Looking for a bridge over troubled water? Krithvi Shyam, our young psychologist, addresses your worst anxieties.

I am good friends with a guy from college who recently confessed his “feelings” for me. But I am not interested in him beyond being friends, but he wants me to give him a chance. I cannot see myself doing that. This has made things awkward in our group.  - FRIENDLY BLUES   

Dear FB (and all the others mulling over how to rebuff their admirers), treat this like a vaccine and get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible. It takes a lot of courage to “confess feelings”, and a small part of him/her is acutely aware of possible rejection.

You haven’t said whether you’ve explicitly said “No” or just skirted around the topic. Either way, he’s going to end up feeling hurt, so it would be better for you to explain sooner rather than later that, while you really value your friendship with him, you do not reciprocate his feelings, and you think that it would be unfair to him to start a relationship on such a flimsy foundation (here is a rare occasion in which “It’s not you, it’s me” has legitimate use).

If he’s still insistent that you give him a chance, don’t be afraid to be firm with him and point out that he is not only jeopardising your friendship, but also affecting the dynamics in your group.

Note to all admirers: When the object of your attention says “No”, they really do mean “No”. Seriously, the only times where the relentless pursuit of  the girl/boy has successfully resulted in the girl/boy throwing up their hands and saying, “Alright, fine, I love you, just leave me alone already!” is in the movies.

I am the elder of two kids. My parents were always strict with me and my choices so that I would set a good example for my younger sister. But when it comes to my sister there are simply no rules! For instance, when I wanted to join a co-ed college and also be a part of the Guides. It was a no for me but she did both. I hold a grudge against my parents for this but I don’t want to. - RESENTFUL SIS  

Dear RS, At times like this, one must remember the old adage, “Don’t cry over spilled milk”; more importantly, one must not treat the aforementioned milk as if it were a $600 bottle of Merlot. While studying in a co-ed college may have been your dream, studying in an all-women’s college has its own advantages (Freedom of expression! Lax dress codes! Wandering into any restroom on campus without worrying about accidentally embarrassing yourself!), so do not feel like you got the short end of the stick. Ask the older sibling in any family and they would have been treated similarly.

The point is, what you perceive as a “strict” upbringing is probably what your parents saw as “low margin of error parenting” where, as first-timers eager to do a good job and nervous to take risks, they set tighter boundaries for you.

By the time your sister came along, a lot of their nervousness might have disappeared, leaving her to reap the benefits. It is unfortunate that your hopes about college were hampered by your parents’ rules, but you are an adult now (with the ability to make choices for yourself) and holding a grudge against your parents for something in the past that cannot be altered will prevent you from moving on.  

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