When Friends Self-Medicate
What to do when your pals won't get the professional help they need.
Shared history is a nice thing to have. And if I were friends with Analese, I'd probably be monitoring the caller I.D., too. But forgive me for suggesting that you may have clingy issues of your own—namely, a need to cling to the past. As for hurting Analese, I guess I'm not sure why you're so worried about her feelings, since she seems to have no problem hurting yours. Or, at least, trying to hurt yours. At the risk of sounding 1970s, it might be time to get in touch with your emotions and get mad. Then delete Analese's name from your address book, unless there's more to the story than you're telling me here.
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
On my birthday, I took the day off and went out with friends. My phone died and I wasn't able to speak to my bestie—"Brittany"—until I got home at 7 p.m. She was semi-cold on the phone and complained that she hadn't spoken to me during the day. She'd already planned on not coming out with me that night because she had to get up early for work. I invited her to dinner with my family but she declined. But her sister came out with me and delivered flowers on Brittany's behalf. I loved the flowers, but I didn't call to thank Brittany because I was frantic and already late to my party, and it slipped my mind.
I went to a club, where my phone was stolen and I had an overall terrible night. On the phone with Brittany the next day, I cried hysterically and, again, I noticed she was cold. Later on in the conversation, she mentioned that I hadn't even thanked her for the flowers—and added that when you receive a gift, you say thank you. I apologized a few times and said of course I loved them and thank you. She proceeded to say she was upset that she hadn't been a part of my birthday. I later felt that she was being unfair.
Over the course of our friendship, I've had to deal with Brittany not returning calls or answering her phone—and she's never once said she's sorry. I've also hung out with people I didn't like so I could be with her and I've gone out of my way to accommodate her schedule. I do all the apologizing when we argue because I'm usually the one who blows up. After our fight the day after my birthday, I contemplated making her a homemade card to really thank her for the flowers. But I'm tired of feeling like a horrible friend who will never meet her standards. Who is in the wrong here?
Tired of Feeling Like a Horrible Friend
Wow, you seem to have a lot of phone issues. But back to the drama at hand—namely, the unacknowledged birthday flowers. Do you make a habit of failing to acknowledge the efforts of others (including Brittany) until prompted to do so? If so, I can understand why she got pissy over a seemingly petty matter. The alternative is that Brittany is one of those people whose entire approach to friendship is to make others feel guilty about being bad friends, even when they show up 15 minutes early and promise unlimited access to their hearts. For these unhappy souls, being disappointed is the narrative of their lives—a narrative as self-fulfilling as it is sabotaging. Only you know the truth. My advice: Send the homemade card, then give the friendship a vacation.
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.