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Give me your confused, your aggravated, your bewildered. Send me your perplexed, your rattled, your befuddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Yes indeed — I'm the new advice columnist at TheWeek.com, and I'm here to steer you right on dating dilemmas, parenting pickles, workplace woes, and every juicy quandary in between. 

As a veteran journalist, I've reported on opportunities that spring from wise decisions, and unfortunate incidents that arise from bad ones. And like you, I've been through some stuff.

Named for a song in the rock musical Hair, in which my father starred naked, I survived a Hollywood hippie childhood to become a news reporter,...  More»

 
January 3, 2013, at 6:30 AM

Dear Starshine,

I have had a crush on a gentleman for quite some time. If he ever asks me out and we become a couple, when should I tell him about my STD (Herpes II)? And, then ... HOW do I tell him? This has kept me single and alone for a long time because I just don't know how to do this.

Well, don't lead with the STD. There are things to tell a fella on your first date (you're a vegetarian, you have a teenage son, you've always wanted to see Spain) and then there are things to tell him before he's got your undies in his teeth (I have an incurable STD that gives me contagious genital sores)....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

What do you do when you find out your 16-year-old son is smoking pot?

Marijuana is on its way to being legalized in this country. (It's taking a long time, and if you've ever watched a pothead try to accomplish something, even open a new bag of Cheetos, you'll understand why). But it still won't be legal for 16-year-olds, and that's a good thing.

Like alcohol, pot poses some legitimate dangers for teens. So address it the way you would anything else that's both fun and potentially scary: Arm him with the information he needs to make intelligent choices....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

My wife basically dresses me. I'm in my 40s, and she's barely 30, so she has a completely different style than me. We mainly hang out with her friends, and they're all what you'd consider hipsters. She's taken to buying hipster clothing, and whenever I've deviated from wearing these things, I've caught hell, so I gave up. These clothes include skinny jeans, plaid shirts, cardigans, and thick-framed glasses. She even made me get a trendy haircut. The problem is, I'm my own man, and I don't really like this look. Even more, I feel that given my age, I shouldn't be trying to dress like someone half my age....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

My ex and I recently got back together after trying to be apart for a while. We had some disagreements during the getting-back-together phase and one evening I decided to go out drinking with friends. Long story short, I had way too much to drink and all I remember is waking up the next morning. Friends told me about the hilarious things I did that I have no memory of. A very dear friend of mine told me that I kissed him and he was too drunk to stop me. It must have lasted a couple of minutes at most. I have absolutely no recollection of this but I have no reason to doubt my friend's story either....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

How would you tell someone you love that they have bad breath?

It depends: Do they love you back? Because let's face it, nobody wants to hear that.

But if you must, there are thoughtful ways to convey the bad news. My best friend once offered me a mint and when I declined, she said, "You know… when a friend offers you a mint, you really should take it." I took the hint and the mint. I like that she cared enough to tell me what no one else would have, and to do it in a way that carefully avoided the words "your" and "breath" and "reeks right now....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

I'm organizing a trip to see a hockey game with a bunch of male friends. Once I'd sent round an email about it, one of the newer members of the group replied saying he'd love to come — and so would his wife. I didn't explicitly call it a "guys' night," but all the invitees were male, so I had assumed it was implied. Can we ask him to leave his wife at home, or should we just extend the invite to all our wives and girlfriends? His wife is five months pregnant, which makes it all the more difficult to tell her she can't come. 

Let me say up front that I adore women....  More»

 
February 15, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

My husband and I don't have children. We don't want any. Yet I find it awkward when people ask whether we have kids. When I say "no," they might think I want them but am unable to have them (people tend to look sympathetic) or people assume that I'll change my mind, and tell me so. (Despite my age, I still look like I'm in prime child-bearing years. Yay, me?) Some people flat-out ask why we don't have kids, and I've tried different answers. (I'll say, "Don't want them" only to be asked why, even though "don't want them" is reason enough; "I'd be a horrible mom," I say with a smile, only to hear, "But you're good with your cats!...  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

I have organized a trip for the past seven years with a great group of friends, but my oldest friend since childhood has never been invited because distance has grown between us, my husband does not enjoy her company, and another close friend has married my oldest friend's ex. Last year, my old friend called the place where we vacation and made arrangements to be there the same weekend as us (she knew through a mutual friend that we were going). She then invited me as if she had no clue I was going, and then invited other families, too....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

My boyfriend — let's call him Pete — and I have been together for three years, and are engaged to be married. Pete was chubby when I met him, and has gained 40 pounds since we've been a couple. I was chubby when we met, too. But in the past 15 months, through diet and rigorous exercise, I've become slim and toned. I simply wanted to be healthy and have more energy — and my attraction to Pete has not waned. But recently, he was taken to the ER with chest pains, diagnosed with high blood pressure, and advised by his doctor to lose weight....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

Any recommendations for how to remember your lover's name in bed? After nearly four years with the same guy, I've got a new one. And I cannot for the life of me remember his name when we're in the throes of it — and have to stop myself from using the last one's name. I get stuck saying "oh, babe" so that I don't accidentally yell, "oh, Mike" (ex's name) instead of "oh, Steve" (new guy). I'm constantly terrified. Suggestions?

