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Why teens get very nostalgic when they start college

Wooff asks: As of recent times, I’ve been in a state of mind where I miss things from my past a lot. How they used to be 3 years ago, who I was friends with and maybe even the person I was. I don’t regret turning the way I did but back then I feel like life was somewhat easier. I didn’t have to study my butt off for anything. People liked me more and I didn’t have much worries. I don’t even know what I want to do when I’m older. I’m 18 right now and I have around 2-3 years to figure that out. But I’m going to have to select something to study in 2 years. And I have no clue. I was wondering, am I better off careless, clueless and happy or am I better off wiser, older and more understanding? I know you’re going to say that the latter is better but I feel like when I was more unaware of everything, I was somewhat happier. I used to have something to be excited or happy about but now it’s like I don’t know, I’m not unhappy but I’m never really that happy or excited. Things seemed more magical back then and despite the fact that I have so much more responsibilities now, I feel like I had more things to do when I was younger. Things I enjoyed even if they were just mere chores. I know at this point I’m rambling but I just need someone to walk me through this particular stage of being human. I know how I feel right now isn’t my final destination and that I need to feel like this for something better to form. But I just need some more insight as to what I should do or if I’m even supposed to feel all this that I’m feeling. I act like I don’t regret my decisions but if I’m being honest, I’ll tell you the truth. I wish I did make other choices back then. I wish I listened to myself and didn’t listen to myself. I miss my friends from back then but these friends are not the same people they once were and while we are in friendly terms, it’s not the same. I wish I never let go of that boy I liked back then. I wish I had someone to talk to right after I came back from school. Do you know anyway Shirelle I could get back that happiness and excitement in my life? Everything seems so bland now. And I never get excited. I used to talk to my crush and that meant so much to me and now I can’t even like someone. I just feel a bit lost but not lost, you know? If you have any idea what I’m talking about please let me know because I’m just so clueless. I’m not depressed, sad or anything.

Hi Wooff –



I always love your letters – they’re so beautifully written and expressive. And say things that are so right about life.


But in this one, you got something wrong. Really wrong. SO wrong!


You said you were sure that I’d say you’re better off “wiser, older and more understanding” than you were “careless, clueless and happy.” Now maybe your parents might say you are, or a counselor at your school. But you’re forgetting what and who I am! I find meaning in my life by leaping into a creek just for the joy of running, and then jumping onto strangers and getting mud all over their nice clothes. My idea of pure joy is chasing birds I have no hope of catching, but trying with everything I’ve got. And my idea of love is getting into a wrestling match with Handsome, where we’re both growling, fighting, and giving kisses to each other the whole time. I love “careless, clueless, and happy.” About 23 hours a day, that’s exactly what I am!


But you are a human, with that gigantic brain, and nothing is ever going to be as simple for you as it is for me.


Speaking of your brain, let me help you first by explaining something about one area. When a human is in their teen years, their brain actually experiences more joy (and misery) at little things than at any later time in their life. Those songs you heard when you were twelve will always be the brightest, sexiest, most romantic you ever hear, because your brain was that age when it heard them. The way your friends made you laugh till you had to change your underwear – that’ll never be as frequent again. The crazy mad crush you had at thirteen – you’ll always be a little bit in love with that person; it’s just a part of your brain.


But am I saying you’ll never get as much pleasure ever again? No way, I’d never say that! But things will have to be actually better for you to feel that way about them. You’ll hear an absolutely brilliant song performed so beautifully it brings tears to your eyes, and it will thrill you just as much some mediocre pop tune did when you were in seventh grade. You’ll hear a truly hilarious joke, told by someone with brilliant timing, and laugh as hard as you did twenty times a day back then. And you’ll fall in love with someone so wonderful they actually deserve your crazy wild feelings for them.


And right now, you’re not getting any of those. And that’s a drag.


So how do you get them? Well, the first thing I suggest is that you Continue reading

1 What to do when a boyfriend pulls away inside a relationship?

LittleGirlBigAppetite asks: I met a guy on Tinder 3 months ago and we have been dating for the past 2 months now. He is doing his Masters in Business Administration and stays 2 hours away from me in a hostel. During the first month we used to meet and go for lunch and movie dates. But the past month hasn’t been exciting at all. Whenever I ask him to meet up he says he cant due to his college schedule. Our relationship has now completely turned into a boring, virtual one. I even told him that this is bothering me and we should end it if this is how things are going to be but he said that he does not want to end things so soon. I like him a lot and it makes me wonder if he’s really into me or not. If yes, then why not spend at least one day in two weeks together? If no, then why not just end it? I am not asking for much, just the bare minimum as I understand that we both have busy college schedules. I really need your advice as to what to do next?

