Dear Friend or Foe,
One of my dear friends—“Kelly”—is slated to be a bridesmaid in my July wedding. She’s been distant as of late, which I chalked up to a hectic work schedule. Then, on Valentine’s Day, she called to tell me that she’s dating my ex-husband. Instead of flying off the handle, I calmly told her that I’d call her back when I was ready to talk about it. But I don’t know when that will be. Kelly saw all of the terrible things my ex-husband did to me three years ago, including abandoning our then 3-year-old and 18-month-old children for a woman 15 years our senior, not paying child support, and verbally abusing me.
I believe what Kelly wants is for me to be very angry with her so that her guilt can be assuaged and she can feel justified in what she’s doing. In addition, I think she wants me to kick her out of my wedding. My fiancé certainly doesn’t want her at our ceremony. However, I don’t believe her and my ex’s relationship will be long-lasting. I suspect Kelly is simply dating him to alleviate her crushing loneliness. Still, I’m incredibly hurt. Do I kick her out of my wedding and never speak to her again?
Not Flying Off the Handle (Yet)
Well, at least he didn’t leave you for a younger woman? But really, I agree, one doesn’t ideally want one’s bridesmaid to be dating one’s ex-husband. But then, you’re about to begin a new chapter of your life. Why waste mental energy getting worked up about the past? (Don’t you have flower arrangements to worry about?) The guy walked out on you, yes. So pride dictates that you’ll always hate his guts. Plus, you have children together. So you can’t forget he ever existed. But I guess my feeling is that if Kelly wants him, she can have him. What’s it really to you? That doesn’t mean you have to cheer them on, or embrace her as a close friend right now. But nor do I see her behavior as grounds to cut her off forever. Now, if she were trying to date your new husband, that would be another story …
If I were you, I’d kill Kelly with kindness. You’re right that she’s probably looking for a fight—after all, why call on Valentine’s Day? That seems like pretty pointed timing. But why stoop to her level? Sit her down and tell her that, while you’re far from thrilled by the news, it’s her life. You’ve moved on. If she’s happy, you’ll be happy for her. All you ask is that she not talk about him in front of you, since he caused a great deal of pain in your life. Also, if she still wants to be in your wedding, you’re happy to have her. You’ll leave the decision to her. Though you have to be honest and admit that your fiancé finds the whole thing really uncomfortable. My guess is that she’ll back out of the bridesmaid lineup but still come to the ceremony and party. If your ex’s track record is any indication, I also suspect (just as you do) that things will be over between them faster than you can say the word loser. At which point you can resume your friendship as before.
Bottom line: Your life is going well; Kelly’s isn’t. Instead of hating her for the transgression, what about feeling sorry for her that she can’t do any better than a dead-beat dad with anger issues?!
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
“Amy” and I went to the same high school but didn’t become close until we worked together years later. She’s always led an alternative lifestyle with piercings and dreadlocks, but also with drug use. Her use of marijuana never bothered me. I knew that she’d used other drugs in the past, as well. But recently she seemed to have overcome the need to use anything stronger than weed. Two years ago, she moved to another state to be with her boyfriend. But when things fell apart with him, she moved back to this state (and in with her mother). She also got a job and seemed to be getting her life back on track. We spent a lot of time together during the summer before I gave birth to my daughter. And even though kids aren’t really her “thing,” she’d come to visit me while I was home with the baby. I was happy to have my friend back … until about a month ago.
I’m 99.9 percent certain that she stole some of my leftover pain medication from when I had my C-section. She’s the only one who would have had the opportunity and the motive to do so. A mutual friend—“Jen” —is aware of what happened and is livid. Jen has told me that Amy has talked about doing more drugs recently, even meeting up with people from Craigslist to do so. I also recently found out that Amy has lost her job. Since then, I haven’t heard from her at all, though I’m not entirely surprised. Our friendship has always been very one-sided. I’ve always been the one to initiate contact, go pick her up, let her borrow things, etc. I’m wondering if I should even bother confronting her about the meds, let alone stage some sort of intervention.