Hold on just a sec. You want me to rustle up sympathy because there are too many men making you wail in ecstasy? OK, look, I'm going to help you, but only because there are too few people out there with truly enviable...  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

Is it normal for adults (late 20, early 30s) to leave a restaurant table before the main course to smoke weed in an alleyway? Because recently, my dining companions did just that. I'm not a stodgy grump with weed phobias, but I find the action of removing oneself from an evening of drinks and dining with friends to smoke a J rather rude, and I'm taking it personally. Is my conversation so dull and unappealing that you must get stoned to tolerate it? I'm thinking of extracting myself from future dining adventures with these "friends" in favor of those who enjoy my company in a more sober state....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

Last year when I was visiting relatives in the Philippines I spotted a very well known American actor in a popular mall. Although he was wearing sunglasses and a cap, I recognized him immediately. He was with an attractive woman and they were holding hands and kissing. On an impulse, I discreetly took pictures of them. When I returned home, I showed them to my wife, who informed me that this actor has been married with children for years and that the woman in the photos is not his wife. We shook our heads, chuckled, and forgot about it....  More»

 
March 29, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

I recently learned that my 24-year-old stepson "Alex," whom I helped raise, is an actor in the porn industry. He's been doing this for several years and there are numerous videos of him online engaging in sexual acts. When I found out I was sad and appalled. I called Alex and he said it was true. I haven't spoken to him since; I just can't bring myself to. The problem is I have two other sons, "Kurt," 13, and "Kyle," 14. Alex, who lives across the country, invited them to spend a week with him at his house. The boys have been out to see him several times in the past few years, but that was before I knew about his job....  More»

 
April 5, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

I'm a college student, and a TV addict. I watch entire series in less than two weeks. I plan events around television schedules. I set shows to record weeks in advance. I crave new episodes of my usual shows, and fill the time in between with other shows. I follow TV websites, subscribe to entertainment magazines, and follow the stars, writers, and directors of the shows on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr. I mean, I do other things besides watch TV: I work, and go to school, and have a social life. But my TV habit is greatly impacting my grades, and I need to make education my priority....  More»

 
April 12, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

I haven't spoken to my drama-queen mother-in-law for nearly three years. It dates back to the time she visited my husband and me when we had been married for two years, and told him that I was using him, that she didn't think I had ever loved him, and that he should divorce me and come live with her. She claimed that his old high-school job was waiting for him, and that she had remodeled his old room. Now whenever my in-laws visit, I go home to see my family. My husband still visits his parents at their home a few times a year without me....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

I left my controlling, abusive ex a year ago. We have two small boys together. I met him when I was 16 and left him at age 24 due to his drinking, cheating, and domestic violence. I'm not in love with him anymore, but will always have a spot in my heart for him as the father of our children. A part of me misses him and wonders if things would work if we gave it another shot and acted as adults instead of immature children. The only way to find out would be to give us another try... but I'm wondering if my heart, soul, and sanity could handle it if we didn't work out, or if things went back to the same routine....  More»

 
April 26, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

Recently, a video went viral of a father mercilessly beating his daughters with a cable wire. I saw it, and it's been haunting me. All the old memories of my childhood have flooded back. My father would dole out similar beatings to my brother and I. We have permanent scars on our backs, chests, and legs to prove it. My wife Becky is pregnant with our first child, and we've been discussing how to raise our daughter; we want to be on the same page about discipline. Becky feels that an occasional whack or spanking is acceptable as long as it's done as a last resort and not past the age of eight....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

I've been dating the same man for more than seven years. In year three, I caught him on Match.com. He denied that he put himself on there, told me that the site just sends him emails, and assured me that he's in this relationship with both feet. OK, everyone deserves another chance. But I just caught him on Match again; the guff ball asked me for computer help and his message window opened up with 31 matches. Again he swore that it's just junk mail. But he is 66 and should know the difference between right and wrong. I do still love this man....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

My mother-in-law is dumb as a bag of hammers and actually dyes her hair blonde. However, she absolutely loves my toddler daughter. They get along famously — perhaps because of an intellectual equality the two may share — and play and squeal all day long. My daughter was fortunate enough to have her parents' intelligence passed on to her. She is quite clever and full of personality for a 15-month-old. My question is this: Is there any possibility, with prolonged exposer, that my mother-in-law could dumb down my daughter?...  More»

 
May 17, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

My husband has a small penis. There, I've said it. We have an active sex life, and he is really good with his hands, so he thinks that as long as he's giving me orgasms his size doesn't matter — but it's starting to. For me, orgasms aren't everything. Sometimes it's difficult to feel him, and I like a sensation of fullness. I don't know how to tell him this for fear of crushing him. 

