Asking for a Friend: The Advice Column

Is ‘your friend’ going through a bad breakup? Are they struggling to keep up with uni work? Or maybe they’re too scared to confront their flatmates about the mould growing in the kitchen? Lifestyle Editor Rachel Cronin dishes out fully unsolicited advice on relationships, uni and anything in between.

DISCLAIMER: She’s not proven to be successful in any of these fields or qualified to discuss them in any way.

‘My friend’ hates their flatmate’s boyfriend. He’s at the flat all the time and it’s been a growing issue for months. They don’t want to break up the flat but it’s getting really suffocating, what should they do?

Okay, I feel like this one is universal for students. Especially in first and second year, you’re almost always going to come across issues with a flatmate. With significant others you can be a bit more lenient (it’s nice to see your friends or flatmates in successful relationships bla bla bla) but if your flatmate’s boyfriend is at the gaff more than you, then there’s a problem- at that point they should be chipping in for the electric bill. You don’t want to feel like you’re intruding on their relationship by existing in your own home.

So, my advice is to gently bring up the subject in a casual setting (at home, over dinner, obviously when the boyfriend isn’t there). Explain that it’s making you feel awkward and uneasy, without attacking them or blaming the boyfriend- it’s worse if you also dislike him, but don’t bring that up (unless he’s treating your flatmate badly, of course). Definitely stray from raised voices or antagonising language- we’re all adults! And if they’re open to discussing solutions (maybe if he came round for a couple nights a week, or if they stayed at his sometimes, then you’re on to a winner. Good Luck!

‘My friend’ has changed course twice in the past two years and they still aren’t sure uni is for them. All their pals are graduating next year and they feel left behind. Should they just drop out?

One thing to never forget (especially when you’re in your late teens or early twenties) is that you can change your mind whenever you want. If the first two courses really weren’t for you, it’s admirable to take a step back and just be like ‘well you know what, this isn’t for me’. It’s better to know when you’re headed in a direction that’s not for you. For now, I’d keep an eye on how this new course is going- is it a dislike for the subject or a general lack of focus that’s making ‘your friend’ unsure?

If uni really isn’t for you, then that’s more than okay, and you’re smart for recognising that before you’re 4 resentful years into a degree that you hate. Take your time and decide on what you would feel fulfilled and satisfied doing, and if that’s not uni, then there’s no shame in quitting!

‘My friend’ feels like they’re growing out of their group of uni pals- they all still go out at least three times a week even though we’re in final year and it feels like there’s never enough time for uni work. They have nothing in common anymore except for drinking. What advice could I offer my friend to sort this out?

We change a lot over our 4 years at uni, and usually, a large chunk of our social life does revolve around going out drinking. It could be that your friend is growing out of that group. But if you’re all final year, it’s actually likely that the other troops feel the same. Peer pressure and FOMO are killers during uni, but if your work is suffering because you’re drinking so much then it’s worth dialling it back. It’s not necessary to ditch all your friends though, if they’re still good pals. Ask around if anyone would be up for studying together or even hanging out booze-free. Then at least you don’t need to factor in a hangover into the equation and could get some work done.

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