Arts & Leisure

Dear Mari: You can’t control friends

HIS FRIEND is now smoking and drinking. Can he be changed?

Dear Marilyn,

I have a friend who just turned 23 years old. We have been very close friends since we were in junior high. Before his birthday, he never drank alcohol, and he never smoked. He was always a very good student.

He never really did anything wild or out of the ordinary all through high school, and in the first couple of years of college. Now, if he doesn’t have a cigarette in his mouth, he has a drink in his hand. This is such a change for him. He has never acted like this before.

   I asked him why he is acting this way, and he told me that he doesn’t know. He just said he is very bored with the way that things have always been, and he wants to try something new.

The good news is that he has not dropped out of college. In fact, he is taking a pretty heavy load. He is still doing well with his courses.

However, every weekend, he is out partying. This just isn’t like him. I am very concerned about him. I don’t know what I should do. How can I convince him to quit acting this way?

Signed, Concerned Friend

Dear Concerned Friend,

   You can’t control someone else. You can’t make decisions for another person either.

   What you do have going for you is a close friendship that has lasted for many years. He may be listening to you more than you realize.

   However, you have to understand that it is not that uncommon for people in their early twenties to start to experiment with various new choices in their lives.

   This is especially true of someone like your friend, who really has never done anything like this before.

   Hopefully, he will find that this new type of lifestyle is not for him at all. He may just try it for a short while, and then realize that it is simply not a good choice for him. So, be patient. Continue to ask him to do other things such as going to the movies, or going out to eat.

   Also, don’t be afraid to say that smoking is not good for him, and neither is excessive alcohol consumption. He knows it. The rest is up to him.

Dear Marilyn,

I was dating a girl for three years. She dumped me about a month ago.  She didn’t give me any sort of warning. She said she didn’t love me any more, and that she wanted to date other guys.

I am having a very hard time opening myself up to other girls now. I get very nervous when I speak to them.

I have lost all of my confidence. I keep wondering what they are thinking about me, and if they think I am weird.

I don’t seem to be able to hold much more than a five-minute conversation with a girl, without getting freaked out. What do you suggest that I do?

Signed, Scared

Dear Scared,

   Give yourself a little bit of time! You just went through a traumatic event.

   Breaking up with someone is never easy, even under the best of conditions. In your case, it was especially difficult. So, first of all, you don’t need to be in a hurry to get into another relationship. Give yourself some time to just be single.

   Secondly, talk to other people, both guys and girls, as much as you can. The more that you practice, the easier it will become. Third, and this may be the toughest thing, relax. You are a person on value and worth, just the way you are.

   Just because this girl broke up with you, doesn’t mean that there will not be another girl, or possibly many girls in your future.

   So, smile a lot. Joke around. Have fun. The more you do these things, the more other people are attracted to you.

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