Dear Rachel,

The other day, I caught my girlfriend of four months saying, “I love you” to her ex on the phone. When I confronted her, she said she loves him as a friend, nothing more, and she wants to be with me. What should I do?

Signed

Haunted by the past

Dear Haunted,

In the beginning of a dating relationship, it’s smart to address all red flags immediately. In this case, you asked your girlfriend about her feelings for her ex and she said her feelings are platonic. If you feel convinced that she’s sincere, you can choose to give her the benefit of the doubt. The next step is to address her behavior. You can’t stop your girlfriend from caring about her ex as a person, but you can tell her that you feel disrespected when she says, “I love you” to him in your presence. It’s possible that your girlfriend didn’t realize that her actions upset you, so it’s good that you communicated your feelings to her. If she has trouble putting herself in your shoes, ask her how she’d feel if you said, “I love you” to your ex on the phone. If she defends her behavior, this may be a sign that she has deeper feelings for her ex or she doesn’t respect your feelings. If this is the case, it may be time to let the ghost of boyfriends past have her.

How you and a date handle conflict together can be just as important, if not more important, than the conflict itself. How a date responds when conflicts arise speaks volumes about her character and the future of your relationship together. There’s no way to avoid occasional conflict in a relationship, so you must choose a partner who shares compatible problem solving skills with you in order to make a relationship work.

Dear Rachel,

I thought the teen obsession with the “Twilight” vampire novels was ridiculous until I read them. They’re so addictive that I read all four in one week. I’m in my 30s so I was embarrassed to admit my adolescent reading habit until two close friends confessed to having “Twilight” fixations as well. We’re all Team Edward fans. Why are these books so addictive and where can I find a real-life Edward? Just kidding (kind of).

Signed

Team Edward fan

Dear Team Edward fan,

Let’s face it. Edward is the Achilles’ heel of women everywhere because he’s the quintessential unavailable, tortured guy. He wants to love you, but he can’t. And as natural nurturers, most women just can’t resist a tortured guy who needs to be saved. However, most tortured guys are unavailable because they’re emotionally stunted — not because they’re scared of sucking your blood until you die. So, really, Edward is just a variation on a theme. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s beautiful, exciting, wealthy and has cool hair. But to all you nurturers out there who want someone to save, might I suggest an alternative? Why don’t you save yourself from another unsatisfying relationship with an Edward-type guy and open your mind to dating a Jacob. Yes, Edward guys might have some flashy qualities, but they’re bound to leave you frustrated and exhausted in the end. Edward guys literally suck your life force with their drama, until you lose interest in food, sleep, sunlight, friends, family or even life itself, like a drug addiction.

Most women have to date the Edwards of the world before they’re ready to date a Jacob. And to you, Team Edward fans, I know there’s nothing I can say to dissuade you from pursuing these addictive, high-drama relationships until you tire of their accompanying BS once and for all. I could tell you that the high you receive from addictive relationships is not true happiness, but instead a sort of mania that stems from a fear of loss, which is followed by an inevitable low. But you probably aren’t ready to hear this advice. However, if the day comes that you decide to disembark the cycle of roller-coaster relationships for good, I hope you remember these words: Jacob guys bring true fulfillment.

A Jacob guy is a man with whom you have chemistry, but who’s also your best friend. He’s a kind, loving, dependable person who treats you with respect. He’s the person you enjoy spending time with more than any other human being in the world, and he can be just as beautiful as an Edward. This man will enhance your life, instead of making it unlivable, and the joy you feel in his presence resonates with a feeling of peace, not fear. Leave Edward to reside in the science fiction fantasies you store in your bookcase, but relish the flesh and blood embrace of your own personal Jacob in this world.

Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice Beach. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact: rachel@rebelgirlpublishing.com.