Fractured Friendships blogs en Friendship and Money: Minimizing Losses Given the uncertainties of the global economy and the high rates of unemployment, money seems to be on everyone’s minds these days. This is the second part of a two-part interview on <b>Friendship and Money</b> with MSN Money columnist <a href="">Emma Johnson</a>. Part I of this interview can be found here: <a href="/blog/friendship-and-money-shes-fired-youre-not">She’s Fired, You’re Not.<br /> <br /> </a><b>How do economic inequities between friends affect relationships?</b><br /> <br /> In a perfect world, money wouldn’t affect friendships. But there are a few things going on here. For one, in our culture we measure success in terms of professional accomplishments and money, and we often judge ourselves by these sticks. So when one friend gets ahead financially, another might start feeling left behind and less successful all around.<br /> <br /> The other thing that happens is that money often has a big impact on our lifestyles. When one friend starts making big bucks, she might move to a tonier zip code, start worrying about private schools for their kids, and spend weekends researching a second home to buy. This is her new life. The friend from way-back-when can’t identify with these new concerns, and vice versa. These are not trivial differences and can create big rifts in how people relate.<br /> <br /> There are practical considerations, too, depending on the relationship. If a pair of friends is in the habit of spending money together – be it dinners out, shopping or vacationing – that can all come to a grinding halt once one party can no longer afford it. Worse, the unemployed woman may feel the need to now live beyond her means just to keep that much-needed friendship alive.<br /> <br /> <b>Should women talk openly with each other about their financial woes or those of their partners? Why?</b><br /> <br /> I believe we all need someone to talk to about the important things in our lives. We’ve been raised to believe that talking about money is impolite, but it is such an important part of our lives – and often our worries – that the practice of bottling up all our money woes might just be at the root our country’s lousy financial habits.<br /> <br /> Blabbing about the nitty-gritty of your income, credit card statements, taxes and inheritances is probably not a great idea most of the time, but there are no holds barred when you have a really truly great friend who will not judge you, will give you some tough love when needed and, most importantly, listen. On the other hand, if you’re tickled because your husband got a raise, your great aunt died and left you a chunk of change and you found a wad of cash in your attic, remember: no one likes a braggart.<br /> <br /> <b>Are there circumstances when you should lend a girlfriend money to keep her afloat? What are the perils? What safeguards would help preserve the friendship?</b><br /> <br /> Lending money to a friend or relative is always a tough situation, and can be a real stressor in the relationship. Whenever you get together, the money will be on everyone’s mind, but no one will talk about it. And there is no better way to create resentment than to have an unpaid debt between parties.<br /> <br /> If you do decide to lend money, write up a contract signed by both friends, and have it include terms of the loan, repayment dates, interest, etc. But lending money should be a business decision, not an emotional one, and that is tricky between friends. Ask yourself: <br /> <br /> <ul> <li>What is this person’s financial history? </li> <li>What is the likelihood they will be gainfully employed soon?</li> <li>Is the loan for a true emergency or basic living expenses, or something frivolous?</li> <li>And perhaps most important, Will this loan put my own finances in peril?</li> </ul> <br /> In an article I wrote for <a href="">Psychology Today</a> about friendship and money, I profiled a woman who made all her own money and had a very modest existence, one she shared with a girlfriend who later came into a significant inheritance. The newly rich friend felt guilty about it and insisted on treating her friend to meals out, vacations and trips to the mall – which the working woman resented very much. They were able to talk it though, but that financial inequality proved to be a big deal.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <i><a href="">Emma Johnson</a> is a New York journalist who writes about business, finance and money topics for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and Psychology Today. Her series on MSN Money, “Jump Start Your Life,” explores money topics for people in their 20s and 30s.</i><br /> economic turndown Economy Emma Johnson female friend female friendship finances firing friendship and money loans MSN Money Psychology Today She&#039;s fired stress Unemployment you&#039;re not Tue, 03 Mar 2009 01:46:44 +0000 Irene 291 at Choosing one over another <p> There are many times when girlfriends have to choose one friend over another (for example, you can only have one maid-of-honor)---and decisions like this aren't always easy. </p> <p> Read Andrea Boyarsky's article in the Staten Island Advance, <a href=";coll=1">Delivering the Big Hurt</a>, where she asks me and some other experts to weigh in on the issue... </p> Andrea Boyasrky bridesmaids fractured friendships godparents maid of honor parties Staten Island Advance wedding Sun, 01 Mar 2009 02:58:35 +0000 Irene 290 at Fractured Friendships - A Reminder By hitting the <b>SUBSCRIBE</b> button on the right, you can receive blog entries from <a href="">The Friendship Blog</a> (Fractured Friendships) in your mailbox as soon they are posted. <br /> <br /> If you haven’t been checking in here regularly, you may have missed some of these posts that appeared this month:<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/co-rumination-it-healthy-adolescents-rehash-their-boy-problems">Co-rumination: Is it healthy for adolescents to rehash their boy problems?</a><br /> A research study looks at the impact of adolescent girls who constantly talk to one another about guy problems<br /> <a href="/blog/bonding-when-things-go-bad"><br /> Bonding when things go bad</a><br /> A post about a female support group called Dating a Banker Anonymous (the women who started the group later admitted that their story, published in the New York Times, was an exaggeration)<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/reader-q-love-possessed">Reader Q &amp; A: By love possessed</a><br /> A reader writes about her overly-possessive friend<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/good-enough-friend">A &quot;good enough&quot; friend</a><br /> A reader is haunted by a friend who has told her she isn’t “good enough”<br /> <a href="/blog/girlfriendology-inspiring-female-friendships"><br /> Girlfriendology: Inspiring Female Friendships</a><br /> An interview with Debra Hauppert, the girl behind Girlfriendology, an online community for women that aims to celebrate, appreciate and inspire women<br /> <a href="/blog/better-or-worse-weddings-and-friendship"><br /> For Better or For Worse: Weddings and Friendship</a><br /> Part 1 of an interview with wedding expert Sharon Naylor, author of 35 wedding books<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/ettiquette-what-say-and-what-do-when-your-frien">What to do and say when your friend gets a pink slip</a><br /> A link to my podcast on Girlfriendology on how to handle a friend who gets fired<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/shes-just-not-you-six-ways-know-when-girlfriends-frenemy">She's Just Not That Into You: Six ways to know when a girlfriend's a frenemy</a><br /> My advice on how to recognize a friend who’s not a friend <br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/friendship-book-second-chance-jane-green">Friendship by the Book: Second Chance by Jane Green</a><br /> My thoughts about this latest book by chick-lit author Jane Green<br /> <a href="/blog/valentines-day-not-just-lovers"><br /> Valentine's Day: Not Just for Lovers</a><br /> A new look at what Valentine’s Day means to friends, a memorial tribute to my dad<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/double-trouble-losing-two-friends-once">Double Trouble: Losing two friends at once</a><br /> A reader writes about her misfortune of losing two close friends in close succession<br /> <a href="/blog/better-or-worse-weddings-and-friendship-part-ii"><br /> For Better or For Worse: Weddings and Friendship - Part II</a><br /> The second part of my interview with wedding expert, Sharon Naylor<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/just-do-it-putting-fractured-friendship-behind-you">Just Do It: Putting a fractured friendship behind you</a><br /> A reader expresses her discomfort in getting past a friendship that has fallen apart<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/reader-q-unable-let-go">Reader Q &amp; A: Unable to let go</a><br /> A reader is unable to let go of a toxic friend who always causes her great pain<br /> <br /> <a href="/blog/friendless-seattle">Friendless in Seattle</a><br /> How can a middle-aged woman be unable to keep a friend?<br /> <a href="/blog/friendship-and-money-shes-fired-youre-not"><br /> Friendship and Money: She's fired, you're not</a><br /> The first part of an interview with journalist Emma Johnson, who covers money and finance topics for<br /> <a href="/blog/writer-asks-how-could-my-colleague-and-friend-undermine-me"><br /> A writer asks: How could my colleague and friend undermine me?<br /> </a>A colleague of mine expresses her disappointment at being shafted by a writer-friend<br /> <a href="/blog/till-kids-do-us-part-kristina-sauerwein-babycentercom-interviews-me-about-pregnancy-motherhood-"><br /> Till Kids Do Us Part: A interview on pregnancy, motherhood and friendship</a><br /> Kristina Sauerwein’s two-part interview with me on<br /> <br /> And the month still isn’t over! Well, it almost is---and if you live in the Northeast like me, we'll all be happy when the bitter winter months morph into spring.<br /> <br /> My blog readership is on a steady ascent, thanks to you. My book is slated for publication by <a href="">Overlook Press</a> this coming September, finally.<br /> <br /> Please continue to visit <a href="">my blog</a> and share your questions, comments, anecdotes, stories and thoughts about your friendships (including the ones that got away)---and to share the URL with your real friends, <a href="">Facebook</a> friends, and <a href="">MySpace</a> friends.<br /> <br /> I'd also very much appreciate your signing up to be my fan on <a href="">The Huffington Post</a> and chiming in there when you have something to add.<br /> <br /> In friendship,<br /> Irene<br /> February 2009 fractured friendships friendship blog subscribe subscription Fri, 27 Feb 2009 15:00:36 +0000 Irene 289 at Till Kids Do Us Part: A interview on pregnancy, motherhood and friendship <p> Every passage of a woman’s life poses unique challenges to her friendships—but pregnancy and motherhood are among the most risky. Pregnant women are notoriously self-centered and moody, traits that can be off-putting even to people who love them. <br /> <br /> Also, motherhood is such a huge time-sucker that it greatly reduces (and sometimes eliminates) opportunities to spend relaxed time with friends (or to shave your legs, tweeze your eyebrows, or bathe). Finally, another reason why motherhood can wreck a close friendship: Mothers fall hopelessly in love with their newborns, leaving little emotional space for other people in their lives. <br /> <br /> Yet, the value of friendships during every phase of life, especially during pregnancy and motherhood, can’t be measured. Solid friendships provide new moms and moms-to-be with confidence, advice, support and pleasure. <br /> <br /> This is why I was delighted to speak with <a href="">Kristina Sauerwein</a>, who blogs on <a href=""></a>. The name of her <a href="">Momformation Blog</a>, Balancing Acts, aptly characterizes the life of any new mother who recognizes that she has never juggled quite as many balls as she does now. <br /> <br /> The first part of the recently posted interview is called <a href="">You Were Close Friends and Then You Had Kids</a>.<br /> <br /> The second part of the interview is entitled, <a href="">Should You Break Up with Your Friend</a>?<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> If you are interested in this subject, you may want to glance at a couple of previous related posts on my blog: <a href="/blog/new-kid-block-mastering-motherhood-friendship-mix">New Kid on the Block: Mastering the Motherhood-Friendship Mix</a> and <a href="/blog/motherhood-a-friendship-killer">Motherhood is a Friendship Killer</a>. </p> <p> Are you a new mom or mom-to-be with questions or dilemmas about a friendship? Write to me at <a href=""></a> and I'll try to answer all of them.  </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> babies balance Balancing Acts female friends friendship infants Kristina Sauerwein media moodiness motherhood passages Pregnancy Fri, 27 Feb 2009 00:38:47 +0000 Irene 287 at A writer asks: How could my colleague and friend undermine me? <p> <b>QUESTION:</b> </p> <p> Dear Irene, <br /> <br /> I’m an award-winning author with a friendship dilemma. A long time friend has definitely hurt my feelings. She told one of my clients whose memoir I’m writing that she’d Googled my agent and that he was basically a “nobody,” casting doubts upon my agent’s ability to broker a deal on his book and the likeliness of film rights. <br /> <br /> It sowed seeds of doubt with my client and caused me a lot of unnecessary time trying to defend my agent who is actually one of the most powerful in the business. In fact, he doesn’t have a website and intentionally keeps a low profile because he’s exclusive and takes on new authors by referral only.<br /> <br /> She also told my client that I’m “just a ghost writer,” which is not an accurate account of my abilities and I felt it was said in a disparaging manner and insinuated that she doubted I could pull off a project of this scope. My dilemma is whether or not to send her the note setting the record straight, along with a list of my agent’s top-tier clients. <br /> <br /> I am hurt and astonished by her behavior. Should I confront her, or do as my husband counsels and simply have the revenge of a bestseller and boatloads of money from film rights. What are your thoughts? I’m feeling blue, fatigued and having a hard time jumping back into my assignments after this disappointment.<br /> <br /> I haven’t responded to her latest email which is all chatty and thanking me for recommending a good book doctor for her manuscript. I don’t have it in me today. <br /> <br /> Signed,<br /> Kaila<br /> <br /> ANSWER: </p> <p> Dear Kaila, <br /> <br /> I can well understand your feelings of hurt and disappointment. It’s sad when a friend has to tear you down to build herself up. Your “friend” has undermined you with your client, either because she is competitive and envious of your success or because she is clueless and has bad judgment. In either case, you have a friendship problem.<br /> <br /> I think that this one will be hard, if not impossible, to remedy. If her envy is the problem, that is something SHE can work on but there isn’t much you can do yourself to make her less envious of you. If she has bad judgment and loose lips, can you trust her enough to involve her or even let her know about your business dealings in the future?<br /> <br /> It’s absolutely necessary for you to educate your client about your confidence in your agent---and you’ve learned an important lesson about your friend. You have the choice of cutting her off from you completely or trying to redefine the relationship by setting clear boundaries about what you can comfortably tell her and what you can’t. Perhaps, you need to stay clear of any discussions about your work. But squelching communication about such an important element of your life may doom the friendship. The ball is in your court. Whether your friendship survives this betrayal will be determined by the strength of your ties to one another and how meaningful this friendship is to you overall.<br /> <br /> Best of luck with your book!<br /> <br /> Sincerely,<br /> Irene </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <i><b>Do you have a friendship dilemma that you would like advice about?</b> Use the contact tab above to send your question to me. I try to respond to as many queries as possible; you need not use your real name. If it is bothering you, you can bet that someone else is having similar problems.<br /> </i> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> author betrayal boundaries competition envy female Friends friendship reader Q &amp; A relationships undermine work writer Wed, 25 Feb 2009 14:52:23 +0000 Irene 286 at Friendship and Money: She's fired, you're not <p> Any major life change--including an unexpected job loss or other threat to economic security--can increase the risk of a once-close friendship falling apart. As such, the global recession is challenging untold numbers of female friendships. In the first of a two-part series, I interviewed journalist <a href="">Emma Johnson</a>, who covers money and finance topics for and other national publications, to find out her thoughts on this topic: </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <b>In the current economic climate, where job loss is rife, how can getting a pink slip or being furloughed challenge friendships? </b><br /> <br /> Women can be very competitive with each other. Traditionally women have competed for male attention and loyalty. The species depended upon it. The more women's sexual partners were loyal to them, the better off the women and their children would be since men were the breadwinners and women had few economic opportunities.<br /> <br /> But the game is different today. We compete in other areas of our lives, including professionally. Even if we aren't in direct professional competition with our girlfriends, that rivalry can still be there. Of course it isn't always the case, but it often is, and worst of all, most of the time we don't realize it.<br /> <br /> So if two friends are engaged in even a friendly contest about who's ahead in her career, a layoff can give the other woman the edge in this unspoken game. That can create resentment from the unemployed party--who is already distraught about her new economic situation. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <b>How can women minimize the risk of losing their friendships if one friend is spiraling downward economically?</b> </p> <p> <br /> I'm a big fan of talking it out, though all the psychology experts don't agree with that. If the employed friend can say, &quot;I'm so sorry you are going through this. What can I do to be supportive?&quot; Then, give her friend some time to think about what she needs; that can go a long way. Likewise, the unemployed friend might need to talk to her friend and say, &quot;I'm really worried about money right now. Would you mind if we find some less expensive ways to spend time together until I get back on my feet?&quot;<br /> <br /> There are other things to think about. Unemployment and financial worries are top factors in stress, sleep loss and depression, which can take a big toll on one's overall well-being, including their relationships. If everyone is aware of the realities of the situation, tough times can strengthen friendships. But the working friend needs to be willing to be supportive, and sometimes the friend in the tough situation needs to allow themselves to be vulnerable and cared for.<br /> <br /> To be continued... </p> <p> <i><a href="/">Emma Johnson</a> is a New York journalist who writes about business, finance and money topics for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and Psychology Today. Her series on MSN  Money, &quot;Jump Start Your Life,&quot; explores money topics for people in their 20s and 30s. </i> </p> <p> *A version of this post appears on <a href="">The Huffington Post </a> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> economic turndown Economy Emma Johnson female female friends finances firing friendship money pink slip relationships stress Unemployment women Wed, 25 Feb 2009 02:13:39 +0000 Irene 285 at Friendless in Seattle <p> Why would a middle-aged woman not be able to keep a friend? </p> <p> Read my latest reader query on that topic on <a href="">The Huffington Post.</a> </p> Bonding female friendships Friendless Healthy Relationships Huffington Post making friends meeting people no friends prospecting reader Q &amp; A relationships Seattle Stickiness Mon, 23 Feb 2009 21:33:57 +0000 Irene 284 at Reader Q & A: Unable to let go <b>QUESTION:<br /> </b><br /> Dear Irene,<br /> <br /> About a year and a half ago I broke up with a friend and I'm still not over it. I was hoping you could offer some insight. I’ve known this girl since 6th grade when she stopped speaking to me over some boy. We became friends again in 7th grade but she always needed a new best friend. She moved out of state in 8th grade and made me promise to go to college in her state.<br /> <br /> Well, I did move there and got married (she got married too). The four of us would hang out some but she did the same things as she did in elementary school: she'd just stop calling or she would ask for rides or a babysitter when she needed something and we'd be there to help. But if we needed something she'd just whine and complain. We moved a couple times within the same city and she was always negative about were we lived, saying we lived in a bad neighborhood (when we didn't and we had a brand new house).<br /> <br /> Finally my husband and I stopped speaking to them because we felt like we were being used. About 3 years later, I started feeling guilty so I called her to see how she was and she was happy to hear from me. We started hanging out again and things seemed all right. I actually helped her to get a job at the same place where I worked with my husband. <br /> <br /> My husband and I started to have problems and were considering a divorce. It turns out that she HATED my husband. She kept encouraging me to divorce him and spread rumors about him at work. Apparently she was talking about me, too, and spreading our personal problems to everyone we worked with. It made work very uncomfortable but she denied saying anything. She told me I shouldn't have told her any of my problems if I didn't want them to be known!<br /> <br /> I ended up getting my own place and separating from my husband. I was very depressed and could hardly get out of bed. She was always mad at me for not “snapping out of it”. I eventually went to a doctor and got on anti-depressants and starting seeing a therapist, but she kept talking about me, saying that the anti-depressants weren’t good for me. She told me that I needed to convert to her religion to find happiness and get over the depression.<br /> <br /> I agreed to go to church with her a few times but after a couple months decided it wasn't the place for me. When I began studying with a Rabbi she began saying horrible things about Jewish people and constantly told me how “sorry” she was that I was going to hell. I ended up moving out of state for a new job and to start a new life: I had planned to remain friends with her and talk to her from out of state.<br /> <br /> Once I moved, she started sending me bible tracts and told me that Hebrew was a “bad language” to learn. Then I received an email with childish insults and name calling from both her and her husband. I just couldn't take it anymore and didn't want to fight, or call names so I just stop talking to her altogether. I deleted all the emails I got from her without ever reading them and changed my phone number.  Now she has befriended my mother on Facebook and constantly leaves my mom messages about how great she is. I feel like she's crossed the line by trying to be friends with my mom or she's displaying some passive aggressive behavior.<br /> <br /> I feel a lot of guilt over this and feel like it is immature for me to stop being friends with someone. My life has improved A LOT since I stopped being friends with her and my self-esteem has climbed. Should I feel guilty over this? I feel like it is something that some middle school girls would do but I never imagined adults would stop speaking like this. Should I say something to her about being Facebook friends with my mom? Or do I just let this go?<br /> <br /> Signed,<br /> Unable to Let Go<br /> <br /> <b>ANSWER:</b><br /> <br /> Dear Unable to Let Go,<br /> <br /> I hope that by posting your dilemma on this blog and reading it in black-and-white, it helps clarify your answer to the question you posed: Should I just let this go? When other women write about their friendship dilemmas, the answers are often in shades of gray. This one isn’t.<br /> <br /> It sounds like your ex-friend has been possessive, self-centered, negative and controlling from the time she was an adolescent and she still hasn’t outgrown it. While you tolerated her for some time, you and your husband appropriately decided to end the relationship. The same attitudes and behaviors you overlooked in middle school were less acceptable when you saw them appear in an adult.<br /> <br /> Like most women, you tried to put a positive spin on your friendship when you attempted to renew it three years later. Then your friend began to encourage you to leave your husband, spread rumors about you and your husband to your colleagues, and betrayed confidences about you to people at work. I can’t help but think that she was alienating you from him and your co-workers so she could have you for herself again. Then she tried to dictate your religious beliefs and showed little sensitivity to or understanding of your values or emotions. Besides, people generally don’t “snap out” of a clinical depression.<br /> <br /> Don’t you remember you changed your phone number to avoid contact wit her and even deleted her emails? Why would you ever feel guilty for cutting off a friendship like this one? You deserve so much better.<br /> <br /> Why would you want to re-friend someone who has been such a negative influence? Yes, she crossed the line by trying to befriend your mom and there is no point in initiating contact with her over this. However, you should let your mother know how nasty your friend has been to you so she doesn’t get sucked in. The rules of friendship on Facebook are often pretty murky but I would think your mother wouldn’t want to maintain a relationship with your ex-friend if she knew how much pain she had caused you.