You Asked It

Just Wondering

Girls who like boys but not that way, girls who like boys who like boys who don’t like girls, and a “What should I do with my life??!?” kind of question.

april2013JWillo

There’s this boy a couple grades younger than me who I talk to a little, and he’s really cool, and I want to be his friend. He has a girlfriend, and I seriously don’t have any romantic feelings towards him. My question is, how can you befriend a boy without making him think you have a crush on him? —Mary, 17

First off, kudos to you for understanding the difference between liking someone as a friend and liking them romantically. Some people don’t figure that out for years! You can like someone who would normally be in your dating pool and even find them attractive without wanting to fall in love with them. This kind of platonic love and affection can be a beautiful thing, and it only gets better the older you get.

It shouldn’t be a big deal that you want to become friends with this guy without any romantic intentions. It’s totally normal and even common for a guy and a girl to be friends with each other without any concerns of ulterior romantic motives. But as you clearly are aware, it can get weird sometimes.

My first piece of advice is to be honest with him. It takes a little bit of vulnerability, which is not always easy, but I find that being blunt and complimentary often works: “I like your ________ [taste in music, art style, podcast] and wanna be friends, and this is not me trying to date you, I swear.” Boom, simple as that. If that’s too forward for you, just chat him up, and when you do, mention whatever your current relationship status is—seeing someone, interested in someone, not dating—just to make him aware that you’re not fishing for his affections. Other than that, befriend him the same way you’d befriend any other dude or lady: hang out, exchange stories, laugh together, do dumb things together. I’ve found showing my guy friends what I consider my least sexually alluring traits—burping, ranting about reality shows, sweating—reinforces the notion that this relationship will stay unsexy. Paradoxically, however, forcing a feeling of platonicness just makes the other person think you’re interested in them. Imagine some guy talking you up every day and repeating over and over again that he doesn’t find you attractive at all, or inviting you to do stuff but always with the tagline “I mean, just as friends. NOT AS A DATE,” or shrinking away in horror at any casual physical contact. You’d think he was protesting too much. Don’t work to make your friendship seem super platonic, just let it be platonic. I’m guessing you don’t constantly announce to your female friends that you don’t want to make out with them, and that you sometimes lean on them or hug them or sit close together—if you act differently with this guy, it’s gonna feel weird to both of you.

You mentioned that he has a girlfriend, and whether or not you want to address that situation is up to you. You shouldn’t have to, but if you like, make an effort to be friendly with her. It just confirms that you’re not into him romantically, and hell, if you like a guy’s taste in a bunch of things, it may mean you’ll like his girlfriend too! (Note: you are not required to be friends with both members of a couple.) Just keep it nice and easy like you do with all your gal pals, and enjoy your new buddy! —Emily G.

One of my guy friends has started playing bass with a band that writes really sexist songs. All of their songs are about how stupid women are. I think it’s good for his confidence that he is getting out there and doing something he really enjoys, but he keeps asking me to come and see his band play, and to “like” them on Facebook. I don’t think my friend is sexist at all, but I am worried that if he carries on with this band he might start to believe some of the offensive stuff they sing about. I am confused about what to do: I want to support my friend, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings by refusing to see his band play, but I find their lyrics offensive. —Heather

I think one of the kindest things you can do is to tell your friend in a straightforward way why you are not interested in seeing his band. Even if he is super cool, he may not even be aware of how sexist their lyrics are—in part because young dudes are not usually conditioned to be aware of misogyny in culture. (This would explain why he feels OK inviting you to their shows.) Or maybe he knows the songs are sexist but he’s brushing it off because he thinks that’s the “rock & roll thing to do.” Who knows? It’s not really your business or your duty to interrogate and/or change his attitude toward the messages in his band’s songs. Your duty is that of a friend, and that is to be honest with him about your feelings. Tell him the truth: that you are happy he’s having fun in this band and you would like to be supportive, but you’re really bummed out by this band’s lyrics, that their music makes you uncomfortable and you can’t support it. Keep it simple and don’t apologize.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for people is let them see or feel the consequence of their actions. He is choosing to be in a sexist band, and you are choosing not to like it on Facebook. The thing about being in a band, or making any kind of art that is going to be presented in public, is that in order to continue doing it, people have to develop a second skin. Anyone creating art for the public has to learn how to handle criticism and failure, since those are more common in anyone’s career than praise and success. Not everyone is going to be a fan—that’s just how it goes. Hopefully your friend will take your opinion to heart, but also take it in stride and not let it affect your friendship. Maybe you could start a non-sexist band with him?! —Jessica

