I don't want to be friends with one of my friends because she just adds stress to my life. Every time I talk to her, I get attitude from her. I don't know how to tell her I don't want to be friends when I can't even talk to her about an assignment. How do I let her know? — Allison, 13, Sammamish, Wash.

You're right about this: If someone makes things uncomfortable for you, as opposed to making things more fun and interesting, it's probably a good idea to phase her out of your life.

But you don't need to make a whole production about it: Just gradually start hanging out with her less and less. Don't ask her about assignments — ask someone else in your class. Of course you can continue to say hi to her and stuff, but don't put her in a position where she makes you feel bad.

This is good practice for the future, because here and there throughout your life, you'll likely have to deal with people who aren't the most pleasant, though you'll still have to get along with them. The key word to remember is "cordial" — polite and nice. Just be it from arm's length.

My sister read a few text messages on my brother's cell phone and found out that he was talking to a guy. We don't know for sure, but we think he's gay. Should we confront him about it or forget it and wait until he comes out of the closet? — Sarah, 14, San Diego

Even if you had good intentions, invading your brother's privacy is just plain wrong. And frankly, his sexuality is beside the point of this conversation — I'm more concerned about how little respect you showed him.

Since you were so deceptive in the way you got the information, nothing good will come out of confronting him. But if you're worried your brother might have feelings he doesn't know how to deal with, or if you feel like he wants to talk to you but doesn't know how, next time it seems appropriate, tell him that no matter what, he can always come to you about anything — then back off.

If he has something to tell you, he'll do it when he's ready. Until then? No more snooping! The dark side of being so nosy is you almost always end up finding information that you aren't ready for.

My mom is 36, and since she's a single parent, she wants to go out and have fun. I don't mind her going out, but the fact that she does it every weekend — and sometimes doesn't come home until the next day — really bothers me. It's to the point where I want to pack my things and go. Am I overreacting? — Zadie, 17, West Covina, Calif.

I can see why you're upset —your mom is supposed to be your safe harbor, but that's not what it's feeling like to you.

Write her a letter. Don't be accusatory (reread it to yourself the day after you write it to be sure), because it will make her feel defensive, and that will be counterproductive to your goal. Be honest: You love her and depend on her, and it scares you when she doesn't come home at night.

You sound wise beyond your years, so she probably thinks you don't mind being alone. Having this candid conversation is important for both of you. But, Zadie — don't leave: That will be going from bad to worse, in terms of your own safety. See if you two can come to a better place with a little bit of effort — I know it will be worth it.

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. © Hearst Communications Inc.

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