Hi LittleGirlBigAppetite –



This is an awfully common problem, and it’s always a painful one. And I do relate.


When my human friend Handsome first brought me home from the pound, I was all he thought about. Making sure I was safe and warm, making sure I wasn’t peeing or chewing on something in his house, making sure he had the right equipment for me and I was getting the right healthcare.   Every conversation he had was about me, at least in part.


And then, after a while, that changed.   He still liked me – he actually liked me better – but he wasn’t as worried about me. He trusted that I’d be okay in most situations. And when he talked with people, I wasn’t the novelty subject anymore – he might be talking about a girl or work or politics or something instead.   It really annoyed me – I’d gotten to be a better companion, but I seemed to matter less!


Now this might be all that’s happening to you. Your boyfriend might have put so much effort into getting your relationship going that you thought that’s what he’d always be like, and now he’s relaxing a bit, believing he did his job and you’re his and he’s yours and all is good.


And if so, he’s about half-right.


I mean, you didn’t dump him right away, you wrote me instead, right?!


But of course there could be something else wrong – he could be losing interest, he could be actually bothered by something about you, or he could be thinking about someone else.


Or he could just be busy with his studies.


ANY of these are possible, and it might even be a mixture of more than one.


My advice is to, without Continue reading

How to navigate the first stages after a breakup

Gface asks: I recently had to end it with my closest, and practically only, friend. He and I have had a lot of rough patches. He was very manipulative and sometimes brutal with how he was with me emotionally. I’ve broken it off with him before, but I had decided to give him a second chance and we actually ended up dating after that. But once we did, I fell into a serious depression. It was so bad I couldn’t get out of bed or talk to anyone. So I broke it off with him. But we were surprisingly able to remain best friends and it was good for awhile. We went to prom together as friends and right after we got back together. I was happy with him for another couple of months, then things started to get hard again. I was moving 7 hours away from him, and I knew I couldn’t handle that. But quietly I had decided to wait and see how things were after I moved. I thought maybe things would get better once I got my life together. But he actually broke up with me a month after I moved. I was okay with it, I thought it was the right thing and I was actually relieved. I thought we would be able to go back as friends like we did after the first break up, but then things went downhill. He started acting like he did when we were first friends. He was getting clingy, always being manipulative and slipping in certain sentences that made me feel bad if I didn’t feel like talking or if I had even not responded to a text right away. He always got depressed if my life was too busy, and always needed my attention. But when his life was busy he was all of a sudden happy and telling me every single detail of the great day he had. It was getting too hard and I felt like I was getting dragged through the mud, so I broke it off with him. And again, I wasn’t that emotionally impaired. It was hard, but I honestly felt free. Like I could finally be okay again, with nothing to pull me down every time I got up. I even had a friend at the time to distract me while I was dealing with this. He’s actually my ex’s neighbor, and it felt kind of weird to continue talking to him after I ended it with my ex. But he was dealing with something, and so was I, so it felt like we kind of helped each other out this week. Then he suddenly got a little better, and I tried texting this guy but he’s been keeping the conversation short. I don’t know if I did something or if he only wanted to talk to me because he was dealing with something at the time. And I know he’s not ignoring me because of what happened with my ex, because we talked about it. But I keep thinking about how just a week ago he said that if I needed anything, he’d be here for me. And I helped him through a lot this week, and I now just feel like he’s ignoring me. And I literally have no one else to talk to because I don’t have any friends in my new city, and I don’t really like going to family with these situations cause they can’t really help, nor are they the best at giving me emotional support. So I don’t know how to handle my feelings right now. And I don’t know what to do to distract myself from them. I’m beginning to feel quite depressed again, and very alone.

Hi Gface –



Wow I’m sorry you’re going through this. It sounds so tough.


And I don’t know why this is, but this last month seems to have been just LOADED with breakups, and particularly bad ones. People who write me, people I see around me… I can’t help but think some of it is even connected to that weird thing that happened yesterday when the sun got blocked a lot of places!


