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Trouble With Friends
If you feel like your friendships sometimes cause you more pain than joy, you're not alone. Here's what our experts and Mentors have to say about maintaining healthy, happy relationships with your best buds.
   
Advice Topics:

Advice Questions about Trouble With Friends:

  • GOMe and my friend Darrion are in a huge fight. We were playing tag on the way back from lunch and it was really windy. I accidentally pushed him too hard and he fell down. Now he won't talk to me. What do I do?

  • GOMy best friend in the whole entire world just moved halfway across the country. She is like a sister to me and we do everything together! She's making more friends now and is forgetting about me. I tried texting her and calling her, but she rarely ever responds. What do I do? I don't want to lose her, because she is a super friend and has always been there for me and I can't not be her friend. Help!

  • GOI have a small class, so everyone's really close, like family. The hard thing about that is that I don't have a best friend at school. I'm sitting in class and I feel like I don't belong in the two groups: the popular, sporty girls, and the "just one of the guys" girls that hang out with the boys. I don't have anyone to hang out with me personally, someone who likes what I like. I tried to like what the others like and vice versa, but nothing works out. Sometimes, I feel so alone! Any suggestions?

  • GOMy best friend and I are in love with the same guy. It's tearing our friendship apart! We haven't talked to each other in DAYS! She stopped coming to my house every day and completely gives me the cold shoulder. Worst of all...our crush likes the both of us "equally". I really don't wanna lose my best friend to a boy but I also don't want to let this guy go because he's really special. Help? Please!

  • GO"I don't like my best friend's family! Her sister is annoying and gets into our business, she also wants to sleep over at my house the next time my BFF comes over! Her mom doesn't like me and thinks that I'm a bad influence, and lastly, her stepdad drives me crazy! I wanna sleep over at her house but her family makes me uncomfortable so I know I can't! Please help!"

  • GO"I am friends with this special needs student and I always play with him at recess. But the problem is that he won't let me have my own space when I need it and he won't let me play with my friends. He became too attached to me and now I feel like I'm trapped. I asked him if I can play with my friends and he won't let me. He will always find a way to force me to play with him. Now my friends are ignoring me. I don't know what to do, please help me!"

  • GO"My best friend is awesome! We hang out with each other and stuff. But then she met this boy and now all of the time she talks to him or about him! Everywhere we go, she brings him along and I'd really want us to be just us again. How can I tell her that?"

  • GO"My best friend is growing up at a slower pace than I am. She still plays dress up, likes Barbie and princess movies, and doesn't even know multiplication that well. I'm not trying to be mean, but I think we need to find more in common with each other. But how do I do that?"

  • GO"My best friends are two boys. We used to be inseparable, but now we're falling apart. One of them calls me names and the other is just kind of mean. I haven't done anything bad to them. I don't want to lose my friends, but I don't want them to be like this. What should I do?"

  • GO"I'm having some friendship troubles. The group I hung out with last year still likes me, but I find them less mature than myself and sometimes annoying. The people I hang out with a lot this year are more mature, but sometimes say bad things or use bad language. I feel like I'm better friends with some of these people, but am sometimes uncomfortable around them. Finding new friends isn't an option, because my school is very small. To sum it up, I guess my main two questions are how to let these "old friends" know they're bothering me and possibly end our friendship, and how to tell my "new friends" I'm not comfortable with some of the things they talk about."

  • GO"I have a friend whose dad is very strict. He gives her maybe 20 minutes of free time a day and works her all the time. I'm scared to death because she is one of my best friends and she always seems so depressed. She keeps acting like it's nothing but the things she describes to me are so alarming that I've even tried to tell her dad to relax around her a little. I can't stand my friend to be sad and upset, and I can't stand her dad to be strict on her. I don't what to do. Please help."

  • GO"My best friend's family is pretty rich and she's always bragging. She's going to London on spring break and it's making me really annoyed!"

  • GO"Lately, my friend has become really violent. She hits, kicks, pinches, or scratches anyone who says something she doesn't like, which is a lot of things! I want her to stop hurting people, and I’ve talked to her before. But she just acts like she’s not doing anything wrong and shifts the blame on to me, putting me into an awkward situation! How can I get her to stop hurting me and others?"

