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Teen shouldn't focus too much on marriage

I'm 18 and have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for more than two years. I love him, and we've talked about getting married in five or six years. Sometimes I think there's no way that a relationship that started as young as ours could ever become marriage material. Do high-school sweethearts have high divorce rates? —Angela, 18, La Puente, Calif.

Since you asked — people who get married before they're 18 do have a higher rate of divorce than those who wait until they're older, but that doesn't mean that's what is going to happen with you two — especially since you're waiting to get married. You're smart not to rush.

But you are focusing on the wrong thing: Of course it's going to be unsettling for you to think about getting married — this is something that's way into the future. I know many girls who were so focused on walking down that aisle that they didn't notice problems in their relationship. But the reality is, when you're always looking 10 steps ahead, you miss important stuff that's right in front of you. I'm not saying that's going to be you, but it's up to you to make sure it won't be!

I'm sort of going out with a guy I really like. My friend really likes him too, and she tries to steal him from me. What can I do to make her stop without hurting her feelings? —Jamie, 18, Hammond, Ind.

Let's give your friend the benefit of the doubt here and assume she doesn't know you really like him. So next time you and she are alone, just tell her that you're really starting to like this guy and you'd like to see if it can turn into a real relationship. Ask her if she is cool with letting you go for him. I'm sure she'll say yes, and hopefully she'll back that up by not flirting with him anymore.

If she's still all over him and you're SURE that you were clear with her, then say: "I hate bringing this up again, but I thought you'd stop flirting with him because of our conversation." If she still doesn't get the message, then just know that she's got self-esteem issues that are preventing her from being a good friend to you in this instance. Have faith that if this guy's really interested in you (and is worth your time), he won't give in to her advances.

My mother doesn't want me to go to homecoming with a senior because I'm only a freshman. I know the guy well, and I trust him, but she doesn't. I have a feeling she's judging him just because he's a senior — she doesn't even know him. Should I ditch him, or should I do what I want for a change? — Kristen, 14, Saco, Maine

Here's what she's thinking — a guy his age (even if he's a really nice guy) is more emotionally and physically advanced than you. And he is, Kristen — this is a fact. I know you feel you can handle yourself fine, but your mom's job in life is to keep you safe.

Yes, sometimes safe waters feel like boring waters. But sister, and I'm speaking from experience — even if you can protect yourself physically, when you start hanging out with older guys, the emotional stakes are also raised. Mom wants to protect you from the heartache, too. My advice? Be flattered that this older guy wants to take you, but turn him down graciously and go with your friends. You'll see him there and have fun without being in the compromising position of having him drive you there and home.

Questions may be sent directly to Atoosa Rubenstein at: Atoosa Rubenstein, the founding editor of CosmoGirl! magazine, is the editor in chief of Seventeen magazine. © King Features Syndicate Inc.