Single friends, co-worker drama, overspending pals—Friend or Foe advises readers at Slate.com.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
May 31 2011 7:40 AM

I Don't Want To Mingle With This Single

We're the last two unmarried women in our circle—and she's driving me nuts.

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Dear PPP,

Here's what you say: nothing. Why? Because even if your intention is to help, Susan is bound to feel reprimanded and patronized—and, as you already experienced, grow defensive and angry. It would be one thing if she'd come to you, complaining that they couldn't afford the wedding. But Susan isn't (yet) at a stage where she recognizes that there's a problem in the way she handles moolah. So consider yourself powerless.

The good news is that Susan is  not marrying another irresponsible spendthrift like herself. This also means that she and the fiance will undoubtedly have a major fracas about money in the near future, if they haven't already done so. That might be a positive development, as well. It sounds as if your friend needs someone to talk straight to her about what is and is not possible while living on one salary and unemployment checks. And who better to do the deed than her future-husband, with whom she'll presumably be sharing a bank account?

Here's something you can do to help, however: Make budget-conscious suggestions regarding the wedding. For instance, send her a link to a beautiful (second hand) bridal dress you just happened to come across on eBay in just her size.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

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Dear Friend or Foe,

I have two co-workers, "Sonia" and "Eric," with whom I usually take breaks and lunch. We all live within minutes of each other as well. Once a month, "Sonia" and I like to double date with our significant others. Numerous times, we've invited Eric and his wife to join us. But every time we ask, we seem to get the cold shoulder, or he says they can't afford it. Sonia and I have even invited him to nights where we just get a pizza or make dinner and bring movies that we already own to each other's houses. But he still says no. However, I once made the mistake of skipping inviting Eric, and he explained that he was hurt by that.

Recently, Sonia and I organized a date night to the local bowling alley. But when we asked Eric if he and his wife wanted to go, he said they only had $20 to their names until payday. Come Monday, however, when asked about his weekend by another co-worker, he said that they went out to dinner and bowling with his best friends. I'm no genius, but I don't think $20 went THAT far. At that point, I admit, I was was irritated. Why couldn't he just say he already had plans? And do you think Sonia and I are asking too much and being pushy? Maybe joining us for a date night is not what he and his wife want to do. Or is there more to the story?
 
Sincerely,
Date-Night Doubter

Dear DND,

Well, nearly everything you describe suggests that Eric digs hanging out with you and Sonia on the job but doesn't want to continue the friendship outside the office. Or maybe it's his wife who puts the kibosh on chilling with couples she feels she doesn't know well. (In many marriages, it's the female half who organizes the couple's social life.) She could also be jealous that her hubby has gotten so close to other females. In any case, I think you and Sonia need to accept that Eric is a "work friend" who—while providing companionship and camaraderie during the day—will never translate into the outside world. The only question is why Eric continues to want to be invited to your evenings out.

Given the inconsistency here, I think you'd be within your rights to ask him yourself. Tell him that you don't want to put him on the spot, but you've noticed that he always turns down your and Sonia's invitations—but then he also seems to want to continue being invited. What gives? Does he still want you to invite him? (You won't be hurt if he says no.) I suspect he'll mutter something about his wife making other plans. I also suspect that this has nothing to do with money (as evidenced by his bowling and dinner date with other friends). The $20 line is probably just a cover. A bummer, maybe, but it doesn't sound as if you lack for company after work.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe