Books by Dr. M

Where Should I Sit at Lunch? The Ultimate 24/7 Guide to Surviving the High School Years, by Harriet S. Mosatche, PhD
Where Should I Sit at Lunch? The Ultimate 24/7 Guide to Surviving the High School Years

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Young Adults

— February 25, 2018 —

How do I talk to my dad about missing his birthday for a music festival? My parents are divorced and for Christmas my mom is buying me a pass to a big music festival. It is really expensive and Iíve dreamed of going for years now and I finally have the opportunity but it falls on my dadís birthday and Iíd be out of town. How do I talk to him about going without being rude? My dad is the type to be the center of attention and got mad at my older sister for getting married when our younger step sister couldnít go.

— Kasey, 18

 

Hello Kasey,

A lot of times we think we can predict someoneís reaction. The anticipation of a negative response stresses us out, but at times we may be pleasantly surprised that the outcome is more positive than expected. Although your father has behaved a certain way in the past, that doesnít guarantee that he will do the same this time. I suggest that you talk to your father and explain how you received the tickets for the festival as a gift; however, youíd like to go out with him for lunch or dinner a couple of days before or afterwards. Providing another option will show your father how much you really care and want to celebrate his birthday with him. Any options that you feel would be appealing to your father, would be great.

— Velben

 

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— February 10, 2018 —

I suffer from really bad anxiety and depression and am in a long term relationship. I worry that I am clingy, because I get extremely worried if I haven't heard from him in a few hours, as I am convinced something bad has happened to him. I want to see him most days, and don't like spending time apart from him as it makes me more depressed. Being with him makes my mental health problems more bearable.I worry that my clinginess will push him away. He has said that his happiness doesn't matter, that as long as I am happy that is what matters, and he has said at times he feels more like my carer than my boyfriend, as I need a lot of reassurance, and am extremely insecure. Any advice on how I can be less clingy and not worry that we are going to break up and that I have done something wrong if he doesn't reply? I want to build the foundations of s strong relationship that will last. Other than my clinginess, my boyfriend and I are happy, and he has told me that everything is okay between us. I just want to work on being less clingy to improve the relationship for him.

— Charlotte, 18

 

Dear Charlotte,

As I read your letter, I was struck by a few things. The first impression is that you seem ready to transition into the next phase of development. I admire that you recognize aspects of who you are that might be problematic and are seeking advice. You wrote that you suffer, which tells me that perhaps youíre dealing with a long-term condition rather than something thatís new to you. As you transition into managing your anxiety and depression, you will discover techniques that will work best for you in all of the relationships you are a part of, not just with your boyfriend. Knowing yourself includes recognizing your strengths alongside your weaknesses. I try to look for both when I read letters from people searching for new ideas, and you seem to have a good balance.

From what you shared, it seems there is a degree of happiness, security, and confidence that you feel when you are with your boyfriend. But your anxiety and depression are preventing you from truly enjoying this relationship and your life in general. Since you are dealing with long-term issues, seek out a mental health professional who can teach you techniques that will help you cope better in situations that typically cause you psychological pain. Couples counseling might also be helpful since your boyfriend would benefit from exploring whether largely being a ďcarerĒ in this relationship actually supports your growth and how this role impacts him. In addition to counseling, find activities you can do, either on your own or with your boyfriend, that focus on helping others. If you like animals, volunteer at a shelter. If your community has a local food pantry, help out there. Looking to relieve suffering in others can also relieve it within ourselves.

The important thing is engaging and growing through experiences. If you respond to a situation in a way that doesn't feel right, you can choose to respond differently in the future. It is a process of learning as you go. Your boyfriend isnít measuring you by some standard persona we all strive to put forth. He seems to understand that life can work out beautifully despite challenges like those you face. Give yourself space to grow and discover new strengths that can emerge as you slowly expand your place in the world and in your relationships.

— Amy

 

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— January 27, 2018 —

I did my final high school exams, and I didn't pass to go to the University. Now I have a dilemma, whether to go back to school and work hard to pursue my dream career or forget about all that and apply for manual work which is so available in our town. Please help.

