Introducing Dr Love, who solves your relationship riddles in a confusing digital age
Q. When is it okay to call someone your boyfriend or girlfriend?
A. It is usually okay to do this only after you check with the person concerned, and if he or she believes it to be true too. Calling someone your boyfriend when he doesn't have any feelings for you whatsoever will lead to a certain amount of heartbreak at some point, so always check first.
Q. How do you politely tell someone that you would rather be friends and go on a date?
A. It depends on how nice you are as a person. If, for instance, you can't stand the idea of someone being hurt, you could post innocuous messages on Twitter, like 'Wish I didn't have to go on a date because I would rather watch television or die.' If that comes across as too strong, a string of excuses may send the right message: 'I would love to, but my goldfish misses me.' 'I would love to, but my friend's aunt just passed away.' 'I would love to, but I have to see if this rash is contagious.' If that doesn't work either, it obviously means your friend is too dim-witted to go on a date with anyone. Honesty is usually the best approach, actually, especially if you really want this person to be your friend. Put your cards on the table and hope for the best. If the person is mature enough, there really shouldn't be a problem.
Q. What should someone do if they find themselves getting into a relationship before they are old enough to date?
A. Speaking to someone older is usually the thing to do. How old you think you ought to be before you go on a date is an important question too. Relationships evolve as you age, and what you believe is a relationship may be nothing more than some harmless flirtation. It still makes sense to discuss this with someone you trust though, like an older sibling, relative or — the best person for the job — your mother.
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