Dear Friend or Foe, I'm a female high-school senior with a wonderful friend—"Sally." I've known her for three years, and I love spending time with her. However, I feel that our relationship might be more than "just friends." She tickles me constantly and makes regular declarations about how cute I am. What's more, when she tickles me, I tend to fight back. This usually culminates in some minor injury, like a scratch. She then flirtatiously remarks, "I see you're marking your territory on me," and adds, "Clearly, I have a special place in your heart." We also have deep and philosophical debates about everything under the sun. Another close friend of mine has told me that she thinks Sally likes me as more than a friend. I think I might like her, too. But I'm confused and conflicted about what to do.
Two years ago, Sally came out to me about being bisexual. But she also told me about this other girl whom she liked, who didn't like her. It seems as if this unrequited love is still occupying her thoughts. Should I tell her about my feelings and risk ruining our friendship—or keep my mouth shut and never find out what her real thoughts are toward me?
Am I Too Young Even To Be Thinking About This?
You're not too young to be thinking about anything. But remember that you're going to be leaving high school in less than a year. And though this may seem unfathomable now, you're unlikely to see more than a handful of your classmates ever again. With that mind, I think you might as well go for it on the Sally front. If "the talk" goes off disastrously—and Sally, looking shocked and horrified, tells you your "gaydar" is busted—then you can rest assured that, after high school, there will be a whole new set of faces (and potential ticklers) on whom to make your mark. If, on the other hand, Sally responds with a "me, too," then you've hit the senior year jackpot.
As for her past crush, I wouldn't worry too much about that. Everybody's still licking his/her wounds about someone or other. Moreover, a good solution for unrequited love is, of course, new love. So I seriously doubt that this "other person" will be the deciding factor in Sally's response. A final note: if you're going to make a declaration, I'd chose a location that is neither too secluded (i.e., someone's sofa, late at night) nor too public (the cafeteria at lunchtime). Instead, how about someone's parked car? If she flips, she can immediately get out; if she's into it, there's nothing like a first kiss in the front seat …
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
I'm in my early 30s, happily married, and love to cook and entertain. There are three women in particular whom my husband and I have been great friends with for many years. These ladies and their current "significant others" are always welcome at the intimate gatherings I host. The problem is, when I try to put together a dinner party, the word often gets out. And I inevitably end up with a few tag-alongs. For the most part, I'm fine with this, but there is one frequent tag-along—"Farrah"—whom I really can't stand. She is self-centered, rude, and does not have anything to add to the conversation.
Mostly, my husband and I are subjected to listening to Farrah drone on and on about her recent sexual exploits or the size of her new partner's man parts. The last time she was at my house, she asked to borrow my laptop and commandeered it for the entire evening, looking up dating Web site profiles (until I had to physically take the computer from her and go hide it in a closet). She even disappeared at one point into my bedroom,so that she could call some man that she'd begun IM'ing.
We've asked my friends on more than one occasion not to bring Farrah along with them to our home. (My friends have told me that they don't even really like her but don't know how to dump her because they are the only friends she has.) Yet they still show up with her unannounced or send a last minute text message saying, "Just so you know—Farrah is coming, I'm sorry." I don't want to stop inviting my good friends over, but how do I put a stop to the Farrah problem?
Tired of Tag-alongs
You say that you love to host and entertain. But what you really mean is that you love to see the same three old friends over and over again—those outside the inner sanctum beware! Farrah may not fit your bill of what a sit-down dinner guest looks and acts like. But I'm getting a definite "mean girl"/cliquey vibe from your letter. What about showing a little compassion for someone whose life hasn't followed quite as smooth a path as yours has?
Here you three friends are, married or otherwise coupled and secure in your friendships as well. Now here comes Farrah. Not only is the woman still searching for love, but she's mistakenly identified you—poor thing—as her trusted NBFs. (If only she knew what you said behind her back!) I'm not saying you have to turn Farrah into your closest intimate in the world. But is it really so terrible having her at a few dinner parties? You say she contributes nothing to the conversation, but it sounds to me as if she adds quite a lot!—if not on your preferred topics, whatever those are. (Recipes? Farrah herself?) Call me crazy, but it would seem to me that, especially for a bunch of Boring Married Folks, hearing scandalous tales of another's dating exploits would at the very least keep things lively. But, then, I also like looking at my single friends' online dating profiles …
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
In the past few years it's been obvious that there were cracks in the marriage of our friends "Jane" and "Sam," but my husband and I always had lots of fun when we hung out with them. Recently, though, things have escalated to a point where it's obvious they're having serious problems. One night, one spouse kicked the other out of the car; later, at a night club, a shoving match ensued between the two. We hear about how terrible one is from the other. A few weeks ago, Jane and Sam stood in the driveway of our house arguing. Things got so heated that we had to separate them. Then we had to hang out with them separately—for the entire night.
My husband and I don't want to be bad friends, but we feel caught in the middle. We also feel sucked into their drama (and their drinking)—and emotionally drained after we see them. And while we don't want to take sides, we're starting to feel pressure to do just that. Is it right for us to slowly disengage ourselves from Jane and Sam?
I don't think there's anything wrong with distancing yourself somewhat from Jane and Sam—especially from the double-date nights—but I wouldn't disappear on either one. Assuming they're good friends, that seems unfair, and a little bit too much like kicking someone when they're down. Both Jane and Sam need their friends right now—probably more than you can imagine. Indeed, no one knows how traumatic it is going through a marital breakup until he or she has gone through one him- or herself.
Sam and Jane also clearly need counseling. Next time one of them is pouring out his or her heart (or vitriol against the other), I'd raise this very issue. Tell him or her that, while you're happy to listen, the marriage clearly needs professional help if it's going to survive. You could even pass along a name and number. What's more, if one of them tries to get you to agree that the other is Satan incarnate, I think you're within your right to say that, as an old friend to both of them, you're not in any position to pass judgment or take sides.
Friend or Foe