— Ibrahim, 19

 

Dear Ibraham,

Not passing exams or getting into a university can always be a blow to the ego, but that does not mean you are not capable. From the wording of your letter, it seems that you have a specific dream you want to pursue and may regret the decision to completely give up on your original plan. I have told many people in other responses that FAIL does not mean you did not succeed, but rather a First Attempt In Learning. While you are the only one who can make this decision, I advise that you ask yourself what are your priorities in life, where do you want to be in 10 years, and what it will take to get there. This may involve extra school, tutors, mentors, working temporarily, networking, and/or googling different options, but know that hard work and perseverance pay off. Try to stay positive and fearless, and remember that where there is a will, there really is a way.

— Kim

 

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— January 15, 2018 —

Hi there! Before I ask you a question I would like to say I admire you a lot as you help many people with good helpful advice. My question is I have moved to a new college in England and I am originally from America. I am struggling to make friends and try to join in class discussions but I am not confident. I have had a stammering problem ever since I was born. I have always had a problem with this. When I say problem I mean I am fine with it but I care about what people think. I never used to be like this but since Iíve started my new college Iíve noticed how I would try to speak less because of my stammering. I have a confidence problem. Could you pleases give me some advice to help me get through this?

— Bubbles, 18

 

Dear Bubbles,

Thanks for letting me know how helpful the advice on AskDrM.org is. For most people itís hard to adjust to life in new circumstances, and youíre faced not only with making friends in a different country, but also going to college for the first time and communicating with people who may not be comfortable with your stammering. The best way to build your confidence is by taking small steps that will build to real success. For example. prepare thoroughly for your classes, so youíll feel ready to answer or ask questions. Start by giving short answers or even preparing questions you can ask in class. In terms of making friends, be patient since it takes time to build relationships. From saying ďhiĒ to classmates, graduate to suggesting a tea break or study session. Your confidence will grow as you accumulate small successes, which will get you ready for bigger challenges and greater success.

signed, Dr. M.
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— December 31, 2017 —

I've just graduated high school. I am so proud of myself. High school was NOT easy for me like it seemed to be for everyone else. I barely got by with C's and B's, ranked in the 3rd Quartile (or however you spell it). I now know that college is NOT for me. But I already feel so lost. I have no plans. No job, no nothing. What do I do with my life?

— Rhiannon, 18

 

Dear Rhiannon,

Congratulations! Making it through high school is a big accomplishment and you would be surprised to know that it wasnít easy for many of us. Now, itís time for you to explore in order to find out what sparks the passion within you. Take some time to think about things that you enjoy. For example, do you love animals? If so, try to find a job as an assistant in a vetís office or at a zoo or a farm. Do you love music? Then find out what it takes to become a DJ. You could also consider becoming an apprentice to an electrician or a plumber, fields that are always in high demand. Also donít knock college completely out of the picture. It may not be right for you now, but it may be part of your future. Youíd also be surprised to know that many people obtain one degree and return to school years later in pursuit of something completely different; therefore, you shouldnít feel as though you are at a disadvantage. I always dreamed of being a doctor, but here I am in love with fitness and working on opening a gym. Also, try different hobbies because this will allow you to get to know yourself better. You will learn your passion through trial and error. Donít be afraid of the error because it will help guide you in the right direction.

— Velben

 

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— December 16, 2017 —

Over the summer I started to develop feelings for my manager at my job. We are both the same age so it didn't feel weird at all. I didn't act on my feelings because I knew it would go against the store policy and he agreed. Although we did hang out as friends, we never did anything physical. Even when we did hang out alone, he never tried to do anything beyond talking. Overall, he was a very respectful and kind person. I enjoyed his company and I told him how I felt. My store is small so eventually all the other managers knew how I felt and they told me that I should ask him out since I planned on transferring to another location. I did tell him that I liked him and he said that the only thing keeping him from going out with me was that we worked at the same place. Summer came to an end, I went back to school and transferred to another location in the same city. I thought that finally we could date. But I noticed that he didn't text me as much, and when I asked him why he said that he was having family problems. I told him that I completely understood and that I would back off. He said to give him a few weeks, which I did. We did make out once or twice but that's as far it went. Whenever I invited him over to my dorm, he would always say that he was "busy." Eventually I got tired of being strung along, so I told him to just be honest with me. He admitted that he had just come out of a relationship and wanted to be just friends. Although I was a little sad, I didn't want to lose a potential good friendship so I agreed to being friends. Fast forward to recently, a co-worker from my old store said that people assumed we were together since I was always visiting him. When they asked him about it, he got upset, said I was "delusional" and that "nothing ever went on between us.Ē I don't know why, but that triggered an old memory of a guy I dated who was embarrassed to be seen with me because I wasn't "popular." Even though that was in high school it greatly impacted the way I view relationships with men now. I am not sure what happened, but in that moment but I got so angry that I confronted him about it and called him a "b*tch" for talking about me behind my back. This feels completely out of character for me because I am usually very quiet and timid. I felt so awful about how I reacted that I went to visit him and apologized. He told me that while he understands why I was upset, he is not interested in having me in his life. Now I feel even worse about everything. I thought about doing a giant gesture to let him know how sorry I am but I'm not sure if that's even worth it. Thoughts?

