Carefully Thought-Out Advice: A Column Answering Reader-Submitted Questions: We Know What We’re Talking About We Promise: We’re Experts in Advice: Listen to Everything We Say: This is the One Article in the Entire Issue that is 143% Serious:

How to let your friend know they are third wheeling (and how to get them to stop)?

Ok, hear us out. It’s very possibly — in fact, incredibly likely — that this friend sees you and your significant other as parental figures. Congratulations! So, be gentle with your newly adopted child. Maybe tell them something along the lines of: “Hey buddy, your mother/father/parent and I need a little bit of alone time. Maybe go spend some time with the other kiddos?” You can also use the “gentle parenting” style — “I know that we really want to hangout with Mommy and Daddy, but they need some of their own time as well!”


How do I figure out someone’s true intentions?

Gain access to their phone by using their Face ID on them while they sleep, using your forensics skills to get their fingerprint for Touch ID — whatever works. Then look up your name in their text messages. You’re sure to find something there.


How can you tell if someone likes you as a friend or romantically?

You should definitely rope a mutual friend in and force them to act as an intermediary. Long term, that’s 100% the healthiest and most sustainable choice, and everyone involved will be so much happier. Your mutual friend will enjoy having all of the communication go through them and you and the person you’re wondering about will be glad that you don’t actually have to communicate with each other.


What’s an acceptable dating age gap for highschoolers?

Most people say that if the grades don’t touch, you don’t either. Of course, there are numerous exceptions to this rule, not least of which being 50-something-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio dating basically a high-school age woman. Also, parents are a great resource for questions about high school dating; lots of Gen X-ers have perspectives about dating and age gaps that absolutely still apply today and definitely are not problematic at all. Lastly, if you’re ever in a situation where you want to make sure everything is legal, feel free to whip out your handy printout of the Revised Code of Washington, flip to Chapter 9A, Section 44: Sex Offenses for the paragraph about Ages of Consent.


How do you deal with annoying friends of friends?

Bring them to Ikea and start wandering through the galleries. Suddenly, you and all of your other friends run off (study a map of the store beforehand so you know the shortcuts to get out of the maze). If you need some extra time to escape, throw the friend of a friend into the bin of BLÅHAJes (40-inch stuffed whales). You and everyone else leave Ikea and go hang out. The friend of a friend is trapped inside the Ikea labyrinth. Luckily for them, you were kind enough to leave them a gift card for the restaurant. Everyone is happy: the friend of a friend gets some meatballs and you get time without them.


How can you tell if you’re in love with someone?

Do you relentlessly obsess over every aspect of everything they say to you, their word choice and punctuation over text, and how long it takes them to respond to your messages? Do you force yourself to get the ick and lose interest after a couple of weeks? Then, yeah, that’s love.


How do I make a move that’s low-key?

Okay, here’s your plan. So, you’re going to hang out with this person in a group with a bunch of other people. You’ll go to a nice restaurant, somewhere in Cap Hill. Suddenly, all of the lights go dark; when they come back on, all of the other people are gone and you’re standing there alone with this person. Fireworks go off (yes, inside the restaurant). The restaurant speakers start playing “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” You slow dance. Magic.


How do I balance having multiple extracurriculars?

Block out 15 minutes per day on your schedule for “me time” (i.e. crying).


I just found out that someone I thought I was close to is actually a #fakefriend and has been saying mean things about me behind my back. Should I confront them about it to try and save our friendship?

Taking a cue from the 2004 smash hit movie “Mean Girls”; write in your burn book about them and distribute it to the whole school. Alternatively, in true early-2000s fashion, start a chain text badmouthing them.