Hypochondriac coworker is driving me nuts.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
Feb. 8 2011 10:16 AM

I Keep Covering for My Hypochondriac Co-Worker

I'm sick of doing my friend's work. Should I confront her?

(Continued from Page 1)

Dear HTBAFTP,
That's a tricky one. Clearly, you did the right thing walking off the Charles Bronson movie set. But if you were expecting Minna to denounce her lout of a brother as you and the Hubby packed up your toiletries, you were perhaps expecting too much. Family ties are not rational. Mothers still weep when their serial killer sons are executed. It follows that the sister of a screwed up brother is still going to love and feel protective of the guy even when he's brandishing a Magnum 357 in her face.

If you miss Minna, why don't you send her an e-mail telling her how sorry you were that things didn't end well with the share—and that you still care about her as a friend. Ask whether she and the boyfriend would like to come over for dinner some time and "start fresh." I wouldn't even bother mentioning her brother by name or the reasons you fled. (Unless she's being willfully dumb, Minna probably understands well enough.) In the meantime, give your pup an extra helping of Innova for me—poor guy.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

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Dear Friend or Foe,
"Sharon" has been my closest friend since third grade, 32 years ago. We grew up together, went to college together. She dated my brother, then my brother-in-law. I let her move in with me when I was a newlywed. We've seen each other through lots of ups and downs. She never married, though she's now in a happy long-term relationship and doesn't want children. I've been married for more than 17 years. For many years, I tried to conceive a child. Two and a half years ago, I finally gave birth to my son, "Ben."

At first, Sharon was very supportive. She came to the hospital; helped me a few times in the difficult sleepless newborn period; babysat once so my husband I could go out; and claimed Ben was like a nephew to her. Because we'd been best friends for so long, I always imagined we'd feel that way about each other's children, too. However, in the last two years, Sharon has barely mentioned my son during our phone conversations; never seems to be interested in seeing him; and never even asks how he's doing.

I don't expect her to give up her free time to befriend my son. She works two jobs, while I'm a stay-at-home mom. I also live in a rural area, so there's that obstacle to us seeing each other as well. I also think it's great that Sharon made the decision not to have children; as much as I love being a mother, I know it's not for everyone. But I'm still disappointed that Ben is an afterthought to her. I talk about him with her occasionally because raising him is my focus right now, but she barely responds. Am I being unreasonable?

Sincerely,
Hurt That She Never Asks About Baby

Dear HTSNAB,
You're all diapers all the time. And she's all the other kind of work. It's no wonder you two are having trouble connecting the dots. I agree it's disappointing that Sharon can't seem to be bothered even to ask after your son. But perhaps she feels that you don't ever ask about what's going on in her life? (Or perhaps she feels somehow threatened and as if she's lost you to him.) Whatever the case, the irony is that, while you and Sharon are currently occupying opposite poles of female existence, you're probably equally exhausted—and disinclined to make any extra effort on the other's behalf.

But what if instead of sitting at home feeling hurt that she never comes calling, you call Sharon and propose visiting her in her town/city with Ben in tow? No doubt she'll appreciate the gesture. Moreover, maybe if she sees more of Babe-ala in the flesh, she'll start to feel a stronger connection. If that fails, there's always 16 years from now—when your nests will likely both be empty (again). But hopefully, it won't take that long for you two to find common ground again.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

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