Dear Dr. Archer,
I’m a junior at a university in Pennsylvania. After my first semester, I became very close with a guy whom I thought was my best friend. We did everything together.
He struggled in school, so I tried helping him by taking classes with him. I did all of his homework, wrote his essays, let him cheat off my exams, and even took an online class for him.
One time, we had an in-class practical. He knew he couldn’t cheat, and he knew wouldn’t pass, so he asked me to switch exams with him, so he could pass. I did, knowing full well I would fail.
I used to stay up all night tutoring him, but all he wanted to do was cheat. I’d try to make him go to class, but he was always so hung over he would never go. I valued our friendship, and wanted to be best friends with him, but the more I gave, the worse it got.
I thought everyone in college is supposed to party, so I’d ask him if he wanted to go out. He’d say yes, but then back out because of the way I dressed. But I wouldn’t give up. I kept trying to find fun things to do, but he kept blowing off my plans and going out with others.
When we did go out, he wanted to use my money, never his own. On his birthday, I bought him a gift for $100, but he didn’t even say ‘happy birthday’ on mine.
One day, I had enough, and told him I could no longer help him cheat. He wasn’t upset; he simply accepted it.
The next semester, I wanted to know if he wanted to get together, and he told me to go away, that I had ruined his life, and he never wanted to see me again. I yelled at him, and got so loud he called police.
I was upset, because I thought we were friends. Now, he treats me like a stranger. He told his friends bad things about me, so now they look at me funny. I’m transferring out of my university to one in another state. I told him that, before I leave, I’m telling my advisor about all the work I did for him.
I don’t care if I get in trouble. I don’t care. He apologized, said we are friends, and we could be “hello and goodbye” friends. He apologized for what he did, and said it should never have happened, and that he wants to start over.
Personally, I think he’s just trying to save his own ass from getting in trouble. I don’t want to let him get away with what he did to me, and I don’t know what I should do.
Of course he’s trying to save his ass. This is no friend of yours; he’s a user, and that’s it. However, as much as you may not want to admit it, you allowed him to use you, and you were also complicit in the cheating. You did the work, took the tests, and facilitated his cheating, so if you tell your advisor, be prepared for the consequences you will have to pay.
Honestly, Rony, it sounds like you were allowing him to use you in order to have him as a friend. It went both ways.
You don’t want him to get away with it, but you are just as guilty. You tried to help him, but you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help himself. In order to do well in school, you must attend class, study and learn. He did none of these things, yet you continued to let him use you. Why? You must think about that for the future.
Consider this a very valuable lesson. Friendship does not mean you roll over and let someone use you. You’re to be valued and respected, not treated like an afterthought.
Drop it, leave the retaliation idea behind, go to the new school, and do well. You don’t need to tell anyone about the cheating. Trust me, if he had that much trouble studying, he will most likely flunk out, anyway.
From now on, choose your friends wisely, and make sure they don’t take advantage of you. At all times, do the right thing, which means letting those you know make their own grades. Good luck.
Dear Dr. Archer,
I’m a mother in Texas who cares for and is worried about her son. He graduated in Texas with straight As, received a scholarship, and then threw it all away. His father, in California, insisted he move there, so he could go to school.
My son soon began college there, and started getting in trouble. His father and grandmother eventually kicked him out. He’s now 21, lives with friends, has no job, rides a bike, takes a bath maybe once a week, and basically wears the same clothes.
I know all of this because his younger brother flew to visit his father. I also keep in touch with a former in-law who cares, and has offered him an invitation to live with her.
It seems he doesn’t care about anything. Is this a phase, or should I be concerned? His grandmother doesn’t want him around, nor does his father’s girlfriend. My son has always been the quiet type; some would consider him antisocial.
My only form of communication with him is through email. He was communicating back and forth with me, but then he quit. I thought it had something to do with his father, since his father sends me evil emails. I still send him emails, hoping he reads them and will perhaps respond. Do you have some advice for me?
You don’t state what type of trouble your son got into — Drugs? Alcohol? Legal problems? Having insight into the problem is always helpful.
Since he no longer emails, and you don’t have good rapport with his father, call the former in-law you are close to, and ask to stay with her for a couple of days in order to see your son in person.
This doesn’t sound like a phase; it sounds like something is seriously wrong. If he has been offered a place to stay by family, and he’s refused, he could be suffering from a mental illness, or he may be abusing drugs.
Whatever the reason for his behavior, you should plan a visit and find out. Hopefully, he would return home with you, and get whatever help he may need.
Be sure to give him the message that you deeply care for his well-being. Your maternal bond may sway him to come home, knowing he’s wanted there.
I can appreciate that what’s going on here is both disturbing and heartbreaking. At this point, though, your son is an adult, and free to live wherever he wants and do what he wants. If he chooses not to return home with you, then realize you cannot force him. You can, however, make sure he knows you’re there for him, now and always. Good luck.
Dr. Dale Archer is a board-certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News and other national TV programs, and is the author of The ADHD Advantage and the New York Times’ bestselling book Better than Normal. Visit him at DrDaleArcher.com.