Ask Amy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I am a freshman in college.

I am just now getting used to having 200 people at lectures and the fact that we are not required to go to class.

I have a friend in one of my classes who always skips our lectures and the very helpful study sessions.

Whenever we have a study session before the test, he asks me to type up everything that was said and e-mail it to him.

I did this a couple of times, but now it feels as if he is just using me to get answers.

It doesn't take long to type up the notes, and I do it anyway for myself, but is it wrong to not send the notes to him? Is he a friend -- or is he the competition?

-- Lost in College

DEAR LOST: In my family, we call this the "while you're up" syndrome. As in, "While you're up, I'd like a cup of coffee (or a slice of pie, or my tires rotated)." The idea being that you're already exerting yourself, so a little extra exertion on someone else's behalf isn't going to kill you.

But in school, people should not piggyback on your book learnin'.

It shouldn't be necessary for you to see this guy as "the competition" to justify not doing his work.

Because you sound like a sweet person, I'll frame it this way: When you do your friend's work, you are actually discouraging him from participating fully in the college experience.

He sounds like someone who has mastered the art of manipulation -- and is adept at taking shortcuts.

He is also very trusting.

A less scrupulous person would teach him a lesson by e-mailing him notes containing red herrings or errors.

If you can't bring yourself to teach him this lesson, then tell him you're not willing to be his stenographer.


DEAR AMY: I'm a 16-year-old high school girl, and like many others my age, I'm sensitive about my weight. I'm by no means overweight, but I thought I should lose a few pounds, so a few weeks ago I restricted my calories severely, down to 1,100 to 1,300 calories a day.

According to my mother, who works at a health club, that's the equivalent of a starvation diet for someone my age.

I lost weight, but now I'm having troubles restoring healthy habits.

My mom is continually berating me to eat more, but it's hard for me. I end up eating too little during the day for fear of eating too much, and then I binge at night.

I don't consider it an eating disorder because I'm still eating enough to keep flesh on my bones, but mentally, I still feel vulnerable. I constantly read magazine articles and visit Web sites about dieting.

I don't fear gaining back the weight as much as I fear reverting to my old habits of treating food as pleasure.

The thought of losing control is terrifying for me. Is there anyone I should talk to about this? Am I blowing it out of proportion, or is something not right with me?

-- Weighty Issues

DEAR WEIGHTY: You are exhibiting all the dangerous hallmarks of having an eating disorder. Eating disorders are progressive illnesses, and if you catch this now and get treatment, you can recover. But you must take this very seriously and get help before you spiral into a very dangerous place.

Your mother is already concerned, and she sounds conversant in nutrition and health issues. Tell her right away that you are worried you have an eating disorder and ask her to assist you in finding help.

Stop trolling through magazines and Web sites. The only Web site you should visit for now is for the National Eating Disorders Association: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.


DEAR AMY:
The selfishness of some people amazes me. I cannot believe that some parents insist that couples have to invite their kids to weddings. Do they have any idea how much weddings cost? Can't these parents leave their little darlings home for an afternoon?

-- Sick and Tired

DEAR SICK: I can understand the frustration of parents who feel their children should be included in family celebrations -- but it's a fact of life that not everybody gets to do everything they want. Parents shouldn't treat this occasional exclusion as a traumatic event.

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