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Not even a first chance

I am 19 and have been dating a wonderful 24-year-old guy for about a month. Some of his family wish he were still with the fiancée he broke up with six months ago and aren't too happy about him seeing me. His 19-year-old half sister contacted me on Facebook, told me to "watch my back," and made some mean assumptions about me. His mother Facebooked me and said that she's also sorry her son's with me and that I should watch what I say to her daughter. (I just told her daughter it wasn't cool to judge me, because she doesn't know me.) I told my boyfriend, who called them, told them I'm in his life, and said a lot of nice things about me. I'd really love for his family to like me, but they don't even want to meet me. How do I get them to? If they don't like me after that, fine. — Unpopular

The wonderful thing about social networking is how easy it's become for people to get in touch with one other. As you've discovered, this is also the really awful thing about it. That's why my boyfriend, who's not exactly a people person, claims he's starting a nihilistic social network called "Quitter." (Posts are zero characters, and you're asked not to join.)

Speaking of anti-social networking, that's an interesting family your boyfriend's got there. In many families, there's some Voice of Maturity who steps in when a squabble gets out of hand. In your boyfriend's family, they apparently leave that to the parrot: "Hello! Hello? CRAAAACKER!" Now, maybe his half sister was plastered when she Facebooked you or typically seems one Ding Dong short of a valu-pak, but probably the last thing you'd expect from somebody's mother is for her to come in and bat cleanup in the psycho family division.

As hard as it is to feel misrepresented, misunderstood, and unheard, you're unlikely to change that by clamoring for a part in his family's trashy reality show, Don't You Be Goin' Near My Son! Beyond that, prematurely going through the steps of an already-serious relationship, such as meeting somebody's family, can lead you to decide somebody's right for you instead of looking to see whether he actually is.

Consider why you feel compelled to try to win these two nasties over. Perhaps, like many women, you have a mental photo album of your life upon meeting the man for you, perhaps with sunkissed snapshots of a Sunday family barbecue. Well, you may be in this guy's future, and there may be family barbecues, but there's a good chance his mom and half sister will be picturing you on the spit.

If you two start getting serious, make sure you can both handle whatever relationship or lack of one you have with the Wicked Witch of the Wherever and her buzzard daughter. Contact with them now is sure to be very uncomfortable. But, who knows ... you and his half sister may end up sitting there on your wedding day, laughing at how she came after you on Facebook — which should give his mother just enough time to dump the laxatives into your drink. The music starts: "Here comes the bride ..." and wow ... there goes the bride ... and at quite a clip!

Can't twin 'em all

My last boyfriend lied and cheated so much that I am wary of all guys now. My best friend keeps telling me that not all guys are like him and that I just have to put myself back out there. — Betrayed

You didn't end up with a cheater because he fell down your chimney, pulled a gun on you, and said, "Ho-ho-ho, let's date!" You chose the guy and then neglected to un-choose the guy when there were indications of more than a few ho-ho-hos in his life. But, like many people exiting a bad relationship, the last thing you seem interested in is taking responsibility for sticking with a partner who treated you like a gymnast in the Humiliation Olympics. In other words, the answer isn't just putting yourself back out there, but putting yourself out there with what was missing the last time around: a little discernment.

As I wrote recently, boyfriends who are liars and cheaters go for girlfriends who put up with lying and cheating. If you're like a lot of women who've been romantically duped, you'll say you want a man who's ethical, but you don't make that an actual requirement in men you date. Now would be an excellent time to start. It beats being wary of all men because your last man cheated on you, which is kind of like being wary of people in pants because the last person who mugged you was wearing pants.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail adviceamy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle To Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society.

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