  • GO"There might be a new girl coming after winter break, and she is Chinese. All of the boys are talking trash about her, and I already know that if she comes she'll never survive! I try telling them to stop, but they don't stop! I don't want her to feel odd, and I just hate it! What should I do?"

  • GO"I have a friend whose younger sister is dying of cancer. She's going back to Texas at the end of the summer. How can I tell her I really want to be someone she can count when her sister is gone? She's always been a good friend to me. Please help."

  • GO"My friend's dad died and then she caught mono. When she came back to school, she started to treat me and some of our friends like dirt, like she didn't want to be around us, and she didn't sit with us at lunch. She sat with somebody she bad-mouths and says is annoying. Is this all depression or is it something else? How can we help her?"

  • GO"I finally got a cell phone for my 13th birthday but our plan limits the number of texts I can send every month. I went over last month and it cost my parents a lot of money, and they got really mad at me! They said I have to control my texting but it's so hard! Everyone sends me tons of texts each day and I feel like I need to answer them all. How do I control my texting when it seems like such a necessary thing with my friends?"

  • GO"My friend feels worthless. Today at lunch she was saying, ‘My mom tells me every day that she wishes she never had me. I guess it's no wonder, I'm not pretty at all. I wouldn't want to have a kid like me; I'm a terrible person. I'm not smart, not good-looking, not particularly nice. I don't know why you put up with me.’ And when one of my friends and I tried to make her see that she does have value, she just said that we're always nice to people and that she can't really believe that we mean what we say. She doesn't do this a lot, just from time to time. She doesn't seem like the type to get depressed, but is she? Or is she just trying to get the positive attention that's she's not getting from her parents? What can I do to make her feel that she IS important?"

  • GO"I have two friends who are also friends, and just about three weeks ago they both got into a really big fight and are trying to get me to take sides. They will not talk to each other and pretty much just won't go near each other! I hate being in the middle of this. I have the same amount of friendship for both of them! Please help me! I want to hang out with both of them again!"

  • GO"I have been out of school with a health problem. Ever since I've been back, all my friends seem to ignore me like they don't know me. I don't think it's because I've been out but I keep trying to be back in the group, and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I just want friends!"

  • GOI have a friend at school and we've been friends since 4th grade, but I get the feeling that I'm just her back-up friend. She comes to me and tries to hang out with me when the other girls aren't around...Do I ignore the problem or do I talk to my best friend? WHAT DO I DO?

  • GOLately I have been hanging out with the 'populars.' They are really nice and even invited me to a movie. I joined a sport to get closer to them, which helped a little. But when I hang out with them at recess I have nothing to say. How do I get closer to them without being clingy or annoying?

  • GOI am a Democrat while my friend is a Republican. As you can imagine, we have two very different opinions on certain things. I try hard to avoid these topics but she constantly puts down my beliefs and makes me feel dumb. We recently got over a big fight about global warming, but now she's bringing it up again and saying even crueler things then before! I don't know what to do. She apparently doesn't understand the term TRUCE!

  • GOI have a friend named Lizzy who is always putting herself down. She is always asking me how she looks. If I say she looks okay, she says I'm lying, but if I say she looks big...she gets MAD! There's not much I can do. CAN YOU HELP?

  • GOWell, I have these two ‘friends’ who seem to do everything without me. They have sleepovers without me, they go swimming without me, they make little skits that have 3 parts, but they never ask me to join in. I HATE IT! I don't know what to do. PLEASE HELP!

  • GOI am in a clique. We all live in the same neighborhood and are all friends. One of my friends is very wild and crazy and gets all of the attention. I want a little of the attention but don't know how to get it. Then another girl in the group is very sarcastic and sometimes makes mean jokes but always says just kidding, which can still be hurtful. Sometimes everyone is nice to each other, and others not. Sometimes they gang up on me and make mean jokes. I can usually hold them off, but not always. I like my friends but sometimes they can stress me out a lot. I can't and don't want to find a new clique. What should I do?

