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Giving negative friend another chance might help clear the air, too

Giving friend another chance might help clear the air, too

Q: I switched jobs last year but remained friends with three co-workers. I've stayed very close to two of them. Today I met up for lunch with the third, "Rachel," and she spent the whole time making very negative comments about "Becky."

Becky is one of my closest friends and believes she's good friends with Rachel. Rachel not only complained about her mistaken belief that Becky is lazy, but also complained that Becky likes to tag along with her to Jewish social events. Rachel and I are both Jewish; Becky is not. I have occasionally extended an invitation to Becky, since I don't see these events as exclusive. Rachel isn't mad at me for inviting Becky but is livid that Becky would even consider showing up. I find this extremely discriminatory.

Should I drop Rachel as a friend? We don't have much in common, but she's gone through a really rough time with the death of a parent, and I'd feel horrible abandoning her.

Dumping a friend

A: When someone bad-mouths your closest friend and believes things you find "extremely discriminatory," it's hard to argue for maintaining the friendship. However, if Rachel's behavior today doesn't square with her attitudes and actions of the past, then consider giving her a second chance, on the theory that her grief was also at lunch with you today, in the form of uncharacteristic and misplaced hostility.

Another argument for another chance: It'll allow you to say what you apparently didn't this time. "Rachel, I'm not comfortable with this topic. Becky is one of my closest friends, and I know she thinks highly of you, too."

That would have been a three-way solid — good for you, Becky and Rachel — since it would have clarified your loyalties. It also would have presented Rachel with a choice: Be more politic about her complaints, or prepare for them to find their way back to Becky.

Girlfriend's blame game raises questions about her personality

Q: I was asked for relationship advice by a friend of my girlfriend. I gave what I thought was good advice, which led to said friend breaking up with her boyfriend. Rightly so; he was cheating.

Fast-forward six months, and now this friend and the cheater are getting back together. And my girlfriend is ticked because her friend is distancing herself because of the advice I gave, and it's all my fault that her social group is falling apart. So what should I do now?

Am I a Horse's Patoot?

A: The nature of advice and the fact of adult autonomy combine to reduce your liability here to almost nothing. You say you thought it was good advice; if you gave it with care and without a hidden agenda, then you served as nothing more than one of many sources of information.

The friend herself is not distancing herself because you said something stupid; she's distancing herself because she knows she's doing something stupid.

Unless your girlfriend is completely blind, she knows her friend is the one straining the social ties, but she's blaming you anyway. Why? Is she punitive or easily tempted by scapegoats or otherwise inclined to dump on whoever's convenient?

Giving negative friend another chance might help clear the air, too 02/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 11, 2012 3:30am]
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