But with all the pain involved – and again I’m really sorry you’re going through it – I can’t help but notice something else. Which is that it sure looks like the breakup is all for the best.


Your relationship with this guy has been… what’s the word? Convoluted! You and he seem to have been in a crazy dance for a long time, that hardly ever was the way you wanted it to be. Most humans seem to have at least one romance like this, and they learn lots from it, which helps them in other relationships later on.


But it’s like when you’ve just finished a long bout of a bad flu. Your body is exhausted, but it’s actually built lots of new antibodies which will keep you stronger and healthier than you could be before. And you’re ready to jump out and embrace your flu-free life, but… there’s no one there.


Why? Because all your friends have been talking and making plans with each other while you were stuck in bed, throwing up, and coughing your guts out! And they’ll all be very happy to see you again, but you need to call and write them and make some plans before that can happen.


Or maybe you have two weeks of overdue homework you have to do. Or a filthy home that needs to be cleaned up. Or a pile of unpaid bills.


Whatever it is, you have to Continue reading

How to attract teenage girls

uday asks: How to attract teenage girls

Hi uday –


I’ll throw an answer at you, but first, I have to make a confession.  As a pup, I really don’t recognize ages that well.  I certainly understand certain issues that pertain to teenagers more than to anyone else (final exams, drivers licenses, and zits, for example!).  But when it comes to something like what is attractive to teens, versus women in their 20s, the trends change so fast I can’t keep aware of them.  So I’ll give you some general thoughts, but you’ll have to make some of them more specific yourself, based on the teenage girls you know.


So how to attract women:


1) Like Them. You wouldn’t believe how often I see humans who want people they don’t actually like to be attracted to them! It won’t work (except with cat-like people who are attracted to people who despise them.  But they’ll just make your life difficult!).  So before you worry about how to be attractive, decide who you want to be attractive to, and why.  The more you get to know about them, the more you’ll see things you like and things you don’t.  And that’s good.  Imagine being a pop star who hated girls who loved their music.  It just wouldn’t make sense, would it?  Whereas it’s very clear that the Justin Biebers and Chainsmokers of the world really like their fans being their fans.  You sure don’t see them sneer at them “You’re so stupid, I only like people who love classical music!”  So find who you like, and find out more that you like about them, and that energy will pour off of you.


2)  Take Care of Yourself and Dress Well.  Now here’s a great example of what I mean when I say that you’ll have to determine this yourself.  There are girls out there who love skinny guys in t-shirts and jeans (Ever seen The Big Bang Theory, for example?).  There are others who like Justin Timberlake sorts who dress snazzy, are well-groomed, and practice dancing so much you can see it when they walk.  Then there are those who are drawn to guys with big muscles, who dress conservatively but in ways that show their strength.  But what all these guys share is that they actually do take care of themselves – whether by just eating healthy or by exercising a lot – and dress in a style that shows their pride in themselves.  Whereas the guys who try to hide by dressing dully, who don’t take care of their hair or teeth, who don’t like to look in the mirror, who treat their bodies badly by eating junky food or smoking or worse…  there’s nothing about them that’s attracting anyone.  So decide who you want to be… and BE it!


3) Be Continue reading

How to stop an older sibling from acting out

Schulte asks: I am trying to figure out how to get my 3-year-old son to stop biting at preschool and fighting with the other kids for their toys. His father and I have been taking his toys away and grounding him to his room and giving him an early bed time when we get a report from his teacher that day saying he bites. We also talk to him telling him that is bad. He has a 6-month-old baby brother who has been teething so a lot of attention has been on his little brother. We pay attention to our older son and play with him.

Hi Schulte –


Oh boy did you write the right advisor on this!!!  For the first two years of my life, biting was my greatest joy!  I don’t remember everything, but Handsome tells me I basically ate, slept, and breathed only in order to chew and bite.  I bit him LOTS, bit everyone else when I could, and chewed up EVERYTHING in our house!  So I relate fully to both your youngest son, who has to teethe just as I did, and your older one, who’s expressing all sorts of emotions by biting.  I was both!


But you already know how to handle your younger kid.  It’s that older one who’s making things difficult.  And as I said before, I do think his biting comes from some emotional places.  And I’m mainly going to guess one:  that younger brother!


See, when a human is an only child, the whole world revolves around them, and they don’t know anything else.  Their parents can love each other, or love movies or chocolate or their jobs, but their parental love is only for “me.”  And then if those parents have another kid, that whole universe is shattered.  Even in the best of homes with the most attentive of parents (as you seem to be).


