friendship wasn't supposed to be one of the benefits.

by Natalie Dee

For the past four months Iíve been friends with benefits with a girl I met at a party. Right off the bat I made it clear I was not interested in a relationship or a friendship. She said that was OK and she felt the same way.

If we were ever at the same party, weíd get wasted and sneak off to the bathroom or our cars for an hour, then rejoin our friends. It was great at firstówe didnít even acknowledge each other until the time came, then the time went, and we went back to not knowing each other.

In the past month, though, things have changed. She tries holding my hand, calls me at least six times a day, and gets upset if I donít call her back. I donít know what to do. I knew this was gonna be a bad idea, but I was thinking with my, well you know.

What should I do? Let her down hard, let her down easy? óJames


Yeah, it doesnít matter. If you let her down hard, she will be mad. If you let her down easy, she will be mad. You told her at the beginning that you werenít interested, so you really donít owe her an explanation.

If I were you, I would just say, ďHey, lady. When we first started hooking up I thought we had an agreement that thatís all it was going to beóhooking up. Iíve been feeling like you are maybe getting too attached to me, and Iím not comfortable with that, and I donít want to be in a relationship right now. So I think it would be best if we completely cut it off.Ē Short, sweet and to the point.

And just for future reference, most ladies arenít too down with the ďno strings attachedĒ sex thing. There might be a few, but they are a rare breed.


Today is a landmark birthday for me, and while I should probably be settling down, pretending to like my job and living in suburbia, every day I feel more and more like completely running away from my life.

Do you think itís irresponsible to secretly plot to run away to China and become a professional panda trainer instead of staying with the asshole boyfriend who neglected to buy me a birthday present (but had enough money and time to go deep-sea fishing two days ago)? And if panda training isnít really an option, is there a place for people to go who have absolutely no idea what theyíre supposed to be doing with their lives? óAli


Thereís nothing wrong with not knowing what you want to do with your life. Iíd bet that most people donít really have it all figured out. If you feel like you want to run away, itís probably because youíre not happy, not because you donít have it all figured out.

Settling down, working a straight job and living in the suburbs are all perfectly fine, but itís unreasonable to think that thatís all everyone needs to be happy. Thereís nothing wrong with running away, either, but there are other options.

Why donít you try giving your life a makeover? Volunteer for causes you believe in. Spend more time doing things youíre interested in and maybe try to meet new people who share your interests. Really small things can make the difference between feeling happy with your life instead of trapped in it. Careers and relationships and settling down are not the only things that make for a satisfying life.

As for your boyfriend, maybe you should step back and reexamine your relationship. When you were a little Ali, did you sit around and dream of the day you could date an asshole? Iím sure you didnít, so donít keep an asshole around! Having someone in your life who treats you well and appreciates you (and buys you a birthday present) would help you feel better about your current situation, too.


My husband and I have wildly differing views on how to best discipline our three kids. Plainly speaking, I do not think his style is correct. He probably thinks my style is shit too. What do I do? óJill

Thereís a reason why they say communication is the key to a successful relationship. Itís because communication is the key to a successful relationship.

The way that you think children should be raised is something you should talk about with your partner before you have a kid, and absolutely, definitely before you have three kids. Really. Have you just never mentioned before how you think children should be disciplined?

But hindsight is 20/20, right? So why donít you sit down and talk to him? Be all like, ďYo, dude. We have all these kids, and I canít help but notice that some of your methods of raising them blow. How about we talk about our methods and compromise so we can present a unified parental front?Ē Itís really that easy.


I got a puppy about a month ago, and sheís my first dog. A lovely little yellow lab. Sheís quite adorable. The only bad thing is that she has the worst case of puppy breath ever. EVER. Iíve tried giving her three different bones that are supposed to help bad breath, and I even bought doggie breath mints. Absolutely nothing works. Could you recommend any solutions for the smelly madness? óSam


Have you tried brushing your dogís teeth? A lot of people donít do this, but itís an important part of taking good care of your dog. It takes a little training for your dog to let you brush his teeth (check the Internet or a dog training book for tips), but itís the best way to keep dog breath in check. Itís also important to prevent tooth decay and gum disease (just like in people!), and will save you money on vet bills in the long run. Be sure to use toothpaste formulated for dogs, and a dog toothbrush.

You may also want to discuss this problem with your vet. Puppies shouldnít have breath that bad, and it might indicate stomach problems or a sinus infection or something along those lines.

Natalie Dee is a Columbus-based artist and writer whose work can be seen at To Ask Natalie, e-mail

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