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Best friend is dating a big loser

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My best friend has been dating a complete loser for almost a year. He smokes pot, he's dropping out of high school, he treats her like she's his rag doll, and, recently, her parents made her break up with him because they found out the police are watching him for drug use. A few days ago, she invited him to her house, and they ended up making out, and now she wants to be with him again and doesn't care what anybody else has to say. They've broken up several times, but no matter what, after a few days, she runs back to him. He knows that no matter what he does, she can't stand to be without him for more than a week, so he can get away with anything.

I've tried telling her that she can do much better, find someone who will treat her better and love her with all his heart if she'd just be without this loser for more than a week. When I did that, she just accused me of wanting her to be miserable. Her parents have no control over her when it comes to him, and nothing changes her mind. Is there anything more I can do to help her, or even to help myself? I am so lost. She's my best friend, and I just want her to get out of the crappy relationship she's trapped in. — Kathleen, 17, Sacramento, Calif.

Kathleen, let's talk about you instead. Ironically, you need to make the same type of tough decision that you wish your friend would make. You think she should leave the boyfriend she cares about because he's bad news, right? Well, I think you should distance yourself from your friend and meet new people. This relationship is causing you too much pain. I know "meeting new people" sounds totally unrealistic and cliche — like the dumb type of advice only an out-of-touch person would give. But when I went through something similar with my best friend (senior year of high school), that's exactly what I did. I started working at an ice-cream place in the town next to mine, and I met a new group of people my age who worked and hung out there with whom I had a lot more in common. It's not easy — but sometimes you just need to put yourself (and your mental well-being) first.

I was talking to a guy on the Internet, and we decided to meet, so he came from New York to see me. Well, we hooked up and he went back to New York. I gave him my virginity, and I heard that he was saying that I was easy, and he just stopped talking to me. What should I do? — Andrea, 15, Miami

I'm not even going to get into all the dangers of getting together with people who you meet online, because it's too late. But sister, you're lucky you didn't get hurt. Though I have a feeling you will be emotionally hurt by this, because my advice is to cut your losses and let him go. My opinion? When guys see girls, they see sex, sex, sex. Girls, on the other hand, see love, love, love. But really, neither route is right. Both love and sex need time to happen the right way. That way, you're both sure that the decision to get physically or emotionally invested with the other person isn't made lightly — it's for real. Slow down in future relationships, Andrea. That way you'll be building a relationship out of trust and mutual respect.

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