  • GOI am in a clique. We all live in the same neighborhood and are all friends. One of my friends is very wild and crazy and gets all of the attention. I want a little of the attention but don't know how to get it. Then another girl in the group is very sarcastic and sometimes makes mean jokes but always says just kidding, which can still be hurtful. Sometimes everyone is nice to each other, and others not. Sometimes they gang up on me and make mean jokes. I can usually hold them off, but not always. I like my friends but sometimes they can stress me out a lot. I can't and don't want to find a new clique. What should I do?

  • GOI feel so bad for telling the whole school that my friend got sick to her stomach at Barnes and Noble. Now that I think about it, I feel horrible! It may have been hilarious at first but I regret it now. How can I earn her trust back?

  • GOI am in the eighth grade at a public school. My 'friend' is always doing something mean. Like trying to make a couple break up, telling much MUCH younger boys they are hot so they do anything she says, etc. She also treats me like I'm stupid. Every day, she comes up with another of my faults to tell me. I don't know what to do about this. I feel like I don't have any friends, because when she and I 'buddy-up,' people think we don't want to talk to them. I can't ignore her, because we have EVERY SINGLE class together. Could you by chance loan me a bit of advice?

  • GOI met this girl this year. Her name is Lauren, and she's absolutely awesome. She doesn't have any friends besides me though, and I feel bad. She also tells me how no one in her family ever says that they love her, and she doesn't feel loved at home. She came over to my house once, and the first thing I heard her say when she was walking to the car with her mom was, "Can I go back again?? Please??" I felt bad. I want to ask her to sit with me and my 5 friends at lunch, but we can only have 6 to a table. Also, I don't think my friends would get along with her. I don't want to risk the friendship of my other friends, especially Cathy whom I've known for 8 years. Do you have any ideas?? Please help me.

  • GOI feel like my friends are constantly putting me down. They try to find little faults in me and laugh about it together. They look at me, then laugh in front of my face and say that I am so funny in a negative and mocking way. Whenever I tell them genuinely that it is not right, they say sorry but continue. I find myself eating alone at lunch. The thing is that when they are alone with me, they are super nice but when they are together, I feel like I hate myself. It is disturbing and leading to crying afternoons.

  • GOMy two best friends went to the local ice rink without me. I am mad at them because whenever I go, I invite them, and now they went, and didn't even invite me. They called while they were there and it seemed like they were trying to rub it in my face. I don't know if I should still be best friends with them. Can you give me any advice?

  • GOMy best friend Alyssa has an eating disorder. She claims that she doesn't, but everyone knows she does. She doesn't eat, she feels dizzy all the time, she always feels like she's going to throw up, she can't breathe and she faints nearly every day. Our friend told the school guidance counselor, and Alyssa freaked out. Her mom said that if she doesn't start eating again, she'll send her to an eating disorder rehab facility. What should I do to help her?

  • GOI used to be good friends with this girl, but I found out she had a sleepover with all our friends and didn't invite me! I don't want to be her friend anymore but all my other friends like her. And I don't want to stop hanging out with all my other friends.

  • GO"I have tons of friends. But some people get mad when I win awards! I won Student of the Year for my Parish or County and my school. I won Student of the month every grade. I won a BIG poem contest. In 4th grade I won the DA award, which is for leadership out of the whole grade! People now spread rumors about me, and some people don't want to become friends because they hear things about me that are not true! It really hurts! What should I do?"

  • GOI am Jewish. My school is practically all Christian. I have only two Jewish friends who go to my school. Kids are always talking about youth group or wearing Jesus shirts. It makes me feel left out when people don't understand why I'm not at school on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Any advice?

  • GOBasically everyone I know is religious. All my friends are at least. But I was raised differently, and I guess I'm an atheist. They're always talking about church and bringing in magazines and music and stuff. I've tried to go to church with them and be religious a whole bunch of times, but I just can't get in to it, and I feel really excluded. It makes me so sad sometimes that I think I'm starting to dislike them. I don't want to be intolerant and I definitely don't want to dislike my friends, but it would be really rude to tell them not to practice their faith around me because I know it's an important part of their lives. What should I do?

  • GO"I adore my best friend, but because of her I have trouble making friends with other people. She worries constantly that if I make new friends, I'll forget her. I feel like the two of us are being marginalized because of this. When I try and hang out with other people, she basically ignores them. The reason she acts this way is that in the past she's been badly hurt by false friends. How can I convince her that I'll always be loyal to her, even with new friends?"

