DR. WALLACE: I’ve been dating Stephanie for almost a year. Most of the time we had good times, but the bad times came when she ignored me and flirted with other guys. When I challenged her about this, she said that she needed to flirt because it stroked her ego and made her feel “really” wanted.

Last week I finally had my fill of her ego and told her that if she continued flirting, I was going to end the relationship. I was shocked when she told me that she was going to continue stroking her ego and that if I didn’t like it, I should buzz off. Now the “ball is in my court.” What should I do? I really like Stephanie.

Mitch, Tampa, Florida

MITCH: It’s time to end the relationship with Stephanie, for I fear things will not improve. Wish her well and then buzz over to a sweeter flower — a rose, a daisy, an iris, an orchid — you get my message.

DR. WALLACE: I’m a 13-year-old girl and live with my mother and a new stepfather. My mother and father were divorced a year ago.

My mother is a teacher, but my dad didn’t have a job. My dad has moved to Mexico and lives with his mother, and he has not been in contact with me since he called me nine months ago to tell me goodbye.

My stepfather is also a teacher and is a nice guy. He is also divorced and has two sons, but they live with their mother. Our house is very peaceful now and I like that, but I haven’t made up my mind if I will ever be close to my stepfather. I’m finding it difficult to accept him as a family member, and I’m not so sure that I will ever accept him as my stepfather. Right now I could never call him “Dad.”

I am pleased that he is kind to my mom and he is nice to me. It’s just that I don’t have a good feeling about him. Help.

Nameless, Del Rio, Tex.

NAMELESS: It takes time to learn to respect and have good feelings for a stepparent. It takes patience and everyone’s constant effort to have open and honest communication for a stepfamily to blend.

Never feel things are your fault if misunderstandings arise. Keep smiling and remember that your stepfather is also in a new role and could be having the same emotions that you are having.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.