Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: When my big-mouthed girlfriend says something mean to hurt my feelings on purpose, should I tell her off right then, when I'm mad and might say stupid things? Or, is it smarter to wait until I have thought about it, and have come up with something to get her where it really hurts? Is that the way to go? I lose a lot of fights. -- Boyfriend Who Loves Her, Age 17
Dear Boyfriend: Given those two choices, it's better to react when you're mad and say stupid things than to hurt her cruelly and lose her. A better move? Put your hand up like a traffic cop and say, "Stop! Your mean mouth is hurting me and I'm about to say something that will really hurt you back. We can talk about this tomorrow after you have apologized. Right now, I'm out of here and not accepting emails or texts tonight." Watch her jaw drop. The mouse isn't roaring, but he appears to have grown up. (Worse for her.)
This new reaction clearly doesn't mean a breakup -- you leave the door open. Then take off and talk to a friend, or work off some of your anger physically. Do not fire off an email or a text with a smart crack, and don't look at your phone all night. She needs the discipline of being made to wait. She has been bullying you, and you need to equalize your power with her.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I thought I had forgotten about him -- The One -- after 17 years, and then I saw him at our high school reunion. He walked through the door late, and my heart stopped just like always. He smiled and suddenly the whole room lit up. My God, he is still so gorgeous! He walked over and put his arm around me like he still owned me and whispered a very intimate hello, using my pet name. I thought he must be single again (no ring, no mention of his wife) and I was so excited, but 45 minutes later, his wife arrived. She walked right onto the dance floor and said loudly to him, "Come on! You're going home."
I stood there shocked. And then she said to me, "And you, keep your hands off my husband!" He shrugged at me, and gave me his appealing "What can I do?" look, and trotted after her like a puppy. Please tell me what to think. I know how I feel -- just horrible. -- Shipwreck, Winnipeg
Dear Shipwreck: This high school heartthrob never grew up. He trotted out behind his wife because he chose to -- and he probably enjoys the drama. Running after women, getting caught and pulled back in, is all part of their marriage game. You are so lucky you didn't end up with this hound dog.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I want to comment on Sad Single Aunt whose nieces no longer want to help open the cottage. It is so sad when divisions start in a family. This aunt needs to work fast not to lose the nieces she "loves to pieces." Opening up a cottage may be fun for an adult, but to a young person it sounds like a lot of work. Who really enjoys all that sweeping and cleaning? The girls are not being "privileged and spoiled" by not enjoying it. Nobody enjoys it.
I'd suggest she invite the niece who can still come and invite her to bring a friend along. Ask them to help with one or two small chores, but don't expect them to help. Make sure you don't spend the whole weekend cleaning either. Spend time with the girls and have fun. Thank them for coming to visit. Then next weekend drive down by yourself and finish the heavy cleaning. -- Got the Whole Picture, Winnipeg
Dear Whole Picture: Single adults sometimes don't understand the transition phase from young people who like to hang out with adults, to teens who have other things on their minds. Your solution works. I also suggest the aunt invite the girls who aren't coming to clean for her, to come out later in the summer and simply have fun. No sense in losing them.