Dear Jara, I have a male relative who’s almost 15 years younger than me. He doesn’t have any friends his own age, but we have always been buds, and I have been like a big sister to him. He drops by my place, usually unannounced, just to talk. All he talks about are dogs, rock music and horror movies (he is 27), so we get along, but we aren’t necessarily on the same level. He’d never had a girlfriend until this past year, and the girl grew up in a strict Christian home. In their religion, women can’t wear pants, and they can’t dance or drink alcoholic beverages. In addition, they don’t condone any type of physical contact, and only hand-holding is allowed on dates. He attends their church, even though he still visits porn sites. He tells me all this, and has even asked me why I have never tried to get being a porn star! (Is this normal for a young man to ask an older female relative?) Signed, Concerned Relative Dear Concerned Relative, It is ok to be buds with your li’l cousin, nephew or what have you. But there should be some boundaries — for real, he’s almost 30, and this behavior is getting weird. I would start by making him quit the unannounced drop-bys. It’s played-out and rude, and you’re an adult with a whole life going on. He can’t just come over and hang out. I get that you’re related, but that’s just not cool. On the other hand, this guy seems lonely. He values your friendship and family support while he is figuring out what he’s doing or who he is. It sounds like he feels comfortable (maybe too comfortable) talking to you. As far as his girlfriend, that’s a whole different story. I don’t know if you were asking me if he should be with her or not. It certainly sounds like a situation that would be hard to relate to: I’m not particularly religious, but I also think that freedom of religion is of the utmost importance. I don’t know if it’s a good match or not. But if there are issues with sexual frustration (in regards to the porn, etc), I think he should have to figure out what is more important. I’m a tiny bit confused; without more details, I’d have to suspend judgment. Maybe he really wants to be a part of this broad, her family and religion, but he’s experiencing some challenges and working through them. However, it is realllllllllly inappropriate to suggest that you should be in porn, Mayor of Creeptown. But if it was done innocently and/or without any weird flirtation, then he could have just been asking to see what you thought about porn in general, maybe trying to see if you would approve of his online activities. If you’re concerned, I think you’re right. He seems a little weird, but not totally lost as a human being. Keep your eye on him, keep the channels of communication open and I think your family will be fine. Dear Jara, I’ve been friends with my best friend for a few years now. All my other friends (and myself) have always considered “Abby” to be a bit on the immature and naive side when it came to relationships. I was there throughout her first real heartbreak, which she eventually got over. Then along came “John”. At first, they seemed like a good couple. It made me happy to see her happy, considering she was unhappy about her last boyfriend for so long. For the first few months everything was good. Then I started to become suspicious about John. He would always make hints towards Abby, saying she needed to work out (even though she was already REALLY skinny) and always telling her what she should do. Abby never thought anything of it, and even though she would tell me what he’d say, she’d always defend him against me defending her. Their relationship lasted about eight or ten months, but they were never exclusive. She did whatever he wanted her to do, which resulted in her going against her own morals. He started to become more and more demanding and in turn they started arguing a lot. She would call me crying numerous times almost every night. As her best friend, this obviously put a strain on me, too. I would always tell her she didn’t need to put up with it, but she would always say, “Well, hopefully he’ll change…” During the last few months of their relationship, things got really bad for Abby’s home life (partially because of John, too). She even came to live with my family. He was completely unsupportive, selfish and just plain mean. She and I had to share a bed at night, and I don’t know how many times I had to stay up late with her because she’d be crying — because of him. My final straw with their relationship was when she decided to go spend Mother’s Day with his family instead of mine, even though MY mother had been supporting her. However, when he realized how far away my house was from his, he refused to come pick her up. She and I had a long talk about him later on that day, and I thought she was fed up. I suppose they had their last conversation officially “ending” things then, but she never told me exactly what happened. After a few months, Abby moved to a new city, got a job and seemed to be doing a whole lot better without him. But I know she never got over him, and I don’t think she ever really tried. She was with one of our friends from high school throughout summer, but again, nothing official. With this guy, she seemed distant, claiming she didn’t want anything serious like she had with John. Now here’s where I need advice: It’s been months since Abby and John ended. That was back in November, and now she’s told me they started talking again. She said she doesn’t want to rush into anything with him and there are no expectations, that they’re “just friends”. However, I know her very well, and by the things she posts on Twitter and Facebook I know she really wants to be with him again and that they’re a little more than just friends. I’m all for her being happy, but she doesn’t realize that John has put a huge strain on our friendship. She knows I hate him with a passion, so she doesn’t tell me anything that goes on with them. Without being in school anymore and without even living in the same city, we hardly talk at all. She’s told me before that she lost a lot of her friends in high school because of her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. I don’t think she gets that this can possibly happen again. My question isn’t whether I should tell her how I feel, because she already knows. My question is, how do I make her realize what’s going on? Or maybe is it just best that we end our friendship? If she IS the same Abby I know, I know she’ll go back to John. I just don’t want to hear about it when things fall apart again, because it really does bother me to hear about him. Helping her with her problems just causes more for me, and I’m finally done putting up with it. So should I wait and tell her when she comes crying to me or just give her a heads-up now? Also, am I considered a bad friend because I’ve told her I don’t want to hear about her and John? My mind’s all over the place. HELP! Signed, A Concerned Friend Dear A Concerned Friend, Okay. I have a couple different theories for Abby’s and John’s relationship, which could help you get a handle on this situation. People do what makes them feel comfortable, what makes them happy. Now, what you and I think is a “happy” or “comfortable” relationship will differ; of course, there is a widely accepted idea that your partner should be supportive and nurturing, offering you love and kindness. But there are some people out there who are only comfortable in relationships that are tumultuous, angry and destructive. It could be a weird home life, a tripped trigger that makes them need this person to treat them like garbage — for whatever reason, they are “happy” in those crappy situations. Then it creates a deluge of results — one being more attention from you and other friends because of this hot mess of problems. She knows that you hate this guy so she’s not going to be letting you in on the horrible things he says and does to her. If you alienate her, you could lose her for good. Don’t demonize her; be really patient and be firm. You support her, but you certainly don’t support this relationship. I’m sure she came at you with all of these “He’s so sorry” and “He’s really changed a lot” type of stories. We both know he’s still a dirtbag, but she’s into it. Somewhere, somehow, this scumdog makes her feel good. Whether or not we agree is not the point. You won’t talk her out of it. When she calls with drama (and she will) try as best you can to not become emotionally invested. Her decisions are her own; you said your piece and did your best. If she’s whining, tell her. You just want to be close enough for her to know that she could come to you if she was in real danger. You are either a friend or NOT. Friends do not judge by who you date, what you wear, where you go or where you come from. Friends should be for life, like a family — no matter how far you run away, you can always count on your people to be there. You have to decide if she is worth friendship or just letting go as someone you once knew.