Question from Melissa
I’m in college and in a long-distance relationship with Cory, my boyfriend of four years. I’m very happy in my relationship and committed to my boyfriend, but I recently realized that I have a crush on my best friend at school, Ryan.
I told Cory about it and he said that he feels threatened by my feelings for Ryan and worried that something might happen between him and me, and he really wants me to stop liking Ryan.
I see Ryan a lot because we have mostly all the same activities and friends, and sometimes when I’m around him, I find myself thinking about him in romantic and sexual ways, especially when I’m feeling lonely and missing Cory a lot.
I feel really guilty for thinking about Ryan in those ways when I know that those feelings of mine hurt Cory, and I really wish I could just turn off my feelings for Ryan, but I don’t know if that’s possible.
It’s not possible to just turn off feelings. Your decision to tell your significant other that you have romantic feelings for someone else marked a breaking point.
Or you can call it a “We need to take a breaking point.” It is asking too much of him to hang in there and be patient while you work through a friend crush. Especially a friend who is physically present while your boyfriend is long distance. You’ve just placed a weight on the relationship that will quickly render it unsustainable.
Short story: You can’t have both of these guys. There is a limit to how close we get to be with someone outside of our romantic partnership. Sure, there are shadings that differentiate each version of this scenario. But based on what you are describing, you have gone too far both with your feelings and with your confession to your boyfriend.
Ask for a break. Pursue this friendship with Ryan. The answer will present itself in time, as long as you are being clear, respectful and fair to both of these guys — and to yourself.
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Question from Sebastian
I’m a sophomore in high school. It’s third quarter and I am getting ridiculously bad grades. I’m doing horrible on tests and quizzes, and I’m slacking so much. In freshman year I started going downhill. My GPA is horrible now. In middle school it was always around 3.8 and now it’s down to 3.2-3.4. I’m in all honors classes and I’m taking an AP class, and next year I’m doing the IB program, and I am honestly very scared for myself.
I don’t know what’s happening to me. I’m just procrastinating so much and putting things off to the last minute. One part of me keeps telling myself it’s not too late to get my grades up, and the other part of me is telling me that I just screwed my academic life over and I will not be able to go to a good university.
I am freaking out and I just need some advice on what I’m going to do with myself and how I can get back on track!!
This is a great question. First let me sound like your mom for a second and tell you that hard things are hard and that you really just have to put in the work. Second, I will say that it is really easy to taste a little bit of failure and psych yourself into more failure. I mean, it is JUST SO EASY. But … it’s a trap. You are falling into it but you can still scramble back out. The further you slip, the further you must travel to find daylight, but do not let the distance scare you because you can do it and you will do it. Start today.
Have you ever had a morning when things start to go wrong early? You stub your toe, burn the toast, lose your phone. That’s when the voice in your head starts saying, “With my luck I’ll miss the bus.” STOP THE VOICE!
Pull yourself out of that mindset. Yes, you will have a doomed day as long as you continue thinking that way. Mostly, you will make your own luck in life. Not all of it. But most of it. You have a lot more control over luck then you realize. Don’t let any day get away from you.
In the bigger picture DO NOT let your high school career get away from you. Start digging in right now and reclaim what is yours … Your own destiny. You have gotten yourself into some sloppy habits and you are allowing them to dictate your sense of yourself and what is possible. That is just not OK.
So, where did this ship start heading for the rocks? Maybe you are really smart and you never needed to develop study habits in middle school. Well, you need them now. There are tutors who teach this skill set.
Maybe you can’t get off your phone at night. Hand it to your parents and say, “Give this back to me in the morning.”
Maybe your group of friends is socially demanding. Tell them you need to go because you have to study. Mean it. Don’t answer notifications. They will wait.
This is where you really need to focus, organize and change your patterns. Doing so will improve your grades and teach you that you are capable of putting systems into place that work for you. Give yourself structure. Set up blocks of time. There are apps that will help you do this. Speak to your teachers. Ask for help. Show an interests. Teachers really do appreciate this.
NEVER believe that one mistake equals every mistake. It simply does not. You will look back on this and smile at the thought that you once believed your career was over in your sophomore year of high school. It’s not going to happen. You dropped this ball of yarn. Pick it up wind it back together.
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Question from Ally
I had this best friend all through elementary school and we did everything together. We had sleepovers and spent holidays and vacations together. Her mom and dad were split up so on weekends when she was supposed to be with her dad she would wind up with us. I’m not sure why but she was always with me. She was more like my sister than my friend. Well, we go to different high schools and we have drifted apart. I can’t get her to talk to me for more than a few seconds. She resists my invitations to hang out.
We are now 16 and we are two totally different people. She is really popular, wears loads of makeup, has a boyfriend, is having sex, barely ever lives at home, and has dropped out of school. I’m getting high grades, get home early and all the other goody two-shoes things. We have so so many happy memories together, and I feel like she doesn’t even remember them.
I don’t think I was special to her. I know that childhood friends mostly drift apart as they get older, but it’s so sad and I really really miss her. But I don’t know if I miss the person that she used to be, or whether I miss her in general, I don’t know if we would get on now. She won’t even agree to meet up.
Do you think I should persist in trying to contact her, or do you think I should just leave her alone and move on with my life?
Everything reminds me of her, especially songs that we heard growing up. There is barely a day that goes by when I don’t think about her.
Do you think I am being stupid for missing my old friend so incredibly much?
No. Of course not. The two of you spent a lot of very meaningful time together. I am certain that she remembers you and thinks of you often. She is simply not in a place where she can reach out to you because you represent a contrast to her currently unwise choices.
It sounds like she is using drugs and alcohol, which means she’s masking her actual feelings.
Also consider that a child who rarely receives positive attention from an opposite-sex parent is more likely to seek the wrong kind of attention from romantic partners. She is in a place that does not provide her with a lot of clarity or the ability to connect with her own emotions. You MUST NOT take this personally.
I do think that you miss the real her. However, I don’t think she is being her authentic self right now. You should forever cherish the times you shared. These are your memories and they matter. But, this girl is going in her own direction and you need to just let her do that.
Generally speaking, what happens when a friend starts engaging in dangerous behaviors is that she will choose not to be around someone who is showing up and getting things done because a) you remind her of her own failings, b) she fears that she would be judged, c) she may believe that you will try to “fix” her, d) she has friends who are also not in school, doing drugs, having sex, etc. or e) we gravitate toward people who share our values.
What you can do is love her from a distance and be there for her if and when she comes back. The analogy that I would use is this one. She’s stepped into a burning building. You can send firefighters in to get her but you MUST NOT go in after her yourself.
Tell your parents that you are worried and that you miss her. Ask if experts can get involved and offer help for her. She is involved in activities that require adult intervention.
Yes, friends do drift apart but in this case specifically, she is running her life off the road. You will find another great friend very soon who is heading in your direction.
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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at email@example.com and it may be answered in a subsequent column.
— Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals Network, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.