Lonely at College

Your Question
I’m a first year student at a small college and I’m having social issues. I was really focused on academics in high school and even though I had friends and a boyfriend in high school, I mostly stayed in on weekends and was never social.

Now I’m in college and I want to try new things and party, but I never get invited anywhere. I’ve been friendly and fun as far as I can tell, and tried to be the one making plans, but I feel so clearly behind the party scene and so awkward somehow that it never works out. I feel really lonely and bored, now. Advice?

Lonely at College

the advicist


Firstly, points for self-awareness in checking that you aren’t the problem. You’ve been friendly, and you’ve tried initiating plans. That’s a great start.

My advice would be to try other ways to be social that aren’t partying. It sounds like that’s not a good fit for you really. Maybe it will be, down the road, but if it’s not working out now, no need to focus on it. There are plenty of other ways to make friends and enjoy people’s company, especially at college.

Have you looked at joining any groups or societies? I was very active in a few, and met lots of people. The ones I was involved with that had a charitable focus also included a disproportionate number of people with, let’s say, lower than average social skills, so if you feel more comfortable when surrounded by awkwardness, that might be a good option. [and shout out to all my slightly awkward friends from that era, I hope you don’t mind my verbalising what we all know to be true :) ]

Clubs, societies, sports teams, the campus newspaper… there must be something that piques your interest? Knitting? Basketball? I don’t know how big your college is, but even at smaller ones, students are a social group with more free time than most, and shared facilities readily available at a low cost, so I find they have one of the most active social scenes of any community.

Also, I’ve written a couple of posts about making friends as you get older – they don’t necessarily apply to your exact situation, but the step-by-step may be of some use:

Making Friends After College (1)

Making Friends After College (2)

Turning Acquantainces to Friends

Those people who you have already met – in your classes, or at your accomodation, why not try socialising with them during the day? This would quell the loneliness and not involve the rejection you fear with partying events (work up to it though!).

I usually found very willling coffee or lunch dates because most people were trying to procrastinate and avoid writing essays too!

A job is also a good way to meet people, with the advantages of cash and experience. Do your due diligence though.

What I’m saying is, look farther afield than just the partying scene. Once you find a few good friends you will be much more likely to be invited along, or will have a partner in crime to invite along to evening events yourself. Best of luck. Any other readers have tips for our letter writer?

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My Sister-in-Law Ignores Me

Your Question Dear Advicist, I hope you can help me. Three years a go I got married, and had my sister in law (bro’s wife) as a bridesmaid.

She got very involved (some witnesses described it as ‘domineering’) in the organisation of the event (which we wanted to keep quite low key, and she did not quite see that). She ended up very cross and insulted by our ingratitude and general behaviour.

I am a sane and reasonable person, with friends of many years and good family. I am not perfect at all, but I do my best, and have really tried to work out where we went wrong at this event. Ever since, we have been ‘persona non grata’, if that’s the term.

Seen begrudgingly, invitations to lunch or tea ignored, arrangements made with other family that doesn’t include us. I find it very hurtful, and sad. We were never close friends, but we had an okay relationship as sisters in law.

I sometimes wonder whether it was all my fault, for having her as a bridesmaid in the first place – perhaps that was too much strain on the relationship. I knew, in my heart, that the potential was there for this to go wrong (I do find her domineering, as the witnesses described, but I have always defended her with regards to that, and accepted it about her).

As I write this I realise it is complicated. I cannot say I am desperate to be best friends, and I accept we may be quite different people, but that is fine. I do want to be good family, see each other at birthdays and meet occasionally for tea, in a kind of neutral territory.

At the moment they are making out that quite distant relatives are more important to them than we are. Is it possible that the wedding was used as an excuse to make the break? If I look back over the course of knowing her, she has sometimes caused trouble for me before, speaking against me to my parents (her in-laws) for example, or by being quite judgmental. Perhaps she was never that keen on having us be in their lives? What should I do?

