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Keeping Distance?

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KEEPING MY DISTANCE A close guy friend of mine is really self-absorbed right now, and a lot of girls are after him. We have a romantic history, so I can deal with this only by keeping him at a distance. Is this the right thing to do?–Tired of Relationships, 18, TX


Shayna Answers:

Dear Tired of Relationships,

Yes! This is exactly what you should be doing! Self-absorption is never pleasant to witness. But I think we both know that it's related, at least partially, to all the new girls vying for your friend's affection.

We all have a tendency to change when we suddenly start receiving attention from the opposite sex. So don't take this guy's decreased interest in you as a sign of anything you did wrong.

Capitalizing on the attention he's receiving is not necessarily the right thing to do. But for your friend, it may be his way of reconciling past relationships—including yours!

If you don't take some emotional space from your friend, you will continue to dwell on the memory of what you once had. You will struggle more with the fact that your friend is now spending more time with other girls and less time with you. Even if you were “just friends” when all of this started, it's still painful to be pushed away and ignored by a close friend.

To help yourself move past the hurt in this situation, use this opportunity to focus your energy on other things. Start by making some new friends. Strike up conversations with new people, and build some fresh relationships. Doing this will not only help to distract you from what's going on with your friend, but it will also build your self-confidence.

Forming friendships with people who don't know our past gives us the opportunity to start over again—without worrying about expectations or patterns from the past.

You can also get involved with a new hobby or extra- curricular activity. The less amount of expendable time you have on your hands, the less likely you are to think about what's happening with him. This will help to prevent you from obsessing or worse, falling into a depressive episode.

Finally, spend more time with God! I know I tell you this in every column, but sometimes we don't realize how much time we are giving to others. You were probably thinking about, if not hanging out with, your friend a whole lot more than you realized. Use that time now to study, pray, and ask for discernment. Jeremiah 33:3 promises that spending time with God gives us the clarity and direction that we need: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Don't think of distancing yourself as being a betrayal, because it's not. If anything, it is one of the best things that we can do to let go of difficult situations, grieve them, and eventually, move past them.

Your friend will probably also benefit from the time apart. It's possible that his current actions are even meant to intentionally hurt you. Especially if your relationship ended badly, this may be his way of getting passive-aggressive revenge.

When you two make an attempt at friendship again, you may just find that the time apart has made you stronger. At the very least, it will help you to forgive each other.

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