Dear Wendy: “How Can I Dump My Friend Nicely?”
It’s time again for “Shortcuts,” wherein I answer readers’ letters in two sentences or less. Sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss ending dysfunctional friendships, dealing with unwanted advances, and making the first move.
I have been friends with Lindsey for about a year. The friendship started fine, but then we began working together and the more I learned about her personality, the more I didn’t get along with her. It became a very one-sided friendship — among other annoying things, she’d talk all about herself, then she’d ask me how I was, then interrupt me halfway through my first sentence and start talking about herself again. I was getting fed up, but wasn’t sure how to go about ending the friendship without being rude. Then, a few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I got engaged and both got job offers in a state 1,500 miles away. I left thinking I wouldn’t really have to deal much more with Lindsey. However, I just learned that she’s angry she isn’t in my wedding party! She’s not just a little mad, she’s super pissed and says that after all the times she’s been there for me, she deserves to be in it. I’m 1500 miles away, working 12 hour days with a wedding to plan and I don’t have time to deal with her drama. However, I don’t want her to hate me either. What’s the best way to end this friendship without causing bad blood between us? — Over it
With someone like that, there might not be any way around “bad blood,” but I’d tell her that because money’s tight with your recent move, you and your fiancé have decided to keep the wedding to just family and closest friends and that you “hope she understands.” She’ll get the message — she just probably won’t like it.
I’m a college student working in retail for the summer and I’ve been getting a lot of unwanted attention from one older customer in particular. He comes in quite frequently and acts pretty flirtatious; he gives me lots of compliments, and has recently started bringing me in original poems that he attaches his name, address, and phone number to and asks me to call him. I’ve been very polite to him but definitely not so friendly that this seems like a normal progression. My brother thinks I should just humor him because he seems like a “harmless, lonely old man” but honestly, it’s making me feel very uncomfortable. I definitely don’t want to be rude to this man, but I don’t want this to continue. How should I approach this situation, if at all? Am I being unreasonable? — Shop Girl
The next time this guy pulls any of this crap, tell him gently but firmly that you cannot take anymore of his poetry because your boyfriend, whom you’re quite serious with, would be very offended. Hopefully ignoring his advances will do the trick, but if he continues to harass you — and yes, this is harassment — let your manager know and perhaps the customer can be asked to shop elsewhere.
This past weekend I went to the lake with a group of friends. I hit it off with one of the guys, and spent a lot of the weekend staying up late with him and kissing and talking. He is very smart and interesting and we had a lot in common, but he didn’t ask for my number before we all left on Sunday. I am usually very practical when it comes to these situations and know sometimes you just have to take it for what it is, but I really felt a “spark” with this guy. The only downfall is he lives about an hour from me, in the town that I went to college in. However, I had planned on going back there for a music festival with friends in a couple of weekends and am considering sending him a Facebook message, but I don’t want to seem desperate or too aggressive. What do you think? — Lake Love?
Absolutely contact him, but keep it light and casual, like: “Hey, I’m gonna be in your neck of the woods in a couple weeks for the such-and-such festival (maybe you’re going too?). If you aren’t busy, maybe we can grab a drink/coffee/lunch while I’m in town.”
A few years ago I reconnected with an old friend, just as his father was dying of cancer. I tried to be as supportive and understanding as I could, but my friend, who has a hard time expressing emotion, became very hostile and mean to me. I always let it go, knowing it was just his way of coping and that he needed to take his anger out on someone. After a while it started to border on abusive, and he eventually told me were only ever friends because “misery loves company,” and I was so weird and sad, he could relate to me, but he no longer wished to remain friends. We stopped speaking and both moved to different cities. Then, about a year ago, we began talking again and with so much time having passed, our relationship seemed stronger than ever and he has been treating me very well without a hint of hostility. The other night, though, we were having dinner and I mentioned how happy I was now in my new job and city and he told me how offensive and stupid that was to say since his life had turned out to be less than perfect. When I called him out on belittling me out of nowhere he said that, having never properly grieved, he was only now coming to terms with his father’s death and that is where the hostility is coming from. Am I expected to put up with that type of abuse all over again? Or is it my job as a friend to do whatever it takes to help him? — Abused Friend
Why in the world would you ever re-friend someone who was so cold and nasty to you? It’s time to say “adios” to this amigo for good; he is NOT a true friend and it’s not your job to be his personal punching bag.