I am an 18-year-old guy. Three years ago, I was quite fat and was the butt of everybody’s jokes. Now that I have slimmed down, girls have started speaking to me. But I have mixed feelings. I like talking to them, but also feel angry that I was the butt of their jokes until recently. After slimming down, my focus is only on girls and I have started faring badly in my studies. Friends are telling me that I am headed in a wrong direction as they find me flirting with girls, which I never did during my school days. What do I do?

- Stressed ‘me’

This is the first time I’ve heard of friends gently steering a person away from potential love interests and towards the (considerably less attractive) textbooks, so hold on to those friends of yours! There’s nothing wrong with flirting, but try restricting it to girls who seem genuinely interested in you and not just your looks.

Start limiting your interactions with those people, both girls and boys, who had made you the butt of their jokes in the past. Even if they try to talk to you, make excuses and walk away. Ask one of your friends (preferably one who actually studies during “combined studies” time) to help you out so that you can catch up on your work. With luck, you will be back on track before you know it.

I’m 19 years old. I have a big problem with my friend who always underestimates me. She makes fun of things that I love and says they are not worth it. She was planning to pursue her undergraduation in one college but when she learnt that my sister studies in the same college, she says it’s the worst college. Even when her brother sent me a friend request on FB she made up a story saying that his account was hacked and so it was someone else who had sent it and not her brother. Even with my clothes she makes it a point to ask if I have borrowed it from my sister and that too in front of everyone. From my bike to my favourite teacher, nothing or no one is spared. What bothers me is that we have been friends for five years but all this has happened only in the past year. I tried putting up with her behaviour but recently we had a fight and I have stopped talking to her despite her attempts to talk to me. I recently dreamt that she committed suicide because of me. I don’t know if I have made a mistake. Help!

- Completely confused

Let’s imagine that you and your friend are stranded on a deserted island. Would you put up with her incessant put-downs about how the humidity is making your hair look like a bird’s nest, while her own smooth locks are being gently caressed by the wind?

How her smoke signals are definitely going to be more effective at summoning a rescue helicopter than yours? And, when you’re eventually captured by cannibals (looks like the island isn’t deserted after all), how you would be the soggy starter they served while the delectable main course (guess who) was being prepared?

If the answer is “No”, then it’s time you cut your friend loose. If she asks you why you don’t speak with her anymore, simply tell her the truth — that you’re tired of hearing her say hurtful things, and unless she plans on changing her behaviour, you will not be talking to her anytime soon. Sometimes, friendships, like all other relationships, come to an end if either party is unhappy, so don’t feel guilty about your decision.

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