I’m going to prom with somebody I don’t like very much! Any pointers? He’s a good guy, it’s just…he likes me and I don’t like him (in that way). —Sarah, Canada

I was in your situation two proms in a row, with two very different outcomes. Here’s how they went down:

First there was Louis. I knew Louis was in love with me because he broadcasted it on LiveJournal. I didn’t take it too seriously. He was having a rough year (parents divorcing) and I think he just needed someone to crush on, to have something nice in his life—I was basically a safety crush. We went to junior prom together, and we had a really great time. He was gracious and goofy, and he never made me feel like I owed him romance just because it was prom night. We stayed friends, and he continued to rhapsodize about me on LiveJournal—until the summer when he got an actual girlfriend!

Then there was Zach. I knew Zach was in love with me just because it was just obvious. He asked me to senior prom, and I said yes, assuming he’d be cool about it like Louis was. (Spoiler: he wasn’t.) It was weird from the very start. He’d asked me the color of my dress (green) so he could get a matching corsage. But at the last minute I’d decided to wear a purple-and-black dress instead. When Zach showed up at my house he was visibly upset about this change, because now the corsage didn’t match (the horror!). That’s when I realized he was taking this way too seriously. He wanted this to be a “perfect night.” He wanted to tell our grandchildren about the magical prom when we realized we were soulmates. The rest of the night was super awkward, and I wished I’d never said yes.

So basically you need to ask yourself, are you in a Louis situation or a Zach situation? Are you a safety crush, or is this guy for real? If it’s the latter, well…you may be in for a looooong night. You might consider going stag instead (agreeing to go to prom with someone is not non-retractable—you can totally change your mind!). If you suspect he’s a Zach but you still want to go with him, maybe you could find a group for the two of you to hang with, so it won’t feel so date-y. And at some point, gesture towards all the cheesy couples and say something like “Look at these suckers. Most of them will have broken up by graduation and be embarrassed that this night ever happened. Aren’t you glad you and I were smart enough to come just as friends?” That should make the boundaries pretty clear without having to get too Dawson and Joey about it. Remember: it’s not your responsibility to give him the prom of his dreams! —Maggie

I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. But recently I’ve been thinking about how terribly DIFFICULT it’s going to be. Medical school is hard enough, but the thought of neglecting other areas of my life terrifies me. What about friends and family? Relationships? I’m not going to have time for hobbies anymore, meaning no textiles projects or writing or spending hours on the internet! University is supposed to be the Time of My Life. I don’t know if I’m just being childish and fearing the Adult World of Work, or if I should instead pursue something easier and thus have free time for Life. I don’t want to become my career. What should I do? —Tyra

How great that you are asking yourself these important questions. Far too often people do not give their own sense of what it takes to be happy the importance it deserves when they’re thinking about what they want to do for a living.

I’ll tell you right up front that I’m a primary care doctor and I love my job. I’m excited to go to work every day. I wasn’t sure how typical I was, though, so I spoke with many of my colleagues to get a wider perspective. And almost everyone I talked to loved their job too—at least most of the time. Some shared your concerns about the time commitment we are forced to make. We’re all still figuring out the best way to make it all work.

Here are a few points we all agreed on:

  1. If, when you look into your soul late at night, when there are no parents or friends around, you still really want to be a doctor, you should do it. Because doing what you love is worth the price you have to pay to do it.

  2. If there is anything else you think you might want to do—writer, artist, entrepreneur—you should consider that too. When you do, you’ll see that it’s not just medicine: any job you’re really passionate about will probably take up a lot more room in your life than the 40-hour workweek we often hear about.
  3. It is certainly true that during medical school and residency, medicine soaks up most of your waking hours. It’s the nature of the training. But how much time a doctor spends on the job after training depends on what specialty you go into. Surgery requires famously long hours; so does primary care medicine. Other specialties, such as radiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, and pathology, tend to be less time intensive. And in many specialties, like emergency medicine, it’s possible to work part time.
  4. Getting into medical school isn’t easy. A little less than half of all the folks who apply to med school actually get in. Your advisers will tell you that there are all these hoops you have to jump through to be a good candidate—many of which won’t contribute one whit to making you a better doctor. Only do the things you enjoy and feel are important.
  5. You don’t have to choose between your hobbies and medicine. When you love the main thing you do, you’ll find that it happily incorporates a lot of the other things you love. I’m a passionate knitter, and whenever I’m at a lecture I pull out whatever I’m working on; I just started taking piano lessons and have been amazed to see how much it’s helped my ability to recall material I read in medical journals. And lord knows I spend hours on the internet—much of the time I’m seeking answers to questions I have about taking care of my patients, but I can also be caught loitering on College Humor, Gawker, and BuzzFeed.

