Advice for a woman whose friend is chronically late.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
Dec. 28 2010 7:01 AM

Should I Dump My Flaky Friend?

Once she bailed on dinner plans because she had just painted her nails.

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Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

Dear Friend or Foe,

For two years, my high-school friends "Lisa" and "Tim" had a drama-filled relationship. Then Lisa decided she wanted to date someone from her college ("Vincent"). When she and Tim broke up, it caused a strain in our social group, as Lisa and Tim's sister, "Susan," were also very close. But we all got through it. After college, Lisa and Vincent went abroad to do volunteer work, while Tim stayed behind and began dating "Laura." Eventually, Lisa and Vincent got engaged. My friends and I thought this would finally put to rest all the unresolved tension between Tim and Lisa—tension that was evident every time Lisa came home for the holidays.

Not long ago, Lisa returned from abroad for good. She chose to call Tim to arrange a get-together for the group. Throughout the party, Lisa kept finding excuses to switch her seat around so she could be close to Tim. I wasn't the only one who noticed the flirty vibe between the two—and felt uncomfortable. We even heard Lisa say she wanted to stop by Tim's new house after the party to check out how it all got redecorated—alone.

Should we say anything to Lisa or Tim (who's currently ring shopping for Laura)? I know all four are adults and don't need a baby-sitter to monitor their behavior or judge what is appropriate. But Laura and Vincent are both great people, and I feel horrible that this is going on behind their back. I also know that I'd be really hurt if I knew my boyfriend was meeting up with an ex-girlfriend at a party and inviting her back to his house. Or am I reading too much into things?

Sincerely,
Not Sure Whether To Speak Up or Back Off

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Dear NSWTSUOBO,

It's Lisa and Tim who are your old friends here and therefore command your loyalty—not Vincent and Laura (the potential victims)—so I'd leave the tattle-tailing to someone else. More to the point, if Tim's and Lisa's respective marriages turn out to be shams, that will become evident within a year or two's time after their nuptials turn nasty and without you doing or saying a thing. Bottom line: Whatever happened that night while Tim was giving Lisa a guided tour of his new duvet is their business. It's also feasible that Tim and Lisa were just flirting and, if so, so what? Nearly everyone has a first love that she or he has never entirely gotten over. Getting married to someone else is not about renouncing those feelings but about putting them in a safe place where they can't hurt anyone. Whether Tim and Lisa have unlocked the door, only they know. In the meantime, don't you have wedding gifts to buy?

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

Dear Friend or Foe,

When my old friend and former roommate "Ashley" was looking for a new place to live, I didn't hesitate to invite her to come live with me, rent free. At first, it was great having someone else in the house with whom to share responsibilities. Six months ago, I began to see less and less of her. She wouldn't answer my phone calls, declined my invitations to do things, and was unpleasant to everyone I had over to the house. She even neglected to tell me that she was leaving town for several days. When I confronted her, she claimed only that she was really busy. Finally, I got her to admit that she'd been avoiding me because she doesn't like my boyfriend.

I'm upset, of course, that Ashley feels this way. But I'm more upset that she a) waited six months to reveal her feelings, b) didn't feel like she could talk to me about it, c) shut down any opportunity to hang out, and d) has not been a supportive friend. My view is that she's my friend, not my boyfriend's, and that she should be pleasant to the guy even if she dislikes him. She also admitted during our heart-to-heart that she'd given up on our friendship. But we agreed to try to reconnect. Her time living with me comes to an end early next year, and I don't want to be another former friend to whom she no longer speaks. (There are already two.) At the same time, I can't help feeling as if I've been used. When she's being pleasant, these days, I'm not sure if it's because she wants to be my friend or she just wants to keep living in my house for free.