Now if your son was older, say 7 or so, when you had that second baby, he would have much more awareness of this situation.  But being so young, all his reactions to his baby brother (most likely both gigantic love and huge resentment) are unconscious.


And – and here’s my biggest point – one of the most common ways for a child to react to something life-changing is to regress, to behave younger than they are, in a wish that the world would go back to the way things were then.  (This is true of us too – puppies don’t mature in a straight line, we’ll have times of acting young again – and even as adults, we can suddenly start acting like puppies.  Like peeing in the house, for example).


So your son WILL get better.  He WILL stop biting, and start acting more mature.  But right now, biting serves two purposes – it gives him a way to act out his aggression, and it lets him act the same age and stage as his baby brother!


So what we want is not so much to Continue reading

When a teenager’s life makes no sense

Daisaie asks: I’ve never been so depressed and broken. My parents are always yelling at me because apparently I’m failing to become the daughter they expect and things has gotten worse since last year. The class teacher is also making the matter worse. I try keeping myself motivated but it’s not working anymore. I’ve fell down from being a top student to failing in most subjects now. They never support me rather they end up discouraging me. Their comments have hurt me to the bottom of my heart and I’ll never be able to forget those. I’ve lost interest in everything. I seriously can’t take it anymore! I can’t even get a counselor. I really wanna get out of this mess so help me please.

Hi Daisaie –


Wow is this a sad letter!


You sound to me like you’re in a full-on depression.  That’s not abnormal, especially for a teenager.  In fact, I’ve never known a teenage human to get from ten years old to twenty without getting depressed.  But I know, that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re in the middle of it.


Still, I want to give you some perspective on it.  Being a teenager is, I think, the toughest part of most humans’ lives.  You go from the world making sense in certain ways, as a child, to a whole different existence, as an adult, with no logic or control.  Your school will say you should mature in some way (say, they suddenly start assigning big term papers instead of small essays for homework); your parents want you to mature in others (say, they want you to get a paying job), and your body wants you to mature in yet others (for eleven years, the only hairs you had were on top of your head, but suddenly…!).  And meanwhile, your school wants to keep you from Continue reading

How to deal with encopresis/enuresis in an older child

minecraft asks: I am nearly 10 years old. I don’t know who else to tell this, because it’s really embarrassing. I have a lot of accidents; I some times dirty my pants and I still wet the bed at night. I do not know why I keep having accidents in the day. I get really embarrassed and sad, because my brothers and other kids make fun of me for it. I have six brothers and two sisters; I am the fourth oldest. My mum sometimes gets mad at me and she some times says things like she is going to put a nappy on me like my two-year-old brother (She only gets mad when I have accidents in the day, not about me wetting my bed). My mum took me to the doctor about why I have accidents in the day, and the doctor said I’m fine and there is nothing wrong. My mum said if I have one more accident she is going to put me a nappy on me, because she can’t keep buying me underwear and washing my clothes, and she says it will be a lot better for me because I will be more comfortable and I will sleep better. I don’t want to wear nappies because nappies are for babies. How do I get my mum not to put me in nappies?

Hi minecraft –

It’s very humiliating, I know, to have this problem, and I really respect you for having the courage to reach out and ask about it.

I was lucky in this area.  I was able to get paper-trained and house-trained very quickly.  After that, there were a couple of times when Handsome was so stressed out it made me lose control, but otherwise I’ve been fine.  With one exception!

That exception is that dogs, unlike people, get inspired to pee and poop.  The reason we go to trees, fire hydrants, and such the second we get outside is that we want to pee, but sniffing another dog’s pee smell starts our engines turning.  This is great for leaving trails, marking territory, and all.  But it can also cause a big problem.  What if we’re inside a house, and another dog has peed or pooped (or thrown up) there?  What if there’s a bit of a residue of it on the floor, or in the carpet?  We have no choice! We get one whiff of that, and our system gets going, and we don’t even have time to whine or walk away, we just release right there.  And then the people always yell at us, or at our owners, that it’s our fault, that we’re not trained well enough.  When, if anything, it’s the fault of whoever cleaned it up but didn’t do it well enough (there are products made with enzymes that break the residue down organically; those are the best cleaners for indoor marking).