  • GOMy best friend has a page on MySpace. I'm nervous about this for a few reasons. One, you have to be 14 to be on there, and she isn't. Two, my school banned it. Three, I saw on TV that those kinds of sites can make you vulnerable to people who might want to hurt you. I don't want something to happen to her. I've tried telling her about it, but she laughs. Should I do an intervention, or let her do it? I know it's none of my business, but I'm worried about her.

  • GOI have a good friend. She is nice to me. But the problem is, she makes fun of mentally retarded kids. I have talked to her about it before and she never stopped. I told her it was bugging me and it wasn't nice. What should I do?

  • GOI really need help with my friends. My two best friends Julia and Meredith were mad at each other because Julia lied about Meredith, and Meredith almost got in trouble for it, and now I don't know if they're getting along or not. And the worst part is that I don't know if I should be friends with Julia anymore. But I've known both of them since 1st grade!!! What should I do? Please help!!!!!

  • GOI always want to be friends with new students because I once was a new student and I felt really lonely. New students come to my school every year. I get most of them to be my friends and just make them feel welcome. The problem is, I'm more of a friend maker than a friend keeper. Help me to be a friend keeper as well as a friend maker. I don't know how, but I just keep losing friends without getting into a fight or anything. Am I that boring?

  • GOWHY DID I WANT TO BE LIKE THEM SO BAD? I'm popular and everything...that's all I used to want, but everyone else who's on this site is saying popular isn't everything, and it's true! For all you girls out there who want to be popular...don't!!! Be yourself! My grades have gone down to C's and D's cuz all I used to care is about being one of them, being kewl, and it's not worth it. So please help me out, I want to be a new person. I've been so mean and yet hyper to a lot of people and I want to move on. Please help me to become a better person! Thanks!!

  • GOMy best friend is changing more and more this past year in school. For instance, she is dead in love with all these boys and laughs if they make fun of her. Yesterday I heard a boy call her a bad name. When I asked her why she let him call her that, she said, 'Lay off, it's only a joke.' But when I tried telling her she's being used, she accused me of being a bad friend and a liar and being jealous!!!! It hurts me seeing her being treated like this. I need some serious help please!!!

  • GOMy best friend and I are always competing to be better at things than each other. We're both tired of it and we try to stop, but it's very hard. We are in 5th grade and we've been best friends since 3rd grade. We do not want to stop our friendship, but competing annoys both of us. How do we stop?

  • GOAIM (AOL Instant Messenger) used to be fun. Now, it seems like I leave AIM miserable and angry. I like to talk to people when they are nice, but the majority is mean and irritable, and hard to ignore. It seems like all the people I talk to are mad or get mad at me for something stupid and bully me. I also really don't have any time to socialize otherwise. Should I quit? Are there other alternatives?

  • GOOh my gosh! It seems like my friends house has been for sale forever...and now a girl has just moved in and she's my age :) Im so happy!! But I dont know how to make friends. I dont want to make a fool of myself trying to introduce myself. I dont know how to make friends!! How do you make friends??? Someone PLEASE help me!

  • GOI have a best friend who is as skinny as a stick. She is in almost every sport we can get into my school. I'm WAY taller, about 2 times the size of her, and I'm not as active. I'm just as popular but it's embarrassing when we go to the pool together because she's smaller. I'm not afraid to wear a 2-piece, but I don't feel comfortable. What should I do?

  • GOI have a friend but she's a girl. To me this doesn't seem like a problem, but to the other guys, they think I have a crush on her! Why just last week I got a note in class saying, You like Alex don't you, Yes or No? P.S. I won't take no for an answer! I crumbled it up and threw it away. This rumor has spread almost to all of the school! HELP!

  • GOMy two best friends are fighting and I don't like it, but is it right for me to get involved?

  • GOI had a best friend, and we did everything together. I spent $400 to go to a camp with her and the whole time she treated me really bad. I wrote a three-page letter to her asking to be friends again and said I was sorry for whatever I did (I have no idea). But the other day she called me and said, Good luck with your house thing, but don't try to be my friend anymore. I wish she would at least tell me what I did. We did everything together and she really helped me solve some of my serious problems. Now, I cry myself to sleep every night. I am not asking to be her best friend again, because I can see thats out of the picture, but I just want some closure. I just want to know what I did. How do I go about figuring that out?

