I have three wonderful children. My husband and I are retired and so spend more time with friends. When we go out we naturally speak about our children and grandchildren. They are our whole life. I have friends who have no children or grandchildren and they never ask how is your family, what are the grandkids up to? So we never bring our family into the conversation. But we do feel uncomfortable sometimes. Oh, and all these people want to talk about are their pets- what is wrong with people who think animals are like humans?
1. The man who lives next door to me once angrily knocked on my door, holding a bag of rocks in his hand. These were rocks he had collected from his yard. Apparently, during one of my many playdate-turned-Mommy-winefest afternoons, the unattended kids were chucking rocks over the fence. My neighbor was super angry and was like, “These could have hit my children! It really would have hurt them! They’re only eight pounds a piece!” And I was thinking, who the hell lets two 8-pound babies loiter by a fence in the backyard all by themselves…and then I realized that he was talking about his dogs. His dog children. I immediately decided to discount everything else he ever says to me because what’s wrong with those people is that they’re bored and lonely and their spouses have ceased to provide adequate entertainment and affection, and they’re desperate, so they get it from their dogs.
2. Do your friends ask about other things in your life? Do they ask about your sailboat, or your salt and pepper shaker collection, or your tango lessons? If they do, then they either hate children and don’t want to hear about them, or they’re oblivious and it never occurs to them to ask, since they don’t have kids or grandkids of their own. If you think it’s the former, don’t bother talking to them about your family, because they don’t want to hear it: they’ll only roll their eyes and think nasty thoughts about your family (probably in much the same way you roll your eyes every time they talk about their pets). If it’s the latter, feel free to talk about your family all you want…as long as you don’t talk about them constantly. Then you’ll be just as bad as my neighbor and his bag full of rocks.
I am not a prude, but we are friends with a couple who say the most inappropriate things. I can appreciate a raunchy comment but this is out of line; they make jokes about stuff that makes me feel uncomfortable. The wife shares details about their sex life with me and talks about things I really don’t want to know about. They are nice, cool people and are fun to hang out with otherwise, but since I’m too embarrassed to hear the jokes and comments, I’m way too embarrassed to ask them to stop making them.
You have two options:
1. Try to make them uncomfortable. This is going to take a lot of courage, medication, or liquor on your part, since you’re squeamish to begin with. The next time they start sharing intimate details of their chandelier-swinging sex escapades, ask questions. Be super interested. You put that thing where? Can you repeat that louder, please? Wait, how many times did he do that? Is that it? Have you ever considered using WD40 and a chimpanzee? Eventually, they’re going to get weirded out. They want to shock you, and when they stop doing that, the sexytime chit-chat is going to lose its allure.
2. Blank stare and silence. No polite giggling, no Oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-you-just-said-that. Nothing. Stone-faced silence.
My friends just posted a bunch of pictures and notes to each other on Facebook about a fun night out they had…that I wasn’t invited to. My feelings are really hurt but I don’t want to be like a lame 5th grade girl and say, “Why didn’t you invite me?” But I really want to know why they didn’t invite me.
Ouch. That smarts.
Facebook has connected people with everyone they went to high school with, and now, suddenly, Facebook is like high school.
That fun time they had last night is made even better by letting other people know that they’re cool enough to have fun times…and then the icing on that cake is the fun they get out of being in a position to exclude people.
I think you should in this case, then, do what you would have done in high school. Maybe make out with one of their boyfriends! Cry and write in your diary! Go sit in a parking lot and drink beer! Call one of their mothers and anonymously tell her that her daughter has herpes!
I used to be really close friends with a woman I met at my daughter’s school; we clicked the second we met and became close very quickly. We talked on the phone a ton, hung out all the time, and even went on weekend trips with our families together. Well, I came to find out that this woman, who I confided in about a variety of personal things, was gossiping about me and sharing with other friends some pretty private things that I had told her in confidence. I’m angry and sad and feel betrayed, and I almost immediately stopped calling her and stopped attending social events where I knew she would be. I think she’s confused about why our friendship ended so abruptly, and I’m sure she’s talking about it to many of our mutual friends. Should I confront her and explain why I no longer desire her friendship?