My Sister In Law Doesn't Want to be Friends
the advicist
Firstly, let me say I am sorry for you that you don’t have the relationship with her that you envisaged. It sounds like you tried to reach out and create a friendship with her by inviting her to be in your wedding, and, though you knew it was a risky strategy, you are upset it didn’t work out.

That is totally understandable, and I commend you for asking her to be a part of your wedding in the first place. (Brides to Be: let this serve as a warning to listen to your gut when picking your bridal party, however. Nice intentions are good, but be careful).

Unfortunately, you are now in the place where she doesn’t really seem to want a close relationship with you, and you do.

I’m sorry to tell you that you can only have the relationship with someone that they want to have with you. You can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be your friend. You can’t be lovers with someone who isn’t interested. I think you know that.

As for how to proceed, the only thing I can suggest is that you keep reaching out, because a) a relationship with her is obviously important to you b) it’s the right thing to do anyway (and we all know I love the moral highground) c) as the wedding fades from view, she may come around.

So I’d continue to invite her to family events, get in touch on birthdays, send her a text every now and then asking how she’s doing. I’d reach out especially on important milestones in her life (eg. “Happy Wedding anniversary! Remember how we danced to “Don’t Stop Believing'”, or whatever.

I’d go for texts that don’t ask a question or require a response. That way, if you get one, you feel like you are getting somewhere, but you’re not left waiting, hanging on, and wondering why she isn’t replying.

Not much else I can offer, unfortunately. I’m not a fan of begging someone for their friendship, I would be careful not to come across as too desperate, but that probably has more to do with me and my insecurities than decent advice. Keep doing what you’re doing. Hopefully she’ll eventually realise you have a good heart, and any misunderstandings between the two of you are just a difference in personalities, and not a direct attack.

(and for those of you wondering why I am being so nice, it’s because the questioner sounds very self-aware, and has already realised the above about her sister-in-law – she is who she is, she’s not trying to be awkward, she’ s just difficult. Sorry if you only come for the snark. I’ve got some good stuff lined up…).


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I want to Elope…But I Want to Wear a Wedding Dress

Your Question I’ve read through your advice on eloping, and you almost cover my question but not quite.
My fiance wanted to elope, neither one of us relish being the center of attention. I wanted a wedding, partially for me and partially our families.

‘Till his mother, who is not contributing, muscled in and started pushing us around…you have to do this and that and that…she also has barely acknowledged that I have a mother and has spoken of her once, snidely. She has trampled on my sister’s feelings and tried to take ownership of every event there could possibly be. Too much stress for me and my resentment for her was growing sky high – the kind of resentment there could be no coming back from. So we stopped the wedding and decided to elope.

My problem? A small part of me wants to wear my wedding dress, but I have no desire to have the wedding. A larger part of me wants my family with me, but I need to get away from this woman and just be married. The empathetic part of me still wants fiance’s parent’s there to witness the vows.

I’m certain about the man, pretty certain once there is nothing to plan the mother’s bulldozing will die down (from what I’ve observed), but I’m not certain about how to go about getting married. I am also certain I must keep his mother miles and miles away from any planning. Am I on the right track with eloping, or am I one of those people you’d advise not to elope?

advice on weddings

the advicist
Elope, and wear a FABULOUS wedding dress. When you come back, have a party for those who missed the wedding, and rock that dress again!

I’ve been to events just such as this, and I can promise you guests are thrilled that the bride wore her dress again.

Oh, I love an easy question!

Poll: Wearing Shoes In The House

Your Question Is it rude to ask house guests to not wear their shoes in the house, and remove them at the front door? I think it’s absolutely disgusting when people wear their dirty, filthy, germ covered shoes in the house, especially on carpet, and put them up on the furniture and/or on the bed, etc. Think about where your shoes have been!?

Walking all over the dirty, muddy streets where some homeless guy just spit or urinated, or where some dog recenlty took a dump, or someone threw up the night before…the list goes on. Then bring all that unsanitary filth inside where your baby is crawling on the carpet and putting his hands in his mouth, or your toddler is lying his face on the sofa where someone’s dirty shoes just were. I’m all for building immunities, but “outside” shoes worn inside the house just seems very wrong to me, especially when you spend time and money trying to keep your house clean and your belongings looking good and in good condition.

