My best girl friend has been dating a guy for three years.  She’s 26 and he’s 28 and she told me they’ve been going to couple’s therapy for the past few months.  I may be way off here, but aren’t they a little young for that? If you are having issues that lead to therapy before you’re even married, isn’t it time to find someone new? -- Danielle

Danielle, I wouldn’t be so dismissive of your friend’s work on her relationship.  After three years of dating, the infatuation stage has surely worn off and they are entering into the realm of real life. And real life issues.  For anything, including relationships, prevention is the best medicine.  Many divorced couples will tell you they overlooked minor issues in the marriage from the beginning that ultimately became major issues.  Those major issues are what cause breakups.  And most would tell you they regret not addressing the problems when they were minor and still repairable.

Couples therapy is healthy.  Don’t be so quick to throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.  Every relationship will have challenges. Ending one to move on to someone new will only start you back at zero.  Sure, you’ll have the intoxicating feeling of the honeymoon stage again, but it ‘s hard to progress to the most worthwhile stage of true love and partnership without hard work. The grass is only greener when it’s being cared for meticulously.  I commend your friend for making the time and effort now.

Angela, this question isn’t about me dating. It’s about my kids!  I have a 14-year-old daughter who says she has a “boyfriend.” I didn’t start dating until I was 16. Should I tell her to wait a few more years? Ground her? Lock her in her room until she’s 30? -- Mom

I know, I know, Mom.  Things were drastically different when we were starting adolescence. The rules have changed for teens from even five years ago, let alone 20 or 30!

As long as you are keeping a vigilant eye on your daughter- making sure she is chaperoned, checking in on her social media without overstepping her privacy, and having constant conversation about what is going on in her life, I think her declaration of a “boyfriend” is typical for the age.  And, it’s acceptable…with limits. 

If your parental decision is no dates until 16, then it certainly is your prerogative to keep that rule. But set guidelines with your daughter.  Will you allow group trips to the movies or bowling? Can her boyfriend come over as long as you are home? Sit down and define and compromise on the terms. 

My son is entering this same awkward teenage stage of exploring romance and defining identity.  Teens are dealing with the beginnings of adult feelings and situations when they are not yet adults but have moved on from being a child.  It’s a challenging phase for parents and our children. The best way to greet these changes is to remember we were once there too. Good luck!

I have a (small) box of cards, dried flowers, Polaroid pictures, and ticket stubs from boyfriends past. How long is it ok to hold on to these sort of sentimental trinkets? -- Ashlay

Ashlay, as long as you don’t have a dedicated shrine to an ex-boyfriend in your house, keep these items as long as you want.  However, if you are saving a piece of hair you snipped while he was sleeping or a t-shirt you broke into his house and stole after you broke up, you might have a slight problem.

Mementos aren’t indicators of your pining away for long ago loves, but rather a way for you retain the great memories that went along with them.  I keep a box as well. Its contents are valuable to me alone, but I wouldn’t think of tossing it. 

Rather than letting them sit forgotten, it’s nice to set time aside every few years to look back on these memories.  Don’t dump them.  They are part of the fabric that makes up your life.

Do you have a question for Angela? E-mail NakedTruth@bocamag.com!

About Angela Lutin

On her popular blog, www.essentiallyangela.com, divorced single mom Angela Lutin dispenses musings on life, raising a teen, navigating the single scene, and tips to stay sexy regardless of your age or relationship status. A social media addict, she recently launched her new weekly Twitter conversation @essentiallyang—aptly titled #sexychat—that answers dating, sex-related topics and anything in between. Angela’s "Naked Truth" dating advice column appears weekly on Bocamag.com and also exclusively in Boca Raton magazine. Follow Angela on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/EssentiallyAngela or Twitter, https://twitter.com/essentiallyang.