— Sarah, 20

 

Dear Sarah,

To get to your question right away, at this point it is best to completely step away from the relationship. Any "giant gestureĒ—no matter how good your intentions—will be seen as your trying to rekindle a relationship. The best thing for both of you now is to stop any communication with your former manager.

Almost everyone has said or done things in a relationship that they wish they had not done. We all have misread a situation and have been guilty of poor or confusing communication. Most of us have been on both sides of the situation, too. It is part of dating, getting older, learning about yourself, and figuring out what a good relationship is from your perspective. You know you should never have cursed at him, whether it was in public or privately, and I am sure you will try not to do that kind of thing again.

You should be applauded for the things you did correctly. You were wise to not act on your feelings while you were an employee. As you have heard about on the news, there are times when managers try to take advantage of the power they have over employees. And male managers/bosses have to be more aware than ever that they not engage in any way that could be interpreted as sexual harassment. So your initial instincts to not pursue a relationship while you were working for the manager were absolutely correct. The fact that other managers knew how you felt, however, shows that there was some relationship—even if only a friendship—that was obvious to them so that is something to be aware of in the future.

It seems that something changed after you left your job and returned to school. He did not return texts as often, he gave you the excuse of family problems (which could have been true, of course), and then that he was too busy. When he said he had just come out of a relationship and wanted to be just friends, that was a time for you to start being open to other relationships. It does seem he gave you mixed signals since he said he would go out with you if you worked in another location, and he did make out with you once or twice. But once you started getting his excuses not to see you and then he decided to be just friends, even if it hurt, that was the time to agree and move on. The fact that hearing from friends that he said you were "delusional" should have told you that he was not worth your time. Unfortunately, it triggered an old and difficult memory of a guy who did not want to be seen with you because you were not ďpopular," which is a stupid and immature excuse for not dating someone. That reason says a lot more about the guy's poor judgment than about you.

It sounds like it is time to focus on what YOU want from a man, and the very first thing is to be yourself and find someone who appreciates the real you. It can be very traumatic the way some guys treat you, especially in high school when being popular seems so important. What you need to know is that once you move ahead in your life, not one person you meet will ever know or care whether you were popular in high school. Anyone who is worth your time wants to know who you are today, and what your values and interests are.

So, forget about the manager. There is no "giant gesture" that will change his mind nor will it help you in any way feel better. It is time to move ahead, learn from this experience, and get to know yourself better. Not every guy you date has to be perfect (or the whole world would be single!) but he does have to appreciate and enjoy the person you are.

signed, Dr. B.

 

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— December 2, 2017 —

My friend recently revealed she's in love with me. I don't have any romantic feelings for her and only think of her as a friend. We're very close and we promised each other nothing would change about our friendship, but I'm afraid we're starting to become awkward around each other. She's expressed over and over how much she loves me and says she's willing to wait for me to return her feelings, but I don't believe I ever will. I don't think I've done anything to lead her on, but she still seems to think she has a chance. She's such a wonderful girl and she deserves someone who loves her as much as she loves them, and I would be doing her a great disservice if I dated her because I just can't give her the kind of love she's looking for. I know I can't control someone else's feelings, but it's frustrating to think this could be ruining what used to be a wonderful friendship. Is there any way I can salvage this friendship but still avoid leading her on?

