Friend or Foe: My ex-sorority sister acts like a drunken toddler.

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
Aug. 9 2011 12:54 PM

My Ex-Sorority Sister Acts Like a Drunken Toddler

She drinks too much and freaks out if she doesn't get her way. Should I cancel our upcoming vacation?

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Dear TSID,
You have my permission to skip out on what is sure to be the Holiday From Hell—unless, of course, waking up in a gutter is your way of "getting away from it all." You and Anna will always have Greek letters in common, but you needn't have a drinking problem as well. Before you dump her in perpetuity, however, I think you owe it to her as a friend (and "sister") to explain yourself. If I were you, I'd contact the third buddy you were supposed to travel with and, together with this other person, confront alcohol-challenged Annie.

Instead of going nuclear, couch your critique in terms of getting Annie the help she needs. Begin by telling her that you're worried about her—and that  having a good time doesn't have to mean getting so drunk that you do and say things you can't remember the next day. Next, tell her that if she doesn't address her problem, she could wind up hurting herself as well as losing the people she cares most about. Finally, break the news that you're cancelling out of the trip—not because you don't care about her but because you do. You don't want to spend your whole vacation stressing about her doing something dangerous. That's not your idea of relaxing. For you, down time means reading juicy novels on the beach.

I take issue with your letter on only one count. From where I sit (hello, 41), the difference between 22 and 27 is pocket change. Though if you mean to imply that things that seemed quasi-acceptable in a frat house don't fly so well in regular houses—which is say, houses that do not have two-day-old vomit on the floor—I'm happy to agree with you there.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

Dear Friend or Foe,
My best friend, "Reece," whom I've known since our stroller days, is relationship dependent.  She hasn't been single since she was 15. But this latest guy, "Donald," has somehow turned into a real pain in everyone's ass.  He seems to enjoy breaking up with Reece approximately once every two weeks, just to see what happens. Every time, we all try to remind her that this has happened before and that he'll probably want to get back together in a couple days, but she fully believes it's real, every single time. And understandably so: He is really cutting and mean and seems as if he's purposely burning bridges. Why they do get back together is totally beyond all the rest of us. How can we comfort her during those breakup times and still be true to ourselves? Obviously we can't bash him (they'll be back together in a week), and it seems both condescending and risky to say he'll get over whatever it is in a couple days.  It's gotten to the point where we feel stupid for saying, "You'll move on and find someone amazing" when we all fully know she's going right back to him in 48 hours.

Sincerely,
Stuck in a Break-Up Groundhog Day

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Dear SIABUGD,
We've all been there— that is, we've unthinkingly parroted our friends' fury at their skittish or runaway boyfriends and partners, believing it would help our friends "move on," only to watch the two of them reunite for eternity—and wish we'd swallowed our tongues rather than utter the lines, "Honestly, he's not the brightest bulb out there," "All I know is that you can do way better," or "He has a weird shaped head, anyway."

In your friend's case, however, something makes me think that, one of these times, it's going to end for real—and badly. And so, while I don't usually advocate nosing into others' affairs of the heart, I think you'd be within your rights to say something critical about the guy. Wait until the two are back together again. Then try something along the lines of "Reece, all your friends want is to see you happy. But your relationship with Donald has put us all in a difficult position. It seems as if he breaks up with you for sport, every couple of weeks—and is mean for no reason. And we hate seeing him hurt you. So when you get back together a week later, as you always do, it's hard to be excited for you, because we know he'll just do it again." See what she said. No doubt she'll defend his behavior. But maybe she'll think about it later.

Sincerely,
Friend or Foe

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