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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Teen Baffled By Rude Girls Who Want Her To Help Them Cheap

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every couple of weeks, one of a group of girls at my school asks me, "Why do you hate me?"

Normally, I would simply ignore this and get on with my life, but they have asked me multiple times. I sit with them (chance, not choice) in a table of four in a math class, and they are all close friends.

I do my best to be polite to them. I say hello, goodbye, and ask them how their day is. I also do my best to answer any questions they ask me. I do very well in the class, but I sometimes do not know how to explain a concept.

I also refuse to help them cheat on tests. After one occasion, they told me that the test was "a group effort." I managed to move to another seat, but the incident still bothers me.

Is there any point at which I can stop trying to assist and be polite? I tried for four or five months, and they never stopped being rude to me, and often asked me why I hated them. What would be the best way to behave in this type of situation?

GENTLE READER: To say, "I don't hate you, but I can't help you the way you want. If that's a condition of friendship, I'm sorry."

Miss Manners suggests that you then continue to take tests in the seat farthest away from them -- and closest to the teacher.

Read more in: Teens | Etiquette & Ethics