I recently entered into a new relationship with a guy my mom loathes. She’s a super-religious control freak, and the guy I am dating does not match her high expectations. I’m really falling hard for this guy, but fear my mom is out to sabotage our relationship. -HELP! In DC

You probably have more control than you realize. Typically, parents can’t sabotage the relationships of their children without a little help from the inside. Do you still live with your mom? Does she have other logistical or emotional ways of controlling your life? I’m assuming you’re an adult, but maybe you’re emailing me from homeroom?

Strengthening your boundaries and protecting your relationship is a process, and it can’t happen overnight. Assert your independence in baby steps, by anticipating and avoiding trouble spots — inviting him to dinner with her is not a great idea at this point — and learning not to overreact to them.

Make sure you hear her out, though. It will help keep her from boiling over, and it will also make sure you’re not falling for this guy because your mom dislikes him. That does no one any favors.

Get It Together After You Split

In the last year, I went through two breakups, after 6- and 4-month-long relationships. After each breakup, I completely fell to pieces and felt hopeless. I’m wondering if this reaction is beyond the typical breakup blues. -Broken Up

“Typical” doesn’t really exist when it comes to breakups. What I’m curious about is how you segued from the first breakup into the next relationship — which could either be a sign that your grieving periods are relatively short and functional, or that you’re so disrupted that you’re rebounding to numb the pain.

More questions, because that’s my job: Has this always been a pattern of yours? Do you have trouble with other life setbacks? Do you have people in your corner that support you? Are there any coping mechanisms you’ve tried that have been helpful? Does “hopeless” mean considering hurting yourself? That’s definitely a cause for concern. Being debilitated by breakups can be a natural side effect of allowing yourself to love. But that love is not always healthy, and when you get entrenched in bad patterns (in either the relationship or the aftermath), it’s time for some exploration.