Here's the Thing: Don't Stay Friends

Also college is a scam and alone time is bliss.

A CUTIE PIE: I manage a gym for a living, and have never, ever dated a staff member of mine, until recently when I had a crush on one of my part-time fitness instructors. I never, ever would have asked her out; I’m really careful about crossing those boundaries, but she actually asked me and instigated it herself.

We went on a number of dates over about 2 months, and I’ve never fallen for anyone in my life as much as I did for her. I truly have never felt a connection with someone the same way. Then she let me know that she thinks we'd be better off as friends, and wanted to continue to hang out, just as close friends.

My response to her was that I completely understand, have no hard feelings, but I cant continue to be friends and hang out with you, because I like you way too much. There’s no way I could not feel jealousy if she started seeing someone else, and I know that would make me a shitty friend. Thats not fair for her or for me. I said that I still care about you, if you ever need anything I’m there, and I’ll continue to be a great boss for you at the gym. She still works for me, so theres no way to just completely cut this off.

She seemed in shock that I didn’t want to stay friends, and still continues to find ways to reach out to me because we both truly miss hanging out with each other. But I really can't do it, and my feelings for her haven't changed. I still think about her constantly, and I don’t see any way I could spend time with her and not want more than a friendship.

More than anything, I’d like to know if this makes me a complete asshole for not wanting to stay friends? Is she in the wrong for trying to maintain that friendship, even though I’ve told her we just have to keep things professional and only communicate about work issues? Is it just a sad shitty situation and nobody is in the wrong?? I don’t know how to handle this at all.

SOPHIA: THIS DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN ASSHOLE AT ALL. I’m all riled up right now because holy moly mother of god I cannot fathom someone handling an “I don’t want to date anymore” + “we work together” situation any better than you did. I am 100% sure that in your life you have bungled quite a few things. This—at least what you wrote to me— was not one of them. You were thoughtful, compassionate, AND you set perfectly reasonable boundaries from the beginning (thanks for not asking out your employees). You have a DISGUSTINGLY HEALTHY way of handling things and I’m sorry that it’s not being validated by the situation you’re currently in.

While I don’t think she’s a monster-trash-can-devil-lady, I do think it’s pretty unfair (although perhaps human) of her to continue to push for more from you when you’ve been honest about what you’re able to give. So, yes, it’s a sad shitty situation, but she’s also continuing to make it worse by pressing you to be friends with her when you cannot offer that right now.

As usual, the bullshit reality (WHICH IS FUCKED BEYOND BELIEF) is that time is going to help the most. Either she’ll get the hint, she’ll get hurt, you’ll move on and get over her more than you are now, or something totally random will happen like her mom gets famous and needs her to move back home to help with signing fan mail and now she lives on Prince Edward Island and is no longer your problem. Hold firm with your boundaries. Eek as much joy as you can out of the knowledge that you’re in the right here. That you’ve been loving and kind to another human and that it’s hard but you’re doing it. Also please come date like 8,924 of my friends.

(As a little note, I once heard a joke I repeat often, which is: Someone saying “we can stay friends” after a breakup is like your mom saying, “The dog died but we can still keep him.”

ANOTHER CUTIE: Hi i’m a 16 year old junior and really wanna get into USC. What do I do?

SOPHIA: Ooooooooooof. Not to be all Topical Jokes Tammy over here, but you pay your way in. That’s the depressing reality of what it takes to get into an elite school like that, big picture. Whether it comes in the form of being able to afford after school activities or private tutors or just the fee to take the SATs and the AP tests and on and on, money is what makes a school like USC possible.

That said, USC is one of the few schools in its “tier” left that gives merit based scholarships. In fact, this is how I was able to get into USC. If you haven’t taken the PSAT yet, put energy into getting a good score on that test if possible. You might qualify for National Merit, which would make you very attractive to USC. They also take more transfer students than any other university in the country (or at least they say that on the tour). So if you don’t get in the first time you apply to USC, KEEP APPLYING!!! They take a lot of spring admit students and a lot of transfer students. So don’t let one “no” from them discourage you.

Lastly, be honest on your application. If you’re funny, write a funny application. If you’re depressed, tell them about your depression. If you’re at home babysitting your siblings every day and you can’t join the rowing team, TELL THEM. Write about it. Put it in your after school activity section. Give them an idea of your actual life.

A SWEETHEART THAT WE LOVE: I feel like I need to spend more alone time, but I have trouble telling my girlfriend in a way that doesn’t make her feel like I just don’t want to spend time with her. How do I communicate that? Or am I just being a weird boyfriend? She expects to see me everyday. I just graduated college and she is taking a leave of absence from college.

SOPHIA: Oh good god this is so so so so so so so so normal. Like five hundred people who read this are gonna be like “mmmm yes. This is me exactly.” (500 people will probably not read this but I’m trying to The Secret it). You are not being weird at all. You have a reasonable need; introverts everywhere FEEL you.

Your girlfriend has a need, too. And both of you are only currently aware of your own personal needs. Your girlfriend probably really feels loved when you spend quality time with her. So when you say “I need alone time,” you have to make sure that you don’t communicate, “Loving you is too much work.” Or “I don’t like being around you.” Ok? Here’s my recommendation of what to say (but say it like you, not me, obviously):

“Hey, babe, I love you so much. Like a disgusting amount. And I wish my brain gave me enough energy to not need alone time to recharge, but it doesn’t work like that. So I need some more days where I see no one. Like literally not any person. It’s not about you at all. If it were, or if I had any concerns about us, I would let you know. But right now I am telling you that for my mental health, I need more alone time. What can we do to make that not feel like we’re losing any connection?” (Things you could recommend would be shit like regular date nights, making dinner together, more actively engaged moments where you aren’t just watching TV next to one another, etc).