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With Friends Like These

By Mink Stole | Posted 11/21/2001

I know I'm not the only one with this problem, but no one I talk to knows what to do. My best friend and I have been really close since we were kids, and we're now both 23. The problem is that whenever she's single she wants to spend a lot of time with me, but as soon as she gets a boyfriend she spends most of her time with him. Sometimes she'll make plans to see a movie with me, but then he calls and our date is off. I want her to be happy, and if a guy is treating her well that's great, but I'm beginning to feel really bad about this. Is it wrong to expect her to honor her commitments to me?

Miss My Pal

Dear Miss:
Oh, God, don't you just hate that? You're perfectly good company for weeks and months, and then some guy comes along and you're toast. It's like you were some kind of stopgap, some OK-for-now-but-not-as-good-as-a-boyfriend temp who can be dismissed to make room for the permanent guy. It happens all the time, and for some reason we're all expected to understand that romantic love is more important than any other kind. And if our feelings are hurt, it's only because we're immature and need to get a better grip on priorities. But when the permanent guy turns into the ex from hell, of course, we're expected to be there to help mop up the mess.

Women seem to do this more than men do, and it sucks. While most men will ditch their girlfriends for a night out with the boys at the drop of a hockey puck, many women feel that having fun without their men--even with a gal pal or sister--is some sort of infidelity. It isn't, but until we learn not to put all our emotional eggs in some guy's lap, it can seem that way.

It's perfectly normal for people in love to want to be with each other more than with anyone else, and we have to accept that, but her repeatedly breaking dates is really uncool. Once in a while it may be necessary, but to have her blow you off every time he waggles his little finger not only demonstrates her own lack of self-respect, but letting her get away with it undermines yours. Tell her if she wants you there for the bad times, she needs to be there in the good times too. And in the meantime, you need to make some new friends.

I have a huge crush on one of my friends. We met several months ago, and he knows I am gay. He says he's not, but he never talks about women and I don't see him with any. My other friends swear he's gay. We have lunch occasionally and hang out at night too. Sometimes he'll skate home drunk because he has to work the next day. Recently, however, I got another job at which I make substantially more money than I did when we met. Since then, he's been distant and doesn't have much to talk about when we hang out. Am I losing him or what?

Wanting Him

Dear Wanting:
There are things harder to deal with than unrequited love, but, as emotional big drags go, it ranks pretty high. Especially when you believe in your heart of hearts that if he could just see it your way it would be so-o-o-o perfect. But in this case, you're not really losing him; you never really had him. Even if the guy is gay, which he may or may not be, he's not gay to you, which means he's not attracted and not available. Maybe he doesn't want to hurt your feelings by rejecting you outright, but that he'd rather make a tough trip home than spend the night with you must tell you something.

Your new financial status likely has made a difference. Maybe he feels he can't keep up, especially if you're indulging in more expensive tastes, wearing better clothes, eating in better restaurants, etc. Or he might be one of those sad souls who believes that someone else's good fortune means bad luck for him. Whatever the reason, unless you're being totally obnoxious--blathering on about your broker and the difficulty of finding a decent car under $60,000--it's pretty much his problem. It's asking way too much for you to give up your good job just to keep someone you're not even sleeping with from feeling insecure.

Or perhaps he's got something on his mind that has nothing to do with you. Whatever it is, unless you can handle your feelings and accept a platonic relationship, you're better off letting him go. If you really want to stay friends, though, you've got nothing to lose by asking him what the matter is. Don't insist, because that could make him retreat even faster, but let him know you'll listen. Then back off and give him some room. If he wants to stay friends, he'll let you know.

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