Dear Aunt Bossy,
I recently arranged to meet a good and platonic male friend of mine for a short visit in a very sophisticated European City. It is the kind of city where people still dress up.
I had not seen him for a while and was shocked at his appearance. His teeth looked as though they had not been brushed for years. His hair was long and stringy. He traipsed around in shorts and sandals with socks on, and was just generally a mess.
I try to look elegant no matter where I am, and in a city like this, I felt embarrassed to be seen with him.
He has a girlfriend, and I am astounded that she hasn’t done something about this. He looked repulsive.
Should I have a chat with him and tell him it is for his own good?
You are welcome.
Best, Aunt Bossy
New Mean Girl
Dear Aunt Bossy,
I had what I thought was a good friend. We spent a lot of time together and never stopped talking and laughing and having fun.
Unfortunately, one of the things we talked about was her abusive ex-boyfriend. My instinct after the first time I met the boyfriend was that he was somehow “off.” My boyfriend felt the same way, as did many of our mutual friends. My friend finally saw it, too, and broke up with him.
My friend was in pain because of the relationship and went into great detail about all the things the boyfriend did that ranged from tacky and unacceptable to horrendous.
It was non-stop. I wanted so much for her to realize she was right to break up with him because I felt such a close friendship with her and wanted her to be happy.
She got back together with him like all the things she said didn’t matter, and now they are inseparable.
Out of the blue she started sniping at me. She would give very subtle digs, and gossiped about me around town. Now, every time I talk to her, she has a difficult time being warm and friendly, and continues with the not so subtle digs.
I don’t know what to do. What do you suggest?
She probably resents you because she knows you know how awful her boyfriend is, and imagines you resent her because you feel like a fool for trying to help her.
This is a frequent occurrence when people blabber about their problems. They dislike themselves for it and assume others do as well, so they turn on the people with whom they shared. As Bette Davis said once, “I don’t know why she hates me. I never did anything for her.”
There is nothing you can do, but wait and see if your friend relaxes about it and goes back to being a good and fun friend.
In the future be very cautious about being drawn into someone else’s drama. Even if you have a strong desire to help, and a live drama is more fun than the best on television, you have to realize that you probably can’t help and that you are safer watching “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”