Category Archives: Asking For a Friend

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By Olga Kreimer.
Header art by Abby Litman.

Asking for a Friend: In Love and In Agony

Dear Olive,

I’m in love with my best friend. We don’t live in the same city, but we text or talk almost every day, sometimes for hours at a stretch. We have a deep honesty in which we talk about sex (more graphically than I do with anyone else), our various crushes/partners when we have them, our families, money, our work, everything. We make each other laugh like crazy people, we’re in the same field, we have more in common than not, and as a rom-com character might say, he’s the person I want to talk to about the book I’ve just read, the people I meet, all my decisions and insecurities and delights. Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: Is My Boyfriend Just a Boor?

Dear Olive,

I get embarrassed by my boyfriend in public — he seems to lack tact, but also seems to enjoy getting under other people’s skin. While he is not conservative, he will always play “devil’s advocate” on issues of race and immigration around others, questioning things like DACA or the merits of allowing immigrants into the country at all. (I’m a minority woman and this always bothers me, but he tells me not to make an “academic discussions” so personal). He recently made a joke about his father “f***ing his mother too hard” in public out at a bar among my friends.

To him, this is who he is. I am perplexed that someone who can sometimes be kind and sweet can be so insensitive at times. Is it social anxiety, or is it actually about making others uncomfortable? What should I do if he’s not willing to take constructive criticism in this department? Continue reading

Asking For a Friend: Try a Little Awkwardness

Dear Olive,

I just graduated from college and moved to a new city. I went from a house with my best friends to living on my own. I work at a very small company, mostly from home, so I rarely see my coworkers. I have a few friends here, and I like my neighbors a lot, but if I forget to seek it out I can spend days without talking to people I know. I’m not used to the amount of effort I have to put in to live a social life. What should I do?

-Home Alone Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: When Can I Forget a Friend?

Dear Olive, 

A colleague I work with, someone I have considered a friend for years, has become almost unbearable to be around. He’s persistently negative about most aspects of our job, bitter about some personal failures, and almost entirely disinterested in other people. I don’t get much satisfaction from our relationship and often feel quite used by my colleague, who often summons me to long conversations about his professional life or to perform tasks for him. I’ve gently and repeatedly suggested that he give some thought to visiting with a counselor because I think his attitude is doing damage to his relationships with other people, including his family, to no avail. So that leaves a series of questions. Is it okay, after these repeated efforts, to extricate myself from a friendship like this? If so, how? A clear statement of my frustration, or is this a moment when “ghosting” is the right choice? Help! Continue reading

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