Welcome to another installment of Chris Listens. The questions have been pouring in from all quarters of the Interwebz, and I’ve got my special listening devices cranked up to Super-Ultra-Mega Sensitive. I would typically write some jokes here, but I have a feeling this post will approach War and Peace length, and I know you have two days of hardcore weekending to get to. So let’s get going!
My boyfriend’s ex is totally psycho! No joke. She hates me because she lost him (she cheated on him at a party, and has before) and he's already forgiven her too many times. So he ditched her and now we're dating, and have been for a while. She's threatening me and harassing me over text, saying she's gonna mess me up, and that he is only dating me out of pity. The other night she even came after me. Now, she's yelling she's prego with his kid! I'm not denying they ever had sexual intercourse, but there's only a 2/8 chance it's his. He's telling me not to worry about it, that it isn't his. Yeah, they haven't had sex in a while, but you never know. I just can't help thinking, what if it is his? What would I do then? What would he do? He's not only my boyfriend, but my best friend too, and I don't want to lose him over her. I just need an expert opinion on if I should worry about this whole thing or not.
In my totally non-expert opinion, this situation is definitely something to be concerned about. For one thing, you have this psycho ex threatening you with physical violence, and harassing you verbally and textually, all of which are 100% not cool. You don't have to put up with this and live in fear. Talk to your parents, a teacher, or counselor and they'll let you know whether you need to get the school administration or the authorities involved. Sure, the girl is allowed to get upset that you're dating her former boyfriend, but it's not acceptable for her to bully you in this way. Regarding the potential prego situation, that's a bit more complicated. The first thing to figure out is whether said psycho is actually prego. It's possible that she's making up a story to make you feel uncomfortable and to try to break up your relationship. If she's not pregnant, you're in the clear. If she is preggers, or if there's no way to find out at this point, I encourage you to (drumroll, please) talk to your boyfriend about it. When was the last time they had sex? Was it unprotected? Don't be afraid to let him know that you are concerned, and be sure to tell him why. Don't hold back your feelings. It won't be an easy convo to have, but if you're truly best friends, it should be doable. Also, while we're on the subject: Have you discussed your sexual histories with each other yet? You can use this situation as a way to get everything out in the open. Finally, there's no reason to worry about the (potentially imaginary) child being his until you actually find out that it is his, as well as the circumstances surrounding the conception. If he's the daddy, you can write in again, and we'll take it from there.
What's your take on the best way to survive awkward family reunions with people you have never met?
The best way to survive any kind of family reunion, whether you’ve met your relatives or not, is to keep the conversation flowing at all costs. This involves two things: 1. Asking people questions, even if you don't care about the answers. Before you go to the reunion, study up. Ask your parents who’s going to be there and what these people do for a living and where they live and why you haven’t seen them, like, ever. You'll want to keep your reunion questions light and airy, and make sure to avoid sensitive topics like politics or your newly discovered uncle's toupee, which you feel is not particularly realistic. 2. Answer their questions. Arm yourself with responses to poignant queries such as “Do you like school?” and “What do you think they put in this potato salad?” Your goal is to avoid awkward silences at any cost. If all else fails, inhale three helping of potato salad and announce, “If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the bathroom.”
I spend most of my time crying in dark corners because no one understands me, and my life has been truly terribly in the most unclichéd way possible. I just want someone to understand me, but no one does, it really breaks my heart that I have to endure this life alone, what can I do?
I am very sorry to hear that you are going through such a difficult time. In regards to what you should do, I think you already took a really important first step: You shared how you are feeling. I'm glad you did that—it means a lot to me! No one should have to bottle up their emotions or suffer in silence. With that in mind, I encourage you to keep on talking about how you feel with someone you trust—a parent, teacher, close friend, or school counselor. If these feelings won't go away, you may be suffering from depression, which you can overcome with treatment. It's hard to know if you are depressed without asking you a lot of questions (and since I'm not a doctor, I'm not really qualified to do that anyway). If there's no one close to you with whom you can talk about this stuff, call 1.800.422.HOPE. It's the hotline for the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression. Their web site is here. In addition to talking with you, they will be able to refer you to local mental health resources. Life can be very unfair and painful sometimes, and one of the best ways to deal with the pain is to take action and seek out support from others. It takes courage, but I know you have it in you. In fact, you already showed that you have it—you wrote in to me. Take care of yourself!
My best friend is going to foreign exchange in Sweden next year. I know what you are thinking: sucks for you. But that’s not the only problem. We are pretty much attached at the hip, talking everyday on the phone for hours, doing everything together, we're like family. I live at her house half the time. She is one of the only people that I actually truly LIKE in my school. I’m in high school. It’s not that fun, everyone here is an idiot. How should I deal? It’s not like I don't have friends, but she is one of the most important ones, how can I spend a year NOT talking to her (she’s only allowed minimal contact) and how do I make sure we’re still friends when she comes back?
Ah, Sweden. That Scandinavian wonderland has stolen more than a few best friends in its day. Here's how to deal: Make the best of your friend’s year abroad. For one thing, you likely can keep in touch, even if you're not on the phone for hours. If she has access to a computer, you can email, IM, and even videochat. If there are no computers in Sweden, you can write each other letters and send them through the mail, just like people used to do in the 1980s. And while she’s gone, expand your social horizons at home. Instead of pronouncing everyone at school an idiot, make it your goal to talk to one new person each week. You might make a couple of new friends, and while none of them will ever replace your bestie, you’ll at least have some human contact while she’s gone. As for making sure you’re still friends when she gets back, simply ask her to sign an official BFF contract before she leaves for Europe. Then if she’s not your BFF when she returns, you can sue her for 1,000,000 Swedish kronor ($130,000 USD).
So, my best friend has a boyfriend who hits her. I don't like him, not only because he hits her, but because he's a jerk in general. I usually try not to bring him up because what she tells me makes me want to push him down the steps, no lie. And this past weekend I went to her dad's house and he also treats her pretty badly. But he's her dad, you know?! She's gonna love him. When I went to her dad's to get her to go bowling she was crying I put my arm around her and asked her what was wrong she told me she was tired of her father hitting her. I went as if I was going to the house to give her dad a thing or two, but she said she had been through enough for the night, so I left it alone. After we got home, I asked her about it, she says he hits her whenever she's there, in the face and in the legs. Now spanking a child is one thing, but hitting a sixteen year old?! It's child abuse, if you ask me. I'm not really sure what I should do. I told my parents, but they don't like to be in someone else's business. But if you could please give me some suggestions and post this for all teens who know and/or go through this in their lives for advice also, I'd appreciate it. I haven't touched the subject in a few days now, but I can't look at her without thinking of him hitting her, please tell me what to do.
First of all, you are already doing something—you are being a really good friend. Your best friend needs support more than anything, and I’m very glad to hear that she has you. You already made the right decision by telling your parents, and I want to encourage you to speak with a teacher or counselor as well. However, I don’t think this is a problem that you can solve alone—your friend has to reach out for help. If you haven't already done so, you might want to suggest that she speak with a teacher or counselor, or perhaps a therapist or other social services resource. If it helps, you could speak to someone together. They will be able to best help her in this unfortunate situation. There are laws to protect your friend from abuse, but she needs the help of a professional. Keep in mind that she might not accept all your advice, or she might be reluctant to take action. In that case, you can only stand by her side and continue to talk things over with her. In time, she may feel more comfortable letting others know about her situation, which is the best way to end this abuse.
Editor's Note: Due to the overwhelming amount of great questions from you, we've broken this week's Chris Listens into two parts. Catch Part II tomorrow.
If you've got Q's, I've got A's. Send 'em to email@example.com.