Friend pulls away as graduation nears
Dear Straight Talk: I'm about to graduate, and my best friend, "Lorraine," is pulling away from me. She doesn't call much anymore and when she does, we only talk 15 minutes, not our usual hour. Conversations are not as deep and she is quick to pick fights. In the cafeteria, she doesn't wait for me anymore.
I know she is probably trying to make the separation easier because I have chosen a college across the country. But shouldn't we be making the most of the time we have left? I've seen people who moved get dropped before they left. It makes me so sad. What can I do? — "Susie," Yuba City
Elise, 20, Rexburg, Idaho: This exact thing happened with my best friend when I moved away for college. One night, we had a heart-to-heart and I told her how much she meant to me and that I could not bear to lose her. It turned out she felt the same way. It's been three years since then, and we still talk every week. Tell her how you feel. Tell her you want to stay close even from across the country.
Colin, 18, Sacramento: This is natural. People know what's coming so they pull away subconsciously. My answer to this is the same for everything: Talk to your friend. Tell her your feelings. It will be hard, but think about it. What other course of action will bring her closer? People need to talk to each other about their feelings more often. It's the only way to truly resolve problems.
Brandon, 20, Mapleton, Maine: My best friend and I were there for each other from freshman year till graduation. We were even heading to college together. At the last second, I chose a college close to home and changed majors (we were both going into acting, but I switched to business). That summer, I thought we would hang out, but we didn't.
Fast forward two years. We're still friends. In my heart, best friends. If I'm ever in need, he'd be there for me and I for him. He is an integral part of who I am today — and I so appreciate him for that. I'm not crazy about Facebook, but he lives 500 miles away so we keep our friendship updated there.
Graduation showed me who my true friends were. I don't have many now, but the ones I have, I treasure. I hope you two remain incredible friends.
Katelyn, 17, Huntington Beach: Yes, as school winds down, my friends are hanging out more, not less — as it should be. "Lorraine" is either afraid of losing you and is punishing you for leaving, or she isn't a true friend and is cutting ties. Gently ask her what's up.
Sarah, 19, Santa Clara: Your friend may not realize her behavior. Talk to her. Let her know you want to remain good friends. Even though I don't often see or talk to my close high school friends, we catch up when we're home and it feels like no time has passed. Don't cling so tightly. A good relationship can withstand time and distance and become stronger for it.
Dear "Susie": I agree that your only real option is talking to her. Make sure you come from an open heart as Elise described. This is no easy task. We are taught to be proud and indignant when a friend treats us like Lorraine. Admitting to the sadness underneath requires enormous courage.
I hope you can muster it and open your heart, rather than closing it down and building walls, as she is doing. You only have pride to lose (the worst of the seven deadly sins) and a lasting friendship to gain.
In the age of "high self-esteem," pride is often taken for strength and vulnerability for weakness. In actuality, just the opposite is true. Even many "tough love" examples are a cover for pride and not wanting to look weak in the eyes of the community.
Yes, sometimes tough love is needed, and we don't want to be doormats to people treating us badly, but we all need to keep an honest eye on ourselves to see what is actually driving our actions.
In almost every culture's list of cardinal sins, pride is considered the most serious sin of all and the source of the other sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath and envy.
Jay Leno says, not entirely jokingly, "The key to life is low self-esteem." We could all benefit from getting off our high horses and being real with our friends, respectful of those more experienced, compassionate for those less fortunate and humble to all. — Lauren
Lauren Forcella co-writes Straight Talk TNT with a panel of more than 70 teens and young adults. To ask a question or become a panelist, click StraightTalkTNT.com or write to P.O. Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.