If you’re having a dinner party for example, that’s an exception, where people are dressed up and their shoes complete their look, it would be awkward to remove shoes. But for everyday, and for house guests who are staying with you, is asking not to wear shoes in the house an unreasonable request? Is it unrealistic to think this can be enforced with guests with kids? Thinking maybe provide flip flops or slippers at the door or in the guest rooms? Thank you!

Should you wear shoes in the house?
the advicist
This is such a hot-button topic.

Seriously. I have seen this discussion all over the web, and each side boils it down thus:

  • Ugh, shoes in the house, disgusting!
  • OMG, asking visitors to take their shoes off, SO RUUUUUUDE!

Honestly, I think it’s a cultural thing. In some cultures shoes are NEVER worn in the house (think: Japan). In other cultures, shoes often are (think: UK).

Personally, coming from a culture where shoes are common in houses, it doesn’t ick me out at all. I’m really not one for fussing about germs. And being asked to take my shoes off for non-cultural reasons (eg, I just got a new carpet, would you mind?) does kind of annoy me. I planned this outfit with shoes, people! Also, I hate being barefoot. Plus, you never know how presentable my feet will be. In summer – pretty and painted toes! In winter? They haven’t seen the light of day in months.

I also think if you’re going to be so damn precious about your carpet, don’t get a beige one.

But that’s just me. And I understand others feel differently. And I would ALWAYS respect a cultural removal of shoes. And, if you ask me for other reasons, I always oblige. I’m just rolling my eyes inside.

Also, kids who’ve been playing outside? Or after a muddy walk? Always fine to request removal, but thoughtful guests should do it automatically anyway.

What do you think, readers? Time for a poll! Like I say, this one tends to be divisive…

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Thanks for taking part, I’m really interested to see (and hear in the comments, if you like) what people think about this one!

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Declining a Destination Wedding Invitation

Your Question

How to respond to a destination wedding that you cant go to? advice on weddings

the advicist

You respond formally, in the same way they invited you, with your regrets, and some sincere good wishes.

So, by mail, if the invitation was mailed; by e-mail, if the invitation was emailed, or verbally etc.

You may send a gift if you wish, but I never think a gift is required.

That’s it.

(If you want actual wording: “Thank you for the kind invitation to your wedding. I am sorry but we will be unable to attend. We wish you all the best for your wedding and the future, and will be thinking of you on x date.”. Amend as appropriate.)

And note from me: I’m off on my holidays! So I won’t be posting for a couple of weeks. See you back here mid October x

My Mother in Law won’t Attend my Bridal Shower

Your Question
My future mother in law doesn’t want to my attend bridal shower. Help!

My Mother In Law Won't Attend My Bridal Shower

the advicist
And? She doesn’t want to come. What are you going to do, force her? (If the answer is yes, I GIVE UP).

Why make someone come to an event they don’t want to attend? I don’t understand the point. They won’t enjoy it. And you will know they’re only there because you made them come.

What are you hoping to achieve? (and if it’s about ‘How it looks’, you have no support from me. Caring about how things look to  these mystical ‘other people’ is responsible for about half the pickles that land in my inbox).

Don’t pressure her, don’t force her, don’t coerce her, don’t guilt her. An invitation was extended, it was declined.

Move on already.

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My Sister in Law Visits DAILY

Your Question
My sister in law comes everyday to our home, because her son stays at our home when he returns from the school, so she comes to take him home. But even when there is holiday and every sundays off course she has to come to our place.

She is good by nature and friendly too. But i just don’t like her coming to our home everyday..  my husband then gets busy with her.. and our life gets disturbed.. and also it becomes kind of too much interference..

Please tell me how to stop her from coming to our home everyday.. without let anybody know.. please help..

