My Friend Treats Me Like I’m Her Therapist
And I’m sick of it.
Well, are you really abrasive? Only you know—and I suspect you have more of a hunch than you’re letting on. (I, of one, hear bells going off when I’m being a huge bitch.) But it seems to me just as likely that you’re not sending out the right signals. Friend-making, just like mate-attracting, requires that we make ourselves seem available to outsiders’ advances. Maybe you’re sending out self-sufficiency vibes instead? Another possibility is that you’re only meeting girly-girl type women, who immediately and correctly perceive that their invitations to ladies’ lunches and mani-pedi parties will be met with horrified stares. To that effect, what about joining a club for outdoorsy types like yourself, or even just taking a class in a related field like rappelling? Also, maybe you can deepen the bonds between you and your two new (casual) girl friends by inviting them on an outing or expedition? There’s nothing like getting attacked by insects/lost in the wilderness with no cellphone reception to cement lasting memories. Alternately, invite them to a party at your house and encourage them to bring friends. Here’s another idea: what about pursuing platonic male friends? We’re all grown-ups here—right?
All this said, I admit that that “short skirts” line at the end of your letter threw me. Here I was imagining you in head to toe Polartec. Is this your one ode to girliness? If so, cute! And I sincerely doubt other women are rejecting you because your hem-lines are wrong—unless, of course, you regularly flirt with their husbands (a fourth possibility). Only you know the answer to that one, too …
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
Shortly after my partner “Denise” and I first started dating three years ago, she introduced me to one of her close friends, "Bunny." At the time, I thought Bunny was insecure and a little paranoid. But in my starry-eyed, newly-in-love state, I was able to overlook her flaws. As my relationship with Denise progressed, Bunny and her husband became mainstays in our lives. I still find her annoying, but in the name of relationship harmony I keep our interactions cordial, if short. I’ve also mostly kept my opinion of Bunny to myself (although Denise knows I’m not her biggest fan).
Later this month, my partner is celebrating a milestone birthday, and I'm throwing her an intimate but fancy party. We discussed the party details with Bunny on numerous occasions and sent her a "save the date" card about a month ago. Two weeks ago, I sent out the actual party invitations but inadvertently neglected to stick a couple, including Bunny's, in the mail. (They got stuck on something at the bottom of my briefcase.) Last week, I realized that the invites hadn't gone out on schedule, and I popped them in the mail and also sent an apology email to those who hadn't received them yet. Bunny emailed me back saying that, since she hadn't heard from me about the final details, she and her husband had arranged to go out of town the weekend of the party. She also mentioned that she'd heard from another person (who isn’t invited) that the party had been canceled.
I know Denise will be sorely hurt that Bunny is missing the event. I also realize I'm partly to blame, since I mishandled the invitation mailing. But I’m angry that Bunny didn't bother to check what was going before she made other plans. Nor is this the first time something like this has happened. Bunny usually RSVPs in the positive, then cancels at the last minute, often for reasons that seem trivial. Should I confront her about her rude and inconsiderate behavior? Should I let Denise know that I'm ready to end the friendship or try to salvage it for Denise’s sake? I'm the one who ends up consoling my nonconfrontational partner when she’s disappointed, since she’ll never say anything to Bunny!
Sick of Partner's Rude Friend
Talk about Freudian slips. (Stuck at the bottom of your briefcase—really? Like stuck in your copy of The Book of Black Magic?) It sounds to me as if Bunny may have as many issues with you as you have with her. In my book, a “save the date” card is as good as an invitation. Nor do I think that a proper invite sent out a week before the date is so very amiss. The “friend who told her it was canceled” line sounds like another oblique and undermining dig at your best efforts at Martha Stewart-ing. I’d also wager a guess that Bunny isn’t as good a friend to Denise as Denise would like to imagine. In friendship as in love, chronic cancellations are usually a good indication that the other person just isn’t feeling it—unless the cancellations are only a way of sabotaging your best-made plans (i.e. she has a particular problem with you). I think you need to find out.
Tell Bunny just what you told me—that you really wish she’d checked in with you before she made plans to go away for the weekend and that Denise is going to be really hurt she’s not there. Is there any way she could move her weekend plans back? Moreover, you feel like she’s always canceling out of invitations you extend to her. Is there something else going on? Have you offended her in some way? See what she says. If she refuses to give an inch, I think you’d be in your right mind to tell Denise what you really think of her old pal. Feel free to add the opinion that a good friend wouldn’t casually blow off a milestone birthday party, so maybe Bunny isn’t the best buddy that Denise thinks she is. Maybe the real question here is why Denise cares so much.
Friend or Foe
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.