Integrating life and work teaches you how to be efficient and how to decide where you have to be perfect and where you can just show up. It’s a skill you’ll need no matter what you do, if it’s something you love. —Lisa Sanders, M.D., assistant professor, Yale School of Medicine ♦

If you have a question for a future installment of Just Wondering, please send it to youaskedit@rookiemag.com.

22 Comments

  • momobaby April 16th, 2013 11:26 PM

    That’s a good “Look into your soul” list for deciding what you want to do with your life. Nice questions this time :)

    http://littlerebellia.blogspot.com

  • Flyer April 17th, 2013 12:38 AM

    Tyra,

    You could also ask yourself why you want to be a doctor– like, do you want to help people? Maybe a certain group of people (the aged or injured athletes or pregnant women?) Do you want to solve specific types of problems? And maybe after asking yourself these questions you could determine that you would be just as joyful being, say, an occupational therapist or traveling nurse or who knows what.

    There are many options, in the medical professions and in other areas, that you don’t hear about before you go to college or even enter the field you end up working in. I’d recommend that you really investigate these options and find a niche where you could imagine finding just the right level of challenge, passion, and pressure, whether while still in school or when you’re finally hired.

    Good luck!

  • Jessica W April 17th, 2013 1:15 AM

    The age old how-to-befriend-a-boy-without-him-thinking-you-like-him conundrum…. About 95% of my friends are boys, and to them I’m just another boy.
    I think Emily’s of advice of showing your “least sexually alluring traits” is SOLID. Be your-be it fantastically disgusting at times-self… The message will come through that you just want to be friends if you’re not playing the romantic game.

    The Lovelorn

  • Cactus Woman April 17th, 2013 4:10 AM

    I have a question that needs answering relatively soon:

    I’m stuck trying to decide between two art schools, which I am both equally in love with (I have visited both campuses for extended periods of time and became infatuated immediately, and that feeling carried on throughout both of my visits). They have both given me scholarships, so money is (thankfully) not an issue right now. One is in my home state (though still far away) and the other is clear across the country(though I’m not super concerned about distance). My question is this:

    Do you guys have any tips for making huge, ginormous life decisions like this?

    I tried making and comparing pros and cons lists…I ended up getting carried away with how much I loved both of them. So that didn’t work. I know that I’ll be really happy no matter which one of the two I choose, BUUUT I still have to choose! Someone help me, please?!

    • Kimono Cat April 17th, 2013 5:58 AM

      Dear Cactus Woman,
      Due to the fact that you clearly love both art schools equally, I would advise you to make your decision based on some other things, like:

      Family: How close are you to your family? Do you love them so dearly that you’re not sure that you can handle being more than a state apart, or are sort
      of tired of them after spending 18 years together?

      Location: Is one of the art schools in a major city/a city that you’ve been infatuated with for ages?

      Friends: Are any of your friends going to either of the art schools? If yes, are they one of your closest friends, or are they a friend that you’ve grown apart from, and no longer truly like? If it’s the former, maybe go to the same school, if it’s the latter, don’t let them influence your decision. I’m sure the school is big enough that you can avoid each other.

      Random: If you really can’t choose, latch onto something random. Which school has a more pleasant name to say? Have any of your idols gone to either of the schools?

