DEAR READERS: Your questions and dilemmas never take a holiday, but occasionally I must. This week’s “best of” columns come from deep within the Ask Amy vault. Like a soft-serve twisty cone, they are sometimes even more enjoyable as a second helping.
DEAR AMY: I have a problem. My best friend cuts herself. I tried to tell myself it was not that bad, until I saw the horrible gashes on her arms. Now they’re half-healed, but they are most definitely not caused by her cat, which is what she says they are caused by.
It is obvious to me that she is in a state of depression, but I want her to stop hurting herself. Please help. — Afraid for Friend
DEAR AFRAID: You’re a good friend. Friends like you notice when things aren’t right and don’t always accept a pal’s explanations when you know she needs help.
Your instincts sound right on. “Cutting” is a dangerous form of self-injury and is often an outward symptom of depression and/or anxiety.
People who cut say that injuring themselves sometimes feels like a relief, like a release valve. Sometimes they say it makes them feel more “alive.”
Unfortunately, cutting usually gets worse. The person injuring herself usually doesn’t get better without help. Sometimes, medication relieves some of the pressure to cut; a good counselor will provide care and understanding.
Please let your friend know that you’re aware of what she’s doing and say you want to help her. You should speak with an adult you trust who could assist your friend in getting help. There is a lot of information on self-injury on the Web. If you check out kidshealth.org and do a search on “cutting,” you’ll find very informative articles and ideas of how to further help your friend. (May 2004)
DEAR AMY: I have a longtime friend who is driving me nuts. When she enters a room, within five minutes she is talking about her two sons: how wonderful they are, what they did in the last year, about their in-laws. None of us has seen them in years, if ever.
We are so bored to tears by her long dissertations; she never knows when to quit. She has become so obnoxious.
What can we do? — Friends in Virginia
DEAR VIRGINIA: You might make some headway by speaking with her, alone, not with your other pals.
Please keep in mind that boring people rarely change; that’s the nature of being a bore. Your being tolerant and then skillfully changing the subject when you can’t bear it anymore might be the best you can hope for. (July 2004)
DEAR AMY: Can a lady have a male best friend without complications if both couples are married and spouses are jealous types? I have had a male best pal for many years, but there is always that underlying conflict, no matter what our spouses say openly. If he were a she, nothing would be said. — Suzy
DEAR SUZY: The answer to your question is no. You can’t have a male best friend without complications if your husband is the jealous type. But sometimes husbands feel jealous for a good reason.
As it is, if your respective spouses are openly accepting, you shouldn’t look too hard for subtext. (September 2004)
DEAR AMY: Why is it that after a guy breaks up with you, and you agree to be friends, you start hanging out less and less?
I’ve become very confused because my ex thinks I still love him, and I don’t. I just want our friendship back. I want everything to be the way it “used to be.” — Girl in Illinois
DEAR GIRL: Welcome to the world, honey. You can’t make people like you, you can’t make people stay with you, and after they break up with you, things don’t go back to the way it “used to be.”
Isn’t that some system? Your ex may think you’re still stuck on him, so he’s too chicken to be your friend right now. Give him time. He may come around. He may not. But you need to leave this relationship alone for a while. (August 2003)