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Put aside pride and give mom positive vibes

How can I have better communication with my mother? We fight every day, and she calls me names. Any ideas about how I can talk to her without her getting mad and yelling at me? — Elizabeth, 17, Harbor City, Calif.

You can make things better (and you should — you two need each other!), but you'll need to put aside your pride. Approach her when things are calm and say, "Mom, we fight a lot, and I want to change that because I love you more than anything."

She might turn around and blame you. Just take it. I know this is tough, but don't dish it back. (This is where putting aside your pride comes in.) One of the main reasons that people who love each other fight so viciously is because they know just how to push each other's buttons, and they can do it without flinching.

If she does this to you, just take it and say, "I want to have a good relationship." In fact, make it your mantra. If she consistently gets a positive vibe from you, you can both stop reacting to each other's barbs and start building trust and respect. And, ahem, let's just say I learned this from experience.

Recently, my boyfriend told me that he didn't trust me and thought I would cheat on him. This is why his last relationship ended. Well, I've been out of town for some time now, and I went to a party where I made the huge mistake of making out with some guy I'd met there. I feel awful that I did exactly what I told him I wouldn't do. Though we are going to separate when I move away in the fall, I would still like to remain friends. Should I tell him what happened? —Name Withheld Upon Request, 17, Tulsa, Okla.

Don't tell him. Listen, I'm not a big advocate of lying, yet in this case confessing might make you feel a bit relieved — but will only make him feel bad. And even though making out with that other guy was not the right thing to do, I don't want you to beat yourself up about it too much.

Did you know that one of the main reasons teen relationships break up is because one person cheats on the other? That didn't surprise me, because I'm a big believer that you shouldn't tie yourself down to one person emotionally when you're a teenager.

Now is the time when you should be getting to know lots of different kinds of people — but when you're in a serious relationship, you deny yourself that opportunity. You might be tempted to get physically involved with someone else because, believe it or not, it's logistically easier to connect with someone that way (rather than emotionally).

It's faster, and comes with fewer obligations — unfortunately, it's an easy thing to sneak in without disrupting your current relationship. The right thing to do is not wait until you move away to break things off. Do it now. Between you and me, I'm worried that if you don't break it off now, you'll feel lonely once you move — and cling to your boyfriend for all the wrong reasons.

Take your make-out session as a loud cue that you're not ready to be in a relationship — especially not with him. Oh, and I'm not suggesting you break up with him to become a kissing bandit: Being 17 is about getting to know different types of people and taking your time to get to know them without feeling guilty. That way, when it is time for you to settle down, you will have a clearer sense of the right kind of partner for you.

Questions may be sent directly to Atoosa Rubenstein at: dearseventeen@ Atoosa Rubenstein, the founding editor of CosmoGirl! magazine, is the editor in chief of Seventeen magazine. © 2005 by King Features Syndicate Inc.