      I hope my advice has been helpful, and I hope that you’ll make the best choice!

      http://slightly-surreal.blogspot.co.uk/

    • hellorose April 17th, 2013 6:14 AM

      if you know you’ll be happy with either one then just flip a coin! tell yourself that whichever one comes out is the art school you’re DEFINITELY going to. then, when you have your answer, if you feel unhappy or uncomfortable about it rather than excited and relieved, you’ll know that really you’d like to go to the other one instead.
      or you could do that test where someone gives you lots of really quickfire ‘either/or’ questions ending with the two schools – whichever one you pick is the one your instincts are guiding you towards.

      both of these methods come courtesy of phoebe from ‘friends’. they might seem a bit flippant, but i know that with big decisions after a while you just get to the point where you’re overthinking everything and it becomes really stressful, rather than just going with your gut feeling.

      GOOD LUCK!

      • Tavi April 17th, 2013 6:30 AM

        phoebe buffay as life coach 5ever

    • Maddy April 17th, 2013 4:56 PM

      Sometimes it helps if you pretend you’ve decided on one, maybe post about it on a tumblr or someplace anonymous. Leave it up for a day, proceed about your life. If you keep getting anxious about if it’s the right choice, go with the other one. If you are super excited and can’t wait to tell people and buy the sweatshirt, you’ve picked your unconscious preference.

    • Abby April 17th, 2013 5:12 PM

      Since it seems like the only difference that matters to you is the distance, I thought I’d give my input on that. I’m in college in upstate NY, ten hours and two states away from my hometown in southern Maryland. I love my school, and I don’t regret going far away, but it has been pretty hard. I don’t see my family often, and my friends even less. No one I know from home goes here or even anywhere close, so I came here with absolutely nothing and no one to hold on to. For the first week or two I hated everything and everyone and wanted to go home because I’m way too shy for my own good and I didn’t know how to make friends. It got better, obviously. But if you’re *really* close to your family and friends at home (which I am), it’s going to be really hard for you to go across the country. Obviously you’ll make friends and everything, but it will be hard, because everyone you know at school will be visiting their family and stuff and you might not be able to go as often. Anyway, just think about that while you’re choosing… good luck!!!

    • Cactus Woman April 18th, 2013 4:33 AM

      Thank you so much, everyone! These are all very good ideas…I will try each one in order of most logical to most random, and hopefully I’ll have settled on one of the two schools before I get to the last-resort coin-flip!

      The community here on Rookie is awesome. Why can’t there be a Rookie Institute of the Arts or something? I’d love to spend my college years with all you guys. <3

      Also, I think I should watch Friends.

      • Stellalune April 18th, 2013 11:32 AM

        Seriously watch friends!! Best. Show. Ever.
        I have no advice other than that, everything has been said by others ;)

  • NotReallyChristian April 17th, 2013 7:00 AM

    Hey Tyra,

    I’m a university student, and although I don’t study medicine (Art History FTW!) I know lots of people who do who still manage to go to loads of social events and have a great time. Medical school is really tough (and my school acknowledges this: if you fail your medical/vet exams in first year you’re allowed to come back to study normal science!) but it’s not like the medical students are all shut off by themselves desperately studying all day.

  • wallflower152 April 17th, 2013 10:46 AM

    Tyra, my cousin wanted to be a dr ever since she was young. She did all kinds of volunteer work doing tests on lab rats etc in high school. She went to med school for anesthesiology, went to a very prestigious school, did very well in school etc. I’m not close to her but from what I hear she is pretty miserable besides having lots of money to send her kid to the best schools and take him places. She works crazy hours with long shifts and is on call a lot. She is just really stressed. If you really wanna be a dr then go for it! We can always use more drs! But definitely consider exactly what kind of dr you want to be. I’m sure you are very smart and know more than me about the fields of medicine but I know there are lots of drs who work “normal” hours. Or not? Maybe you want to be an ER surgeon? If that’s what you know you want to do then go for it. Just wanted to share my indirect knowledge about dr life. Good luck!

    • Tyra April 23rd, 2013 6:03 PM

      I’m really sorry your cousin is having such a hard time- hopefully it gets better. Yeah, there are some doctors who can work controlled hours, which seems less stressful, though honestly I have no idea what I’d like to specialise in. Thank you!

