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Two Sense

Two Sense: How to Deal with Your Girlfriend's Unruly Teenage Daughter

I’m getting into a serious relationship with a single mom whose 14-year-old daughter is generally great, but she dresses like a hooker and occasionally sneaks out. When I make tentative suggestions to my girlfriend about discipline, she says I’m criticizing her parenting. I know the kid isn’t mine, but if we become a family and she falls off the rails, I’ll be helping pick up the emotional and financial pieces. How can I influence things early enough to make a difference without overstepping my boundaries?

He Said: The best way to help your girlfriend raise her teen is by acting like a committed, supportive, and trustworthy partner. You’re right: It’s tough knowing you may someday share responsibility for consequences without the authority to help prevent them. But your girlfriend is probably concerned enough about her daughter to begin with, and any criticisms you make will only add fuel to the fire. You need to first show your commitment to the two of them before your girlfriend will see you as an insider and consider taking your advice.

Two Sense: Can Bad Taste Ruin A Good Relationship?

I just broke up with someone kind, stable, and sexy because he had horrible taste in movies and music. His playlist was limited to Top 40 crap plus—gulp—John Mayer and Jack Johnson. He couldn’t discuss any good films, and he refused to see Somewhere because he heard “nothing happens in it.” I found myself feeling lonely, misunderstood, and turned off. My friends say I’m a snob, but aren’t shared cultural values important?

He Said: How about shared moral values? John Mayer and especially Jack Johnson are both heavily involved in philanthropic organizations, and their charitable efforts are part of what lights up their fans. What are Sofia Coppola’s values? Recycling Lost in Translation to score another Oscar and hawking bags for Louis Vuitton? Maybe he should have broken up with you first.

What if My Girlfriend Slept With My Brother?

I recently reunited with a former high-school girlfriend and we’d been having a great time until I told my asshole brother about her a few weeks ago. He flippantly responded that he’d had sex with her shortly after she and I broke up. I’ve asked her about it and she says that although they dated a few times, they never slept together. I honestly don’t know who’s telling the truth, and it’s bothering me a lot. Now it’s hard to take her seriously, like I can’t imagine bringing her to a family function anymore.

Two Sense: Is My Sister Really My Half-Sister?

I suspect that one of my sisters is actually a half sister. I know that both my parents have had affairs over the years. She doesn’t look like me or our other two siblings (we’re all between 25 and 32), but she does look a lot like one of my dad's close friends, whom I’ve always suspected had a fling with my mom. I know it’s probably not a good idea to delve into this but I'm obsessed with finding out if she's really my dad's daughter. Help.

Two Sense: Dealing With the Martyr Meltdown

My girlfriend offers up the world to me—cleaning up, buying me things, doing me favors—and then withholds it all as soon as the slightest thing disappoints her, pulling the silent treatment. In our last fight, she hung up on me because she didn’t get her way about something I had no control over, and hasn’t spoken to me for several days. Usually at this point, I call her and apologize for being so selfish, and then the cycle starts again. But something is off here, because I actually don’t feel “selfish” for accepting her favors and I don’t think they mean I forfeit my right to my own boundaries. I feel like we need to change this unhealthy cycle once and for all.

Two Sense: Is Facebook Ruining Your Relationship?

Facebook is ruining my life. My boyfriend and I were fine until I figured out that his last girlfriend is a total FB whore who posts a new profile pic every week, constantly updates her overly accessible wall, and has 800 friends. It doesn’t help that she’s gorgeous. I know she’s made herself available to him again, though he declined. Dealing with that is challenging enough, but tracking her status is making me crazy. I visit her page way too often and sink into total insecurity every time. Help!

Two Sense: Cheating. To Tell or Not To Tell?

Three months ago, I started dating someone I care for deeply and can see nothing stopping me from fully committing to her. But my ex came by a few days ago, upset about our breakup, and we had sex. I honestly think it helped both of us close this chapter, but I’m afraid to tell my new partner about the incident. I’m also afraid not to tell her in case this comes out later.

Two Sense: Can an Ex Become a Friend With Benefits?

I’m an overworked single mom with no time or energy for dating, but I’m horny as hell. I want to invite my ex over for some good crazy sex, but I think he’s still in love and I don’t want to hurt him. We went through this last spring, tried being casual, and just ended up giving the whole thing another go-round, which of course didn’t work. I don’t want to keep putting him through that but I need a F-buddy! And I don’t have the time to meet and vet a new man right now. I feel like a guy worried about using someone for sex. What do I do?

Two Sense: The Art of Finding A Stellar Mate

Riddle me this: How is it that so many smart, attractive, successful singles can’t find mates in this town, and yet I regularly see men and women coupled up with partners who don’t seem at all their equal in looks, talent, or personality? How do completely average people snag stellar mates, while other seemingly desirable singles cannot?

He Said: Many attractive and successful singles have a surprising shortcoming. Because others are naturally drawn to them, they haven’t been forced to practice the deeper art of being an interested partner. This is a life skill that many clever but otherwise average types have had to hone: Determine what’s missing or wanted in a potential mate’s life and offer to provide it.

Two Sense: Ignore Valentine's Day or Embrace It?

Every year, I get itchy just thinking about Valentine’s Day. I’ve given my girlfriend flowers, earrings, nice dinners, and cards, but it all seems so canned. I think she feels it too. My gifts seem to underwhelm her. Help me do something different this year. Or should I just ignore it like I want to?

He Said: There are two kinds of women: those who expect us to read their minds concerning gifts and those who we’ve disappointed often enough to know better. What any gift must convey is that you cared enough to make a significant effort.

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