<br /> <br /> Clearly, you are feeling happier and more self-confident since you broke off with her. Yet you are guilty and ashamed about separating from a long-time friend. You seem to be tied to they myth that “best friends are forever” but generally, this isn’t the case. Being able to let go, in this situation, wouldn’t be immature; in fact, it would be a sign of your maturity. You need to let go and move on. This woman sounds like a toxic friend.<br /> <br /> Hope this is helpful.<br /> <br /> My best,<br /> Irene<br /> best friend Best Friends Forever controlling depression ending a relationship Facebook female friendships guilt hard time letting go negative possessive reader Q &amp; A self-centered shame toxic women Sun, 22 Feb 2009 21:24:50 +0000 Irene 282 at Just Do It: Putting a fractured friendship behind you <p> <b>QUESTION:</b> </p> <p> Hi,                                           <br /> <br /> A few years ago, I was a roommate with a woman I will call Marta. She found me by looking at rentals in the paper. She was newly divorced and we became fast friends. I introduced her to my extensive group of friends. <br /> <br /> She moved out after I got engaged. We were still friends until we shared a house again after my divorce. I will not go into detail but it did not work out. She seemed to berate me a lot and accused me of stealing. She also is extremely negative and was only in a good mood when she was tipsy. I felt scared and anxious around her so I stayed away which only made her angrier.  <br /> <br /> I moved out last May. I sent her an email in September saying we both did things we are not proud of but I wanted to get together IN PERSON to talk about it and put it behind us. I still have not heard from her. <br /> <br /> I introduced her to a lot of my friends and they became her friends. When I see her at gatherings, I say hello but that is it; she has made it clear she does not want to engage. How do you repair a friendship enough so that other friends are not uncomfortable when you are around each other?  I am reading a book called <i>Forgiveness is a Choice </i>and it seems to be helping.<br /> <br /> Ciao,<br /> Eliza<br /> <br /> <b>ANSWER:</b> </p> <p> Hi Eliza, </p> <p> <br /> Let go of this relationship! It doesn’t sound worth saving. You are describing a “friend” who acted suspicious, angry and negative---and who made you feel quite uncomfortable. You don’t need to do a psychological autopsy of your relationship with Marta to put it behind you; just end it and take away the friendship lessons you’ve learned, both good and bad.<br /> <br /> Since you share a circle of friends, it’s best to act cordially to Marta but keep your distance. Say hello---and smile if it feels natural---but don’t go any closer or deeper than that. No one else will be uncomfortable in your presence unless they sense that you are. <br /> <br /> Guard against saying anything disparaging about Marta to your other friends; it will only reflect badly upon you and they are already in a position to make their own judgments about her. With the passage of time, I hope things will get easier for you.<br /> <br /> Best,<br /> Irene<br /> </p> anxiety Circle of Friends ending female fractured friendship friendship psychological autopsy reader Q &amp; A roommate suspicious Fri, 20 Feb 2009 12:48:17 +0000 Irene 281 at For Better or For Worse: Weddings and Friendship - Part II Marriage is a milestone that often alters a couple’s relationship with each other, as well as with those around them. For the new bride, it can herald profound changes in her relationships with girlfriends.<br /> <br /> In a <a href="/blog/better-or-worse-weddings-and-friendship">recent post</a> (February 9, 2008), I interviewed wedding expert <a href="">Sharon Naylor</a> about the challenges that planning “the big day” poses to the bride’s friendships. In this follow-up, I asked Sharon about the impact of marriage on female friendships.<br /> <b><br /> How does the transition from being single to being married affect a woman’s relationships with single friends?</b><br /> <br /> It changes the dynamics of the relationship a LOT. Depending on how frustrated the single friend is with her dating life, and how envious she is of your good fortune in finding true love, it can be a very trying time for her…and thus for your friendship. <br /> <br /> If you’re the first friend of hers to get married, that can be traumatic because the issue of marriage is now Out There, bringing pressure to her life. And if many of your friends have gotten married, she may REALLY be feeling pressured because you’re another in a long list of her former single friends to ‘win the prize’ while she is still waiting for hers.<br /> <b><br /> What can the new bride do to minimize tension? </b><br /> <br /> The solution here is to nurture or create a dimension in this friendship that is not about dating or relationships at all. And this is a tough task, because some brides find that the only thing they had in common with some friends is the topic of dating, the drive to couple up.<br /> <br /> It might be that these friends went out to clubs or had 99% of their conversations revolve around bad blind dates and online dating profiles, breakups and breakdowns. Some female friendships are bonded by the drama of dating life. And when you exit dating life, there’s a big void in the friendship. Yes, you’ve been out of dating world for the entire time you’ve been with your fiancé, but this sad single friend hasn’t heard the door slam closed until your engagement. Not that she was hoping you’d break up. It just wasn’t completely official yet. And she may feel abandoned in her singleness.<br /> <br /> <b>What responses might you anticipate from the girlfriend(s) you leave behind? How might she be feeling?</b><br /> <br /> “You’re not going to want to go out anymore,” worries the single friend, who also might be slapping on a big, fake smile when you talk about your fiancé’s romantic birthday plans for you, or what you’re doing on Valentine’s Day. If this friend has been overly dependent on you, if you were the only egg in her basket, your marriage is bad, bad news for her. <br /> <br /> <b></b>Your friend is now alone in her quest, with no true allies, and may feel like she’s slipped to the bottom of the totem pole. And you might find that you no longer enjoy her sad-sack company, her complaints, her refusal to raise the bar and pursue men who are better for her. You might not want to entertain her pity parties anymore. So the friendship…like any relationship that has no common bonds…can fade away.<br /> <br /> <b>How can you minimize the inherent risks to the friendship?</b><br /> <br /> If you do wish to nurture the friendship, start by subtly creating new shared interests, such as asking your friend to sign up for an aromatherapy class, or get a museum membership so that you can go to exhibits and lectures, or sign on for dance classes at the gym you both go to. Exchange novels you’ve both loved and talk about them over coffee. Add new facets to the friendship so that it can survive your change in status. Such variety and shared interests are healthy for any relationship, especially female friendships. <br /> <br /> With new dimensions, you might not mind your friend’s occasional dating dramas so much…they could make you feel grateful for your new husband as well as give you a satisfying feeling of being a supportive friend. You’ve just transformed that into a smaller percentage of your relationship.<br /> <br /> <b>Can matchmaking efforts help keep a female friendship intact?</b><br /> <br /> One mistake newlyweds make is wanting to set single friends up with all of their friends. Sure, the intentions are good, wanting your friend to be as happy as you are, but unless the friend is truly enthusiastic about your help, you might put too much pressure on her to endure the company of a guy friend who’s not right for her, and you two as a couple could get embroiled in their relationship issues. <br /> <br /> It’s far better to invite your friend to events where she might meet someone. That’s where your newlywed life could be of great benefit to her. You’re not pushing, choosing, dodging news of a breakup, keeping secret the fact that the guy you introduced to her is also seeing three other girls, etc.<br /> <b><br /> Why is it important to focus on friendships after your wedding day?</b><br /> <br /> Having many healthy female friendships with positive women who inspire you and add many gifts to your life makes you a better spouse with a full life of your own. Your man is not the only egg in your basket, so to speak. You’re not overly dependent on him. Your circle of friends is a strength in your life, and studies show that having a great sense of community is good for your health, keeps stress down, strengthens your heart, and has many other perks.<br /> <br /> <b>Any other comments you would like to make about female friendships after marriage, Sharon?</b><br /> <br /> The sad reality is that sometimes they don’t survive because you no longer have anything in common. Or, a bridesmaid acted so jealous and rude at your wedding that you never want to speak with her again. It was the last straw. Or you just drift from single friends, or some friends voluntarily get absorbed into their new husbands’ worlds and abandon their own friends as the incarnation of their New Life. <br /> <br /> Friendships have a life cycle, and they do depend on mutual commitment and shared evolution to survive as long as they’re meant to---for as long as they’re healthy for both parties. A wedding, being such a huge life transition, naturally tests all manner of female friendships, with some friendships getting stronger and some falling away.<br /> <br /> When I got married in April, my closest friends from college were my bridesmaids. They all traveled from distant states to be there, and our friendships were strengthened partly because we stayed so close through phone and e-mail conversations for years…we saw each other perhaps once a year due to our busy lives, but the connections we’ve always had were strong. <br /> <br /> Being together, walking through my neighborhood as cherry blossom petals came raining down on us, then sharing the wedding day and seeing our husbands bond like brothers has reignited our need to see each other more. We’re all turning 40 this year, so we’re meeting at a resort town halfway between our home states, staying in a haunted bed-and-breakfast, shopping, going to wineries, and having a fabulous couples’ getaway to mark the big 4-0. Fortunately, my friends’ tenure as bridesmaids, even from a distance, further solidified our bond, and now we’re adding more dimension to our friendship by making it a priority to plan more face-time.<br /> <i><br /> <br /> Sharon Naylor is the author of over 35 wedding books, including <a href=";tag=thefrieblogfr-20&amp;link_code=as3&amp;camp=211189&amp;creative=373489&amp;creativeASIN=1598698176">The Bride’s Survival Guide</a>, and has been featured on Good Morning America, Lifetime, ABC News, The Morning Show With Mike &amp; Juliet, and in InStyle Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, Modern Bride, Southern Bride and many additional magazines. She is the iVillage Weddings expert and <a href="">Planning in Peace</a> blogger, as well as a top columnist for Bridal Guide.</i><br /> bride bridesmaid female friendship fractured friendships lifecycle marriage matchmaking newlywed Planning in Peace Sharon Naylor tension The Bride’s Survival Guide transition wedding Wed, 18 Feb 2009 03:20:10 +0000 Irene 280 at Double Trouble: Losing two friends at once <p> <b>QUESTION:</b> </p> <p> Hi Irene,<br /> <br /> This is a strange tale and quite honestly if I knew what to make of it all, I wouldn’t be writing. I have two best friends: the first (BF1), a girl I grew up with and with whom I have a very deep and social relationship; the second (BF2), a girl with whom I went to University and have a close relationship like a sister.<br /> <br /> I moved in with BF2 last year after I moved away from my hometown where BF1 lived, but I was only a 20-minute drive away so I didn’t think this would be a problem. I was used to spending every weekend and holiday with BF1 (BF2 lived further away until we moved in together). It is worth pointing out that BF1 has had an issue with BF2 in the past over something trivial.  <br /> <br /> BF1 kept cancelling dates with me and many months were going by and I had only seen her twice. She told me she might not be coming to my birthday party as her office party was the night before and she might be hung over. Devastated, I wrote an email telling her I was sad she couldn’t come, and asked if she wanted to talk to me about what had been going on over the past 8 months as I missed her. She responded with vitriol telling me that I thought I was too good for her and how dare I say she was a bad friend.<br /> <br /> I responded with an immediate apology. I said I was deeply sorry for whatever hurt I had caused and I wanted to sort this out as our ten-year friendship was worth so much to me. I was met with silence. I have since pleaded with her on five occasions via text and email to speak to me to sort this out but I have never gotten a response.