Advice for the Under-30 Crowd

Dear Carolyn:

I'm female and have a good male friend. (Both 24.) On most counts, he's a great guy, respectful, honest, etc. But I HATE the way he treats women. He's not sleeping around or anything, but he has at least three women who think they are dating him exclusively.

He'll ask my opinion about how to get out of jams (like when he's taking Girl 1 to a wedding and Girl 2's best friend will be there), and then get mad when I won't help him. He thinks I should be loyal to him, not sympathetic to these women. I think I am loyal to treating people honestly and fairly. When I tell him to be honest, he says these women don't deserve honesty, they aren't worth it. Of course, he says he doesn't feel that way about all women, and certainly not about me (ha!). How can I stay neutral and keep this friendship when I abhor the way he treats women?

Ever the Exception

This guy is selectively great, selectively respectful, selectively honest and selectively etc., which means he is none of the above.

Whether he's evil incarnate or just inexcusably childish, you're in a better position to judge -- but the only difference, really, is in how long his ego remains so laughably inflated: permanently, or until someone lets the air out.

You aren't quite the perfect pin; that would be his dream date, his girl from Ipanema, who could deflate him with one bold stroke of indifference.

However, as his friend, you're still an excellent weapon. Presumably, he has some respect for you, which means your opinion carries weight. Use that. When he tells you these women aren't "worth" his honesty, ask him why he needs to choose women he thinks are beneath him. Intimidated by something better, perhaps? Then point out that the women he dates are a bit dense, granted, but at least they're trying -- which makes him, in your mind, not "worth" their effort.

If he responds with that pathetic caterwaul about loyalty, remind him that someone who agrees with everything he says and does is called a sycophant, and that if it's loyal friends he wants, he'd better get used to the big bad truth.

Whoa. I'm all in a huff.

Carolyn:

I am 21 and have been dating my 20-year-old girlfriend for eight months. We met in school and were elated when we discovered we lived less than two hours from one another. We devised a plan for the summer where we would visit and spend the weekend at each other's home within two-week time periods.

Recently I had a sit-down conversation with my parents, where I was shocked to discover they felt my girlfriend and I were becoming too serious and that they did not approve of us spending weekends together. I have thought about visiting only for the day as they suggested, but I feel physically drained because of the drive, and emotionally drained knowing it will be another two weeks before I have a chance to visit my girlfriend.

This is the first "real" relationship either of us has ever had. We have no school-related responsibilities and, besides, her parents don't seem to mind my coming to visit. So, do I defy my parents or comply?

Visitation Rights Revoked

I was all enchanted by your Romeoesque romanticism, but then I remembered that Romeo was, what, 14? I don't know which it is -- the earnest intensity, the reluctance to stand up to Mommy, the "too emotionally drained" -- but you sound awfully dewy for 21.

Meanwhile, your parents are either way out of line -- hello, you're a grown man -- or heroic, for questioning your over-the-top swoonfest. Or they're normal, and don't much care for the girl.

I'd need to know your family better even to begin to sort this out.

Since that's not going to happen, I'll just use the same facts to rewrite your story the way I'd like to read it:

"It was a dark and stormy night. My girlfriend of eight months and I were separating for the summer (we're in college) and we realized our families lived only two hours apart. We pledged to make an effort to stay close during break -- but not a ridiculous one, even though we're chin-deep in that disgusting shmoopy stage. This is a somewhat-delayed first love for both of us, you see, and we both realize we have no clue what's healthy and what isn't. So we get together twice a month, max, and we're trying to live normal lives in between.

"My parents are a little uncomfortable with all the weekend trips, but, hello, I'm a grown man, and I reminded them of that. I respect their concern, though, so I promised to take things slowly. In return, they've agreed to let us work things out. The End."

Short Attention Span edition: You tone down the drama, they let go of the leash. Deal?

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