Advice for an overweight woman whose friend tells her what to eat.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
Dec. 14 2010 10:11 AM

My Pal Is the Food Police

I know I'm overweight, but does my friend have the right to tell me what to eat?

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If Sabrina is your real friend here—and if, despite feeling piled upon, you're keen to repair relations—you need to prove to her that your first allegiance is still to her. Invite her out to dinner and a movie or buy her a thoughtful gift and tell her in a card how much you value her friendship. Hopefully, with time, all will be forgiven. (And next time, if it's just a couple of buddies going out for a beer on the corner, send an old-fashioned e-mail instead.)

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

Dear Friend or Foe,
I became friendly with a man I work with, "Stan," and then his partner, "Rick." They seem to blow hot and cold. Stan won't answer an e-mail/text/phone call; then he will act surprised when I ask him what happened. Once, I invited him to do something and he agreed; later, when I tried to contact him regarding details of our get-together, he told me I was being "pushy." And last week, when I asked whether he and Rick were available at a specific time, he made a vague comment about how they were "not being very social." If they're having relationship problems, it's another story—they're eager to hang out. I've also "come to the rescue" several times when they were in a crisis.

 I've always given Stan and Rick a bit more slack because they're guys, and guys are alien beings in many ways. (I probably wouldn't tolerate this kind of behavior from my girlfriends.) Plus, when we do get together, it's fun. I also understand that adults are busy and have many commitments. But when I'm not available, I simply tell somebody that fact. (We're not kids anymore—all of us are in our 40s.) I feel as if Stan and Rick always putting me off because they're hoping something better will come along in terms of a social event—even as they continue to use me when it's convenient. Or are they just flaky and unreliable? I can't decide whether to have a polite confrontation and ask why this behavior persists or just move on and forget about them. Moreover, if this is their mode of interaction with everybody—I don't know whether it is—shouldn't somebody step up and say something?

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Sincerely,
Mildly Irritated

Dear MI,
It sounds to me like Stan and Rick want to be casual friends with you with an accent on the casual. I don't think it's a "guy" issue in particular. When someone says, "We're not feeling very social right now," in response to an invitation—and unless there are known depression or anxiety issues there—it's usually code for, "It's nice knowing you, but not nice enough to actually want to get together for dinner." In short, we're happy to be friendly—and even have you feed the cat when we're away at a funeral—but don't expect an invitation to our birthday. The "pushy" line doesn't bode well, either, since it sound like the details you were alluding to were details regarding where and when Stan should show up to reap your hospitality.

My advice: Take a step back and let him and Rick come after you with real invitations or not. It's not fair of them to treat you like some creaky old aunt and then expect you to come through in a crisis. (And, if you don't mind my saying, you sound like someone who allows herself to get stepped on a little too often; many would have "checked out" of the friendship after the second e-mail wasn't returned.) As for instructing them on the error of their ways, I wouldn't bother. If others get the hot-cold treatment, too, Stan and Rick will learn soon enough that friendships have to be reciprocated or else they'll cease to exist.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

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