ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:
Hi. There's this girl who's been like on my case since we were in seventh grade and now she won't leave my boyfriend alone. I know she wants him to cheat with her just to hurt me. Some of my friends think I should fight her, but I'm applying for college and I don't want to get into any kind of trouble. What should I do?
Teachers tell me that the worst fights they see are between girls. I can believe it. It is not that Dear Jon thinks that girls are more evil than guys so that their fights are worse. I think it has more to do with the intensity of feeling. Whereas boys will fight for any old reason with the hope of bragging about the shots they got in later. If there is nothing to eat and no girls around to make a play for, bored guys will ask each other, "Wanna fight?" "Sure." Girls normally will only fight if they really hate someone and want to actually hurt them. I'm not saying that means girls are more evil; girls do fight less than boys overall. It's just different.
Dear Jon has rarely gotten into fights. Most men could tear me apart limb from limb, including my best-friends, so most fellahs in my acquaintance did not consider me worth the effort, which is fine with me. On the few occasions I have received the "Wanna fight?" query, I would respond with a riposte of disarming wit, such as, "I would but-- darn the timing-- I am being tested for an infectious blood disease."
You are debating whether you should fight a girl who is your enemy or chill out because you want to get in to college. That's really good thinking. Here is something else to consider:
Your boy-friend is probably not the man you are going to marry. A lot of girls in high school get vicious with each other over boy-friends with whom the relationships won't last much past the Prom. Don't invest yourself in a fight and risk a suspension and all of that for what is most likely a temporary romance.
In fact, if you really want to chill that other girl out, you can tell her or txt her or whatever kids do these days that if she wants to play childish jealousy games that's no skin off your nose; your focus is on getting into college and getting a real life. You can show her and your boy-friend too that you mainly see your adolescence as an intermediate stage of preparation on the journey to responsible adulthood--since adulthood is where you will spend most of your life, you want to prepare yourself as well as possible. You are embracing life long beyond this semester, and your vision, your dreams for yourself, include the next intermediate stage, which is college. The way your boy-friend responds will go a long way to showing you how much of your future is going to involve him.
In other words, if she has been on your case all these years, choose to be a bigger and better person. That is a lot better than getting provoked into a fight, which would only risk ruining your life for the sake of someone who hates you. Why do that?
There are some other things you can do too, which will either freeze her out completely or make her realize that she has been wrong about you.
Send her a card on her birthday. If you hear that she has recently been to a funeral for a close relative or something, send her a sympathy card or a flower. When you see her in the hallway stop and smile and say hello and ask her how she is doing. You might think I am telling you to wimp out and try to appease her. I am not. This is actually a strategy which will do one of three things: 1. Turn her from an enemy into a friend who will be embarrassed that you were the first to be mature enough to make that effort. 2. Cause her to avoid you and to stop being mean because others will see that she is the one who is being hateful without cause. 3. If she continues to be hateful when there is clearly no cause and you have clearly been the bigger person, a whole lot of people are going to begin to pressure her that she is being a jerk about you.
In other words, by being nice to her with overtures of friendship, you CAN'T LOSE. That's awesome advice from a guy named Paul who lived 2000 years ago and, like Dear Jon, wrote letters to people.
I am NOT saying that you should become her friend by apologizing for things you should not have to apologize for, or by telling her that she is right if she is clearly wrong. That is spineless and cowardly.
This next suggestion would take a lot of courage, and it might not get anywhere: You might want to ask her if she can name any problem she has with you. If she responds with something stupid like "I don't like your face" then you know that she has personality problems that you won't solve no matter what you do. She might say, with tears of hurt or pointing fingers, that you did something back in junior high that she can't forgive. Often that might go back to a misunderstanding; she might be accusing the wrong girl, or it might be something you never meant as mean. Once you air it out the whole thing might go away.
Or, it might be that she asked if she could copy your homework, and you said no, and that meant she was late on an assignment which hurt her grade and she has been mad at you ever since. If you have ever made someone mad because you did the right thing when they wanted you to do the wrong thing, then their anger is only their problem and you have nothing to apologize for. But if you really were mean to her--like you broke going out with her to go out with other friends instead--then you ought to realize that you are now mature enough to apologize. That's not the same as giving in or being spineless.
Your ambition for going to college is going to be enough for you to keep this tiff in perspective. If that girl insists on being petty, that means you are already winning. Be mature and kind. As for your boy-friend, he might keep up with you but don't be surprised if he doesn't. Some kids don't know how to think ahead. Be glad you do.
|PO BOOKS BY DEAR JON
Dear Jon Letters: Tips for Dating and Mating
Published July 21, 2008
Our advice humorist turns his attention and trademark wit to affairs of the heart in his first and very affordable book (only $8.95!).
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.
A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.