Dear Miss Emily,

I have been best friends with this girl for about 2 or 3 years.  We are 13 now. She is very smart (all A's in school etc.), but does not act it. She wears too much makeup, wears too-tight clothes, and flirts with every guy under 20 that we meet or pass on the streets. I have never fully realized the extent of her behavior until recently.  For winter break, she went on a cruise and, when she got back, she told me and her other best friend (my best friend too), that she was totally gone and had sex with some guy on her vacation. He was 17.  She ditched him for another guy, age 16, who she did not sleep with but just about. She convinced the second guy to dump his girlfriend to be with her. I was not totally shocked but, then, it dawned on me that this was the same girl who, 2 weeks ago, I had watched a Disney movie with.  She bakes cupcakes for us on our birthdays, but yet she is a complete “sleaze.” Anyone would usually respond to this with, "she probably has super low self-esteem", but she doesn't. She thinks she is the "hottest girl alive."  Both me and our mutual friend have had serious discussions with her, us saying things like "how could you do something like this? How could you not be thinking at all?  How did your conscience not be alarmed since you pretty much did something "illegal?"  Her always saying, "You're right, I don’t regret it, but if  I knew it would upset people I would have had second thoughts, I'm sorry."  It mostly involves sarcasm on  her part. We tell her that she needs to use good morals, and she goes "Uhmm? What are morals, how do I get them?' She made a list of things like be nice to people, don't have sex with people older than you, know them at least a year before you do something this serious and others. She is very smart. She knows all the answers. She knows how to use her head. But she doesn't. I miss my friend. And I don't know how I can be friends with the person that I am friends with but also be friends with the one that is a sleaze. I really don't know what to do. We, her two best friends, are seriously reconsidering a friendship with her, but it really makes me sad because, once upon a time, I trusted her and, now, I just don't.  Is there another way to handle the situation?

---------------Miss Emily’s advice-----------

You, of course, are the smart one.  For thirteen, your letter is well written and wise.  Straight A’s does not always equal common sense.  But I think there is something deeper to your friend’s sleazy behavior than you realize. You say it can’t really be self-esteem issues, but I’m not so sure.  I know there are a lot of cultural messages sent to young people that sex is something to try, and someone like Lindsay Lohan is someone to emulate.  But again, I can’t say for sure, but usually there is a reason for someone to act out in this way when they are so very young. Some things come to mind – parent’s are missing-in-action, abuse, sibling rivalry, blended family issues – single-parent household.  But whatever the reason, you’ve done just about all you can do by telling her that her behavior is destructive, and now you have to let it go.  Do not take it personally.  But I think you may feel that if you continue to maintain a friendship with her, that somehow others will think you behave in the same manner.  It’s true, but then kids can be nasty no matter what the situation. If you think she is, at heart, a good person, be her friend, but continue to involve yourself in things that you hold dear.  If she continues down this path, she’ll eventually gravitate to others who are doing the same, and you will, gradually, faze out of the position of best friend.  And that would be a good thing.  But don’t give up hope just yet. She may realize the error of her ways and switch modes.  But remember, sometimes things just have a way of working out, naturally.