My Sister In Law Visits Daily
the advicist

The essence of your questions is: How can I stop my sister-in-law visiting daily, without saying anything to her, or anyone else, and without anyone knowing about it?

That, I’m afraid, is impossible.


You can stop her from visiting daily, but it will involve speaking to her about it. If you are uncomfortable doing that, I suppose you could speak to someone else about it, who could then speak to her. Either way the route to the end result is the same: telling your sister-in-law not to visit so often.

I feel that that is not going to be possible for you, for whatever reason. Are there cultural or religious factors at work here? I feel that there is more I need to know.

I also don’t understand the mechanics of it – it sounds like your household provides some sort of after school care for him. Who is offering this? Yourself? Your Mother-in-law?

Usually I would just say, “It’s your house, it’s up to you who comes to visit!”. I get the feeling this won’t help in your situation. Please tell me more, or let me know that I have got this all wrong, in the comments. Thank you.

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10 Reasons Not To Stay In A Relationship


10 Reasons NOT To Stay in a Relationship

This is Part Two of a question from last week: Please give me some reasons why I should stay in my relationship. I answered with  my 10 Reasons to Stay in a Relationship. And now I’m telling that person what I really think they need to know: why they SHOULDN’T stay in their relationship.

So, here we are: 10 Reasons Not To Stay In A Relationship:

  1. Because they threaten you with what they might do to themselves if  you leave. This person does not need a partner. They need help. Advocate for them, and get them that help and support. And know that their actions are not your responsibility.
  2. Because they threaten you with what they might do to you if you leave. This is way above my paygrade. Get some education, help, knowledge, and support. (Links in the sidebar).
  3. Because you don’t want to admit you’ve failed. You haven’t failed, your relationship has failed. Sure, you wanted it to work out. But who wins if you stay in a relationship just to save face? No-one.
  4. Because ‘what will people think?!’. What does it matter? They only think what they think of you now based on lies and false impressions. So their opinions now are inaccurate anyway.
  5. Because your parents / sister / best friend / first grade teacher tells you to. They are not living your life. They do not get to decide.
  6. Because it’s easier. Easy is good… but it isn’t always best. And actually you’ll be amazed how ‘easy’ a life lived on your terms – and no-one else’s – will feel once you get there.
  7. Because it’s cheaper. Yeah, if you’re living together, it’s hard to divide everything up, and your living expenses will be much higher if you end up living by yourself. You know what? Money is just money. It won’t provide you with the things you’re not getting in your relationship (and if it is… then you shouldn’t stay in your relationship because you’re living a lie, and it’s not fair on your partner).
  8. Because they love you. It’s not enough. You have to love each other. 
  9. Because you love them. It’s not enough. You have to love each other. 
  10. Because you don’t want to be alone. That is a terrible reason. Alone can be wonderful. Especially when compared with living with someone you don’t love and respect.

Has anyone got any more? I think I could squash 8 and 9 into one reason if anyone can give me a tenth?!


Also, there is one major difference between the 10 Reasons you should Stay, and the 10 Reasons you should Go.

With the reasons to stay, I kind of think you need to check every box. Love each other, like each other, respect each other: none of those is enough on its own. You need all of them.

But with the reasons to go? You don’t even need to check two. Any single reason is enough. You don’t need to justify it, rationalise it, explain it away. If you are not feeling it, that is enough reason to end it.
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10 Reasons to Stay in a Relationship

Your Question
Please give me some reasons why I should stay in my relationship.

10 Reasons To Stay in a Relationship


the advicist


Ok, I’ll give you 10. But only if you promise to read what I say afterwards…

  1. Because you love each other.
  2. Because you respect each other.
  3. Because you treat each other well. Not because you ought to, but because you want to.
  4. Because they make you want to be a better person.
  5. Because your life is better with them in it.
  6. Because you support each other, in the bad times, and the good times.
  7. Because you stand up for each other, even when that’s hard.
  8. Because you can tell each other when you’re being unreasonable.
  9. Because you listen to each other, even if you don’t always agree with each other.
  10. Because you want to.

