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Alex Runyon

Readers, please be aware that a portion of this column discusses sexual assault.

I have been dealing with these two really good friends who are dating, and ever since they started dating, they have become really toxic to me? Like their presence is incredibly negative. They feed off of each other’s bad attitude to the point where I can’t remember the last time I have seen either of them happy. And when I try to bring it up or subtly say something in the nicest way possible, they get incredibly defensive. What should I do?

These “really good friends” don’t seem like they’re being “really good friends” to you right now. They are both aware of their unhappiness, and, while I think it’s great you want to help them, they clearly aren’t willing to take your help. Focus on you and your individual relationships with these people. If they can’t divorce their unhealthy partnership from their individual relationships with you, I recommend taking some time away from their toxicity.

My girlfriend has always been close friends with her ex-boyfriend. I didn’t think it would ever bother me because I am not a jealous person. But ever since we’ve been together (over a year), their friendship has caused problems. They used to spend a lot of time together, which was fine, but then they started spending time together and not telling me about it. I found some texts I wasn’t comfortable with but that weren’t outright indicative of anything too serious, but that made me uncomfortable. They Snapchat all the time.  I’ve never wanted to make it “choose me or him,” but lately I think that’s what it’s coming to. He’s her type and they have a history together that we don’t have. What should I do? Am I crazy?

You are not crazy. I approach relationships this way: give trust until you have a reason not to. Frankly, it sounds like your girlfriend and her friend have given you plenty of reasons not to trust them. Have you told your girlfriend how this makes you feel? If not, that’s where you should start. You’ve been in the relationship for over a year, so you should be able to have open and honest dialogue about this. If your girlfriend makes you feel crazy or gives you a reason to feel like you’re second to her (ex-boy)friend, that’s not okay. If you have already talked to your girlfriend about this, and the behavior is persisting, I think “choose me or him” is an appropriate response. No one wants to lose a friend they’ve had for a long time, but you must be a priority in your own relationship. Your girlfriend and her ex-boyfriend made a choice to end their romantic relationship at least a year ago, and it’s not fair for her to have a foot still stuck in that door, so to speak. At the end of the day, your girlfriend is going to do what she wants to do. I encourage you to really evaluate the choices she makes and how they make you feel. Your feelings are valid and important, and any a partner worth having will treat them as such.

Alex, I’ve been thinking a lot about my future and graduating college and moving off (to) graduate school. It’s a horrifying thought, and I’m very scared but also excited. How do you cope with the fear of change and moving forward?

Graduating college and going on to pursue a graduate degree is so exciting! You’re lucky to be in this position, and you deserve to be excited about it. Change can be scary, but try to focus on the good. Think of what will come from the experience, not what you will lose when you move away. Try to plan outings in your new city, find clubs or organizations on campus you can join and bring along reminders of the good times back at home. There will be days that are hard post-grad, but remember how far you’ve come from being a college freshman and think about how far you have to go.

There is a member of my family, unfortunately, who is a rape-apologist. He denies it actively by saying he hates rapists. However, whenever I bring up my personal rape story or mention my disdain for people in the area who facilitate rape ((with whom) he congregates and supports), he tells me he is tired of hearing about it, and it isn’t his fault that I was raped. This family member is someone I cannot eliminate having day-to-day contact with. How do I deal with such horrific negativity?

First, I’m sorry to hear of your experiences with rape and rape-apologists. It seems like this family member doesn’t understand what it means to be an ally. He shouldn’t pick and choose which rapes he feels badly about, or which ones he thinks should be ignored. It can be difficult to come forward about sexual assault, and I can’t imagine the extent to which that difficulty is made worse by daily contact with someone like this. My advice is to eliminate unnecessary interaction with this person. If you can’t completely eliminate toxic people from your life, the best thing you can do is try to limit your exposure to them. If confronted about this, I would be upfront with the family member and tell him how hurt you are by his erasure of your experience. If, and only if, you want to, you can explain his hypocrisy and how it affects you. Otherwise, I would try to avoid him as much as you can. You may have to see him every day, but you don’t have to take his gaslighting.

This column is the opinion of one person and is not a substitution for professional help. Free counseling services are available to all Marshall students on the first floor of Prichard Hall.

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