No! Chatty Cathy loves nothing more than a good, dramatic confrontation to give her something to talk about. Just go about your daily life, don’t shut yourself off from your mutual friends, and don’t discuss your friendship with her to anyone. If someone asks you why you’re not friends anymore, look puzzled, smile, and say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’ve always been friends.”
I know you didn’t ask about them, but I have two more points to make here.
1. Be suspicious of people who are so enthusiastic about being your friend. I’m sure you’re terrific, but anyone who gets all best-friendy right away with someone they barely know is someone to be wary of. I try to hate everyone I meet the second I meet them, and then am pleasantly surprised when they turn out to be okay.
2. This has nothing to do with your problems, but I’d like to point out here that the key to being a good gossip is to not tell everyone and her mother everything you know about every person in town. You’ll be like a shooting star gossip, burning out before you can recognize the true wonder of knowing all kinds of shit you have no business knowing.
I like my friend, but I love my babysitter. My friend asked for my babysitter’s phone number. Do I have to give it to her? I don’t want to deprive the sitter of money or jobs, but I’m afraid she won’t be available when I want her.
I would lie and say you don’t have her number anymore, and that she just shows up every once in a while, Marry Poppins-style, floating onto your doorstep with a red umbrella.
Or you could be like the Mafia and demand that your babysitter give you a share from all money she earns because of you. You could even threaten to break her kneecaps if she doesn’t pay up. I bet she’ll refuse all other jobs.
Or, you could do what I’ve done in this situation, which is to give the sitter’s number, and then tell your sitter, “I just gave my friend your number because I think you’re a terrific babysitter.” Because mine is so awesome, she’ll call me if my friend calls her, just to make sure I don’t need her. Totally awesome.
My friend’s husband is a pig. I try to avoid him whenever possible, but we live in a small town and they always seem to be around. I like her a lot and enjoy her company, but it’s so awkward to try and have a conversation with her while he’s standing there making suggestive comments and giving me lewd looks. I know my friend knows he’s doing it, and I think it embarrasses her so I don’t want to say anything and make it worse, but it has to stop. My husband wants to kick his ass but I want to deal with it myself.
I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to have your husband beat the tuna salad out of him, but if you want to be a big girl and use your words, this is what I would do:
React as if you’re taking everything he says seriously. So if you’re like, “It’s hot out today!” and he’s like, “Yeah it is, baby, maybe you should take your clothes off,” take them off. Or at least one item–maybe your bra. Hand it to him and say, “You’re right. I feel much better now. Thank you.” And then walk away.
I hate kissing. Every time we go to a party or out to dinner with friends or even to the park with our kids on Saturday, there’s someone there who isn’t content with a mere hello. No, we can’t shake hands…we kiss. On the cheek. Sometimes both cheeks. It’s disgusting and the only thing worse than this is the full-body hug, which thankfully has gone out of style.
The next time someone goes in for the kiss, just before you touch your cheek to hers, stick out the tip of your tongue a tiny but and give her a quick lick. Not a full-tongued slurp, just a little flick that could be mistaken for wet lips. She won’t want to be rude and wipe it off, and it’ll just sit there, damp and uncomfortable on her cheek until she’s alone and can Purell her face. The next time you run into her, I bet all you get is a friendly wave.
Another option is to having regular, dramatic coughing fits, with a couple fake sneezes and some dry heaves thrown in. No one will want to kiss you then, either.
Is it worth it to go into a little bit of credit card debt to be in my old friend’s wedding? I am strapped at the moment and know I could decline the bridesmaid invitation and skip the wedding but I worry that she will offer to pay or that I’ll be sad in the end if I miss it. There will be a flight and a hotel too.
Yes! Go! Buy a dress that you’ll only wear once that costs more than all of your shoes put together. Then fly across the country to have your picture taken 4,000 times by a guy with a ponytail. You don’t get to spend any time with the bride, but you have to spend copious amounts of time with her sister, who never liked you.
This is exactly what you should be spending your money on. Not, let’s say, rent, or your phone bill, or a bank account where you can save money for the next time a friend asks you to be in a wedding.
