Dear Dr. Date…

Dear Dr. Date,
I am in the 11th grade and prom is coming up soon. Our school is very small; there are only 100 people in our class, of which very few are available. My previous girlfriend has connections with whomever else I might be interested, and she has spread some rumors about me that aren’t true.
She has made me look bad. I was always really nice to her and never did anything that would make her think that I was a creep, but she tells others that because it is her little way of coping with the separation.
There are some girls whom I might be interested in, but I am a little bit afraid to approach them because of what she might have told them. We were really close, and when we broke up she left a big hole that I would like filled by someone else, but that isn’t happening.
Is there anything I can do? I am afraid she has ruined my image to all other women. In our small town, even if they did like me, they wouldn’t tell their friends about it because they wouldn’t approve because of what they have heard. I am afraid to ask anyone out because I would probably get rejected because of that. Please help! Should I try anyway? It might just make things worse.
— Lonely and Disgruntled

Ever since I launched my Web site ( I’ve been getting letters from people all over the country. Many of them come from high school students like you. My column is generally read by a college audience aged 18 to 22, but it certainly isn’t limited to that range. I include your problem because many of us live in our own small towns. Our sphere of existence doesn’t spread much further than a small high school class, and I’m sure many of you out there have experienced something like this before.
I’m going to be blunt with you, my young friend, and say you’re just making excuses for yourself. The bitterness surrounding your recent breakup is not unique to your ex-girlfriend. I hear it in your voice as well. I will trust you when you say these rumors aren’t true, but judging by your attitude there may be some other problems somewhere.
People badmouth others all the time, but it’s up to each individual to take that information and make their own decision. Your personality and sincerity should mean just as much as what your ex has to say about you.
I also get the feeling you’ve sought me out to vindicate you of these nasty rumors. This is something you will need to do on your own. Since I have no clue as to what she’s saying, I can’t really advise you. If she’s telling everyone you snore and drool in your sleep, then who cares? Go on with your dating. A great personality can transcend a peeve like that.
If she’s saying you hit her, then you’ve got problems, friend. If you did hit her, get help. If such behavior is beyond your capabilities and character then you should have nothing to worry about. I wish you honesty and patience as you work this out.