OTHER PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS 

OTHER PEOPLE'S PROBLEMS

Listen: Carol and I have been good friends since high school. When we met, we were dating two guys who were in a band together and we spent a lot of time hanging out while they had band practice or played Sega. Hey, it was high school. That’s what you did. Eventually I broke up with the drummer and she broke up with the singer, but we stayed friends. It’s been about 10 years, five moves, and probably 100 boyfriends later. I was relocated a few months ago and we live in the same city again. When I first told her the news, she seemed excited, talking about all the things we would do, how it would be like old times, yada, yada. But since I got back in town, I’ve seen her maybe two or three times. Whenever I call her, she’s always busy with her boyfriend. I used to be able to tell when whoever she was seeing was about to dump her by how often she would call me. When they broke up, I would hear from her about once a week until she found someone new. Now that we’re in the same town I thought things would be a little different, that we’d at least have drinks once in a while. Boy, was I wrong. What bothers me even more is that I’m currently in a long-term relationship and even from the very beginning, I’ve always made time for her. I don’t feel like she’s made any for me. I’m tempted to tell her exactly how wrong she is, but something has prevented me so far. Signed, Fed Up Okay: You can never go back home again. I know that’s a cliché, but damn it, sometimes things are used a lot because they’re just that true. It sounds as if part of you is hurt because you expected things to be one way and they’re not. Unfortunately, that’s just what happens. You can’t go home again and you can’t blame her for expectations you had, no more than you can blame her for the weather outside. However, you can blame her for being a self-centered bitch. I’m going to take your word on it that you really do make time for her when you’re seeing someone, because if you don’t, you’re a self-centered bitch, too. And then, really, what’s the point in you complaining? So let’s be sure the dagger doesn’t slice both ways. But let’s say you do make time for her and she doesn’t for you. There’s a couple of things you could do here. The first is to sit her down and tell her exactly how “wrong” she is. She’s choosing men over friend and that’s just not cool. Were they there when she was crying her eyes out over So-and-so? Did any of them ever accompany her to the bathroom at a restaurant or a rock concert? And where were they the last time she was gained a few pounds? You could say all this, or similar things, until she starts crying from the shame of being “a bad friend,” but, let’s be honest, what good will it do? You might get to scream and yell and stomp around, but you might not feel any better afterwards. She’ll apologize, but be up to her old tricks by the end of the week. And then you’re faced with a friend who isn’t just a self-centered bitch, but one who won’t even pretend to care about your feelings. I guess my advice would just be to get over it. You’ve known for a while she likes to hang out with her man -- I hardly think the way the two of you met could be considered an auspicious beginning -- so process that information and deal with it. Because she really didn’t do anything wrong, except not pay enough attention to you. And there must be some reason why the two of you have stayed friends for all this time. I guess what I’m saying is downgrade her friend status. Instead of being your “good friend Carol,” think about her as your “friend Carol” or “that Carol” you know. Or you cold just let the friendship fall fallow and maybe one day she’ll call you. It’ll probably be a day when she’s broken up with someone, but there you go. Listen: This is rather complicated. A couple of months ago, I met this wonderful woman that I liked instantly. I did not ask her out or for her phone number because we were with a large group of people and I never really got her alone. A few days later -- I use the three-day rule -- I found out her email address and sent her a quick note asking her if she wanted to get together. We have a great first date; we go hiking and then get a bite to eat at this restaurant my friend owns. I call her, again three days after our date, and invite her out, but she’s busy with work. Maybe a week later, I call her again and she tells me she’s on her way out of town but wants to get together soon and will call me as soon as she gets back into town. By this time, it’s been about a month since out first date. She calls two weeks later and tells me that she hasn’t been in town since we last spoke, but asks if I want to go to the movies. I’m recovering from the flu, but I really like her, so we make plans for an early evening. It feels as if we’re starting from scratch, though, because it’s been so long since we last saw each other. Since then, I haven’t seen her. I keep calling her and she returns my calls, even agrees to go out, but then something will come up at the last minute so she’ll have to cancel. We’re both young professionals working really hard to succeed so understandably we both have really busy lives. I feel like I’ve made time for her. I’m not sure she’s done the same for me. Just a few weeks ago, I ran into her on the street and we made plans to go out to dinner that evening. She was supposed to call me after she finished running some errands, so we could make more definite plans, but she never called. When I finally called her a week later and demanded to know what happened, she said she was so sorry, that her apartment had become infested with cockroaches and she spent the entire night trying to get an exterminator to come out and take care of the problem. A few times since I known her I’ve told myself I wasn’t going to call her anymore because I don’t need to put up with her crap. But then when I do call her, even if it’s just to bitch her out, she’s so apologetic and nice that I find myself chalking up her bullshit to the difficulties of a complicated life. Am I being a chump? Signed, Busy Bee Okay: In a word: Yes. I think I’m going to have to break some news to you, news that the wonderful woman wasn’t woman enough to break herself. So I’m not going to sugarcoat it; I’m not going to lie; I’m just going to lay it on the line: She isn’t attracted to you. Now get off the floor (you can still clutch at your stomach if you want to) and let me explain. From what I’ve read of your situation, this girl thought you were funny or good-looking or rich when you first met; so she agreed to go out with you. But after spending more time with you, she deduced that you are dull or ugly or poor as dirt, and that is sadly unacceptable to her. But. She doesn’t want to tell you that you are dull or ugly or poor; that might hurt your feelings. And besides your dullness, lack of beauty and poverty level, she likes you just fine. As a friend, you fit the bill nicely. You’re just not boyfriend material. I think there’s a term for this, passive aggressive, but I can’t use it because I’m not a licensed, well, anything. But at any rate, when you call, she is pleasant and agrees to go out with you (you’re a nice guy, after all), but when it gets time for the real “date,” she realizes that she really doesn’t want to go out with you. Instead, she hopes that by canceling and stringing you along, you will either get the hint or get sick of her bullshit and decide you don’t want to see her anymore. And then the problem is solved. Unfortunately for both of you, you’ve decided to be persistent. Or you don’t have a clue. So you just keep calling. This is where the wildly implausible roach story kicks in. She might as well as said, I’m busy. I’m washing my hair. Yes, she could have a roach infestation. And perhaps she was busy the entire evening trying to get a exterminator out to her pad, maybe. But if she really wanted to see you, was wildly attracted to you, you are the man of her dreams, she would have picked up one of those cute little things called the telephone and dialed your number. And if the roaches had somehow absconded with it (they’re tricky little guys), she would’ve found a pay phone or at the very very least, e-mailed you the next day. I’m curious to know if she understood these outings were indeed dates (Were the clues there? Like you picked her up at her house? You paid? You put the moves on her? Or were they sexless friendly outings, the kind that well-behaved Austrian children might go on in “The Sound of Music”? Was there singing?) or if she thought from the beginning that the two of you were “just friends,” only to realize later your dastardly intentions? So cut her loose. While you may not be boyfriend material for her, she’s definitely not friend material for you.

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