But here I am talking about myself instead of about you (Am I marking my territory, perhaps?!).  And human bowel control is a very different situation.

It might sound obvious, but there are only two reasons for a child of ten to still be wetting his bed and soiling his underwear:  It’s either Continue reading

How to meet someone for a blind date

Reena asks: I met a guy around a year back on a dating site. I had just broken up back then and so registered on that site to divert my mind. All this while we used to chat online sometimes, he was like a platonic friend. He asked a few times to meet but I always declined for various reasons. Mostly because we have nothing in common and I felt no connection or chemistry. Also because there was this on again off again thing going on with my ex, so we had not completely separated despite the break up. My question is, Is meeting this new guy worth it ? Because back then when I had broken up, he had asked to meet. I told him I am dating someone. To which he replied, “Don’t tell your boyfriend that you’re coming to meet me.” I told him I’m sorry and I can’t do that. Secondly, instead of asking to hangout and just chill or a lunch or dinner together or a movie, this new guy asks me to come home. Mind you, we’ve never met before. I asked him why he wants me to come home. He said he “wants to cuddle”. I mean, sounds like a guy looking for a Friends with Benefits and not the whole getting to know you and let’s see where it goes thing. I asked advice from a guy friend yesterday about this because I am confused these past days, whether I should give it a chance or no. My friend advised me to test him by asking him to meet outside rather than at home. So I asked this online guy if we could meet out first. I was 110 % sure he’d say no. But he said yes. I don’t want to be mean because I do believe in giving people at least one chance. But he has already shown me who he is. Doesn’t sound like a guy who believes in loyalty or someone looking for something genuine. However I don’t want to be too judgmental about it or assume anything. What should I do ?? Go meet him once or simply delete his number??

Hi Reena –


Okay, so you’re dealing with two issues here.   One is how to treat this guy – does he deserve to be treated one way or another.  And the other is how to treat yourself.  And I care way more about the second than the first, though the first is important too.


One thing I like about this guy is that he seems to be speaking honestly to you (even when he’s asking you to lie!). He didn’t pretend that he didn’t want to get physical on the first date, and I respect that. And since you did ask him if he’d meet outside, it feels a bit unfair for you to now refuse to meet him at all.




The truth is, we don’t know anything about him. He might be exactly the way he described himself, and he might be a 45-year-old with an axe. We don’t know. So my advice isn’t just about this guy, but with any blind date you have for the rest of your life, I want you to Continue reading

Is it wrong to date an adult while you are a teenager?

lovergirl asks: Is it wrong to date a 20-year-old guy while you are 14?

Hi lovergirl –



I have many thoughts on this, but lots of them depend on defining the words you used.


For example, when you say “date,” do you mean “hang out with?”  If so, then there’s probably no problem with it.  But if you mean “get romantically involved with,” I’d ask you what it is about him that draws him to someone so much younger than he is.  I’ve known lots of couples who were six years apart, or way more, but that’s a lot less time when you’re 30 than when you’re 14.  I mean, if he turns 21 before she turns 15, he’ll be half her age older than her!  So I’d be concerned, but not necessarily say it’s impossible.


But now we get to that other word, which is “wrong.”  Do you mean “against the rules?”  Well, nothing I said above is against any rules, but if that 20-year-old is thinking of getting  Continue reading

How to get out of having done a secret prank on a friend

azraspahic_ asks – So it’s 2 weeks before April Fools, and I decided to do a harmless prank on my friend of slipping notes in her locker. But she told the principal and then told me. I don’t want to get suspended over a harmless joke! What do I do? I have not told her I was the one who slipped the notes. I printed one out as well and said, “oh see this is the one I got” and she believed it! What should I do?

Hi azraspahic_ –



Ooooh do I relate to this!  My pranks are usually more along the lines of stealing food off a person’s plate, but I know how awful it can feel to get caught, especially when the punishment seems like it’s so much bigger than the little joke you pulled!  (I mean, come on, did that guest really want that steak that badly?!!)


The nice part is that you do have a way out of this, if you want – which is to simply say nothing, and let the issue go away.  If you can feel okay about doing that, it really won’t cause any harm.  It’s true that you lied about getting the note yourself, but it’s a harmless lie, and your friend won’t be any worse off for it.


But, like me, you do have a conscience, so I can understand if you find it hard to just do that.  So there are a few other thoughts that hit me:


One is to Continue reading