— Crushed, 24

 

Dear Crushed,

It sounds like you need to make it clear to your friend that you aren't going to return her feelings, even in the future. When you first had a conversation about this, you were probably caught off guard and may have tried to spare her feelings in responding, so that might be why she still thinks she has a chance. When you talk to her again, you can tell her pretty much the same thing you told usóthat she deserves someone who returns her feelings, but unfortunately that isn't you, and unfortunately, that's not going to change. It might be helpful to also give your friendship some space for a bit. It's probably inevitable that both of you will feel a little bit awkward initially, but once your friend knows that there's no chance, hopefully she'll be able to start getting over you and your relationship can return to the strong friendship itís always been.

signed, Liz
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— November 19, 2017 —

My boyfriend and I live in an apartment together in southeastern Ohio. We have been in the apartment for 7ish months, and have been together for almost 5 years. My boyfriend's dad is getting a new job and has to move to the Cleveland area. They want us to move up there with them. The only problem is all my friends and family are down here. But it would be cool to move because my boyfriend has a job opportunity for $60,000 a year as a starting position. I don't know whether or not to move. Like I said my family and friends are here. My parents are divorced and they are both down here. But it would be cool to be able to start over some place new. And if s**t were to hit the fan and we stayed here my parents would not help us because they do not support us being together. If s**t hit the fan up in Cleveland his parents would be willing to help us. What should I do?

— Egirl, 19

 

Dear Egirl,

One question you need to ask yourself is: What will I do in Cleveland? Will I be able to find a job or go to school there? Being totally dependent on your boyfriend and his family may not be an ideal way to start life there, particularly since youíre leaving behind all of your friends and family supports. Remember that support is only partly about moneyóitís also about emotional encouragement and help with the logistics of settling into a new place. Before you take such a big step, spend time really thinking through and discussing with your boyfriend whether the positives of moving to Cleveland right now really outweigh the negatives. And if you decide to move because of your boyfriendís job offer, figure out how you can make your life there as productive and happy as possible.

signed, Dr. M.
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— November 4, 2017 —

My bf has a way of making me feel like Iím wrong or Iím the one who messed up. Heíll get mad at me because I catch him in a lie or heíll be mad because I canít trust him even though heís the reason why I do not trust him. Heíll turn everything on me and make it seem like Iím wrong for not trusting him or Iím wrong for catching him in a lie because I should have just trusted him anyway. What should I do? Am I wrong?

— Marley Q, 24

 

Dear Marley Q,

Without knowing much about your relationship, it sounds like there is a lot of miscommunication happening. Lack of trust in relationships may be due to a combination of external and internal factors. Whatever the reason, your boyfriend seems to feel threatened when you call him out on his lies, and consequently takes the heat off of himself by putting it on youómaking you doubt yourself. If you corner an animal, it will attack. This is unfortunately a common defense mechanism and form of emotional manipulation that can be very damaging to relationships and overall a poor means of coping with a problem. That being said, effective communication will probably be the most immediate game changer.

When dealing with reactive people, it is usually best to address a concern by avoiding any forms of passive aggression or accusation. I recommend sitting down with your boyfriend and explaining that you recognize the difficulties you have with trusting him and how that affects you, followed by an explanation of where these persistent feelings might stem from (something he did, something you experienced in your past, or personal insecurities, perhaps). Listening to his explanation of why he reacts the way he does and allowing him to express his feelings (whether you agree or not) will also be an important part of this process. People usually become calmer and more understanding when they are in a more empathic state of mind. If this is a relationship you choose to stay in and rebuild trust, discuss ways that you can address suspicions and concerns with him in a manner that will open effective dialogue rather than a defensive reaction, as I imagine that is not your intention. Recognizing problems and finding a mutually agreed upon solution are the first steps towards repairing a relationship. While you cannot change your boyfriend directly, you can start to change the cycle of your negative interactions with him by altering the way you communicate your frustrations.

— Kim

 

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— October 22, 2017 —

So I dated a boy when I was 16 (my junior year) until right before we started our freshman year of college. We had no contact whatsoever during the break up. Then we saw each other at a party and we got back together for about 7 months. We broke up again. During this time my parents told me they hated the guy and never want me to be with him ever again. Well we started hanging out at the end of the summer as friends, then things started to progress. We were kinda dating again but keeping it a secret because of my parents. I of course love the kid but the same old stupid stuff was happening and making us fight. I felt as if something wasn't right but I couldn't tell what it was. I broke up with him and he was super upset. He deleted me off everything because he doesn't want to be reminded of me. All of my friends and family are happy I'm not with him but it's been almost a week now and I'm upset. I feel like I miss him but I'm not sure if I want him back. I really just want to talk to him but I don't have a way. I'm crazy stressed out and I don't know what to do.