  • GOI have this friend who I think is just using me to do her work! Every time our teacher asks us to find a partner, she always chooses ME! I think it's because I'm one of the smart people in my class and now I feel like she's taking advantage of me and a lot of her other friends by taking credit for the work she didn't do! What should I do?

  • GOI have this friend who Ive known for 6 years and we get along just great, but lately she's getting a little bit too close to my best friend. In lunch, she always wants to sit by her. She already has a best friend, so why is she trying to get MY best friend? I'm SO mad at her!

  • GOThere is this one boy who has no friends at the school we go to. I want to be his friend, but I'm afraid that kids might make fun of me. Should I be friends with him or not?

  • GOOne of my really close friends is just not fun to hang out with anymore. All she does is talk about her problems. She gets mad extremely easily and if I or another friend bring this up with her, she just denies it and gets mad. Im nervous to do or say anything around her now. Ive talked to other friends and they feel that way too. I really dont want to hang out with her if shes not going to change. What should I do?

  • GOMy best friend has a huge crush on a guy in my class. He doesn't like her that way, he only talks to her so he can get a laugh. He will do anything to get a laugh. She is really starting to obsess. She's getting annoying but her mom thinks its cute. What should I do?

  • GOMy friend's dad passed away. She's very upset and isn't returning my phone calls or talking to me. I don't know what to do to help her.

  • GOI have this friend who copies everything I do! She copies my hairstyle, she started carrying her folder like I did, she said whatever I said (later on she told my other friend the opposite), she wore her backpack the way I did, she paints her nails the color I did, she writes the way I do, she even laughs the way I do! Can you please help me and tell me what to do! Shes been doing this for 3 years! I cant take it anymore!

  • GOI was new at the beginning of 5th grade and I wasn't popular, but soon enough the cool kids saw me and I fit in right away. Every day at recess, my friends and I (the cool group) get together and talk, gossip, and make fun of the uncool people. I don't like being a part of this because I know what that's like and how much it hurts. But when I don't join in, my friends threaten that they'll vote me out! I don't know what to do!

  • GOI have a friend. We are so much alike. We love each other like sisters, but her parents hate me a lot and I have no idea why. Lately, her parents won't let her come over and go to the movies with me, and now we haven't seen each other in quite a while. We don't know what to do!

  • GOMy BGF (best guy friend) is really nice online and when we are alone. I really like him as a friend, but I don't like it that he acts different when we are around other people. He tries to act cool and disses me. He does this to my other friends, too. I tried talking to him about it, but it didn't really sink in. That's the way he is. What should I do?

  • GOI used to move a lot because my Dad was in the military. Now I am moving because the place he worked at is closing. I haven't lived here very long, but I have made a really great friend. But lately we have hardly gotten together on the weekends or at all. A mutual friend tells me its because she doesn't want to be really sad when I have to leave. What can I do?

  • GOI have been friends with one girl in my class for a long time. But recently she has found a new group of kids. I don't mind these kids, but they keep making her do bad things. Often they steal pieces of work right out of people's desks and throw them into the recycle bin! (Our teacher is really strict about work completion.) I have tried to tell my friend that she is not making the right decisions, but she thinks it's all in good fun. What should I tell her?

  • GO"There is a guy who my friends hang out with. He doesn't notice me and I feel left out. I want to be his friend. How can I let him and my friends know that I want to be included?"

  • GO"I 'broke up' with my very best friend last year over some stupid stuff. I really miss her and now we're like not mean to each other, but we're very far from friends. She was really there for me when my dad died and she was like a sister. She's part of the 'popular' group now and has a bunch of new friends. Why do I miss her so much? What should I do? I really want her in my life."

  • GO"I have a friend and well, she wants to show off all the time. A couple of days ago she told a girl to get away and that she was a 'freak' right in front of her friends. I feel really bad for what my friend said to the girl. What should I do?"

  • GO"My friend is lately becoming pressured. My other friends are asking her to smoke or get high with them. She said she can handle it herself but she hasn't done anything about itWhat can I do to help?"

