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Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

I’m marking my 10-year anniversary of writing the “Ask Amy” column by rerunning some of my favorite Q-and-A’s from a decade of advice.

Q. I am an 18-year-old girl headed off to college and, as a precaution, want 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?”

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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. 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)

Q. 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.

A. If you could get your friends to relocate their comfort zone as close to the dancing action as possible, that might help. If you’re on the fringes of the non-dancing group, it might be easier for you to drift toward the dancers and mix in.

A good DJ can help a lot here by playing group dance songs. You should definitely put a request in. (2005)

Q. I’m a teenager and I have an awkward question:

How do you know when a guy is really interested in you?

A. 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)

You can contact Amy Dickinson via e-mail at askamy@tribune
. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.
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