Dear Toni I'm having a hard time forgiving and forgetting my friend. She had a group of friends who ditched her. She was very lonely, so I became her shoulder to cry on, and eventually her best friend. We became very close. But recently her old friends decided to let her back into their group. Gradually she started spending less time with me. Now she says we're not even friends - just classmates. I feel so used. I don't know how to forget the wonderful times we shared, or forgive her for the way she treated me. Please help! The Broken Heart Dear Downtrodden I'm sorry to hear that your friend used you like this and that you're so hurt by it. All I can tell you is that in time it will hurt less. You can't force someone to be your friend if they don't want to. But this is a chance for a fresh start. Perhaps this is a good time to try something new in your life, do something daring and different, and find another circle of friends. Perhaps a new hobby will be just the thing to pour your passion into, and help take your mind off being treated badly. Unfortunately, people are not always going to be nice to you. There's not much you can do about that. You can only be responsible for how much you let it bother you. So have a good cry about it, then wash your face, square your shoulders and move on to better things. Dear Josh I really like football - I train on Saturdays and play matches on Sundays. But this means I miss out on a lot. I can't go to birthday parties, or have a night out with my friends on Saturdays, because I have to be sharp for Sunday. I can't have people over, or do anything social. I'm too scared to talk to my coach about this, but what can I do? It's getting so bad that I don't like football as much. Boot-faced Hey Cristiano You've got to talk to your coach. You'd be amazed at the way people react to honesty when phrased the right way, so spill it. Opening up and letting others in on your fears makes you feel less alone, and gives those who care about you the opportunity to help. Maybe you could sit out on matches once in a while? You're not being a wuss - you're letting him know how you feel. He'll lose out, ultimately, if you decide to drop out. Next, talk to your friends - let them know that you're sorry to be missing out on Saturday night fun. What kind of friends are they if they can't arrange to do things on a Friday night once in a while? Life's all about finding a balance. You're committed to football, and you love to play; don't give that up. You want to spend time with your friends and join in on the fun, and that's really important, too. It doesn't have to be a case of 'either/or'. Football and friends matter just as much as each other to you, and at the end of the day, you've got to find a way to do what makes you happy. Dear Toni Usually when an adult asks me about my exam or test results, I tell the truth. But not when it comes to my friends. I don't want them to get jealous when I do well, so I lie and invent a lower mark, or simply refuse to say anything at all. My best friend is particularly competitive and always looks over my shoulder to try to see my grade. She also lies about how well she's doing in class - we all do! I think we all know that nobody is telling the truth, but we would rather that than friends know our real marks and compare with theirs - or beat us. It's come to a point where I'm no longer sure who my real friends are, and I don't even want to spend time with my 'best friend' anymore because of all this. Please give me advice - I am very confused. De-graded Dear Secretive It seems such a shame that your friendships should be reduced to a set of marks. I realise how important it is to get good grades, but that should be for your own sake, not with a view to beating your classmates. Friendship is about being supportive, encouraging, caring, and forgiving - without judgment, without competition, without envy. When you do well, you should be proud of yourself and share that sense of achievement with those you love. When your friends do well, you should be proud of them and happy for what they have achieved. If those around you want to continue to lie, let them do so, but you should rise above it. Stop the hiding and competing. One day you'll look back on all this rivalry and double-dealing, and regret having wasted so much time playing games of deception, rather than cherishing the time you had with your friends. Life's too short to be a good student but a bad friend.