Three friends from college and I are still the best of friends, even though we all live in different cities. Three of the four of us are in long-term relationships. The fourth has met "the most wonderful guy in the world." My take on him (and the view of my other friends): "What a jerk!" He flaunts his money, he gave her a pager so he can always contact her, and he's just a stuck-up snob. We have all met him on separate occasions and have all walked away with the same opinion. What can we do? The worst part is the four of us--girls--were planning a getaway with our boyfriends and now we don't want to go if she is going to bring him.


Hi Carolyn:

I am a 24-year-old who has three friends across the states--two girls and a guy. My friends and I are planning a trip in August. The issue is, they don't think I should bring my boyfriend of one year. This is probably part my fault because when I'm having problems with him, they're the first to hear of it and now they don't think he's right for me. When do we know when to take a friend's advice and when to think they are interfering?


I got these two questions on the same day. Coincidence?

First, all of you rent "The Four Seasons." It's a great analysis of this situation--and Alan Alda is 24, too, if you squint.

Next, for "Philadelphia" and the boyfriend-haters: A guy who's all cash and car phones isn't my pint of beer, either, but sometimes an actual human lies beneath the electronic-insecurity shield. For your friend's sake, try, try, try to find that hidden person. She must see something in him, an intelligence, a wit--a true fondness for her, even.

And if you fail, fail, fail? Just-us-girls vacations.

For you, "Baltimore," the one who's dating the jerk (alleged jerk, sorry): Before you go doubting the guy, doubt yourself. Why bring him? Wouldn't you have more fun solo? Honestly. You envision old friends and new joining hands to sing "Kumbaya," but I see four friends who don't get to see each other much and who'd rather not blow valuable friend time on some guy they don't know and won't likely see again because you'll probably ditch him by fall. You should all get to know each other's partners, of course--just save it for when the odds improve that these partners will be around for future trips.

With the travel issue resolved, she said presumptuously, now you can doubt the guy. Here's an Are You Dating a Jerk? checklist:

1. Is he a Cowboys fan?

2. Is he jealous, possessive or any other breed of obnoxious, and do you find yourself apologizing or making excuses for him?

3. Have your last three boyfriends been jerks?

4. Did your friends tell you they were jerks, and did you insist they were wrong, and did you realize later that they were right?

5. Do you like your friends' partners?

6. Do you like yourself much these days?

7. Did he give you a pager?

Your friends may well be wrong, in which case it's interfering; if they're right, it's advice. Either way, don't vent about the boyfriend without giving him credit for good stuff. If he did that to you, you'd freak.

Hi Carolyn:

I'm currently in the final stages of a rather simple divorce; my wife and I were only married two years, and we just decided we couldn't hack it together. Here is the problem: I'm 25 and now with a young lady who is 19, whom I have known for years. I was somewhat of a big brother to her. Now that we're together (for seven months now) she still is massively insecure about my ex-wife, for really no reason I can see. Is there anything I can say or do to convince her she has nothing to worry about?

--Northern Virginia

A teenager? With massive insecurities? Yeah, I'm mystified too.

I imagine you've already cooed every little thing to calm her down. But she's not old enough to be sure of herself yet, much less someone else, much less someone else with a still-warm, not-even-ex-wife in the picture. Might as well save your breath.

Here are some words for you, though: You're 25 years old, you've had a two-year marriage (an oh-by-the-way marriage does, in fact, count), you aren't divorced yet, you're a full seven months into your next relationship, and your True Love can't order wine at a restaurant. The thing to do, Big Bro, is allow a year or five for maturity to set in. (She should grow up a bit, too.) Then face--alone--whatever it is that's making you try so hard not to be alone.

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