DR. WALLACE: A girl at my high school seemingly despises me although I’ve done absolutely nothing to her. In fact, I don’t even think I’ve ever had a conversation with her, but since my freshman year she’s had it out for me and has made my high school experience miserable.
She gossips about me all of the time and spreads rumors about me around the school. She’s been doing it for so long that I think people know by now that what she says about me isn’t usually true, but it doesn’t stop people from laughing and making me feel uncomfortable.
My few friends tell me that she probably doesn’t like me because the guy that she liked a while back expressed interest in me at the beginning of high school. But I never ended up dating that particular guy, so I don’t understand why she still goes out of her way to badger me and act so cruel toward me and my reputation. I‘ll be entering my junior year of high school this fall and I’m really tired of being at the center of this drama. What should I do? — Unfairly gossiped about, via email
UNFAIRLY GOSSIPED ABOUT: There are usually two paths to consider in a situation like this. One path, and the one usually selected by most people in your position, is to simply ignore the person spreading false rumors and to simply go on with your life. This is the “water off of a duck’s back” approach.
The other path is to confront (or directly communicate) with the person disparaging your reputation. This can at times be dangerous, so if this path is to be selected for whatever reason, I would advise an “intervention-style” approach whereby other people, especially responsible, mature adults, are involved at the time you would speak to this other person.
An offer to meet with mutual friends might be a possibility, but only you would know if this might be feasible and, more importantly, safe for you to consider.
In a best-case scenario, no matter what approach is used, an interaction would clear the air and even lay tentative groundwork for a potential future friendship. Sometimes others act out due to their own insecurities rather than a true dislike for the object of their unkind words.
I suggest that first you speak to the close friends you have about this matter and to your parents. From there, if you decide to proceed further, you may want to involve a favorite teacher or school counselor that you know, as this school authority figure would be most helpful in establishing a safe and reasonable conversation between the two of you.
I WANT TO GO ON THIS ROAD TRIP!
DR. WALLACE: Today my boyfriend invited me on his family road trip during this upcoming summer. I am so excited that he invited me and really want to go with this nice family, but my parents are super strict and they do not feel this is a good idea.
I do not know how to present this to them in a way that they will not immediately shut it down without even considering it. It will be with his parents and siblings, and everything that we will be doing will be with them.
I think it could be a great experience for us together as a couple and something that could create some great memories for everyone on the trip. How can I convince my parents to let me go? — Vacation opportunity girl, via email
VACATION OPPORTUNITY GIRL: Your letter did not mention your age, and there is no doubt in my mind that is one of the biggest factors your parents are considering when it comes to you taking a road trip with your boyfriend’s family.
The short answer is that you personally can’t convince your parents to let you go. The best you can do is to get them as much information as possible to factor into their decision-making process. The first issue here is their familiarity with this family, especially the parents. Have they ever met? This is a must for you to even have an outside shot at going on this vacation. See if you can arrange a meeting with his parents and yours.
Allowing you to travel for an extended period of time with others all comes down to the comfort level your parents have. I assume your boyfriend is responsible and of good character? And that he has a good relationship with your parents at this point? If not, don’t even dream any further of going on this trip. But if he does make your parents comfortable, the next step would be to see if you could get your parents to meet in person with his parents to have a full discussion about the trip and how they would be managing it.
This is your one opportunity to bring both families together. It still might not work out, but without a “family meeting,” I think you already have your final answer.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.