Dear Rachel,

Last weekend I got in a fender bender in the parking lot of a mall. I was driving and my boyfriend was in the passenger seat. When I backed out of my parking spot, I hit the car of a man who was in my blind spot. My boyfriend and I got out of the car and the man started yelling at us. Then my boyfriend pointed at me and said, “Don’t yell at me. Yell at her, she was the one driving.” I was so pissed! I don’t expect my boyfriend to be my knight in shining armor, but c’mon. A little backup would have been nice. Instead, my boyfriend served me up to the enemy on a platter. I’m so disgusted by his behavior that I’m thinking of breaking up with him. Serves him right. Don’t you agree?

Signed, Thrown to the Sharks

Dear Thrown to the Sharks,

I get your point. You don’t want a hot-tempered caveman, but you do want someone who’s on your team and can stand up for you in a crisis. The ideal man has the strength to verbally avoid trouble when possible, physically protect his partner in times of danger, and the wisdom to know the difference.

The real issue here is that your boyfriend didn’t defend you in a volatile situation. I would definitely consider this red-flag behavior. Your boyfriend should have had the common sense and courage to back you up in a hostile situation. The fact that he didn’t shows that he may not be worthy of being on your team. Whether it was a one-time case of poor judgment on his part, or a sign that he doesn’t have your back in general, that’s up to you to find out. Talk to him about his behavior. If he apologizes and realizes his mistake, there may be a chance of salvaging this relationship. If he doesn’t have an “Aha” moment, you may want to move on. In this case, you weren’t physically injured due to your boyfriend’s behavior, but next time you might not be so lucky.

Dear Rachel,

My boyfriend doesn’t like to use condoms, but I’m not on the pill. He says he’s “not a fan of condoms,” and promises that he’ll be careful. Should I take the risk of unprotected sex if I love him?

Signed, Unsure

Dear Unsure,

Of course your boyfriend doesn’t like to use condoms and of course you shouldn’t have sex with him without one. No one enjoys condoms, but they’re still your best protection against disease and 99.9 percent effective against unwanted pregnancy when used correctly. Since you’re not using any other form of birth control, sleeping with your boyfriend without a condom is the equivalent of sexual Russian roulette — all it takes is one bullet.

If your boyfriend wants to have sex with you and you refuse to have sex without a condom, he has no choice but to use one, right? If he breaks up with you for it, consider it confirmation that he was the wrong guy for you. Women usually have to set the boundaries in relationships, and if the man is serious about you, he’ll respect your limits. If you lower your standards for love, you’re asking for trouble. If he loves you, he’ll respect your boundaries, but if he tries to pressure you into doing something against your will, that’s not love, that’s lust. And if he leaves, better now than after you accidentally get pregnant because he’s “not a fan of condoms.”

Dear Rachel,

I’m re-entering the dating world after a divorce. My ex-wife was my high-school sweetheart and now I’m in my 40s. What do I need to know before I set up my first date?

Signed, Out of the Loop

Dear Out of the Loop,

The number one piece of advice I have for you is this: Take it slow. Up to this point, you have more experience being in a relationship than you have dating, so don’t get ahead of yourself. Get to know a woman slowly before jumping into a relationship to avoid forming an attachment to the wrong partner. People who are recently divorced have a tendency to want to fill the void after a marriage ends. However, patience is your best friend when it comes to finding your ideal partner.

Make a mental list of the top three qualities you want in your ideal mate. Then look for women who embody those traits. Go slow and watch and listen for red flags that signal incompatible behavior. For instance, if a woman tells you she has a bad temper, believe her and move on. No one’s perfect, but your best match partner is someone who doesn’t need to be fixed, saved or changed by you.

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.

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