<br /> <br /> BF2 knew how devastated I was about what had happened and even went so far as to say how angry she was with BF1. BF2 and I went on holiday last summer and one night she exploded at me telling me that I was an emotional drain and she couldn’t stand me sometimes. I cried and begged her not to be so cruel but she continued by saying that nobody tells me what they think of me so she was going to.<br /> <br /> She was shouting that I take everything I have for granted (the back story of this was I was a model and she apparently has an &quot;issue&quot; with this). She had recently been dumped it is worth pointing out. I responded trying to calm her down, saying that I understood she was under a lot of pressure at work and the situation with her ex had been dreadful and that I was always here for her. Maybe I should have just shouted back, I don’t know.<br /> <br /> Anyway since then, I quit my job. I had the extremely distressing incident of being sexually assaulted at work then driven out of my job. The perpetrator was my boss. To make ends meet, I had taken a job that BF2 apparently didn’t agree with morally. This job does not affect her in any way; I kept it very separate from our friendship together. <br /> <br /> However, she now won’t even spend time with me. She spends every weekend with someone else. She never wants to talk to me anymore, is moving out, and she is planning her birthday without me. She declined to come to my parents’ anniversary party that she comes to every year, my sister’s wedding, you name it. She makes me feel disgusting. All I want is for us to be friends again. Surely, our friendship is worth saving? I would do anything for her and love her so much. <br /> <br /> I lost my childhood best friend to a violent crime when I was 19 years old so I can’t lose the only other friend I have ever loved. Do I have too? What can I do? I am so lonely now and feel like my social life is non-existent. I don’t know what I have done. I would apologize for it, if it would help. I now feel that I am a toxic person who nobody wants to love or to be close with because once they get to know me, they will discover they hate me. I know this sounds irrational but I am so low that I’m almost suicidal. Please help me.<br /> <br /> Signed,<br /> Feeling Like A Toxic Friend </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <b>ANSWER:</b> </p> <p> Hi,<br /> <br /> I’m so sorry that this has been such a difficult time for you. It is very stressful to move, experience a sexual assault, be forced out of your job, and lose your two best friends over  a relatively short period of time. The trauma of a sexual assault can be emotionally devastating, especially when the perpetrator is a boss whom you may have trusted. All of this has to be unnerving.<br /> <br /> For whatever reason, it sounds like BF1 may have felt abandoned when you moved in with BF2. But you have given her multiple opportunities to patch up your friendship and she isn’t able to do so at this point in her life. It’s always hard to give up a friendship with so much shared history but I think you need to put that one aside for now; you don’t have any other choice. You may be able to reclaim it sometime in the future.<br /> <br /> When BF2 ended her relationship with you, she did it in an unnecessarily cruel and uncaring way so I can understand how you might be reeling from it---particularly when it comes as one in a series of losses. She was very judgmental about your job choice and I’m wondering if you are uncomfortable about that choice as well.<br /> <br /> Given how lonely and depressed you feel, you should contact a mental health professional to help you work through these losses and move forward. If you have any thoughts of suicide, you should contact a suicide hotline immediately. </p> <p> Although you have a track record of being able to make and keep friends, it sounds like you have lost confidence in yourself and your ability to be a good friend. An objective person, like a therapist, may be able to help you think through and resolve the impact of these traumatic events. At the same time, try not to isolate yourself and succumb to feeling like you are toxic. Look for opportunities to be with other people, including your family and other casual friends. </p> <p> Best wishes, </p> <p> Irene </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <i>Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another. </i> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> best friend BFF depression fractured friendships job loss judgmental lonely lost friendship sexual assault suicide toxic two friends Mon, 16 Feb 2009 18:37:00 +0000 Irene 279 at Valentine's Day: Not Just for Lovers <p> The first handmade Valentine's Day cards in the 1800s weren't intended only for lovers. They also celebrated affection between friends and relatives. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> Esther Howland, one of the pioneers of the greeting card industry in the US, was charmed by an ornate English Valentine she received from a friend. So she began a business of importing lace and floral decorations from England and turned them into lacy V-Day cards. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> Howland advertised in the Worcester, Massachusetts newspaper, The Daily Spy, in 1850, and her business grew so quickly that she had to enlist friends in an assembly-line operation to meet the demand. Her sales are reported to have exceeded $100,000, a handy sum at the time for a female entrepreneur. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> On February 14th, people in Finland celebrate <b>Ystävänpäivä</b>, which is translated as Friend's Day. In Mexico, it is called the <b>Día del amor y la amistad</b>, the day of love and friendship. Admittedly, the day has been over-commercialized in the US but it still remains a fitting day to express love and appreciation, in whatever way we choose, to the important people in our lives---which, of course, includes our friends. </p> <p> <br /> <b><i>With love to my husband, son, and my dear friends who sustain me<br /> </i></b> </p> <p> <b><i>In memory to my Dad who died on Valentine's Day, 2006</i></b> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> (This is an update of a similar post on this blog from February 2008). </p> Día del amor y la amistad Esther Howland February 14th female friendships Friends friendship greeting cards The Daily Spy Valentine’s Day Ystävänpäivä Thu, 12 Feb 2009 17:28:34 +0000 Irene 278 at Friendship by the Book: Second Chance by Jane Green <p> “There’s just something about getting together with people who have always known you,” remarks Olivia, one of the thirty-something characters in <i><a href=";camp=0&amp;creative=0&amp;linkCode=as4&amp;creativeASIN=0670038571&amp;adid=1GXK72SDGBBR1FQPQENE&amp;">Second Chance</a></i> by <a href="">Jane Green</a> (Viking, 2007). <br /> <br /> With a storyline that is somewhat reminiscent of the 1983 move, <a href="">The Big Chill</a>, when a childhood friend (Tom) dies tragically, it sets the stage for four friends to come together at midlife and examine their lives and loves. This novel, by the prolific, New York Times best-selling chick-lit author Green, highlights the role that shared history plays in friendships.<br /> <br /> Although their lives have followed very different paths, the four childhood friends reconnect instantaneously. The author describes how that feels for Holly Mac, another of the protagonists: “With friends that feel more like family, not because of …closeness to them now, but because of the strength of a shared history,” writes Green. “They know her mother, she knows theirs. She knows their brothers and sisters, who they were before they adopted the mantle of adulthood…”<br /> <br /> The protagonists realize that friendships of our youth remind us not only of our past but also of the person we had always hoped to become. What I enjoyed most was the book’s treatment of weighty issues---like infertility, divorce, betrayal, loneliness, alcoholism, and maintaining one’s sense of self in a marriage---and their bearing on female friendships. </p> <p> <br /> <br /> <i>'Friendship by the Book' is an occasional series of posts on this blog about books that offer friendship lessons. To read other posts in the series, use the search function on the right side of the page.</i><br /> </p> alcoholism book divorce friendship friendship by the book infertility Jane Green Loneliness old friends retro friends Second Chance shared history The Big Chill Thu, 12 Feb 2009 14:17:38 +0000 Irene 277 at She's Just Not That Into You: Six ways to know when a girlfriend's a frenemy <p> He's Just Not That Into You decodes the rules of heterosexual dating. But the relationship between girlfriends can be just as powerful, irritating, and unfathomable as any relationship with a guy. Here are my six ways for women to recognize when &quot;she's just not that into you.&quot; </p> <p> Read my latest post on HuffPo, <a href="">SHE's Just Not That into You </a> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> ambivalence Big Talker Entertainment News female friends female friendships fractured friendships frenemy friendship Girlfriends He’s Just Not That Into You Inconsistent judgmental Mercurial movies possessiveness She’s Just Not Wed, 11 Feb 2009 20:40:41 +0000 Irene 276 at What to do and say when your friend gets a pink slip <p> Last month, I posted <a href="/">Girls with Pink Slips</a> on my blog, an article about how friends can help one another cope with the trauma of no-fault job loss, which seems to be so rampant with the downturn of the economy. Unfortunately, none of us are immune to the volatility of the current job market. </p> <p> Apropos of that post, Debba Hauppert, the founder of Girlfriendology interviewed me on the same topic. You can listen to my podcast interview which is posted on <a href="">Girlfriendology</a>. Just scroll down the page to the arrow and download the MP3 file. </p> <p> <i>To learn more about Girlfriendology, an online community based on &quot;girlfriend inspiration, appreciation, and celebration,&quot; read my <a href="/blog/girlfriendology-inspiring-female-friendships">blog interview</a> with Debba.</i> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> coping Economy firing Girlfriendology girls with pink slips job cuts job loss pink slip podcast termination Unemployment Wed, 11 Feb 2009 05:26:40 +0000 Irene 275 at For Better or For Worse: Weddings and Friendship Weddings can be taxing to any bride’s friendships. The ceremony and all the planning that leads up to it mark the beginning of an emotionally challenging life transition, and brides-to-be are often placed in the uncomfortable position of having to make choices that can hurt people’s feelings, including that of their closest friends. What are some ways to improve communication, to reduce tension, and to keep things in perspective?<br /> <br /> These issues can be so volatile that they can make friendships implode. So I couldn’t think of a better person to talk to about them than my colleague, wedding expert <a href="">Sharon Naylor</a>). Sharon is the author of over 35 wedding books, including <a href=";camp=15041&amp;creative=373501&amp;link_code=as3">The Bride’s Survival Guide</a>, and has been featured on Good Morning America, Lifetime, ABC News, The Morning Show With Mike &amp; Juliet, and in InStyle Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, Modern Bride, Southern Bride and many additional magazines. She is the iVillage Weddings expert and <a href="">Planning in Peace</a> blogger, as well as a top columnist for <a href="">Bridal Guide.</a> <br /> <br /> This is the first in a two-part dialogue with Sharon about friendship and marriage.<br /> <br /> <b>What are some of the ways that planning and executing a wedding challenge female friendships?</b><br /> <br /> When a bride invites her female friends to be in the bridal party, it’s a huge honor (“I’m one of the chosen ones!” thinks the bridesmaid, activating old memories of wanting to ‘fit in’ and be accepted as part of a group in junior high school). It’s a big validation both emotionally and publicly, since this bridesmaid will walk in an all-eyes-on-you processional as a Near-and-Dear friend. <br /> <br /> Make no mistake. No matter how mature a bridesmaid is, there’s still the thrill of being chosen. But here’s where it gets tricky. Being in a bridal party has a service element to it. It changes the whole dynamic of the bride-bridesmaid relationship because there is now a list of responsibilities included in the title. And expenses. And a personality change in the bride, who – to some degree or other – may want more in the way of support from and control over said friend. <br /> <br /> In many ways, the friendship takes on a Boss and Subordinate dynamic, depending on how power-hungry the bride gets. Some brides who have felt powerless in their lives before they get engaged take advantage of the All About Me nature of wedding-planning, and their bridesmaids feel the brunt of her neediness. And all Bridezilla behavior is just neediness. Bridesmaids entwined in a circle around a needy, pushy, controlling bride find that the friendship is tested because the bride is a different person while she’s in this role. <br /> <br /> Many bridesmaids who have to deal with drama queen or bossy brides say, “If this was the person I met in high school/college, etc., would I have chosen to be friends with her?” When the bride is texting fifty times a day, yelling at friends, complaining about her groom, being disrespectful to her mother and other heinous actions, bridesmaids are often shocked and offended. Where did THIS person come from? It often makes enough of an impression that the bridesmaid not only questions the friendship but distances herself from it. And then the bride gets angrier, feeling entitled to behave any way she pleases, and a nice big wedge is inserted in the friendship.<br /> <br /> <b>You’ve addressed some of the ways that brides can become pathological over their great day, what can happen to bridesmaids?</b><br /> <br /> To be fair, there are plenty of bridesmaids who get power-hungry and controlling in the circle of other bridesmaids, having a persona of being the Alpha Female or Queen Bee who immediately divides the bridal party into her In Group and the Out Group, causing all kinds of drama and hurt feelings, not to mention pressure on the bride. Some women just don’t grow out of a juvenile mindset, no matter what their chronological age. They’re troublemakers, and the bride knew it. But she felt she HAD to name her bully sister or best friend to a bridesmaid or maid of honor role, out of a sense of friendship or familial obligation.<br /> <br /> A stressed-out bride often blames herself for being ‘a wimp’ and naming that steamroller friend to the bridal party when she wavered over doing so. It can become quite a mess when anyone from the bride to the maid of honor to the bridesmaids do not operate under the Golden Rule, when the circle of honored ladies turns into a rugby scrum for domination. It might be full warfare and social snubbing, or it might be a specific issue such as a power struggle over bridal shower plans.<br /> <b><br /> How does money factor in---particularly in an economy like this one? </b><br /> <br /> Another element of the friendship strain between brides and bridesmaids is the fact that money is now involved. Lots of money. It’s expensive to be a bridesmaid, especially if the bride has pricey tastes in potential gowns or is planning a destination wedding that requires airfare and lodging the couple isn’t covering. The honor of being in a bridal party can put quite a squeeze on your wallet. Especially now.<br /> <br /> We’ve all read enough magazines to know that money is a loaded issue, the cause of many fights in relationships. The same is true for female friendships in wedding world. “But you should be willing to spend $300 on the dress I chose for your wedding!” says the bride, feeling entitled to anything she wants or in a misinterpreted comment because a $300 dress is actually on the lowest budget end for formal gowns at a place where alterations are included and accessories are half-priced. See how miscommunication can occur? When a bride requires a bridesmaid to spend hard-earned cash, there’s conflict afoot. With weddings, expenses mount up. It’s not just the bridal shower, the dress, the shoes, and the travel…there are gifts and additional expenses, such as a new dress to wear to the rehearsal dinner. When each unforeseen expense pops up, that bridesmaid may be simmering a fresh dose of resentment toward the bride and groom.<br /> <br /> <b>How can a bride minimize these problems (e.g. involving your friends in planning, choosing a maid-of-honor and bridesmaids, asking friends to pay for things they can't afford)?</b><br /> <br /> The most important step a bride can take to minimize ALL of these problems is to remember who she is in her friendships, and be the same person. Realize that being the bride is not a Free Pass to be demanding or to get people to jump when you say so. That said, many brides don’t realize they’re being bossy or demanding. They have a ton of things to do, they’re stressed, they’re experiencing conflict with their parents or their in-laws…being a bride is very taxing, and even the most centered bride can lose focus out of sheer exhaustion. <br /> <br /> So all of the bossy behaviors might spring from the fact that the bride is running on fumes, not intentionally treating anyone badly at all. So I suggest that the bride find a way to keep her stress in check, and nurture her friendships by planning regular girls’ get-togethers during which there will be NO wedding talk. If the bride and her friends have always gotten together for Friday post-work happy hour, keep that going as often as humanly possible. Make a note to e-mail your friends on a regular basis, just to say hello and ask what’s going on in their world. This simple step will comfort the bridesmaids, letting them know they haven’t ‘lost you,’ that you’re still in there, and that you care about them as friends, not just for what they can do for you as bridesmaids. The human element is ultra-important when you’re in wedding season with your bridesmaids.<br /> <br /> Throughout the plans, make sure you’re taking every opportunity to keep your bridesmaids’ expenses low, searching for sales, letting them know about great outlet stores or craft stores you love. Give them plenty of time to get their tasks done, and when it comes to deadline tasks such as paying their gown deposits, set earlier-than-needed deadlines to allow stragglers to deliver without stressing everyone out.<br /> <br /> At the same time, realize that there are some things you can’t control, such as a bridesmaid’s envy or bad behavior. So don’t add fuel to the fire by trying to change her. Just work around her. Communicate with her in the way you always have throughout your friendship, since you know how to handle her personality quirks. This might include saying directly to her, “I’d rather you didn’t criticize the other bridesmaids’ ideas. They don’t know you as well as I do, they don’t understand your sense of humor, and I’d hate for them to get the wrong idea about you. So please just rein it in a little bit when you’re planning with them, okay?” <br /> <br /> Always focus on *your* preferences, avoiding saying ‘everyone’s hurt’ or ‘everyone’s mad at you.’ Keep the focus off of the group dynamic or her Outsider Status and just present what you do want from her. And do it as quickly as possible. To the others who may have a problem with her, just say “I’d rather you didn’t focus so much on (bridesmaid’s) attitude. I know she can be a bit blunt, but she’s a very good friend to me – as are you – and I’d love it if you can all just get along for this brief time that you’re working together.”<br /> <br /> The bottom line: In all aspects of the wedding plans, think back to what YOU didn’t like about being someone’s bridesmaid, and vow to make the experience better for your friends.<br /> Bridal Guide bridesmaid bridesmaid economics Bridezilla female friendships interpersonal issues iVillage weddings maid of honor making choices near-and-dear friend Planning planning a wedding Sharon Naylor The Bride’s Survival Guide Weddings Mon, 09 Feb 2009 21:06:34 +0000 Irene 274 at Girlfriendology: Inspiring Female Friendships <a href="">Girlfriendology</a> is an online community for women that aims to celebrate, appreciate and inspire women with blogs, a weekly podcast and <a href="">BlogTalkRadio</a> Show (interviewing inspiring women), contests, reviews, shopping and more. <br /> <br /> I was pleased to recently interview Debba Hauppert, the “girl” behind Girlfriendology. She has a background in corporate marketing, is an award-winning author, and has been a television spokesperson and contributed to dozens of magazines. “Girlfriends make us healthier, happier, less stressed, live longer and feel more beautiful so our goal is to help women prioritize and appreciate their friendships,” says Debba.<br /> <br /> <b>Why did you start</b><br /> <br /> After a second girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer, I felt helpless and scared for them and for me. I decided to record my girlfriend love and appreciation in a blog. Wondering why I felt so strongly about friendship, I did research to justify my efforts and time. My search led me to a book that details the need for close social bonds between females (<i><a href=";camp=15041&amp;creative=373501&amp;link_code=as3">The Tending Instinct</a></i>, by Shelley S. Taylor). It gave amazing examples of how the need for female friendship is part of our DNA – we actually NEED friends. <br /> <br /> That book and the support of a great group of girlfriends energized me to grow Girlfriendology. Girlfriends make us healthier, happier, less stressed, live longer and even feel more beautiful so I somewhat look at Girlfriendology as a public service announcement or even a ‘magic pill’ to making us all live better lives – with our friends by our sides.<br /> <br /> <b>What are the most popular posts on your site?</b><br /> <br /> Each month we hold a contest where we request women’s stories about their friendships. These are then recorded in a podcast that is just good girlfriend inspiration! We also share ideas on girlfriend celebrations (like alternative ideas for Super Bowl Sunday with your girlfriends), gift ideas for girlfriends, the podcasts and BlogTalkRadio show interviews with inspiring women (like you Irene!) and more.<br /> <br /> <b>What affect has the growth of social media had on female friendships?</b><br /> <br /> I’ve spoken on women and social media to several groups, and work with companies to assist them in reaching women through social media. Research shows that women are social (who knew? Right?!)  and so we’re the future of social media. Some of us are Twitter-buddies (follow me at Girlfriendology) while others are Facebook friends and have reconnected with friends and family on Facebook and other social media sites. Social media can be an excellent way to make and stay in touch with friends. How else would we all be able to share photos of our kids, updates on our adventures and insights into our lives with so many of our friends? However, it can also be overwhelming and may even make them feel isolated because they need face-to-face connection with other women. <br /> <br /> Personally, I recommend a good mix of both. Often you can take online relationships offline by meeting your local Twitter friends or contacts from a LinkedIn group at social events or arrange meetings at conferences, etc. You can stay in touch with your local friends and family on Facebook and stay aware of their updates and more. The basics of friendship online or off are the same – to listen, care, assist and support and just be a friend to someone else. That doesn’t change so it’s still just a simple one-to-one connection.<br /> <br /> <b>What advice can you give to women who are balancing career, family, and friendship?</b><br /> <br /> One of the goals of Girlfriendology is to inspire women to ‘be the kind of friend they’d love to have.’ We really do HAVE to make time for our friends and to prioritize them. We have to make the extra effort to remember their birthdays, listen - even when we want to talk, go out of our way to make their life better and to tell them how much their friendship means to us. I know that may be overwhelming when we have crazy busy schedules but just a few of the benefits of girlfriends are stress reduction and health so spending time with your girlfriends is very much worth the time and effort.<br /> <br /> My girlfriends are very important in my own life. They really do inspire me every day and help me so much with Girlfriendology. Friends are always sharing ideas, contacts for the podcast/BlogTalkRadio show guests, etc. In addition to Girlfriendology, they help relieve me of the stress of being an overly-committed entrepreneur! I meet girlfriends Jill and Becky every week for a coffee date, I email with three college girlfriends every Friday, I connect with dozens of women on Twitter and I try to sneak in some time for walks or talks with other female friends. <br /> <br /> <b>What is the most important friendship lesson(s) you’ve learned from your readers?</b><br /> <br /> I’ve learned how friendships make us stronger. Stories submitted to us (through our monthly contest and just through comments on share sad, overwhelming and amazing tales of women helping each other through huge challenges from cancer to the loss of a child, marriage, partner or job. If not for friends, often we wouldn’t have the strength to go on, but we do, and we find that inner strength often times from a friend who helps us bring it back to life. This alone is a reminder to build friendships. Someday we may really need them or they need us and, if we’re blessed with friends, we don’t have to face hard times alone. That makes a HUGE difference.<br /> <br /> Check out <a href="">Girlfriendology</a>!<br /> BlogTalk Radio cancer contests Debba Hauppert Facebook female friendships friendship Girlfriendology offline online Shelly S. Taylor social media The Tending Instinct twitter women Sun, 08 Feb 2009 23:44:01 +0000 Irene 273 at A "good enough" friend <b>QUESTION</b><br /> <br /> Dear Dr. Levine,<br /> <br /> I recently got into a fight with a girl named Linda, whom I considered my best friend. She said I was never a &quot;good enough&quot; friend for her, and I told her that I thought I couldn't be her friend because she was spreading gossip about me.