Dear Harlan: I overheard a conversation between Girl A and Girl B, in which they were talking about how strange and unaccepted Girl C is.
B says that C is strange, and every time C approaches her wanting to hang out, or wants to be invited to parties, or wants to group together in class, B tries to scare her away.
Girl A continuously asks why Girl C is so strange. Girl B says that she wears the same dress all the time and has a lesbian friend with a mohawk, and therefore is too strange to hang out with. As I witnessed this conversation I wanted to turn to the girls and say “Remember (name of any school shooting)? Don’t you think this is the kind of behaviour that induces those?” But I could only stay silent, thinking that maybe this isn’t one of those situations. Should I have spoken up? — Bystander
Dear Bystander: Feel bad for the ugly girls making the ugly comments. They are the miserable ones. The reason Girl A and B are consumed with making everyone feel like less is because they never felt good enough.
Had you interrupted them, you would have been another target for them to attack. The best way to handle people like this is to stay out of their hate circle. Be extra kind to all and fill the world with joy and compassion. Should a friend or acquaintance make other people feel like less, take the opposing side. Help them see the world through a lens of compassion. If they get irritated, don’t apologize — being kind isn’t wrong. Let them learn from your example.
Dear Harlan: I’ve had a friend since fourth grade, and we’ve been best friends since sixth grade. I know this sounds cheesy, but for the longest time I always believed — truly believed — that she would be the maid of honour at my wedding.
Recently, I’ve come to the realization that we’ve grown apart. It’s not just the way she’s been acting since college started this year, it’s been her behaviour through the years.
I feel like I can’t be her friend anymore. In a lot of ways I’m not her friend anymore. My roommate and I are her two oldest friends.
We both have amazing boyfriends who really dislike her because, in their words, they don’t like how she’s always trampled all over us and taken advantage of us.
They’re right. Our friendship has always been very one-way, and I, for one, am tired of it. I can’t deal with her anymore, but she is in my high-school group of friends. She’s been so miserable lately. What do I do? I need advice. — Fading Friend
Dear Fading Friend: As a soon-to-be ex-friend and never-to-be bridesmaid, at least be honest. But first, take a step back. While you might feel resentment — it’s not completely fair. No one can take advantage of you without you letting him or her take advantage of you. Be upset with yourself that you weren’t able to set limits, but don’t blame her. She needs help.
Explain that you care about her and bring up the idea of her getting help. See what happens.
If she doesn’t get it, distance yourself from her. If she tries to trample your feelings, set boundaries and step aside. But be nice. That’s what ex-friends do.
Dear Harlan: You missed an opportunity to tell the young lady seeking the truth about “sex-seeking men” — we are not all this way. Deep down, many of us still see the person on the other side of her smile without wanting to rush into bed. My wife and I are coming up on our 50-year anniversary next year. We think it’s still possible. What we don’t need is more support for the hooking-up mentality.
Sex, in our minds, should be a deep but transitory emotion between two committed lovers who truly care for one another. Thank God for giving us men short memories of how wonderful sex is. Some of us are truly grateful for that feeling all over again. Our advice to that young woman who thinks of herself as a person and not an object: Don’t get used. Wait for the guy who sees your eyes and loves your soul. — Tom and Ruth
Dear Tom and Ruth: I agree. All men are not sluts. Millions of men are attracted to smiles, brains and personality. But that leads to a deeper attraction. And that leads to deeper intimacy.
And that leads to getting naked. All men and women will be sexual (people sworn to abstinence excluded). Survival of our species depends on it. The problem is that most people don’t know how to date before getting naked — they just know how to hook up. Dating means sharing feelings before getting naked. And that’s too scary. The best way to avoid getting hurt is to share time and feelings before getting naked.
Dear Harlan: I have a friend who I’ve known since middle school. When we were seniors in high school, I asked her to prom by putting a note on a pizza she was picking up from a bakery where I worked. We went to prom and it went well. The night of prom, I planned to take her to a little campsite and make s’mores (her favourite). We ran out of time and I had to take her home.
I told her about my plans and she said that I was so sweet and knew how to get to her heart. When the summer came along, she left early to attend a summer program at the college we would both be attending. When I finally saw her on campus, she wasn’t very responsive.
She hasn’t been since. I’ll be honest — I’m kind of hurt. She’s one of the few people I knew on campus. I know that there are 35,000 people on campus, and a lot of them are really attractive, but I need help handling this situation. Her recent actions are very uncharacteristic of her. — Shut Out
Dear Shut Out: Want to look attractive? Give her permission to not be interested in you romantically. Assume she’s too uncomfortable to tell you that she’s dating someone else or not interested. If you can be just a friend, make it clear to her that you’re cool with it. Mention how she didn’t seem to be herself and you were concerned. Once she knows you’re comfortable being a friend, she might be able to open up without feeling as if she’s leading you on. If you can’t be a friend, leave her alone. There are thousands of options – I mean, who doesn’t love s’mores?