Palette Ethicist Column


Anonymous, Ethicist

Dear Palette,

I’ve had the same group of friends for several years. Lately, I feel totally disconnected from them. More than once, they’ve been kind of reckless and rude to those around them. I’m stuck. Should I keep them in my life? Or should I try to find new friends this late in high school? 

–  Lonely at LJCDS


Dear Lonely,

This is definitely a quandary. I know that it’s scary to branch out, especially when you’ve been friends with a certain group for many years. My suggestion is this: Don’t do anything definitive. I know it feels tempting to completely break things off and start over. In the long run, that will only make things awkward when you see your former friends around school. Start slow. Try to talk to more people in your classes, on your teams, and in your extracurriculars. You can use studying as a way to start. Ask a person you might want to get to know better to do a review session before your next test and meet them outside a school setting. Gradually explore other potential friends, while still maintaining a connection with your current ones. And over time, you might grow apart, or realize that they are friends worth keeping.


Dear Palette,

My circle of friends is very close, and I love all of them. However, everyone sees me as the mature friend and turns to me to be their therapist. It’s emotionally draining, and some days I just want to tell them I’m done and can’t listen to another person’s problem. But, I feel bad because what if that person is in crisis and really needs my help? 

– Exhausted group mom


Dear Exhausted,

You are a good friend. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s a good thing people look to you in times of need. It says something about your trustworthiness, and how much they value you as a friend. That being said, you deserve someone to lean on too. It’s amazing that your circle is so close, so use that and try to find someone to confide in about this, who can maybe help relieve some of that weight. It might also help for you to turn the tables on the friends who tend to dump their problems onto you. A common dynamic in friend groups is for one person to assume the role of the giver, and the other to become the taker. Your friends might feel like it’s ok to rant to you so often because they don’t know how it feels to be on the receiving end of it. Tell them about a problem you’re dealing with, and see how they react. If they are capable of offering the same support that you do, this will open their eyes to the reality that this is a two-way relationship. And if they are unwilling to return the favor that you have so often done for them, they aren’t a true friend.


Dear Palette, 

I have an immunocompromised relative who I live near and see often, so I always wear my mask indoors. But my friends are “over covid” and don’t wear theirs anymore, and they tease me for still wearing mine. What should I do? Should I explain the situation to them? I don’t want to seem dramatic.  

– Covid Cautious


Dear Cautious,

You are not overdramatic for wanting your friends to respect your decision and situation. What you’re doing is really admirable, and your friends should not tease you for trying to keep a loved one safe. My suggestion: tell them. Tell them about your relative, and about how the teasing makes you feel. If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand and stop the stupid jokes. If they don’t, that’s a sign that they’re maybe not the best match for a compassionate and kind person like you.

Cover photo credit: