Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Girls’ night flop: I had a baby eight months ago and haven’t really had a night out since before she was born. This past weekend I had what was supposed to be a fun girls’ night in with some friends, which I was extremely excited about. But about two hours in, two of the girls in our group got inebriated and started crying about minor issues in their lives. Due to my profession, they both pulled me aside several times (my answer was to go to therapy every time) to cry and ask for advice. It basically turned my one night out into a work night for me, and I was more exhausted the next morning than when I got there.
And now they want to plan another night! According to another girl in our group, this is a common occurrence when they all get together (I’m the first one with kids, so I don’t often join). Am I heartless for being totally annoyed and wanting to bow out? Should I say something to these two about how they ruined the night? I suspect issues with alcohol are also a factor.
A: You are not heartless, and you should make other plans for your own night out where you actually get to relax. If their idea of a fun get-together is to get drunk and try to use you as a counselor, and yours isn’t, then you should feel absolute freedom to be “unavailable” when they try to schedule another round.
Depending on how close you are, you might want to have a follow-up conversation where you say, “It seems like you were deeply troubled about [thing] the other night. I hope that you’re able to get the help you need and that you won’t try to soldier on without asking for support.” Then make plans to go see a movie or get dinner with someone else.