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Dear Anna, I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about six months now. He’s at college in Ohio while I’m stuck in our small town in Iowa. We’ve been trying to make the long-distance thing work and keep the connection and, y’know, the spark. So last night, we were video chatting. With miles between us, things started to get a bit…well, heated, if you catch my drift. What can I say, long-distance relationships are hard! But then, just my luck, my dad just walked right into my room without knocking (he never does that, I promise!). You can probably guess how the rest of the night went—I’ve never seen my dad look so disappointed. And me? I’m just plain mortified. Now, I’m stuck in this mess of a situation and I don’t know how to fix it. How do I face my dad? How can I convince him that I am still his little girl who is responsible and has good judgment, despite what he walked into? Is there a way to take the awkwardness out of the room or is it just going to loom over me like a cloud of cringe? I’d be really grateful for your advice.—Midwest Mortification Dear MM, Take a deep breath. It’s going to be fine. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Humans have desires. Shocking, I know! Even in Iowa. And spoiler alert: Your parents know this too. Yes, even though the very thought of our parents understanding that we are sexual beings (and vice versa) is enough to make us want to crawl into a corn silo and never come out, it’s true. Now, let’s talk about what went wrong. The only faux pas here was not ensuring that your door was locked—which is a simple fix for next time: Lock before you leap, as it were, or if you’re feeling particularly crafty, maybe invest in a doorstop. The rest of it? Totally normal human behavior. Facing your dad won’t be as horrifying as you imagine. If he hasn’t brought it up, there’s a good chance he’s waiting for the dust to settle or, better yet, he’s hoping it’ll become one of those things that’s forever archived in the “Let’s Never Speak of This Again” folder. However, if you feel the need to clear the air, keep it light. A simple, “Let’s agree on knocking, shall we?” should suffice. Sprinkle a little humor on it, let him know you learned your lesson about privacy, and trust me, this will soon become just another non-story of awkward family lore. As for your boyfriend, this is nothing a little conversation and a few shared memes about awkward situations can’t fix. Life is full of these face-palm moments, and navigating them with humor is a sign of maturity and confidence. You didn’t do wrong though. These intimate experiences are normal and healthy parts of relationships. The most critical lesson here is about handling the unexpected with grace (and a good lock). So, here’s your game plan: Learn to laugh it off. And maybe give your dad a hug—it’s a silent way of saying, “We both wish that never happened,” without having to revive the memory. This will pass. And someday, I promise, it will just be a funny story you tell at parties. Dear Anna, Is there a polite way to tell a friend that I’m tired of listening to her damn on-again, off-again drama —Not Obligated To Entertain Annoyances Dear NOTEA, The general formula is: Empathize with your friend/the situation, but assert a firm boundary, then change the subject. “I love you, but we’re not talking about this again. Tell me about [pick a topic/issue].” “I want nothing but the best for you, but I can’t talk about this anymore/right now/tonight. How’s [change of topic]?” “I feel you, but let’s not go there.” “I treasure our friendship, but I feel like we’ve walked down this road before. How about we [change of topic]?” Your friend may keep trying to talk about it and you might need to assert this boundary over and over, but if you’re kind yet firm, they should eventually take the hint and STFU. ___ (Anna Pulley is a syndicated Tribune Content Agency columnist answering reader questions about love, sex and dating. Send your questions via email (anonymity guaranteed) to redeyedating@gmail.com, sign up for her infrequent (yet amazing) newsletter or check out her books!)