Dorothy Dix Advice Letters

We often see advice columns in magazines. People write in and ask for help with all kinds of things. Teenagers want help with romance or skin problems. Adults want help with financial affairs or with health problems.

We often call these kinds of letters 'Dorothy Dixers.'
Good question!

Dorothy Dix was one of the pioneers of these kinds of magazine columns. Her real name was Elizabeth Gilmer, but she used the pen name (or alias) Dorothy Dix and her columns became very well known. So today we sometimes still use her pen name in this context.

Look at the letter below. What advice would you give this girl?

Dear Dorothy

I seriously need your help. A few months ago I met a boy. We became good friends. We exchanged friendly emails. He seemed to understand me, so in my emails I told him about some things that had been bothering me. I hadn't been able to tell anyone else about them. I really appreciated having someone to talk to. He was sweet and understanding.

Then I found out that he had shown my emails to some of our friends. I was devastated. I immediately broke off our friendship.

Now he wants to be friends again. What should I do?


What do you think? What should she do?

Look at the kind of language that we often use when we give advice.

If I were you, I would ..
I think you should ...
I wouldn't ...
You could ...
Why don't you ...
Maybe ...

Modals are often used in this context; would, should, could ...

Look at the two replies. Which one do you most agree with?

Dear Confused

He is young. He made a mistake. If I were you, I'd give him another chance. The fact that he still wants to be friends suggests that maybe he knows he has done wrong. Maybe he wants to make amends.

You should forgive him, but be careful. Make sure you stay in control of the relationship. He has to build trust again.



Dear Confused

You could give him another chance, but I wouldn't. Once bitten, twice shy. If I were you, I'd be strong and say, 'No!' 

Make it clear that his behaviour was a betrayal and that it isn't acceptable.

He isn't worth risking your heart and emotions over. He had his chance and blew it! Forget him.