  • Ella W April 17th, 2013 12:34 PM

    Just saying, I want to be a doctor, and have looked it up very carefully. It seems to be a lot of work during medical school and the first few years, but as you get improve and settled the working hours decrease. If you become a consultant you pretty much get to choose your working hours!
    Also, slightly irrelevant, but on the last series of Great British Bake Off there were 2 doctors, so they obviously do get time for cooking and hobbies and so on.

    http://gorillalegs.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Mary the freak April 17th, 2013 12:51 PM

    Sarah, the same thing happened to me. I was having a huge crush on another boy who wasn’t going to prom that time. I went with my ex boyfriend (we were in sixth grade it doesn’t really count) and I really don’t like him and he was a terrible dancer. My crush came over and I was standing outside talking (flirting) with him all the time and my date was really annoyed. It was such a weird situation.
    Rookie your advices are so great!

    http://birdiewearsatie.blogspot.com/

  • RaineFall April 17th, 2013 2:11 PM

    I was in a similar position to Tyra. For the past 12 years I wanted to be a vet. It was all I ever wanted. I did the work experience, I achieved the grades, I did the extra-curricular. My passion consumed me, getting into university was the ultimate goal. At the same time, I was like you, I had many other hobbies.

    Taking a gap year was the best decision I ever made, and certainty has changed my life. One of my friends also took a gap year. Hers made her realise how badly she wanted to be a doctor, and how much she wanted to get into med school. Mine did the opposite.

    My dream was blinding me so much that I couldn’t realise that I wasn’t cut out a vet. There’s a very important difference with being interested in a job, and trying to work out whether you can actually do a job. I did all the things I never could do before on my gap year: I wrote two novels and did an art course. In the end I decided veterinary wasn’t for me, and now I’m going to study Natural Sciences with the hopes of being a scientific journalist.

    Being a doctor is a hugely rewarding job, and if you know you’ll love it and its all you can see yourself doing, then go for it. Medicine is a calling, its something you just know you want, and it makes the stress worthwhile. (I work in a vets and see it all the time).

    Take a step back, and think about it. Don’t feel pressured to go either way. I found the hardest part was to give up after all the work. It’s your life, and if you want to be a doctor, do it, you will find the balance. And if you don’t, that’s fine too :)

    http://rachaelreviewsall.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Maddy April 17th, 2013 5:01 PM

    The doctor question was super interesting and relevant. It’s always refreshing to get questions on here about “real life” and the Future and not just feelings and fashion. I adore learning about diseases, pathology, pharmaceuticals, and toxicology! buuut I’ve also realized the huge time, money, and brain space commitment it is to become a doctor.

    To other potential pre-meds: follow cranquis.tumblr.com or wayfaringmd.tumblr.com for TONS of other relevant and specific info about schools and decisions and being a hip young doctor.

  • Maddy April 17th, 2013 5:05 PM

    WAIT, Lisa Sanders M.D. of the NYTimes Well blog Diagnosis!!!!!! Ahh! I <3 times a million reading those cases! Ahhh SO awesome! That's great :)

  • VultureHopes April 18th, 2013 7:16 AM

    Tyra,
    My sister is a medical student in one of the toughest med schools in the world, and she’s had time to find a boyfriend, spend lots (and I mean LOTS) of time with said boyfriend, make so many new friends it’s almost ridiculous, go out every week at least once, call home every night, volunteer, read books, trawl the internet, and lots of other things. Including sleep and maintain good grades.
    It’s hard, but it’s doable. It’s not an all-consuming monster of a course which doesn’t permit you to have a life. It just means you work more often than before. But I promise that if you set realistic goals for yourself, it will not take up all your time.

  • Freddie April 22nd, 2013 7:40 PM

    About being a med student and having a life: I’m in my second year of medical school and I like to think I still have one! Haha I do spend a bit less time watching TV (but make an exception for Game of Thrones), but otherwise I still play my bass, volunteer as a uni tutor, go to parties (lots are organised by my med school) and hang out with my boyfriend. As long as you enjoy medicine/are interested in it, yes you’ll have to work hard but you will enjoy the work! Learning is so much easier and faster when you are interested in it – and you’ll make time for hobbies to! The rewards so far of talking to patients and seeing the impact made on their lives by their doctors are far outweighing the time put into the course :)

  • Tyra April 23rd, 2013 5:41 PM

    Thank you so much Lisa and everyone who commented with advice/stories! (Eee I didn’t expect to get an answer from an actual doctor, so exciting!) This really helped. I think I’ll try to take a step back and consider everything so I can make the right decision. It’s a relief to hear that so many doctors and med students seem to be enjoying themselves and maintaining hobbies, though- I think I may have overestimated some things?