Dear Toni There's this guy at my school. My friends and I ignore him when he's talking to us and tease him behind his back. But I've had a huge crush on him for four years. I heard him saying he has a girlfriend and that he doesn't like me. If I tell my friends, my reputation will be at stake and they might ditch me. Help! In a serious pickle Dear Cody (I'm assuming you've seen Mean Girls) Whoever said boys are mean to the girls they like forgot to mention it happens the other way around too. But while some girls like guys who are mean to them, I don't know any guy who will fall for a girl who ignores, bullies and makes fun of him. If you really have feelings for this guy, separate yourself from your gang's behaviour and apologise to him. You may well become friends once he realises you're not such a 'mean girl'. Teenage girls can be cruel. If they get together in a gang and decide to pick on someone, that victim's school years can become anything from irritating to utterly depressing. Why girls act like this is a mystery that scientists, teachers and parents have been trying to solve for eons. No doubt it's hormonally-induced. But there comes a point when you have to realise that bullying - because it is bullying, no matter how mild - is wrong. But it sounds like you're ready to grow up. Stop the hating. If you care more about being a good person than being part of the in-crowd, tell your gang to stop, too. If they baulk at such civilised, mature behaviour, start looking for new friends. Instead of doing things that make you feel bad - acting mean, hiding your feelings - be true to yourself and you can't go wrong. Dear Josh Is there a nice way to break up with a girl? I don't want to hurt her feelings, but this is going nowhere. Hanging around Dear Thoughtful Let's face it: nobody wants to be dumped. It contributes to an inferiority complex. But there's no point hanging around in a relationship that's just not working. If your heart's not in it, you won't make an effort, you'll become bitter and end up breaking up on bad terms. Handle the break-up maturely and perhaps you can stay friends. While it's unlikely your news is going to make your girl break into a massive grin, you can still do everything in your power to make it as painless for her as possible. It doesn't sound as if anything bad happened, so you can afford to be kind. First, be very, very clear about why you think the relationship is not going anywhere. Is there something about her you simply can't accept? Do you just miss being single? Then ask to meet her - somewhere fairly quiet and away from prying eyes, but near enough to an easy way home. And do meet her; ending a relationship by phone, e-mail or text, or worse, by just announcing you're 'single' on Facebook and hoping she'll notice, are a coward's ways out. Sit her down, tell her you think she's a great person and you've really enjoyed dating her, but say you just don't feel the relationship is right. Keep it short, but be prepared to answer the questions she's bound to ask. Don't try to be 'friends' straight away afterwards. But be considerate: contact her best friend, explain what's going on (expect abuse from the sisterhood) and ask her to keep an eye on your soon-to-be-ex. Good luck. Dear Toni My best friend and I have just been put in different classes for the first time in four years. Now she hangs out with other people and ignores me when I try to talk to her. She never wants to hang out. My mum says both people have to make an effort to make a relationship work. It seems I'm the only one who's trying, but I don't want this friendship to end. Feeling friendless Dear Dejected Your mum's right: if only one person is making an effort to keep a friendship going, it's not much of a friendship. There's a saying that goes 'Friends are for a reason, a season, or for life'. It may sound sad, but the person you thought would be your 'BFF' may have been your 'BF for now'. People change as they grow up; what made you best buds for four years may no longer be enough. But don't mourn the passing of a relationship. Instead, remember the fun you had, and carry the inner glow those memories give you. Talk to people in your new class, and start a new club and make new friends. With new friends and interests comes new self-confidence, which in turn will make you a highly desirably friend - who knows, maybe your friend will realise how much she's missing. But if she doesn't, just revel in your new friendships, remember the good times, and look forward to many more with other people. speak up! Do you need an answer to a problem and don't know who to turn to? Growing up can be hard, but Toni and Josh are here to help. Whether it's about school stress or jealous friends, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll lend a sympathetic ear.