Dear Straight Talk: My stepfather has a son a year older than me who didn’t live with us because my stepdad didn’t have custody. Since we weren’t blood related, I had a crush on “Unknown.” I didn’t hear much about him for a few years, then sophomore year, “Unknown” was getting out of a troubled-teen boot camp and none of his family wanted him. My mom and stepdad took him in.
Well, we had sex and I fell in love with him. Then we had a pregnancy scare and were going to run away. I don’t know what happened to me. I changed. My family found out and sent “Unknown” to foster care, but he kept running away from his foster home to see me, so the cops locked him in juvie. I know it’s not incest, but I let him go. Then we started writing letters and my feelings are back. He gets out this month. I love him but I don’t want my family to disown me. Help! — Arianna, Fresno
Alex, 16, Newton, Mass.: Have your parents forced a therapist on you? If not, find one yourself and see if they’ll pay for sessions. A trained listener can help yield solutions. Part of life is seeking your own help, so don’t wait.
Brandon, 21, Mapleton, Maine: I have no problem that he’s your stepbrother. There’s no blood relation or illegality there. I am worried, however, that having pregnancy scares with a boy in and out of boot camp and juvie practically guarantees you’ll be a single mother — not by his not caring, but because he can’t stay out of trouble. You’ll join the ranks of other girls living on a fixed state income, shopping at the thrift store.
Come on, Arianna, you can write fluently, you’re smart. Why do you enjoy this “bad boy”? If he’d gotten out of boot camp and changed, I’d say, “OK, maybe,” but that didn’t happen. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I’ve seen smart girls suckered into bad situations. I hope you realistically weigh your options and choose a man who will make your future great.
Justin, 25, Redding: Matters of the heart often lead to poor decisions — at least for me. Despite your feelings, this isn’t the start of a healthy relationship. There are literally millions of other guys out there. Let this one go. I know it’s hard, but you must get over him. There hasn’t been a single relationship I know of that started off with this much drama and was successful.
Dear Arianna: The panel isn’t mincing words. My heart goes out to you and your stepbrother both. You say you “changed” and “don’t know what happened” to you. What happened was you lost yourself overnight by having sex too young. Sexual attraction can be highly addictive and stopping can feel like a drug withdrawal — which is why sex is not for the young or emotionally immature.
The root cause of “Unknown” ending up in correctional facilities is emotional trauma and lack of love suffered as a child. Sad as this is, you cannot be his savior. You need all your resources just to save yourself. Be smart! I urge you to get a free confidential IUD at a Planned Parenthood or county health department. That way, if you fall for this attraction again, you at least don’t make a baby. A child born now will just experience the same traumatic pattern in life he did — and very likely will get you disowned. Also, please realize that you could put “Unknown” into jail if you have sex and he’s over 18. For his sake, let him go! I know you have the strength or you wouldn’t have written. — Lauren
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