ASK DENISE: Teen having trouble making ‘real’ friends

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Denise Harrison

Editor’s note: Writer’s answers do not reflect those of the Mitchell News-Journal and are not meant to replace medical or mental health care.


Dear Denise: I am in 10th grade and it seems as if I never have any friends. I will think someone is my friend, and then I find out they are not. I thought this girl was my best friend, we talked all the time and hung out every day. But now she has a boyfriend and she will hardly talk to me. How can I get better friends?

Dear Reader: I am so sorry you are experiencing this. Friends are such an essential part of our lives and our well-being. It is always a huge disappointment when someone we trusted and was honored to call a friend suddenly appears not to be one. 

I am afraid this is probably going to happen more than once to you – people often do disappoint us. The best way to have good friends, however, is simply by being one. So, what makes someone a good friend? A good friend is someone who accepts you the way you are. They care about your well-being and express that to you. They make sure the friendship isn’t all about them, that it is truly 50/50. Even if they are busy, they will still make sure they periodically check in with you just to say hi, not just when they have something to share. They will make time for you. They will listen, and not judge you. They will be loyal and keep your secrets. They will defend you if someone talks trash behind your back. They will share good times as well as bad. They will support you in your endeavors. They will tactfully tell you when they think you are messing up but will praise and encourage you when you do well. If you continue to be a good friend to others, I think you will see some of them respond the same way.  

Of course, there will always be those that continue to not be as good of a friend as you are.  Just consider them a life lesson and move on. It has often been said if you have two or three true friends in your life, you are blessed.  Cherish those that do meet the criteria of a real friend. 

Best wishes.


Dear Denise: I manage a business locally and have several employees. I think I am a good manager and am friendly and kind to my employees. I pay them well. I praise them when they do well and everything to show appreciation. I never ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do. It seems, however, as though my turnover rate is through the roof. It is frustrating to me to train people just to have them abruptly leave after a short period. Am I doing something wrong?

Dear Reader: I know several people who have local businesses, and they all tell me they cannot keep employees. 

Yes, it is very frustrating, and it ultimately impacts the status of your business when this happens. Sometimes the administration is at fault and creates disgruntled employees who feel unappreciated. But it does not sound like you fit into that category, in fact, you sound like you have this manager thing down pat. It seems, however, there is an attitude shift in this country lately in regard to jobs. At one time, in a galaxy far away (sorry, my husband’s nerdiness just infected me), people would cherish and hold onto their jobs for dear life. But in today’s culture, it seems people possess more of an entitled way of thinking, and work does not seem to hold the same level of importance it did in the past. 

I wish I could tell you how to change this. I understand your frustration. I hope things change soon. 

Denise Harrison is a Licensed Counselor in Spruce Pine. Send questions to or call and leave a message at 828-467-0037. Submissions are anonymous.