I've actually been reading it a few days and was surprised to discover that I had... no problem... with most of his advice! For the most part, he seems straightforward and sympathetic, and treats younger readers as human people with autonomy and the ability to make choices based on logic, which many columnists fail to do.
However, today's column revealed a key override: teen sex.
I'm 15 and have a real big problem. I'm both mentally and physically mature for my age. And because of this, I feel comfortable with a guy who is 21. Believe it or not, even though Bobby is six years older, he is very immature and insecure. He is afraid that I will drop him. He is a "mamma's boy" and I guess that I "mother him." Bobby feels comfortable when he is with me, and I know that he loves me because we have discussed marriage. Besides, he gets jealous if I talk to another boy.Dr. Wallace's response:
I'm not allowed to date. My parents think I'm spending time with my best friend when I'm with Bobby. If they ever found out, I would be grounded forever. Bobby and I are sexually involved, and he could be charged with statutory rape. Bobby is aware of the risk, but he thinks I'm worth it. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that I do like Bobby, but I'm not sure if it's love.
My parents are very strict, but they're very loving. I love them very much, so I don't want to lose their trust. Do you see any harm in our relationship? Please say no. Bobby and I have been seeing each other for three months.
Stop a moment, and let's review the important points.Ashley: I love the "to make matters much worse." Oh, please. There is only one thing you say to a sexually-active teen, and that is "use condoms."
First, Bobby is six years older than you and also immature. Next, he's a jealous "mamma's boy." Point No. 3: You're not permitted to date, and you are breaking your parents' trust by sneaking out without their knowledge.
To make matters much worse, you're sexually active. Bobby could be charged with statutory rape and you could become pregnant.
Finally, you're not even sure if you love this guy.
Break up with Bobby for all of the above-mentioned reasons. He will find another girl to mother him and you will meet many boys within your "age range," who will enjoy your company whenever Mom and Dad allow you to date.
Do it now! Waiting too long could be disastrous in many ways.
Lulu: Yes. She's going to ignore that advice so hard, and I'll tell you why.
Ashley: You have to wait till you're allowed to date? I'd be in an effing cloister.
Lulu: That's exactly why! I feel like there are legitimate points in there, but when you appeal to unconvincing arguments, you make all your arguments seem bad.
Ashley: I agree in general that dating Bobby is stupid. She does not seem especially mature.
Lulu: She's all over the map. He sucks, but please don't tell me to break up with him. The fact that he's insecure--that she recognizes that--and that she doesn't love him are good reasons to break up, but I also kind of feel like she has to discover that on her own. She asks if there is any harm in the relationship. My feeling is that she wants to separate out the grown-up party-line bullshit and see if there are any legitimate objections. But Wallace embraces all the objections, even ones she's clearly already selected as acceptable risks--like losing her parents' trust. It's like he's begging to be tuned out.
Ashley: I don't really see harm. I see harm for him, but whatever, he's the adult, he can make that choice. I don't think 15 is too young to start dating, whether or not one's parents approve. She's bored, she wants some drama, that's fine. Don't marry the guy, but it's fine for now--she's racking up some relationship experience, and there's something to be said for that.
Lulu: Yeah. It's sort of necessary to have some shitty relationships so you'll recognize a good one when you have it. Trying out shitty relationships is the kind of mistake you can't talk people out of making. It doesn't seem like a situation where she's being preyed upon; I believe her when she says they're on the same plane of maturity. She's going to grow out of him, but that will happen naturally.
Ashley: She should come up with contingency plans, because her parents are going to find out, and the guy is going to throw a fit when she dumps him. That's pretty much inevitable. But beyond figuring out how she's going to deal with that...
Lulu: Use condoms and don't get married.