Dear Harlan: I am a freshman, and I am just starting my second full week at a small liberal-arts school in Minnesota. By far my largest concern about college is and has been socializing, making friends and just putting myself out there.

At this point I know a fair amount of people, but the vast majority of them are just friends of convenience, like guys on my floor or people from my First Year Course (kind of a homeroom class).

My question is: At what point should things start to settle down and people actually start to get to know one another in a meaningful way? I joined a few small clubs, and I go to events that seem interesting, but still, I constantly worry about meeting people and finding people I recognize to sit with at meals.

Should I be worried, or should I just be patient and let things take their course? — Starting to Worry

Dear Starting to Worry: I'd begin to worry if you haven't made friends by graduation. A few weeks isn't enough time to panic. Great friendships are formed as a result of shared experiences over time. Given the lack of time and lack of experiences you've shared, you can't expect to have a lot of friends (unless you came to school with them).

The way to make friends is to make sure you're in rooms (or outside if playing sports) with the people sharing experiences over a long period of time. It also helps to talk and listen to these people (no iPods in ears while in rooms).

Give it a good year. Then give it another year. In the meantime, connect with the counselors, staff and professors — on a small liberal-arts campus, professors can become family. You just have to introduce yourself and hang out in rooms (these would be classrooms).

Dear Harlan: My husband has "trust" issues that I noticed when we were dating. Well, after we had our first son, I didn't have many female friends, so I contacted an ex to share the news with. My husband found out about it and hit the roof!

I wasn't trying to "hook up" with my ex. I explained to him that we were still friends, and he didn't buy it. So, I stopped talking to my ex.

Then, my husband did some questionable things with two of my girlfriends. I was furious! He assured me I was the one he wanted to be with.

We ended up having another son. I had started calling a "party line," because I didn't have many girlfriends and it seemed like the only conversation my husband and I had was superficial. I was just lonely (not trying to hook up). My husband found out and blew his stack! Now, every move I make he's questioning me about my "boyfriends." HELP! — Fed-Up Wife

Dear Fed-Up: In all fairness, when a marriage is tanking and a partner calls a party line, it's reasonable for a partner to think something might be up. If you were making friends with other moms at cub scouts or at church or temple (a better strategy), that would be a different story.

As for trust issues, when someone is looking for something, they will always find it. And until your marriage is better, he's going to be looking to not trust you. So instead of pointing the finger at him, point at the marriage.

Given the history and the kids, this is the perfect time for marriage counseling. Find a professional to help you appreciate what you have and focus on the strengths. The stronger your marriage, the less that trust will be an issue.


© Harlan Cohen