Dear Readers: I'm marking my 10-year anniversary of writing the "Ask Amy" column by rerunning some of my favorite Q and As from a decade of advice. My favorite constituency is teenagers. This might be because I was the mother of a teen when I started writing the column.
Today's column features questions from teens. Some dated cultural references reveal that though technology has changed, the questions remain timeless.
Dear Amy: I am an 18-year-old girl headed off to college and, as a precaution, wanted to start using birth control.
Although I have never had sex, and the last boyfriend I had was two years ago, I think it would be good to start using it. However, my mother remains skeptical. Although she and I have a close relationship and she knows I have never been promiscuous, she thinks that if I use birth control it's an open invitation for me to have sex with whomever I want whenever I want. Her exact words were: "What's going to stop you from having sex the first night you get there?"
The fact that she even thinks this hurts my feelings deeply. The only reason I want to start using birth control is because I want to remain safe during the next four years. She thinks that if I start using it, I will just get my heart broken by boys and get a reputation. What should I do?
A TOUCHY SUBJECT
Dear Touchy: You and your mother have probably heard the statistic that half of all teenagers are having sex. That statistic also goes like this: Half of all teenagers are not having sex. Using birth control is not the guy magnet your mother might imagine, and I have never heard that birth control brings on sudden bouts of promiscuity to otherwise levelheaded and responsible college girls.
A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood suggests that you visit a clinic or your doctor, get a thorough checkup and educate yourself about birth control but not necessarily go on it. Planned Parenthood wants to remind you to carry a condom; they are inexpensive, safe and (if properly used) effective. They also guard against STDs. (Of course, not having sex is also a great way to avoid unplanned pregnancies and STDs - and I hope you'll consider that.)
It's great that you are so responsible and concerned about your mother's feelings, but the fact is, you are a grown young woman, headed off to college, and you should rightly start taking responsibility for your own body and actions. (2003)
Dear Amy: I am a big dancer, and a school dance is coming up. I am not the biggest extrovert, and I'm not very popular. My friends are too shy to even dance together in front of everybody. My friends won't dance, so I have nobody to dance with in a circle.
What should I do? I'm not going to sit down when my favorite songs are playing because of my friends, and I am not just going to join a circle of people I don't know.
DREAMING OF DANCING
Dear Dreaming: If you could get your nondancing friends to relocate their comfort zone as close to the dancing action as possible, that might help. They can hang together, and if you are on the fringes of the nondancing group, you might be easier to drift toward the dancers and mix in with them.
A good DJ can help a lot here by playing group dance songs such as the "Electric Slide" or "Cotton-Eyed Joe." Group dances are a good way to get warmed up and perhaps meet a dancing buddy. You should definitely put a request in.
I like your spirit, and your determination to dance. Take it from me - in life, she who dances most wins. (2005)
Dear Amy: I'm a teenager and I have an awkward question:
How do you know when a guy is really interested in you? Can you help me?
Dear Rosie: If a guy bumps into you accidentally-on-purpose, puts you on his buddy list or IMs you "wazzup," there's a good chance he's interested. But are you? That's the most important question. (2003)