Should I Even Bother?
If you value Amy, yes, by all means, confront her. But you’ll get further if you can find a way to do so without making her feel backed against a wall. Don’t begin with an accusation. Instead, tell her that you’re worried about her and have reason to believe that she’s abusing drugs again, including prescription ones. When she asks you for evidence, tell her that some of your C-section meds missing have gone missing. You’re not mad if she took them—you just want to know what’s going on, since you consider her a good friend. If she ’fesses up, urge her to seek help in the form of a counselor or even an NA meeting. You might also want to express sympathy for her job loss and ask if there’s anything you can do to help her find a new one.
That said, I can’t tell from your letter how close the two of you really are. You say she was there for you the summer of your pregnancy and also after you gave birth. But then you say you’ve always been the one who had to do all the inviting and initiating. In any case, it’s clear she’s gone AWOL of late not because of negligence but because of the simple fact that she’s using (and you’re not). So I wouldn’t hold her current silence against her so much as I’d see it as a symptom of her larger problems. Only you know if you care enough to try and help.
Friend or Foe
Dear Friend or Foe,
The first semester of law school, I met a classmate (“Samantha”) and was immediately attracted. During a group lunch, I caught her eyeing me. I worked up the courage to ask her out, and she said yes! I also found out that she’d volunteered for the law school’s “charity date” auction. We hung out before the date in a group, and one of my friends (“Matt”) told me she was all into me. So I was ecstatic. The first date was excellent, too. I made her laugh a lot. But the second date was only so-so. After seeking the advice of several friends, I asked permission to “bid on her” during the date auction. She didn’t seem to like that suggestion.
The next day, she texted to say she couldn’t date anyone in law school—it wasn’t anything I did but rather the timing—and that she just wanted to “be friends.” We barely talked at the date auction, where she was “purchased” by a guy she can’t stand who’s a legit stalker. Then on Super Bowl Sunday she invited just me to a party. I went, and we had a blast. On the way home, she asked me if I could hook up with a random woman. I said no, I needed to know a person. Also, I didn’t tell her this, but I’m very inexperienced—not for lack of trying.
That night, I slept at her house. I didn’t make a move because I didn’t want to push too far. But I believe she changed her mind about me, and I was ecstatic again. I even called a friend to grab her favorite wine on his way up to the championship parade (believing it would knock her socks off). The next Monday, I invited her to a party, and she touched my arm a lot. A female friend even asked her if she and I were dating. But when I offered to walk her to her car, she said that Matt would. He asked her what was going on between us, and she said she had no feelings for me! Huh? Now I feel confused and mortified.
Really Just Friends?
I suppose there’s always the possibility that your friend Matt can’t be trusted, is mad for Samantha himself, and blatantly lied to you about what Samantha actually said that night. (Maybe she actually reported that she wants to bear your child?) Either way, I have to say that asking to “bid” on a woman you’re trying to date isn’t a great move. Though I doubt that lone misstep accounts for your intended paramour’s skittishness about dating you. My suspicion is that, just as Samantha has stated, she’d rather keep things casual while she hits the books. So, if you’re not willing to give up on her, prepare to be kept at arm’s length.
Which is all to say—it’s admirable (I guess) that you don’t want to hook up with a random chick merely for experience. But if you’re looking to fill that deficit in your life, Samantha probably won’t be the person. Also, while I have no doubt she flirted with you at one or more of the described occasions, I’m sorry to inform that touching someone’s arm doesn’t always signify a deep-seeded attraction. It can also be read as a simple gesture of thanks or a preface to the question “Do you know where the restroom is?”
My advice is to use the age-old trick of “playing hard to get.” In short, blow Samantha off for a while. If she’s even remotely interested, she’ll a) notice; and b) be that much more interested. Oh, and if you ever feel compelled to knock the socks off an advice columnist, I’m very keen on the Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough County, New Zealand. (Really crisp.)
Friend or Foe