— Beck 19

 

Hey Beck,

Without knowing much about your relationship, it sounds like there is a lot of miscommunication happening. Lack of trust in relationships may be due to a combination of external and internal factors. Whatever the reason, your boyfriend seems to feel threatened when you call him out on his lies, and consequently takes the heat off of himself by putting it on youómaking you doubt yourself. If you corner an animal, it will attack. This is unfortunately a common defense mechanism and form of emotional manipulation that can be very damaging to relationships and overall a poor means of coping with a problem. That being said, effective communication will probably be the most immediate game changer.

When dealing with reactive people, it is usually best to address a concern by avoiding any forms of passive aggression or accusation. I recommend sitting down with your boyfriend and explaining that you recognize the difficulties you have with trusting him and how that affects you, followed by an explanation of where these persistent feelings might stem from (something he did, something you experienced in your past, or personal insecurities, perhaps). Listening to his explanation of why he reacts the way he does and allowing him to express his feelings (whether you agree or not) will also be an important part of this process. People usually become calmer and more understanding when they are in a more empathic state of mind. If this is a relationship you choose to stay in and rebuild trust, discuss ways that you can address suspicions and concerns with him in a manner that will open effective dialogue rather than a defensive reaction, as I imagine that is not your intention. Recognizing problems and finding a mutually agreed upon solution are the first steps towards repairing a relationship. While you cannot change your boyfriend directly, you can start to change the cycle of your negative interactions with him by altering the way you communicate your frustrations.

— Velben

 

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— October 8, 2017 —

There is this guy that I was childhood best friends with, from about 2 to 7 years old, we will call him ďJake." We eventually moved away from each other and lost touch. It wasn't until about a year ago that we reconnected via social media (we started Snapchatting each other every so often) nothing serious, just friendly catching up. I was at LSU and "Jake" was at UGA (we are both from Georgia). About 6 months ago I found out I had to transfer to UGA because out-of-state tuition became too expensive. I told him this and he was excited but the whole Snapchat conversation was still casual. He wasn't like "we need to hang out when you get here!" no, it wasn't really like that. We would still innocently flirt on Snapchat but never made plans to actually meet up once I transferred. Over the summer we stopped Snapchatting because he became involved in a relationship (and still is). I am here now at UGA and the other night I went out with my friends and ran into him (his girlfriend wasn't with him). We immediately hit it off and there was obviously some connection between us. This is where it gets weird. Earlier that night I had locked myself out of my apartment and was planning on staying with my friends I was out with. While I was talking to ďJake," I guess they all went home. After telling "Jake" multiple times that I would figure it out, he insisted that I sleep on his couch. We get to his apartment, and then he insisted I take his bed and he would sleep on the couch. We went to his room and instead of going back downstairs, he sat next to me on his bed. We were both drunk, obviously, and we eventually started kissing and when he tried to do more, I stopped him because, well, he has a girlfriend. Then he said that he should go downstairs and I agreed. The next morning my friend came to pick me up. I went downstairs in a rush and it was obvious I was trying to get the hell out of there, only because I felt awkward talking to him and didn't really know how to handle the situation. We said a couple of things, I half hugged him goodbye and ran out the door. It's been almost a week and I still can't stop thinking about him. We haven't talked at all. I don't know what to do because I want to talk to him but he has a girlfriend. What if he doesn't want to talk to me? Should I Snapchat him? Or should I just leave it be, move on with my life and forget about the whole night? Please help me.

— Bell, 21

 

Dear Bell,

As I read your questions, I could feel the energy behind your words. You are embarking on all of these exciting changes in your path. You are working toward getting your college degree, making new friends, and enjoying the unique freedoms this phase of life holds for you. The thoughts that came to my mind as I read your re-telling of events were probably very similar to the thoughts that you have had already.