<br /> <br /> We both agreed that it would be better if we just tried not being friends for a while, but now I'm sad because I don't have my best friend to talk to. Is there a way I could still patch up our friendship?<br /> <br /> Signed, <br /> Ariel<br /> <b><br /> ANSWER</b><br /> <br /> Dear Ariel,<br /> <br /> All friendships have their peaks and valleys and when times are rough, even the best of friends may say things that are mean, even if they don’t mean them. However, before you decide to patch up your friendship, you need to think about whether you miss your best friend Linda or you miss having a best friend. <br /> <br /> If you decide that you really miss Linda, you need to open a dialogue with her about what happened and how it can be resolved. Depending on what feels most comfortable, you can call, email, or text her and tell her how you are feeling (I prefer email because you are less likely to catch the other person off-guard). If she is open to you, this may not only be an opportunity to patch up but to strengthen your friendship.<br /> <br /> If she doesn’t respond or, after you make this overture, she still maintains that you aren’t a “good enough” friend for her, you have to accept her decision and find another best friend who appreciates you as much as you appreciate her. Good friends need to value one another.<br /> <br /> Let us know what happens!<br /> <br /> My best,<br /> Irene<br /> argument best friends female friends female friendships fight fractured friendships good enough friend making up reader Q &amp; A Fri, 06 Feb 2009 02:23:11 +0000 Irene 272 at Reader Q & A: By love possessed <p> <b>QUESTION:</b> </p> <p> Dear Irene, </p> <p> I have a friend who is a few years younger than me. I love her to death but she is causing me to feel bad about not being with her 24/7. She and I used to have the best time together; we laughed and watched movies and all sorts of stuff together. She had a really tough year, with her first two boyfriends being big jerks to her. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> I want to be there for her, but now, a year later, she is not talking to anybody but me, not even her family. On top of that she is locked in her room and not making eye contact with anyone. She cancels plans with other friends just in case I want to hang out with her and when I say I can't or I'm not up to it, she gets mad at me and usually doesn't speak to me for days. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> I am applying to colleges and she is insisting that I go to an in-state college so in two years, when she gets out of school, we can have an apartment together. When I tell her I want to live in a dorm, she says she doesn't want me to. I am thinking of going to college four states away and I don't know how to tell her because of the argument I know will follow. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> She tells me that she doesn't want to be my friend for not sleeping over at her house every weekend. If I want to hang out with my other friends, she tries to get me to cancel my plans. I know I have to stick up for myself more, but I care a lot about her and I am not sure how to find a happy middle to me being a rug she walks all over. Do you have any advice? </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> Signed, </p> <p> Stephanie <b></b> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <b>ANSWER:</b> </p> <p> Dear Stephanie, </p> <p> This relationship doesn't sound healthy for you or your friend. I presume that she is still a teenager, who has become overly attached, possessive, and dependent on you---maybe because you are a few years older. She is demanding exclusivity in your relationship because she doesn't seem to feel comfortable alone or with other friends. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> If she really is as emotionally volatile and is &quot;locked in her room,&quot; as you describe, she may need professional help. You should speak to someone in her family, in confidence, and admit that this problem is more than you can handle at this stage in your life. It seems like it is. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> Although you may not be aware of it, you have been encouraging her dependency by acquiescing to her unreasonable demands. You need to gradually begin to create more distance between you and your friend, and to set some limits. Moreover, you need to examine your own motives for allowing this to happen. It sounds like this relationship is dominating your life when you should have other interests and involvements. You certainly shouldn't let this friendship dictate your college plans. It wouldn't be good for either of you. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> I know this situation is tricky and I wish you luck and grace in resolving it. </p> <p> My best,<br /> Irene </p> adolescent friendship anger by love possessed dependency emotional volatility exclusivity female friendship needy possessed possessive reader Q &amp; A Wed, 04 Feb 2009 03:43:17 +0000 Irene 271 at Bonding when things go bad <p> <i><b> Updated February 25, 2009 </b></i> </p> <p> <i><b> To read an update on the DABA girls who seem to have &quot;exaggerated&quot; their story to the New York Times, see this post in<a href=""> Newsweek</a>. </b></i> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> Whether the “excuse” is a book group, cooking club, or knitting circle—women characteristically gravitate towards one another not only to share interests but also to share joys, sorrows and hopes. The economic downslide has spawned a new and curious women’s get-together, a group called <a href="">Dating a Banker Anonymous </a>(DABA). The group meets once or twice a week, over brunch or cocktails, so its members can commiserate about boyfriends whose moods are fluctuating as erratically as the tumultuous market conditions.<br /> <br /> According to the <a href=";_r=1&amp;sq=women&amp;st=Search&amp;scp=10">New York Times</a>, DABA was started by two best friends, Laney Crowell and Megan Petrus, young professionals who were each involved in a relationship with a man working in the financial sector when things began spiraling downward---both in terms of the economy and in their relationships. While DABA’s blog and the Times report are infused with tongue-in-cheek humor, the topic merits serious attention. <br /> <br /> When men lose their jobs and/or their money, they’re prone to depression, anxiety and loss of self-esteem, which can wreak havoc on their relationships. In fact, women are often the first to recognize the signs that a significant other is becoming unglued. A regular circle of friends, a loosely organized sisterhood like DABA, or an informal chat over a cup of coffee can offer girlfriends emotional support to enable them to better cope with today’s harsh economic and relationship realities. </p> <p> Has the economy taken a toll on your relationship? </p> anxiety book clubs DABA Dating A Banker Anonymous depression groups knitting clubs Laney Crowell Megan Petrus New York Times sisterhood Unemployment Tue, 03 Feb 2009 03:58:46 +0000 Irene 270 at Co-rumination: Is it healthy for adolescents to rehash their boy problems? <p> Are you a mom who worries because your teenage daughter seems to be incessantly texting or emailing her best friends about her romantic problems? Your worries may be founded.<br /> <br /> When adolescent girlfriends rehash the same problems together over and over, they increase their risk of depression and social anxiety. In a study focused on seventh and eighth-graders, Dr. Joanne Davila and Lisa Starr, MA, psychologists at Stony Brook University, studied the effects of co-rumination, first defined by Dr. Amanda Rose (2002) as excessive discussion of problems within friendships---including repeated conversations, conjecture about causes, and heightened focus on negative emotions.<br /> <br /> “The abundance of communication technology available to teens today creates an enabling environment for co-rumination,” said investigator Starr in a press release. “Texting, instant messaging, and social networking make it very easy for adolescents to become even more anxious which can lead to depression.” </p> <p> Conversely, if such discussions are focused on solving problems rather than ruminating about them, these discussions can generate positive solutions and contribute to emotional well-being. The new research findings were published in the <a href="">February issue of the Journal of Adolescence</a>.<br /> <br /> This study builds upon research (discussed in a <a href="/blog/girl-talk-too-much-good-thing">previous blog post</a>) by Amanda Rose and colleagues at the University of Missouri-Columbia that also challenged the conventional wisdom: that it’s always good for adolescent girls to get problems “off their chest” by talking about them to close friends. Taken together both of these studies suggest that parents need to be alert to too much of a good thing. Hopefully, future studies will examine the effects of co-rumination among other age groups. <br /> <br /> <i><a href="">Source: Press Release, January 27, 2009, Excessive Discussion of Problems Between Adolescent Friends May Lead To Depression and Anxiety  <br /> </a></i> </p> adolescent friendships Amanda Rose anxiety best friends boyfriends co-rumination depression email female friendships Joanne Davila Lisa Starr research self-disclosure social anxiety Stony Brook University talking teen friendships texting Mon, 02 Feb 2009 01:31:34 +0000 Irene 269 at Girlfriends with pink slips <p> The support of female friends can help a woman get over the traumatic emotional and financial losses associated with being fired or let go. What can friends do? </p> <p> Read my latest post on <a href="">The Huffington Post</a>. </p> depression Economy female friendship fired friend friendship job cuts layoff pink slip support The Huffington Post. unemployed Unemployment women Thu, 29 Jan 2009 18:30:49 +0000 Irene 268 at The Sometimes Friend <b>QUESTION</b><br /> <br /> Dear Irene,<br /> <br /> I'm in my late 30's and for as long as I can remember (since early childhood), I have always been the &quot;sometimes friend&quot;. Usually there are two friends who are inseparable. They are on each other's speed dial, they shop together, lunch together, and their families spend time together. And only sometimes...will they decide to include me. I have never had a &quot;best friend&quot; or someone that I would feel comfortable just calling up for a lunch date or to catch a movie. This leaves me feeling incredibly lonely.<br /> <br /> For some reason, I have trouble making a personal connection with people. I am currently a stay at home mom and moderately outgoing. I am very active in a mom's group (two years now) that I really like. We have playdates for the kids and regular mom's night outs, etc.  I think most would say that I'm happy, optimistic, and fun natured, but I can't seem to make that personal connection or cross that boundary into friendship. <br /> <br /> There are two women from the mom's group that I do spend some time with. Our families spend Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve together and we do a gift exchange. To me, it's very personal whom I share my family with for the holidays. But, I somehow end up feeling hurt and lonely because I have been relegated to being the &quot;sometimes friend&quot;. They talk on the phone, shop, lunch, hang out together and have family events.... and don't invite me. <br /> <br /> Should I end these relationships? Or continue with them even though they aren’t fulfilling for me? I feel like my choice is being the &quot;sometimes&quot; friend or having no friends. Also, I worry what my 3-year-old daughter is learning from my lack female bonding. She is in preschool and chooses to play with the boys. I'm worried that by continuing with these type  &quot;friendless&quot; friendships that I’m hurting her ability to learn to bond with other females as well. My worst nightmare is for her to grow up and live her life without a real female friend as I have.<br /> <br /> Thanks,<br /> Tara<br /> <b><br /> ANSWER</b><br /> <br /> Dear Tara,<br /> <br /> It sounds like your friendships don’t offer the intimacy that you are craving. My guess is that while you are a sociable person and collect acquaintances (and even close friends), you are somewhat guarded and hold back from sharing your true self with your girlfriends. Thus, these relationships never evolve into “best friendships.” We’re all different and being somewhat reserved and private is an aspect of your personality that has been there since childhood.<br /> <br /> Maintain these imperfect “sometimes friendships” because you derive pleasure from them; without them, you would be far lonelier than you are now. But you don’t need to choose between being a “sometimes friend” and nothing. Instead, try to take one of these friendships (or any other) to the next level. Make plans to get together with a friend and slowly begin sharing more of your self; my guess it that the boundaries will begin to dissipate over time. <br /> <br /> Somewhat related: There is an interesting challenge that’s popular on <a href="">Facebook</a> these days. One of your Facebook friends sends you this note that reads as follows—<i>Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.