End expectations and keep relationships on your terms
Q: I like people and make friends easily. However, over the past couple of years, I have been "weeding out" friends who haven't really been that great friends to me. Mostly, I have done this intentionally after I felt I was always going above and beyond, without getting anything similar from them.
Also, with a baby and full-time career, I find it hard to make time for the people in my life as is. However, I do think about my old friends often and wonder how they are doing. It makes me sad that we have lost touch. I choose not to reconnect with them because I don't want to get hurt/mad again.
So, how can I come to peace with the fact that, yes, they were once part of my life but not anymore, without feeling like a mean, vindictive person?
A: I wouldn't say you're mean or vindictive, but your behavior does seem punitive. You expected things of your friends, and when you didn't get them, it was off with the friendship.
There is a happy, low-maintenance medium between "going above and beyond" and going silent to the point where you override your impulse to say hello: Catch up how you want, when you want. Think of it as ending the expectations versus ending the friendships. When you enjoy friends' company on whatever terms you feel like offering, you're making peace with it all upfront.
If both just want friendship, men and women can be friends
Q: I am writing to ask if you think men and women can ever be just friends. Most of my guy friends started out liking me as more than a friend, settled for friendship, but then let the friendship fade away as they started dating people. My boyfriend has no problem with my having guy friends, but my guy friends drop me once they find a girl to date. I'm left feeling like I've wasted my time and energy.
Last year, I introduced my best guy friend to a good female friend. They hit it off and started dating. She soon stopped speaking to me, and he became very closed-off and awkward around me. When I asked him why everything was so weird, he would only tell me that she was uncomfortable with our spending so much time together. I live 10 minutes from him; she lives six hours away.
Is it, in fact, possible for a man and a woman to spend time together without causing jealousy from one or both significant others?
I Really Just Want to Be Friends
A: You "really just want to be friends," but these guy friends really just wanted to be your boyfriend, and agreed to be Mr. Congeniality so they could mill around and try to change your mind.
Men and women in that configuration can be friends, but only if Mr. Congeniality loses all interest in you romantically. As long as that interest in you smolders, it distracts them from the necessary business of falling for women who will fall for them.
And because people are not the complete idiots our rush-hour driving habits would suggest, these as-yet-not-fallen-for women recognize you as an obstacle to that outcome. Awkwardness and distancing ensue.
So, yes, men and women (whose partners aren't insecure) can be great friends, when that's all both of them want.