One Is Silver and the Other's Mold
Advice for women who want to break up with old friends.
Melanie sounds like she's had a difficult life so far, and you're probably not far off the mark in assuming that her rage toward you is most likely caused by jealousy. But that's no excuse for harassment. Bullies operate under the assumption that, if given the choice, no one will stick around to listen to them. While intimidation is a surefire way to keep others nodding in agreement, it's also a poor recipe for lasting friendship.
If you really do fear Melanie's wrath, my advice would be to slowly but surely slip away without explanation. Stop answering phone calls, texts, and e-mails. If she catches you on the phone, act friendly but tell you're too busy to talk (or make plans). Either she'll get the hint and accept defeat, or she'll confront you. At which point you'll have to decide (again) whether or not to explain the distance you've put between you. If she does resort to uploading nude photos of you wearing bunny ears and smoking crack, etc., you can always "report" her to site administrators. If you're both on Facebook, I'd also strongly suggest unchecking the box in the privacy settings marked, "Allow friends to post on my Wall."
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
My best friend of many years, "Julie," is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, "Ben." Though this should make me happy, since he's a good friend and generally a nice person, it doesn't. Ben has always been irresponsible and insensitive when it comes to women: Before he started dating Julie, he was pretty much the village bicycle. Not to mention that during the onset of this relationship, Ben would blow off Julie whenever he wanted to sleep with another girl. Although Julie would be heartbroken and enraged every time, she'd always initiate a rekindling of things as soon as his "flavor of the week" had made her exit.
When he finally expressed an interest in commitment, she immediately moved in with him. Once she moved, she started rebuffing invitations for coffee, lunch, and girls' nights—not just from me, but from all our friends. On the rare occasion that she does join us for some socializing ,she invariably gets plastered and spends half the night crying in the ladies room about the fact that she and Ben have not had sex in over TWO YEARS.
Julie's dream is to be a wife and stay-at-home mom. Meanwhile, Ben has always been very vocal about not wanting children and being opposed to marriage. When other friends have voiced concern on this subject, she either stops speaking to them, turns a deaf ear, or glosses over his beliefs on marriage by saying, "Well, that's not what he tells me when we're alone." What's more, since our college graduation nearly a year ago, Julie has made no attempt to look for a job—and has developed into a hypochondriac. Her days revolve around Ben's schedule, unnecessary doctor's appointments, Oprah and The View. Ben supports her comfortably and treats her like a lovable pet, but not like a girlfriend or wife. The Julie I once knew was smart, ambitious, and independent! I feel like I hardly know her anymore. What should I do?
Talk About Unhealthy Relationships
Wait. Ben is a legendary swordsman but he and his live-in girlfriend haven't had sex in two years?! Two possibilities: Either he's getting a ton of action on the side or you've got an outdated or simply erroneous notion of Lover Boy. Which is not to say he's a good guy—or good for Julie. Rather, I'm just not convinced you're seeing the situation through a clean pair of glasses. Let's break it down.
There is every reason to believe the guy has cheated—or, at least, he did so in the beginning (bad). The guy supports Julie financially (possibly detrimental to her ambition level and hypochondria; possibly kind of sweet). The guy never has sex with her (not ideal obviously, but not a mark of evil, either). The guy is skittish about marriage and kids (bad if Julie wants these things, but, on the other hand, he's living with her and supporting her). If you don't mind me saying, aren't you all a little young to be trying to settle down?
Bottom line:As one of Julie's former best friends, you're well within your right to sit her down and assail the lack of effort she's made, post-college, to maintain your friendship. But unless Ben is abusing her, pimping her, and/or shooting her up with intravenous drugs, her relationship is kinda, sorta, not your business. Questioning the relationship isn't going to get you anywhere either, since a) she's not going to listen to you, anyway, and b) ultimately, she has to come to the decision to leave Ben herself. My guess is that Julie is depressed, and Ben—by withholding his affections, at least in bed—is playing nicely into the self-loathing campaign. If she admits to so much, encourage her to seek counseling.
It's also possible, of course, that college was the only thing you and Julie had in common. If so, your friendship will gradually fade from view with or without Ben in the picture.
Friend or Foe
Lucinda Rosenfeld is the author of four novels, including I'm So Happy for You and The Pretty One, which will be published in early 2013.
Illustration by Jason Raish.