But, you know what I’m going to say. If you’re asking me for reasons, if you are looking for reasons, if you have to be talked into staying, or talk yourself into staying, YOU SHOULDN’T BE IN THIS RELATIONSHIP.

So, whilst I have answered the question you’ve asked, in my next post I’m going to give you the answer to what you should be asking: 10 Reasons Not to Stay In a Relationship.

Has anyone thought of any reasons I missed? 10 seemed like a good round number, so I stopped thinking once I got there. Have I missed anything obvious!?
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I sent Save The Dates. Can We Still Elope?

Your Question Hi, We got engaged in 2012, we spoke about what we would want for a wedding before we got engaged and we both liked to elope or something small. So once engaged the questions started when, where and how. I bought up the subject of eloping with my family, they were fine and said they would support us.

When the subject of eloping was bought up with his family didn’t go down to well. My future father-in-law was like I want to do what makes you happy but said he would prefer a day celebrating with friends & family. Long story short wedding is booked and is eight months away, I freak out daily about everything, where are people going to stay, there might not be enough accommodation, what if not body comes (we are only having a smallish wedding of 50 people or so).

I feel like I want to cancel and run away, we have sent out the STD cards so feel now we are trapped into doing this. My FI said its fine and I should not be stressing it will all work out and I should not be worried about everyone one else they will sort themselves out if they want to come. Am I just nervous or do I really want to run away and get married. I love My FI and want to spend the rest of my life with him but I don’t know if I want the WEDDING.


advice on weddings

the advicist

Ok. Let’s take a deep breath.

I know this feels huge at the moment, but honestly, you can handle this.

I would say, ‘Cancel the wedding and elope!’, since it’s what both of you want (and I totally think that is a great option). But it also sounds like it would come with a lot of stress of it’s own. Especially if part of what’s stressing you out is all the questions. Because nothing gets the gossips going like a cancelled wedding, even if the marriage part is still on.

(Gosh, not that I think you should run your life around what gossips think! I just have a feeling you are idealising running away, and thinking that will solve EVERY problem. Whilst it will solve a good chunk of your problems, it will also create some new ones, and you can’t properly assess your best next move unless you acknowledge that, work out what those problems are, and decide which set of problems you prefer: those from the planned wedding, or those that come from cancelling that wedding).

Anyway, longest ever sentence aside, I have a suspicion that going ahead with THIS wedding will be the easiest thing. It sounds like it’s mostly planned, it’s not huge (although I do appreciate that if you want four people at your wedding, fifty feels pretty huge), and the end result is the same: you marry the man  you want to marry. (Congrats, by the way).

So let’s take each problem one at a time:

Where People Will Stay

You’re worried about guest accommodation. Don’t be. These are grown ups. They have gone to weddings before. They have gone on vacation before. They are perfectly capable of choosing somewhere to stay, booking it, and getting there. Leave them to it, and go paint your nails or something.

Who Will Come

Do not worry about no-one turning up. Seriously. I know we all have that sinking feeling 10 minutes after a party was supposed to start and no-one’s there. But you know what? In my experience someone always turns up.

And anyway, worst case-scenario: you turn up, your fiance turns up. Since you wanted to elope, isn’t this pretty much actually your dream scenario? So it will work out either way. Trust.

(Also, people will turn up. Just in case that last sentence had  you cancelling chair rentals or something).

(And, chair rentals are over-rated. If they have chairs available for free, use them.)

You’re Just Nervous

Which is fine. Indeed, healthy. I still support your decision to elope, if that’s what you want. But what I really want is for you to see to things you are worried about are NOT things you need to worry about. Don’t waste the next few months stressing about things that are not your concern (and seriously, where people stay is not your concern. Unless you’ve invited them to stay with you).

As a wise woman I once knew used to say, “You’ll die if you worry, you’ll die if you don’t. So why worry?”

Disclaimer: I know, easier said than done etc. But honestly, with practise, you can make this true (and if you can’t, I would really recommend CBT).