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Dear Bearby: Worried Friend
My friend told me she was sexually assaulted and that I shouldn’t tell anyone. It happened a long time ago (10+ years) but her parents don’t even know. She is so nice and I feel so bad for her. What should I do?
From, Worried Friend
”Dear Worried Friend,
Your friend told you this story confidentially, meaning that you should honor the request, especially considering the time frame.
However, if the situation changes if you know that her assaulter may still be harassing her.The most important thing is that your friend feels safe. If you notice an issue, the most helpful thing to do is to report the assaulter to a trusted adult (teacher, parent, or administrator), and keep her name out of the story as much as possible.
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Dear Bearby: Concerned Kid
My parents are in the process of getting divorced and they fight all the time. They fight a lot about stuff related to me like who is going to drive me places. Sometimes I feel like it’s my fault. I don’t want to take sides, but I like my mom a lot better and my dad has been kinda annoying, especially recently. What should I do?
”Dear Concerned Kid,
There is no reason to pass judgment on yourself for this tough situation. There are many factors outside of your control that may have led to the divorce, but you should remember that you are not at all at fault. As for taking sides, your feelings are legitimate no matter how you feel towards certain family members, especially during this emotional time. You don’t need to take sides if you don’t want to. Staying neutral may just look like spending time with both of your parents.
It may feel stressful to deal with change all on your own, and it can be really helpful to put your feelings down on paper, or talking to someone you trust. I would recommend journaling or confiding in a friend. Remember, you don’t have to face this alone!
Dear Bearby: Confused tbh
I’m friends with someone who is constantly making suicidal jokes and saying they want to kill themselves. They do it so often that I’m not sure if I should take them seriously or not. Everyday they say “I want to be run over by a car.” Like, same, but I don’t make it into a joke! Help!
”Dear Confused tbh,
Your friend might feel uncomfortable bringing up her mental health in a serious way, so instead makes jokes about it. It is important to have a solid support system, especially during difficult times, and it is admirable you are concerned about your friend. Checking in on them in a private moment and having honest conversations about mental health could be beneficial to you both. It can be hard to have serious conversations with someone who makes jokes about their feelings, but it is important to be straightforward to show your genuine concern.
However, if these interactions are making you feel uncomfortable, it’s also important to set your boundaries. In this case, let your friend know that while you want to make sure they are doing okay, you feel awkward when they joke about such a serious topic. Keeping an open line of communication is important in any friendship, but especially when the conversations are this personal.
Overall, it’s a lot safer to take these jokes seriously. The best support you can offer is simply being a kind person, and standing by your friend in hard times. M-A offers many mental health resources to students, and you can also anonymously refer your friend to a counselor.
Dear Bearby: first of 2022!!
My mom has become convinced that I secretly have a relationship with some guy from school I barely even talk to, and now she won’t let me do anything. She keeps demanding to go through my phone and know where I am (and with who) at all times, and anytime I tell her that I’m not in a relationship she yells at me for lying to her. I don’t even know why she thinks I’m dating him?????
”Dear Hopeless Non-Romantic,
Overbearing parents can be really hard to handle. Although this is a challenging way to let you know, it sounds like your mom is trying her best to get closer to you. I advise you to try to talk to her about a different aspect of your personal life, like your friends or teachers. Letting her into your personal life in a different way might be able to halt her questions while helping you form a trusting connection.
Dear Bearby: Unlucky and Un-in-Love
There’s a guy in my math class who keeps trying to talk to me, even outside school. I think he’s hitting on me, and my friends keep saying he seems like he is. How do I tell if he’s trying to be friendly or actually into me, and, if he does like me, how do I tell him I’m not interested?
From, Unlucky and Un-in-love
”Dear Unlucky and Un-in-love,
I would go with the flow! It’s always a safe assumption that he is just being friendly, and if you’re interested in a friendship, it could turn out well. However, if he is making you feel uncomfortable, you can use friendship-based words like “buddy” and “homie” while talking to him, so he gets the hint. If he doesn’t understand and confesses his feelings, you can politely tell him that you are only looking to be friends right now. If your connection is worth saving, he would probably love to be friends too.
Dear Bearby: Sad Gay
One of my friends has really homophobic friends. This really bothers me because I am gay. I don’t know how to tell them that their friendship with these people bothers me.
”Dear Sad Gay,
I would start by mentioning it to your friend privately, or maybe through text. Let them know that you’re feeling uncomfortable with it, and use “I” statements, like “I feel hurt when…”. Keep the conversation to how you feel, not an ultimatum. It’s more important to get your thoughts across than lead with anger and frustration. If they are a true ally, they will hear you out and hopefully show their respect for your identity by changing their behavior.
Dear Bearby: Not-So-Joking Girlfriend
Every time I’m on a Facetime with my friend, she asks to add my boyfriend and I think it’s because she likes him. She sometimes treats our relationship like a joke 🙁
It’s highly possible that she’s excited for this new development in your life and wants to be a part of it because she feels like she’s drifting from you as you grow closer with your boyfriend. I would give your friend the benefit of the doubt and have an honest conversation with her. Think back to any other partners you’ve had —has she treated them the same? If you’re worried about your relationship not being taken seriously, try spending time with your boyfriend alone to strengthen your bond. Whether or not your friend is trying to be malicious, it’s always helpful to talk about it and set your boundaries.