It is admirable that you demonstrate a sense of respect for relationshipsónot only your own, but those of others, too. But a key question here is whether or not this young man is at the same point of maturity, too. This situation could go in several ways. You could continue to cultivate a friendship, which may lead to more, or it may not. No matter what you decide to do, it is really important that you do everything on the up and up. Itís clear that you did not feel comfortable, but awkward after that night. Listen to that inner voice. I am guessing he probably felt similarly. Maybe the best way to move forward is just to reach out to say that you respect the relationship he has with someone else, that you did feel awkward (even if itís stating the obvious), and that you are sorry it happened, and leave it there.

Finding THE ONE is rarely a love-at-first-sight event. It is a process. Becoming a better friend to him gives him and you the opportunity to figure out the sort of person he is. You might even discover that you prefer him as a friend rather than as a romantic partner. Whatever happens in the end, remain respectful and most importantly, honest. Donít engage in any behind-the-scenes stuff. If Jakeís relationship with this girl is not an exclusive one, do both of them have the same understanding? If you and Jake decide to continue your friendship, ask him if he will introduce you to her. If he is fine with that, it is a good sign he is a person worth befriending.

— Amy

 

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— September 24, 2017 —

I am my mother's oldest of 6. I am an 18 year old freshman. My sister is 16. My mom has 6 year old twin boys with my stepfather, a 3 year old daughter with him, and then adopted an abandoned and abused girl from my brothers' school. She's a great mom to them and was to me for about half of my life. When I was 9 my mom spanked me because she thought I was missing. I had gone down the street to watch a movie. I left a note (as required). It got swept up and thrown away in my sister's papers. My mom wears my butt out for going AWOL on her. She wouldn't listen or believe me about the note. I found it 5 minutes after the spanking. I always hated my mother after that. I spent a year+ lobbying my parents to live with my dad. Finally, they agreed. But nothing pleased him. I wrote him a Father's Day essay and he brought it back with edits and corrections. That was dad on a good day. My visits with my mom were just because she got a court order. The happiness of my childhood was destroyed by my mom. She thought her apology should have been the end of it. She came to my graduation uninvited. We did not speak. Now, through my next oldest sister, she is asking for a meeting to reconcile. Should I do it? Why did she assume I was guilty at 9?

— Kim, 18

 

Dear Kim,

I understand your frustration and hesitance to reconcile. In your attempt to avoid further feelings of anger, rejection, stress, and/or drama, you have moved away from your mom. Unfortunately, I can confidently tell you that avoiding a conversation with your mom now about the way her actions have influenced you over the last nine years will not make the situation any better, nor help you move forward emotionally.

Sometimes it helps to understand why someone did something by playing devilís advocate. When a mother believes her child is missing and then discovers that they are safe, she experiences a wave of emotions that range from fear, to relief, to anger, and then affection and compassion. If this was a rare time that your mother spanked you, it sounds like she was projecting her feelings onto you and impulsively reacting as opposed to mindfully responding. While there are other ways she could have handled the situation, the positive things you said about her (her actions before age nine, her refusal to miss your your graduation, her wish to reconcile) demonstrate her continued love for you, and maybe even regret.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool in life that will not only help rebuild your relationship with your mother, but spare you from the exhausting mental efforts involved in harboring negative feelings. Without reconciliation, these negative emotions may manifest in ways that influence other areas of your life, including future relationships. Given your perceptions of your father, it sounds like it wouldnít hurt to have a mom on your side, especially at a phase in your life when you may need her for guidance. It is also worth mentioning that people can change a lot in nine years, so meeting with your mom could give you an opportunity to see what she is really like now. All in all, while I am not telling you to run into her arms, it may benefit you to hear her out and get answers for your own peace of mind.

— Kim

 

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— September 10, 2017 —

I have been seeing a guy I work with. We both work part time at the same sports bar while going through the university. When it is just the two of us, it is great. But when there are other people around he distances himself like crazy, as in pretty much pretending we are strangers. I get not wanting people to know you are gay. I'm not openly gay either. After hearing the way some of my team mates at cricket talk, I have decided to wait, at least until I finish with sport and with uni, to stay in the closet for now. My parents don't know either and assume I have a girlfriend as two weeks ago I went to visit them with a love bite on my neck. So I am okay with not being open, but my concern is he is way more in the closet than me. I plan to come out some day. I am okay with us going out to drinks pretending to be just friends. I don't know if he ever wants to come out, and it is a bit weird that he thinks that things between us can work out if he continues to stay in the closet. Whenever I ask him about it, he tends to shut me down, saying that he is not ready to have that talk yet. I know he has problems with his father, and so it might relate back to that, but I don't know. What should I do? Should I just go along with this? Am I being selfish? I really like him but this behaviour is confusing.

