My Sad Sack Friend Won't Leave Me Alone
I've already told her to stop contacting me. What else can I do?
This past semester, I invited my good friend "Una" to join in on plans I'd made with one of my best friends, "Sean." To my dismay, Una immediately began hitting on Sean. Later, she and I discussed that this upset me, as I felt as though she was hitting on my brother (i.e., it was gross and weird). Then, on a beach trip, I found out by snooping on her phone that she'd been texting with Sean behind my back—trying to hook up with him, but also acknowledging in her texts to him that what she was doing was hurtful, deceitful, and wrong.
I know my snooping was invasive and obsessive, but intuition told me that something was afoot. Now I feel that Una not only violated my trust but made my friendship with Sean into a lie. What compounds the hurt is that we've all just graduated and the two of them will be in the same city next year with me 100 miles away. Part of this could be my fear of the real world and the sense of being adrift, but I've got this lingering uneasy feeling that I can't shake. Right before graduation, Una and I talked about the situation. And the first thing she blurted out was that Sean was trying to hook up with her. I know that it takes two to tango, but I place the blame squarely on her shoulders, as I assume it was her guilt that motivated her to tell me. (Never mind that I already knew.) Una still considers us to be good friends. But at this point I'm only keeping her close to keep tabs on her. What should I do? What started out as the feeling of being a third wheel now bothers me deeply.
Feel Betrayed by Flirting Friends
Third wheelism is a singularly unfun experience. But sorry, darling, Una hasn't done anything wrong. And the fact that Sean is your best friend doesn't make it even remotely "weird" or "gross" that she's attracted to him. They're not related! (Nor, btw, are you.) You don't own the guy, and Una doesn't owe you a vow of celibacy. That doesn't mean you have to like the fact that your two friends will probably wind up in bed together, if they haven't already. But I'm afraid you're going to have to live with it. When you put people of the same sexual orientation in the same room (or vacation, or Oval Office), history suggests that stuff happens. As for the question of being deceived, there's dissembling (failing to tell the whole truth) and there's outright lying. If your friends are guilty of anything, it's the former. Before you make a case for the two being equivalent, please stop to consider why both felt they had to hide their flirtation.
I agree that your anxiety might have something to do with having just graduated from college. It's a scary if exhilarating time for all. But are you sure you're not also secretly in love or lust with the guy (or girl) yourself? Whatever the case, please rest assured that, in a year's time, you're unlikely to care even a quarter as much as you do now about what's going on between Sean and Una. You're about to start the rest of your life, which means new people and new experiences. My advice: Forget about college and start planning your future.
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
My best friend "Cindy" lives a block from my apartment with her boyfriend. I need to move soon, and my boyfriend suggested we get a third person to help with one particularly heavy piece of furniture (we can manage the rest by ourselves). Since Cindy's boyfriend is strong and lives so close by, I suggested that I call Cindy to ask. But my boyfriend thinks Cindy's boyfriend won't want to do it—and that we should get my building's handymen to help instead. He also thinks that if we do ask Cindy's boyfriend, I should let Cindy know beforehand but ask her boyfriend directly because he thinks that, otherwise, Cindy might force the guy to help against his will.
I guess I don't find my request quite as big of a deal because I would gladly help out Cindy and/or her boyfriend with similar requests. (I don't know whether my boyfriend would be as willing, but in either case I wouldn't force him.) The four of us have hung out numerous times, and we're all nice and get along well. However, I think it's a bit weird to ask Cindy's boyfriend directly because it puts him on the spot. I'm closer to Cindy so I'm inclined to ask her instead. What are your thoughts?
To Ask or Not To Ask
Lucinda Rosenfeld is the author of four novels, including I'm So Happy for You and The Pretty One, which will be published in early 2013.