Advice for a woman who wants to spend time with her friend without her children.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
Aug. 10 2010 7:15 AM

Why Can't I See My Friend Without Her Rug Rats?

I'm her old pal, not a surrogate auntie.

(Continued from Page 1)

Dear Friend or Foe,
I've been friends with "Mike" for five years, and good friends for the last two and a half. Five months ago, we started dating. It was easy, fun, and drama-free. All of our mutual friends were happy for us, and, to my mind at least, we were both pretty happy with the situation. Without knowing what the future would bring, I felt that the relationship had the potential to turn friendship love into something more.

A couple of weeks ago, I told Mike I felt as if I was trying to balance a stack of books on my head while riding a unicycle: My sister is having a health scare, my father is moving out of the country, and  I'm having financial-aid issues regarding my return to school. I said I needed moral support right now, and that it would help knowing where things stood with the two of us. Mike said he hadn't given it much thought because things were going so well.


Well, he thought about it. The night before my sister went in for surgery, he took me out for a nice dinner, then to a kickball game to watch our friends play, then to his place, where he said he thought it was a good time to break things off because he didn't "want one of us to develop stronger feelings than the other person." He also said he wanted to be regular friends again, but I don't know if I can go back.

The last communication we had was my e-mail telling him to bring the things I left at his place to the back door of my apartment—and that I don't ever want to see or talk to him again. But we have a lot of mutual friends and I feel that, at the very least, some effort has to be made to keep things cordial. Given my last communication, I suspect that the burden is on me to make that effort. But I'm so hurt right now that I don't know if I have it in me. What should I do?

Should Have Known Better

Dear SHKB,
With hindsight, we always should have known better. But we usually don't, especially when it comes to love and sex, which draw on our least rational emotions. Not that your attempt to turn a close friendship into something more was so very irrational. You were hoping for When Harry Met Sally. Instead, you got Dirty Harry, who freaked out the moment he felt any pressure to be your actual boyfriend. (His loss.) The good news is that, while your friendship may have lasted a bunch of years, your amorous relationship was not long enough for you to have thrown over your life for the guy.

As such, it sounds to me as if most of what you're suffering from right now is hurt pride (as opposed to heart sickness). You probably feel anger, too, given the callous way in which he called it quits. My advice would be too live up to your own declaration (i.e., no contact), at least for a while. If and when you're ready to resume the friendship, go for it. But I don't see how you're under any pressure to hurry that process. The mutual friends will live. And if Harry feels awkward when he walks into a room and you're standing there, well, too bad. He should have known better, too.

In some way, I'm also imagining that, if only for revenge's sake, you might actually enjoy seeing him standing sheepishly in the corner at the next social function, feeling guilty and embarrassed and possibly wondering why he was such a chicken. Please take the opportunity to flirt your ass off with the nearest available male.

Friend or Foe

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