— Josh, 20

 

Hello Josh,

I can understand why you are concerned about the situation youíre in, but I donít think youíre being selfish. Youíre clear about who you are and what you want, but the guy youíre seeing is showing some ambivalence. Youíve speculated about whatís going on, but since he doesnít want to explore the issues with you, you donít really know where he stands. I'm sure you both have more to learn about each other so it's best to slow down and get to know each other better before making even more of a commitment. If you truly care about him, you will be patient with him as he's clearly not as comfortable with his sexuality as you. Just do not get too serious without having all your concerns addressed.

— Velben

 

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— August 26, 2017 —

Hi! I have a problem regarding my overthinking. I like a guy and gone on a date with him. It was a good one but I kept asking him stupid questions like, Am I not boring you? or I kept saying I'm so stupid and all. I really like that guy but I think because of my questions I'm actually irritating him and he doesn't want to talk to me. I really don't know how to stop that. Please help me regarding that.

— Overthinker, 20

 

Dear Overthinker,

People, not just men, love self-confidence. Unfortunately, it's one of the hardest things to develop! So what to do? Well, something I've done before, as have my friends, is "fake it til' you make it." No one can tell if you're pretending to have confidence or not, and real confidence will often follow. How would that look? First, I'd recommend to rarely (if ever) ask "Am I boring you?" to this guy and other people. He's clearly interested in you as you've gone on a date with him. Second, I suggest planning out what you want to say in your head before you say it. That way you can consider how he might feel or react to it.

signed, Anil
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— August 11, 2017 —

Recently on an exam I purposefully did not fill any of it out and drew all over the test paper until the exam was over. Normally I'm a B student at school, but I just felt like I couldn't bear to take the exam. I think I was so afraid of failing and having another panic attack I decided to fail on my own before my anxiety kicked in. The problem is it felt so much better than failing again after trying so hard, to just turn in basically nothing and leave. I felt an anxiety attack coming on and decided "I'll show you, I'll fail before you even make me forget what I studied." I feel so lost and confused and I don't even understand myself anymore. I feel crazy. How can I never do this again?

— Anxious Student, 20

 

Dear Anxious Student,

The stage of life that you are currently living is one of the most challenging. I want to begin with highlighting the positive aspects of your story. You are a B studentócongratulations! That means that you are reaping benefits from applying yourself to study and work. You also clearly recognize that not taking a test by writing all over it and not answering the questions is a problem for a student who is required to demonstrate knowledge of the class material. You also seem to understand that it was a poor response to the overwhelming anxiety that you admit feeling. Finally, you are seeking help, which is admirable.

Anxiety is often a companion that travels alongside us throughout life. It is an important sensation we possess that can actually be a positive force, motivating us to pay attention more closely or put forth more effort when a situation demands it. Some people are affected by it negatively. They become overwhelmed by it. Those who are more affected by it need to find techniques for stress management that may include mindfulness-based stress reduction skills, many of which can easily be learned on YouTube or other helpful sites, such as https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction-mbsr/. Certain breathing exercises can immediately reduce the physical ramifications of stress and anxiety in the moment, but it also is important to address the mental processes that contribute to stress in such situations as test-taking. As a matter of fact, test-taking anxiety is one of the most common. An excellent resource is http://www.test-anxiety.com/ and I encourage you to read some of the tips provided to address how you might handle things in the future.

Lastly, you are not crazy. It is not uncommon for us to question our sanity when we do something out of character, such as failing to even attempt to take a test when we are a B student. You are actually the opposite of crazy, since it has been bothering you. If you didnít see a problem, that would be more worrisome. Remember to evaluate situations by reviewing all aspects, such as past successes, the time you invest to prepare, and desire to do your best. Your efforts thus far have been reasonable and successful, I would say to do keep doing your best to let it go and move forward using new skills to combat anxiety in the future.

— Amy

 

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