My boyfriend's drugged-out friend is causing trouble in our relationship.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
Aug. 24 2010 10:00 AM

Is My Boyfriend's Drugged-Out Buddy a Bad Influence?

They've been friends since high school, but I want him out of our lives.

(Continued from Page 1)

Dear MBFFIMIA,

Assuming that Jenna doesn't have a well-established flakiness problem, there must be more to the story than you know. I suggest getting in touch with her directly, airing your hurt, and finding out what accounts for her neglect. There are several possibilities. Maybe you said something during your last phone call that bothered her enough to withdraw her affections. (Maybe she felt you were judging her boyfriend or in some way dismissive of him. Though I'm assuming you didn't share the opinions you voiced in this letter with Jenna.) Alternately, perhaps she's having a crisis of her own. It's still no excuse for dissing you, but at least it's an explanation.

The last possibility is that she doesn't like being leaned on and is sending you a message, loud and clear—despite her silence—that you ought to find real friends elsewhere, because she's no longer one of them. I hope it's not the latter, but college roomies often do go their separate ways by the time they reach their 30s. In the meantime, I'm very sorry for your father and for your family. How sad for all of you—and how disappointing that your BFF didn't live up to her title when she was needed most.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

Dear Friend or Foe,

Recently I asked my close friend of five years—"Dale"—to baby-sit my 2-and-a-half-year-old (she has a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old). As I was walking out the door, she casually announced that she'd be taking my daughter to someone else's home where they could all swim. While I'm fine with her keeping my daughter in her home, I'm not OK with her taking my child to someone else's house or taking her swimming. Stunned by Dale's presumption that she could do either thing without my permission, I didn't say anything in the moment. But as I drove away, it kept gnawing at me, and my instinct told me to turn around and go get my daughter. So I did just that with the lie that my event had ended much earlier than expected. Since then, Dale has told me she's hurt, insulted, and humiliated. I will not apologize for following my maternal instinct. Nor will I agree that what she did was OK. I've made several attempts to repair the relationship, but she is adamant that she was in the right. This is our first disagreement, and I'm also deeply disturbed at how quickly she seems willing to end the friendship simply because I asserted my parental preference. Does a friend have a right to insist that you substitute her parental judgment for your own? Obviously, Dale and I have different styles of child-rearing. She often makes verbal jabs that my daughter is "overprotected." (My feeling is that she's 2, and it's my job to protect her!) Who's right?

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Sincerely,
Not OK To Take My 2-Year-Old to a Neighbor's Pool

Dear NOTTM2YOTANP,

Hmm. Regarding the pool, that's a tough call. I admit that I would have had a pang of worry myself hearing that one woman—however close a friend and however competent a guardian—was going to be responsible for three young kids who probably can't do much more than doggie paddle. (Do we even know if Dale had water wings or rings for all of them?) As for taking your 2-year-old to a neighbor's house, though, I'm afraid I'm going to have to side with Dale there. Your baby is human. And however much you might wish to keep Tiny Tim (or Tara) in a padded playpen for the next 18 years, humans live in the world. In fact, it's good for your child's development to be exposed to other places and faces. Time to unlock the gate.

What's more, if you're going to leave your friend to baby-sit, you're also going to have to trust her to handle your little one with care. On that note, I wonder if what Dale is really furious about is not your excess of paranoia but your lack of gratitude. (It's not as if she doesn't already have her hands full at home!) You say you lied about why you came back so quickly. But at some point in the dispute you obviously let slip that you didn't think she was acting responsibly. Did you also use the opportunity to thank her for her being so generous in offering to help at all? Please note that, before you flipped, she may well have believed that by arranging a pool date she was giving your beloved a special treat.

As for the future of your friendship, since neither of you is willing to apologize verbally—as neither of you believe you did anything wrong—action is going to have to suffice. I suggest attempting a nice gesture of your own, such as inviting her kids over for dinner and a video. (Anything but Jaws.)

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

Please send your questions for publication to lucinda@imsohappyforyou.com. (Questions may be edited.)

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