  • GO"At my school, there are the 'popular kids,' the 'nerds,' and the 'in-betweens.' I hang out with the 'popular kids' but I'm not like them at all. I think I want to stop being their friend because I'm sick of how they act. What do I do to let them off easy?"

  • GO"One of my friends has only one friend, and that's ME. Every time I want to sit by someone else at school, she complains because I won't sit by her. I tried getting her some more friends, but she complained about all of them. What should I do?"

  • GO"My best friend Emmie and I have a lot of fights and we don't like it at all. Do you know what we can do about all this? Thanks for your help!"

  • GO"This girl in my class hates me (we used to be friends) because she found out that I like the same boy she does."

  • GO"I was hitting my friend (just for fun) and he thought I didn't like him...I tried to tell him that I was joking but I got in trouble."

  • GOOur experts talk about what to do if a friend is copying your work after you've asked him or her to stop.

  • GOMany of you are dealing with friends who tell secrets about you or leave you out. Sometimes your friends even want YOU to exclude another person from your group.


Dear IML,
I had a best friend, and we did everything together. I spent $400 to go to a camp with her and the whole time she treated me really bad. I wrote a three-page letter to her asking to be friends again and said I was sorry for whatever I did (I have no idea). But the other day she called me and said, "Good luck with your house thing, but don't try to be my friend anymore." I wish she would at least tell me what I did. We did everything together and she really helped me solve some of my serious problems. Now, I cry myself to sleep every night. I am not asking to be her best friend again, because I can see thats out of the picture, but I just want some closure. I just want to know what I did. How do I go about figuring that out?
--Maria, 11

The IML Mentors respond:

Dear Maria,
With friends like that, who needs enemies? It sounds to me like you did nothing to her; most likely, this is something that either comes from a misunderstanding or from your friend dealing with some issue of her own. Maybe shes just decided she doesnt want to be friends anymore and isnt mature enough to talk to you honestly about it. If shes not willing to even give you an explanation now, after youve asked, then I really do think you should go your separate ways. My motto is, friends who cause more hurt than happiness are not worth the work. I know how it feels when a friend who you are attached to separates from you, but it sounds like youre much better off without her. I'm sorry you had to go through something so painful. As hard as it is, try to put your friendship in the past, and keep yourself open to the next good friend who comes along!
--Samantha, IML Mentor

Hey Maria,
My cousin and I used to go to the same school and do everything together. But eventually, he found a group of girls that thought he was cute, and a group of guys that thought he was cool. What about me? He ditched me! I didnt have much experience in the making friends industry, so I was a loner for a very long while (I think a year). I cried myself to sleep too, knowing the loneliness Id feel the next day at school. See, though, I always liked my cousin and tried to be there for him, and that was what made us different. I was a good friend, like you. It sounds like you were a great friend to this person, and loyal, and honest. You think you are somehow not good enough for this her, when really she isnt good enough for you. You had good times together and she helped you through some problems. But people grow and change. You dont have control over that; you DO have control over the ability to be yourself and be willing to find new friends. Dont worry so much why the old friend is now referred to as old. Think more about the new friends youll have. Think about the new experiences youll share. Friends come and go, and thats ok, because they come again!! So smile and take a deep breath. Remember that you are the best friend a new friend never knew! Good luck!!
--Vanessa, IML Mentor

Back

Dear IML,
I have this friend who I think is just using me to do her work! Every time our teacher asks us to find a partner, she always chooses ME! I think it's because I'm one of the smart people in my class and now I feel like she's taking advantage of me and a lot of her other friends by taking credit for the work she didn't do! What should I do?
--Phoebe, 10

The IML Mentors respond:

Hi Phoebe!
I can't count how many times this has happened to me...even in my junior year of high school, people want me in their groups because they know I'll do good work. It's really not fair when you're assigned a big project meant for two, and all the work is left for you to do alone. I've learned that you have to be assertive with people to get them to understand that a shortcut for them isn't fair for you. When she grabs you as a partner, tell her that you'll only be her partner if you do equal work. The next time you have a worksheet or project, ask her if she wants to do the next question or split up the assignment so you both have to do it. When she does do the work, encourage her and tell her what she did well. This will build up her confidence and she will have more faith in her own answers.
--Lauren, IML Mentor

