Category Archives: Asking For a Friend

For a little unprofessional advice in these uncertain times, send your questions to yourfriendolive@gmail.com or to our anonymous portal. We want it all: the embarrassing, the baffling, the epistemological. Check back in two weeks from now for another dose of aggressively earnest advice, next time on Asking For a Friend.

By Olga Kreimer.
Header art by Abby Litman.

Asking for a Friend: Proselytizing for Professional Help

Dear Olive,

My friend’s parents split up about a year ago. Her mother is doing great post-breakup, but her dad isn’t — the split was not his choice, and now he’s lost his job, on top of that. My friend is furious at her mother (for breaking up the family, and for abandoning her father) and is in a constant state of distress about her father. She’s an only child and relies heavily on me for support, which I’m happy to provide. But I’m quite sure that my friend needs professional help — I’m not a therapist, I’m just an assistant! She’s in her late 20s, has never been to therapy, and rebuffs my gentle suggestions to do so. I’m afraid she’s going to hold on to this anger for the rest of her life if she doesn’t start to deal with it. How do I help her? Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: Where to Draw the Line at Lies

Dear Olive,

My best friend lies about everything. It was easy to ignore when she was just bragging about rich boyfriends and wild parties. But now she’s ramping it up, telling people she had a miscarriage, and most recently that she’s “battling cancer” after she had a tiny, non-malignant mole removed. She’s a devoted and supportive friend. Do I need to dump her over this?

-Fed Up with Best Friend’s Falsehoods Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: Sad in Grad School

Dear Olive,

I spent more than eight years on the road to becoming a scientist with a dream of a PhD. Now, I’m finding myself in a position where my committee wants me to leave with a master’s and my advisor is not supportive, and I wonder why I’m doing so poorly. I don’t work hard because I’m bored and I’ve started to hate this. I want a job with clear goals and directives, with a specific thing that I can learn to do well, instead of nebulous goals that are supposed to be figured out. I want a nine-to-five where I can go home after and make art and do the things I love that don’t make sense as a career. But this feels like striving for mediocrity because society (i.e. my parents) view this as less than the ideal, as falling short of my supposed “potential.” Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: I Can See the Stress from Here

Dear Olive,

My 12-year-old niece is SO stressed about school. She puts tons of pressure on herself, studies incredibly hard, and is upset when her grades are anything less than perfect. (She’ll say things like “If I don’t get A’s in 6th grade then I’m definitely not going to get A’s in high school and then I’m not going to get into a good college and then I’m not going to get a good job…” Mind you, she DOES get A’s in 6th grade.) I’m worried that she’s putting WAY too much emphasis on grades. She’s just a kid! Is there anything I can do about it? Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: What If I’m Ross?

Dear Olive,

I keep falling for the wrong people — people who end up being emotionally unavailable, though it’s truly not apparent at first! How do I come to terms with the actual fact that I may be alone for the rest of my life? I have friends and family and feel lucky, but I truly worry I may never have a partner, like I’ll perpetually be Ross from Friends, sans the happy sitcom ending.

-Ross-Colored Glasses Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: I’ve Grown Up, But Not Apart

Dear Olive, 

I’m trying to set boundaries with my mother. She’s caring, supportive, and my best friend, yet her meddling has become too invasive as I transition into my adult years. She micro-manages every aspect of my life — for example, she still looks at my bank statements and has tried to have the final say regarding where I will go to grad school next year. I am temporarily moving back to my hometown in a few months for a work assignment; how can I keep our relationship healthy yet at an appropriate distance?  Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: Being Solid Without Being Stuck

Dear Olive,

I have been the “solid” one my whole life, the person who takes care of everyone, an amazing friend, sibling, daughter, and partner. It’s just who I am. But it can be exhausting, and means that I often don’t leave space for myself. My husband and I recently (amicably) separated, and I am working on taking this time to prioritize ME, for once. But this means I’m not totally there for my friends and family, and it feels like I’m losing my identity. Who am I if not the caregiver? Can I continue to take care of everyone, and still take care of myself? Continue reading