For the love of God, don't tell him! No, no, no, there's no reason to bring that up.

We're gonna work this out, but you have to promise not to criticize your husband's meager member....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

While not a big fan of indiscriminate inking, I admire tattoo artistry. I've made it to age 45 without a tattoo. But my evolving life (the loss of both parents, professional success, the launching of two of my three kids from the nest) has made me think more about bearing a symbol that would tell my story. I'd like a triskele — small, discreet, and elegant —and I'd get it where no one would see it unless I showed them. I've thought about this for over a year, and I really want to make the appointment to do it. But when I told my husband, he was extremely discouraging....  More»

 
May 31, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

I've been with my girlfriend for four years. She has a drinking problem. Over the years, she has reduced her alcohol intake. But lately she's drinking more. I drink two or three times a year. We fight a lot about alcohol because when she drinks, she gets aggressive, and I've become increasingly impatient about these drunken confrontations. I asked her to stop drinking around me for awhile so we could get along better. She grudgingly agreed, adding a smart-ass quip about how "we might not see each other that much if I can't drink around you....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

My parents don't allow me to wear immodest clothes. This includes bikinis, short shorts, short dresses, skirts, and tank tops. Recently, while shopping with a friend, I bought a bikini top to wear this summer at my friend's pool. The thing is, I feel really guilty for lying to my parents. I can usually tell them everything and I hate not being able to tell them this. Any ideas on how to broach the topic?

Don't you sometimes wish you could tell the angel on your shoulder to shut the hell up? IT'S ONLY A BIKINI TOP, for crying out loud!

Alas, that nagging guilt you're feeling is a critical conscience alarm reminding you that you have something...  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

I'm getting married, and the wedding plans were going smoothly until two weeks ago, when my fiancé's brother (a groomsman) decided to pull out of the wedding, saying he doesn't even want to be a part of our lives. This came as a total shock to us. He said he felt that my fiancé does not care about him. He expects them to hang out every weekend and for my husband-to-be to call more often. My fiancé is hurt by his brother, who seems to be slowly cutting the family off; he already doesn't speak to their mother. We tried apologizing, but he wanted guarantees that my fiancé will spend more time with him....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,


I'm a young male in a two-year relationship. We felt our spark near the end of college; he was a smart, serious exchange student from Europe, and I was the shy, sensitive type. After graduation, I moved back home to California and he enrolled in a graduate program on the East Coast — so we've spent more time admiring and supporting each other from a distance than together. Lately, he has expressed frustrations about living apart for so long, and he criticizes me more often. At one point he even said we have more of a strong friendship than a romantic relationship....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

I have a family history of ovarian cancer, and my physician recently offered to do a blood test to determine if I have the marker (CA-125) found in ovarian cancer cells. I declined. Although it would certainly be a relief if I didn't have the marker, what would I do if I did? Wait while my anxiety soaked my ovaries in a cancer bath? Or am I being irresponsible?

When family history puts you at high risk of developing cancer, you can go one of two ways: Tell yourself that you refuse to live in fear while you're secretly living in fear, or go all Angelina Jolie on its ass....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

I am losing hope. This world is heading in a downward spiral and there seems to be no way out. I watch the news and I see politicians who lie as easily as they breathe. Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, causing our ocean levels to rise with devastating consequences. Soon our planet won't have enough food to sustain the growing population. Toxins are merrily being pumped into our drinking water. Our prisons are being bought up by private companies who lobby for tougher laws to keep these prisons swelled to maximize their profits....  More»

 

Dear Starshine,

After 10 years together, and a lot of soul searching and serious conversations, my husband and I have decided not to have children. It would have been very difficult to conceive and I'm finally at peace with our decision after years of uncertainty. My dilemma is this: How do we communicate this to our family? Does this conversation need to take place in person? I'm leaning toward the coward's path of email — which seems a bit cruel, like breaking up with someone via text, but oh-so-tempting. I've also considered not telling them at all so they can draw their own conclusions....  More»

 
July 12, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

I love a girl. She is my first cousin (my maternal uncle's daughter) and she loves me, too. We are planning to marry after a few years. I am from India, and in India marrying your cousin is very common. But I need to get some things clear. My uncle (let's call him person A) and aunt (person B) are cousins and are married. If I marry my cousin (daughter of A and B), could this have an effect on future generations, as the same genes have been circulated in the family? I started to worry when I saw that my cousin (son of A and B) was always ill....  More»

 
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