Dear Phoebe,
I've gone through this too! There were like a bunch of people who loved to take credit for work I did. In fact, there were times when I had to finish an entire group project on my own! That was really frustrating. My mom was worried too because the workload was too great and I was really stressed out. What she suggested was to just do my own part the next time and forget about making up for my friend's part. I listed out the work I did so that the teacher would know that it wasn't my problem that my friends work was not quite complete. I think you should really be frank about it with your friend - and if she's really your friend, then she should at least try to contribute a bit more. It's okay to give her a little bit of help here and there, but doing her part is not good for either of you. Or you should boldly say no for once when she asks to pair up with you. If she pairs up with someone whom she doesn't know too well, she will probably have to count on herself.
--Joyce, IML Mentor

Hello Phoebe!
Try to think about the situation from your friends point of view. Maybe your friend isnt purposefully taking advantage of you but rather, needs help understanding the material. During the times your class does partner work, try suggesting to her a task that is a little more brain busting. If she doesnt want to do it, help her a little but dont complete it for her. I think this will also help you figure out if she is taking advantage or feeling bad about herself. When she does complete some aspect of the project, make it known to the teacher or to the class. Say something like, Mrs. Teacher, Look how pretty Janie writes on the poster board or Janie did the research on the Sioux Indians. Little comments like that make people feel better about themselves. They wont need to depend on smart people or just nice people to do the work because they know that they can do it just as well. Give it a try. If it turns out that she is taking advantage of you, tell her straight out and refuse to be her partner. Good luck, Phoebe!
--Vanessa, IML Mentor

Phoebe,
Maybe next time around you should find another partner, therefore your friendship won't revolve around schoolwork. If she asks why you are choosing another partner, be honest and straightforward with her. Tell her that you feel taken advantage of in terms of schoolwork and projects. Just stay strong and hold your ground! Good Luck!
--Kerri, IML Mentor

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Dear IML,
I have this friend who Ive known for 6 years and we get along just great, but lately she's getting a little bit too close to my best friend. In lunch, she always wants to sit by her. She already has a best friend, so why is she trying to get MY best friend? I'm SO mad at her!
--Bryanda, 10

The IML Mentors respond:

Hi Bryanda!
Throughout my elementary, middle, and beginning of high school years Ive had the same best friend, and I know how it feels when someone else invades your relationship. It feels awful to be replaced or see your best friend laugh at jokes with someone else, but Ive realized that by being jealous, I make myself look immature. Maybe all three of you can hang out and really enjoy one another; after all, you like both of these girls, right? Its okay to have more than one best friend! Better yet, try to avoid putting labels on the people you spend time with. Over the past couple years Ive met a lot of different people from very different places, and each of them give me something important: some I can have long conversations with, and some I can laugh and joke around with. The term best friend doesnt do justice to any of them, because its too simplistic.
--Lauren, IML Mentor

Dear Bryanda,
I have experienced this exact situation numerous times and I know how sad and angry it can make you! When I was in the 6th grade, this girl did everything in her power to steal my best friend away from me. II decided to go straight to my best friend and tell her how I felt. She made me feel a lot better by telling me that I was her best friend and nothing was going to change that! So maybe you could do the same thing...go to your best friend and tell her your concerns! See what she says, and I have a feeling that her answer will make you feel much better! You are her best friend, and as long as you remain there for her and just be the friend you always have been to her, you two will remain best friends. At the same time, though, youre both entitled to other friends. A variety of friends is what makes our lives more complete! Good Luck!
--Kerri, IML Mentor

Dear Bryanda,
First of all, I think it's okay for someone to have two best friends. Nobody ever said you were limited to just one! In fact, I have two best friends that I would never be able to choose between. Maybe you could include this friend in activities with your best friend. Who knows, she could become a second best friend for you! But for the meantime, if it bothers you that shes sitting with your best friend, try talking to your best friend. Maybe shes also bothered by this other friend sitting by her all the time. Or maybe she enjoys this friend's company and would like this friend to be a second best friend. Either way, you need to respect your best friend's decision -- she is, after all, allowed to be friends with whomever she likes. All that really matters is that you and she concentrate on the friendship between the two of you, and make that as strong as possible.
--Megan, IML Mentor

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