say you actually get that $50,000 or $100,000 and can buy that dream home. Where will you get the money to start up a franchise? Chances are, only some of it will be from a loan, and that's only if you can get one. Remember, you have no credit. And that dream home will cost more than it does now based on inflation.

My point is that you can sit there and save every penny you find on the street, but there will always be something to eat up your money. Your money will always be spent elsewhere. So rather than worrying about working so much for peanuts now, study hard, graduate, and then work hard for larger peanuts. Get a line of credit and pay it off responsibly. Apply for a loan or mortgage when you get to that stage where you need one. Never, ever work forever just to spend your money on one thing.

And seriously consider attending college for business classes. It will help you immeasurably with your start-up.

Aunt Amy