So, no. It’s not worth it. If the wedding is at the Ritz in Dubai, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event but you’ll be in debt forever. You can’t afford that. If the wedding is at the Best Western in Topeka, it’s going to be a lot cheaper, but you’re going to be borrowing money to go on a vacation to somewhere unexciting when you can’t even afford to take a real vacation. (Sorry, people in Topeka.)
A couple exceptions: If you don’t have a lot of other debt, I say go if you can save enough money before the event to pay for at least half of it, and to stick to that spending and saving immediately upon your return home until you’ve quickly paid off the debt. Or, if she offers, let your friend pay for it and graciously thank her without hooing and haaing about paying her back. Then pay her back as soon as you can. If she wants you to be in your wedding, you’re close enough that it’s not a big deal to let her pay.
I have a good friend who works in a different department of my company. We started off in the same role, but over the years have moved into totally different positions — mine a bit senior to hers. We have drinks and lunch regularly, and do our fair share of gossip. I’ve heard recently — and the volume of the rumor is getting stronger — that her department is going to have some major cuts made in the coming quarter. From what I can tell after our last get-together, she has no idea. As a corporate person, I feel like I should put a sock in it. But as a friend to a person with a pretty tight budget, I feel like a jerk not giving her even a hint. I don’t want to risk it coming back to me, though. What do you think I should do?
I think you should keep your trap shut. It’s not like the CEO sat you down and told you that they’re laying people off. You said it yourself: it’s a rumor.
The reason I floundered so brilliantly at a professional career that required going to an office is that I often forgot the real reason I was going to said office: to work. I got stuff done, but at three times the volume and half the pace. I had more fun talking to people and listening to what they had to say about our colleagues than I did with my actual job. (Helpful tip: if you don’t want just a cubicle, you can get a real office with a door by having a voice like a foghorn and a laugh like a dolphin who just sucked helium. It worked for me!)
Being the office gossip isn’t a good role, but being completely oblivious to what’s going on around you is just as bad. Your friend is in a position where people don’t tell her things, and she doesn’t have anyone to ask. Since you’re in a slightly senior position, what you’re hearing might not have trickled down quite yet…but you’re not the person who should be doing the trickling. Imagine the scenario if you told her, and she asked someone about it. She’d go talk to someone else, and say, “Judy said our department is going to be cut in half.” Uh-oh, Judy. Now you seem like you can’t be trusted.
If you had to choose between yourself having a job and your friend having a job, I hope you’d choose yourself. What you can do is have a general talk with her about your industry and how crappily it’s faring as a whole, and mention that you’ve been saving a little in case you were to unexpectedly lose your job. (p.s. If your company is making cuts, you should be!)
My friend just got a divorce, and now she’s acting like a maniac. We met at a music class years ago when our kids were babies, and hit it off right away. But since she got a divorce six months ago, it’s like I don’t even know her anymore. I always thought she was a great mom and shared a similar outlook on life, but now all she can talk about are the inappropriate guys she’s hooking up with or the band she just went to see. She always used to talk about what a party girl she was before she had kids, and how much having children calmed her, but now I think the party girl is back, and I don’t like what the party girl is up to. Do I have to be friends with her any more?
No. You don’t have to be friends with anyone. If you’re not that attached to her and the only thing you had in common was your kids, then forget about it. Have you ever been super-tight friends with a co-worker and then stopped working together? That first post-departure get-together can be painfully boring. They’re all like, “Frank did the funniest thing with the copier again the other day…” and you’re like, “Yeah, I quit that job in part because Frank kept photocopying his man-boobs.”
But before you cut her off, seriously think about what she’s going through right now. From the sound of it, she’s not too psyched about being alone and is probably trying to fill all that empty space with as much noise and as many men as possible. This is kind of sad, right? Maybe you can talk to her–in a non-judgey, non-critical way–and see if you can get her to open up about how she’s really feeling. This is when you dig in for the less-fun part of friendship, which is the part where you stick by someone when they’re going through a rough time.
But if you stick it out for a little while longer and she’s still dancing on bars at 3 am while you’re up late getting ready to teach your Sunday School class, just forget about it. Friendships come and go; if you can’t muster up the energy to maintain it, it’s better to just move on.