AdviceHelp Me Rhonda

Help Me, Rhonda

AthFest and Exes

My ex-boyfriend moved out of town, which was a tremendous relief for me, because it meant I don’t have to worry about running into him around Athens. He’s not a bad guy, but the break-up was hard, and it helps me to know I won’t ever see him unexpectedly. He looooooooves AthFest, though, and I’m starting to feel nervous about running into him. I don’t even know if he’s going to be in town, but it seems very possible that he’d be back for it. I would just stay in my house and hide all weekend, but I don’t want to miss one of the best weekends of the year. If I stay home, I’m missing out. If I go out, I’ll just be too nervous and worried about seeing him to have fun. Is there any way for this weekend not to be ruined for me?

Anxious About AthFest

Don’t stay in your house, Anxious. If you do that, you’ll miss the most important opportunity of all: the chance for your xbf to see you out with friends, having fun, looking great and not even noticing him. [And maybe like five guys are trying to talk to you when your ex happens by. Do other people fantasize about that happening, or is it just me?]

The worst part right now is the not-knowing. Is he in town? Where will he be? Will he be with a girl? And on and on. It’s better to know the worst than to be imagining and wondering. Enlist a friend to do some Facebook research and see if there’s any suggestion that he’ll be around this weekend. If that doesn’t yield conclusive results, you could email him and ask if he’ll be in town for the weekend under the guise of inviting him out for coffee. Of course, in that case, you might end up having to get coffee with him.

If you find out that he’ll be here, or you can’t tell, prepare to go out and have fun. Then, go and have enough fun that you forget about him. As I write this, I realize it sounds like I’m advocating getting so wasted you forget his name, which is not what I mean. It’s hard to look awesome when you’re doing that.

What I’m trying to say is, do whatever you’d do if he wasn’t going to be in town. Best-case scenario: He never shows up. Second-best scenario: He shows up, and you’re having too much fun to care. You can’t control the first option, but you can make the second one happen. Being so happy in your own life that you don’t care is also a good general strategy for moving forward after a break-up. 

My Daughter’s Boyfriend is No Good

My 16-year-old daughter is about to be a junior in high school. She’s a good student, plays two sports and has a nice group of friends. However, she’s recently started dating a boy I really wish would just disappear. He’s not exactly rude, but he’s certainly not polite, and he can’t really carry on a conversation with an adult. He doesn’t seem to care much about school or about anything, really. I’ve gotten the impression that he drinks. All in all, I just hate the idea of my daughter spending time with him. And since it’s summer, they have lots of time to spend together. My husband and I are in disagreement about how to deal with this, though. He says to just let it run its course. I can’t stand that idea, but I’m not sure what else to do. We could tell her not to see him, but that would be impossible to enforce—they go to school together, and she often goes out with a group of friends, so there’d be no way for us to keep them from meeting somewhere. We also don’t want to make her choices for her; we just wish she’d make good ones. 

Worried Parent


Welcome, WP, to a club with a long history and robust membership: parents who don’t like their child’s boyfriend or girlfriend. You can take some comfort in knowing that you are in the company of literally (and I am using that word correctly) millions of other parents. 

You can also take real comfort in the fact that your daughter is dating this guy now, at 16. Because that means that they will almost certainly not be dating when she’s in college, or after. So if you can endure this now, he’ll be gone soon enough. What you must not do, though, is tell her you can’t stand him and try to keep them apart. That course of action has a 100 percent chance of making her mad at you and determined to date him. 

What you can do is set some boundaries for them as you wait this out. Even if she were dating a wonderful guy, teenagers need boundaries. You’re teaching her how to be an adult and, right now, she’s learning how to balance dating with school, friends, sports and her own independent life. I knew a girl whose parents had a rule about how often she could see her boyfriend. They weren’t allowed to see each other two days in a row. So, if they wanted to go out on Friday night, they had to do something separately on Thursday and Saturday night. It provided some limits, but with flexibility and an element of control for the teenagers.

You can also insist that part of the time your daughter spends with her bf is also spent with your whole family—dinner at your house, watching her sister’s soccer game or something to that effect. That allows you and your husband a chance to model the standard of behavior you expect from both of them. The boyfriend should be able to carry on a conversation with you. It also lets them know that the two of you are paying attention to them; they’re not living in their own little world. And, of course, it gives you a chance to keep an eye on this boy. Keep your friends close, right?

My Friend’s Boyfriend is Up To No Good

Two days ago I saw my friend “Katy’s” boyfriend looking very close and familiar with a girl who is not Katy. I didn’t see them actually kiss, but they were clearly together and touching each other a lot. If it wasn’t outright cheating, it’s definitely headed that way. I feel like I should tell my friend. Even if nothing actually happened, I think she should have some warning. If I were her, I would want to know. I’m afraid she’ll get mad at me for delivering the news, though, and I don’t want that.

A Friend


If you were in Katy’s situation, what you would really want is for your boyfriend not to be flirting with another woman; wanting to know about it would be a distant second choice. Katy wants the boyfriend she thinks she has, and you are preparing to be the person who punctures her image of their relationship. I think that’s a mistake, and not your role as her friend.

The real truth of your situation is that you don’t know what you saw. Maybe it was flirting, and it’s completely over now. Maybe he and Katy have an agreement, and what you saw was completely within the bounds of their relationship. Maybe he was acting weirdly affectionate with his cousin.

Even if he did cheat on her, it’s not your job to tell her. I know—she’s your friend. It’s not a friend’s job to report suspicions about boyfriends. A more experienced advice columnist than me said, “Hell is other people’s boyfriends.”  If he is cheating, Katy will quickly—if she doesn’t already—have a sense that something is wrong. And that’s the best way for her to learn about it: kind of gradually through her own suspicions. If she asks you if you know or have seen anything, then you can tell her what you observed. And in the meantime, spend time with her and generally be a good friend so when this thing—if it is indeed anything—comes to light, she’ll have a friend to fall back on.