</i><br /> <br /> I took the challenge and wrote about myself online in a more intimate way than I had before. I found that people responded in kind by revealing more of themselves, and before I knew it, we were closer than before. In short, a sense of intimacy and trust between two people is what turns acquaintances into “best friends.” One caveat, it may not be practical to covet “best friend” status with someone that already has an exclusive “best friendship” but you should be able to accrete a best friend somewhere.<br /> <br /> And don’t worry about your 3-year-old daughter yet or project your problem onto her. She isn’t old enough to assess the nature of your friendships or to set her own friendship trajectory. Becoming the best friend you can be will have the added effect of making you are more confident and happy mother. The fact that you don’t want to settle for “sometimes” is already a good sign.<br /> <br /> Let us know how it goes.<br /> <br /> Best,<br /> Irene<br /> 25 things acquaintances best friend children Facebook female friendships intimacy mother privacy reader Q &amp; A Sometimes friend trust Thu, 29 Jan 2009 01:38:20 +0000 Irene 266 at Walking on eggshells <p> <b>QUESTION</b><br /> <br /> Hi Irene,<br /> <br /> I have a nagging suspicion that my best friend Julia harbors some type of jealously or resentment toward me. We met five years ago when I moved to a new city to live with my boyfriend. She had known him casually for a few years. I didn’t know many people in town and Julia and I became inseparable.<br /> <br /> I have never had a large quantity of friends but I am extremely close with the ones I have. I’m an identical twin and my relationship with my sister is strong. As Julia and I grew closer, my boyfriend became jealous and resentful of the relationship. He felt that Julia was occupying too much of my time. I don’t blame him. I spent more time with Julia than I did with him and our relationship ended about 6 months ago.<br /> <br /> At the time, I didn’t see how spending so much time with Julia might be putting “all my eggs in one basket.” I want to expand my social circle because I think that our relationship may be too limiting. She can be extremely selfish and insensitive. For example, when I broke up with my boyfriend six months ago, I told her it was uncomfortable for me to frequent the local bar where we used to hang out. I suggested that I wanted to visit new places where I knew I wouldn’t see him. She responded, “Well you know where I’ll be, at the usual place.”<br /> <br /> She flips out on me when I don’t say the right thing. I’m constantly walking on eggshells around her. She also makes little comments that get to me. My mom recently passed away and I came into a small inheritance. She’s made comments like “Well I don’t have money like you do…” This hurts my feelings since I’d give anything to have my mom back. <br /> <br /> Since breaking up with my boyfriend, Julia views me as competition. She constantly talks about how “hot” she is and how we have the same level of attractiveness. She is many things, but “hot” isn’t one of them. She is fairly attractive but doesn’t take particularly good care of herself. That’s fine; physical appearance isn’t everything. It’s the fact that she has to toot her own horn. A few mutual male friends have confessed that they have had crushes on me for a while but since I had been involved they held off. When I told her this she said things like, “Oh, they don’t really mean it like that.” One guy friend told me that Julia had come onto him and he was not attracted to her. <br /> <br /> No matter how much I give her, it is never enough. I am a private person and I don’t talk about absolutely everything that goes on in my life, especially mundane things. Julia has complained that she feels like she doesn’t know “all of me.” I told her that she knows the important stuff but I’m not like her, I don’t tell her about every little thing that happens in my life. Sometimes, I feel as if she wants to own me.  <br /> <br /> Of course there are many things I adore about her. She can be extremely caring and considerate. When my mom was dying, she came to NYC to be with me. We talk about things that I’ve never shared with anybody (except my twin sister) and we get along great for the most part. We have a lot in common and share many of the same interests. But it’s the underlying tension that’s really bothering me. I hate confrontation and I know with her, she’ll deny everything I say. I also hate hiding all of this from her. I know she means well and I love and care deeply for her, but I don’t know if this is the healthiest relationship, what should I do?<br /> <br /> Signed, <br /> Michelle<br /> <br /> <b></b> </p> <p> <b>ANSWER</b><br /> <br /> Dear Michelle,<br /> <br /> No friend or friendship is perfect: Each one has strengths and weaknesses. Although you like Julia, you seem to feel tense and uncomfortable around her. To my mind, that would be a deal-breaker but you need to ask yourself, “How important is this friendship to me?&quot; <br /> <br /> It’s hard to give up a friendship with someone who has been an important part of your life. Julia was your anchor in your new city. She was there for the death of your mother and the loss of your boyfriend. But now, do her negatives outweigh the positives? Only you know. Is she too self-centered and controlling? Can you trust her? Does being with her always make you feel tense and queasy? Could she be competing for your closeness with your twin sister?<br /> <br /> You have several choices: 1) You can speak to Julia to try to resolve some of these issues; there’s not much to lose. You may be anticipating a worse reaction than you think because of your own discomfort in being honest but if you really can’t express yourself candidly to her, it says something about the friendship; 2) You can downgrade your friendship so it isn’t as close. Perhaps, you both need some distance from Julia and should make other friends so your relationship is less intense; 3) If all else fails, you can end it. You’ve made an investment in this relationship, but life is too short to have unsatisfying friendships. It’s only worthwhile to continue a close friendship if it is characterized by mutual trust and respect.<br /> <br /> Best wishes,<br /> Irene <br /> </p> Fri, 23 Jan 2009 00:44:26 +0000 Irene 265 at Escaping from a toxic triangle <p> <b>QUESTION</b> </p> <p> Dear Irene,<br /> <br /> I'm a 40-year-old woman who feels like she's back in junior high. I have three kids who are very involved in sports and activities. Over the last four years, my husband and I developed a group of friends with kids the same ages. My closest friend in the group was a woman named Susan. <br /> <br /> Recently we went away with Susan and her DH (dear husband), and another close friend Jenny and her husband. It was a terrible trip. Jenny was pretty much a bore and ruined much of the weekend. She ganged up against me and afterwards, my best friend Susan ignored me for an entire month or more—not answering phone calls, walking away from me at school events, etc. I finally confronted her at a baseball game. She called me names, and said she was tired of defending me to &quot;everyone.&quot; I asked her what she meant and she said I was mean and biting.<br /> <br /> Susan and I have been on three family vacations together: One was great, but the other two were terrible when Jenny and her family were involved. I can't forgive Susan for the cruel things she said to me and for walking away without giving me a chance to speak. She spent weeks talking about me behind me back—poisoning other friendships with Jenny and even my neighbor. Next thing I knew, she was calling me for rides for her daughter, dropping off Christmas cookies, and baking us bread. She recently asked if my DH and me wanted to drop by for drinks.<br /> <br /> I have no desire to befriend her again. Jenny and I started to patch things up after our trip but this weekend, she told me that she wanted me to know that her family and Susan's were going on vacation together this summer. She wanted to know if my family would think about a &quot;separate &quot; house at the beach. <br /> <br /> Some days I feel like I'm in some sort of depression. I wish these people didn't bother me, but I feel terribly betrayed. Our kids are all in the same activities and I can't get away from them, I've even considered moving our family to another state. Being made a fool of embarrasses me but I don't intend to suck up to anyone to get them to like me.<br /> <br /> I'm having a hard time coping...Thanks for your help.<br /> <br /> Signed,<br /> Patsy<br /> <br /> <b></b> </p> <p> <b>ANSWER</b><br /> <br /> Dear Patsy,<br /> <br /> The reason why you are having a hard time coping is because these women have either been nasty or have been giving you mixed messages. Sometimes women are blinded to the foibles in their friends for the sake of the kids—until they get clobbered over the head. Because you and your children once enjoyed spending time with these two other families, you may consider these women “friends,” but don’t make that mistake. True friends aren’t petty, cruel, and divisive. You need to find a way to extricate yourself from this adolescent triangle and find friends with whom you are more compatible. <br /> <br /> Susan and Jenny have drawn a line in the sand; they plan to keep you at a distance---in a “separate house.’ Is this acceptable to you? If you agree to remain a friend on their terms, you will continue to feel hurt. Opt out of the triangle now. You don’t need to make abrupt changes but begin to treat these women as parents of your children’s friends, not your friends. Let your kids take the lead in determining whether they want to get together with the other kids. I’m not sure how old your kids are but children reach an age when they want to make their own friends anyway. <br /> <br /> Begin mingling with other moms and try to put these toxic women in the periphery of your life—downgrade them from friends to acquaintances. I promise you will feel better about yourself. Just because these women are acting like girls in junior high doesn’t mean that you have to play in the their playground. <br /> <br /> Best,<br /> Irene<br /> </p> acquaintances ambivalence ambivalent children couple friends downgrading female friendships fractured friendships frenemies friendenemies mom friends reader Q &amp; A self-esteem toxic Triangle Wed, 21 Jan 2009 15:10:15 +0000 Irene 264 at Inauguration Day 2009 <p> I share your hopes for the future! </p> <p> Make an Obamicon of your own and send it to your friends. Go to: <a href=""></a> </p> <p> Warmest wishes, </p> <p> Irene </p> Barack Obama Inauguration Day 2009 Tue, 20 Jan 2009 05:13:29 +0000 Irene 263 at Sophisticated Lady <b>QUESTION</b><br /> <br /> Dear Irene,<br /> <br /> First, thank you for a wonderful website. Second, I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps I have a higher need for interaction than most people. I’m turning 40 and when my husband mentioned throwing me a birthday party I realized I have no dear friends to invite. I have never known anyone that I would call a “best friend” and was painfully shy and awkward growing up. <br /> <br /> I know many women very superficially. Over the past 20 years, three people have told me that I come across as polished/sophisticated and that it is threatening to others. That has never been my intention and I am not trying to cultivate that image, in fact, to combat it I work at being self-deprecating and watch what I wear to casual events with women I would like know better. <br /> <br /> I would like to have friends to go out to a dinner/movie/coffee with 2-3 times per month. Is that unreasonable? I’m at the point of thinking maybe it is. We moved five years ago to a new state and have one child. I’ve tried to organize coffee meet-ups with other school moms, most of whom do not work outside the home, and my invitations have either been entirely ignored, I am asked who else is attending, or I get a “not sure if I can make it, if I can I’ll meet you there.” There are two school mom cliques and I can’t seem to get into either, and it’s been four years. While they are polite, neither my child nor I am asked to participate in their group activities, e.g. a week at summer camp or weekend visits to vacation homes. <br /> <br /> I tried to organize a dinner group with neighborhood women and it never materialized. I went a handful of times to a neighborhood gardening club and one woman there clearly had a problem with me as I was on the receiving end many times of her verbal jabs and putdowns. I finally had enough and didn’t return.<br /> <br /> Two other women have actively pursued being my friend. One came on very strong and frankly felt like a stalker; the other brags constantly, which I have no interest in listening to. During this same four years, I’ve developed very superficial friendships with six women. Only two of them have ever issued an invitation to me for anything, I’ve always asked and they’ve always agreed. I changed jobs two years ago and invited a few women at work out for coffee/lunch. Two people took me up in those two years and they’ve never invited me again even though we work together peripherally.  <br /> <br /> For added measure, my husband and I have no couple friends that are our age – and never really have. All couples that we’ve gotten to know and gone out with have been from his work and are generally at least 10 years older than us. I am very thankful for these relationships, but it strikes us as odd and we can’t figure out why we don’t have any couple friends our age. Sounds like I’m having a pity party here, but maybe I should just start to be happy with what I have.<br /> <br /> Thank you,<br /> April<br /> <br /> <b>ANSWER</b><br /> <br /> Dear April,<br /> <br /> Thanks for reading my blog and posting. It sounds like you’ve done all the right things to nurture friendships with other women. Like you, I’m having a hard time understanding why you aren’t connecting. Yes, you’ve moved and changed jobs over the past five years, but it sounds like your friendship problems started before that. <br /> <br /> A few thoughts/questions come to my mind: What are the people like in your community and at your workplace? Are they very discrepant from you in terms of their educational, cultural, ethnic or religious backgrounds? Are these people of your ilk? Perhaps, the differences between you and them are challenging to overcome—and perhaps you or they aren’t accepting or tolerant of differences.<br /> <br /> You shouldn’t have to be self-deprecating and to dress-down to garner friends. Best friendships come easily when women feel comfortable being themselves—warts and all. Perhaps it’s your uneasiness in being yourself that other women find off-putting. <br /> <br /> Forming couple friends is always a dicey prospect. Instead of two people having to get along with each other, the complexities are multiplied when spouses are involved. Just because two female friends are close doesn’t mean that their spouses will feel the same way about one another. So it’s great that you’ve made couple friends through your husband’s work.<br /> <br /> I sense that you feel like you’ve tried very hard to make close friends and feel like you have failed. Would you be comfortable asking your husband what he thinks? He knows you and your situation over time; he is also the person who is most familiar with the cast of characters, and may be able to offer you new insights. Two other alternatives would be to confide in one of the women you feel closest to and to ask her advice, or to seek help from a counselor or therapist. With your motivation and sophistication, I’m certain your problem can be resolved with the help and objectivity of a trusted third person.<br /> <br /> Best wishes,<br /> Irene<br /> best friends couple friends female friendships moving no friends nurturing friendships reader Q &amp; A self-deprecating shyness women’s friendships work Sun, 18 Jan 2009 01:45:25 +0000 Irene 262 at Friendship by the Book: Cancer is a Bitch <p> &quot;I'm part of a club I didn't mean to join,&quot; writes <a href="">Gail Konop Baker,</a> author of <i><a href=";camp=15041&amp;creative=373501&amp;link_code=as3">Cancer is a Bitch: Or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis</a></i> (Da Capo, 2008). </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> Baker, a mother of three and wife of a doctor, was a self-professed health nut. She ran marathons, practiced yoga, ate organic foods, and was a lifelong subscriber to <i>Prevention</i> magazine. Like many of us, she believed that she could keep breast cancer at bay: It was something that happened to other people's friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> Then, at the age of 45, after two prior biopsies that turned out to be false alarms, Baker was diagnosed with <a href="">ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)</a>, the most common form of noninvasive breast cancer. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> This intelligent, funny, and extremely gutsy book not only chronicles Baker's breast cancer journey and successful treatment, but talks about marriage, motherhood, careers and the significance of friendships in women's lives. Her voice is unusually compelling because it is so intimate and honest, like a best friend telling you her story. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> Gail graciously responded to several questions I posed about the impact of her diagnosis on her female friendships: </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <b>Do you believe that there is a sisterhood of breast cancer survivors? If so, why?</b> </p> <p> If you'd asked me that before I went on tour for my book, I wouldn't have known since I was the first (still am) in my circle of friends to be diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn't join any support groups either. I have to admit I felt very alone. But as I toured the country this fall and winter, I met survivors and felt an instant and immediate bond. There was really nothing that made me feel better than a survivor telling me that my book touched her, made her feel less alone, helped her understand the feelings she was feeling. </p> <p> I think the reason there is this instant connection is that receiving a cancer diagnosis is like being forced to walk through fire. It isn't something you choose. It isn't something you can conjure in your mind. And once you've walked through it alters your perceptions of life forever. Life is different. I think survivors bond because they have been forced to feel and see and taste and smell and live life through a different lens. I meet a survivor now and it's like we share a secret language. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <b>What are the range of reactions (so aptly described in your book) that friends have to someone who is diagnosed with breast cancer?</b> </p> <p> Everyone meant well and all of my friends were very generous. They brought me food and flowers and took care of my children but few knew what to say. I think that was because their own fear got in the way and understandably so. But the hardest thing was seeing myself as someone else's worst fear. Feeling their dread. They didn't even have to say anything for me to feel it. </p> <p> But a couple of friend encounters stand out in my mind. Just before my surgery when I was in a very funky funk, one of my best friends came over and told me, &quot;If you have to shave my head, I'll shave mine in solidarity.&quot; Luckily I didn't have to but her words made me feel like she would walk through the fire with me. That she wasn't afraid of me. That she didn't feel differently about me. </p> <p> After my surgery, I ran a half marathon with that same friend and another one of our friends. After the race we were talking old boyfriends and sex and I told them I didn't feel very sexy with all my scars. They talked me into showing them my worst scar and inched my shirt down and they stared at a minute before one of them said, &quot;Scars are hot! I think it makes you sexier.&quot; </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <b>Did you rely on your friends for practical advice and help? </b> </p> <p> Not so much advice but, as I said above, they brought food and helped with my children and showered me with love and concern, Honestly, I didn't even know I had so many good friends until I was diagnosed. I was absolutely blown away by the love and support that surrounded me. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <b>Did your friendships change at all since you were diagnosed? Did you dump some friends and add others? Did you get closer to some and feel more distant from others? What accounted for the changes?</b> </p> <p> Great question! Cancer brought clarity to my life and gave me license to declutter my life. So yes, some friendships, the ones that were draining me, fell away. I felt like I didn't have time to waste on relationships that weren't mutually enriching. </p> <p> But it also made me aware of the depth of some of my friendships and deepened those bonds. My best friend helped me get my feet back on the ground. Literally. Soon after my surgery she came over and told me to put my running shoes on and pulled me out the door and forced me to put one foot in front of the other. </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> <i>'Friendship by the Book' is an occasional series of posts on this blog about books that offer friendship lessons. To read other posts in the series, use the search function on the right side of the page.</i> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> breast cancer cancer Cancer is a Bitch careers DaCapo DCIS declutter ductal carcinoma in situ female friendships Friends friendship by the book Gail Konop Baker marriage midlife motherhood Prevention running sisterhood survivor Wed, 14 Jan 2009 04:55:49 +0000 Irene 261 at Just for Fun: How many friends would you give up for a Whopper? <p> Ending friendships can be touchy, even virtual ones. That’s why <a href="">Facebook</a> users are reluctant to defriend and feel humiliated if they’re defriended. <br /> <br /> But you've gotta admit it. Everyone has at least a few frenemies they’re just dying to purge from their friends list: People who post too often or who only post to brag; ex-friends or competitors who lurk without posting at all; and people whose names they don’t recognize, let alone consider friends. <br /> <br /> Burger King has just provided Facebook users with the ready excuse for which they were waiting. It’s a marketing campaign called the <a href="">WHOPPER Sacrifice</a>, created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky: Delete ten of your Facebook friends and you’re rewarded with a coupon for a free Whopper. <br /> <br /> &quot;The [friend] removal is another kind of socializing,&quot; says Jeff Benjamin, executive interactive creative director at Crispin, as reported in Adweek. Benjamin had 736 friends on Facebook at the time the campaign was launched although he may have deleted some by now if he likes Whoppers. &quot;At first you think it's antisocial, but it's a social device,&quot; he says. &quot;Now we finally have something to talk about.&quot;<br /> </p> <p> Source: <a href="">Adweek  </a> </p> advertising Adweek Burger King Crispi Porter + Bogusky defriend defriending delete Facebook frenemies Jeff Benjamin viral marketing Whopper Sacrifice Sat, 10 Jan 2009 04:44:27 +0000 Irene 260 at Reader Q & A: No way out? <p> <b>QUESTION:</b><br /> <br /> Dear Irene:<br /> <br /> My &quot;best&quot; friend and I have been friends since last year. Sometimes I feel like I love her; other times, she’s my worst enemy. She comes from a controlling and abusive family and I was always there for her to get through it.<br /> <br /> I just turned 18, and I realize more and more that she’s doing the same things to me that her mom did to her. I’ve watched her lie and manipulate older men and she’s only 17. She brought me into these situations to help her be more convincing. It made me feel guilty but I couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve lost almost all of my old friends because of her telling me they talk bad about me behind my back. She’s changed me into becoming more promiscuous and she gets me to meet new guys to &quot;make me feel more confident.&quot; She says I can’t do it on my own because I’m too shy. Then she finds something bad about them to make me from stop talking to them if I start spending more time with one of them and not her. <br /> <br /> She even said something about my parents not caring about me. She &quot;jokingly&quot; calls me stupid and puts me down. Other times, she tries to make me feel better about myself. She found me a job with her but if I do something wrong, she makes me feel like a bad friend because she throws it in my face about how she got me the job and all the other great things she’s done for me.<br /> <br /> I wish I had an escape but I’m still in high school and I happen to live a street away from her and she knows almost everything about me, even that I may have an STD because of a guy she hooked me up with. <br /> <br /> Signed,<br /> Heather<br /> <br /> <b>ANSWER</b> </p> <p> Dear Heather:<br /> <br /> As a woman and as a mom, my heart goes out to you because it sounds like you are in a particularly painful situation for someone your age. Even if you desperately want to, it’s hard to escape from a girlfriend who lives near you, goes to school with you, has some of the same friends as you, and works with you.<br /> <br /> It’s great that you have insight and recognize that this relationship is toxic. Your friend has you hooked on the excitement she provides but the costs are too great. She undermines your self-confidence---and tries to manipulate and control you.<br /> <br /> You were brave to tell me about your worries and that you want to make positive changes. Although it will be difficult, you need to find a way to back off from this friendship. If you don't feel comfortable talking to one of your parents, I suggest that you talk to another trusted adult, perhaps a counselor at your high school, who can provide support to help you find a way to end this risky relationship. Also, make an appointment with a physician so you can reassure yourself about your health and can cross an STD off your worry list. <br /> </p> <p> &nbsp; </p> <p> My best,<br /> Irene<br /> <br /> <br /> </p> abusive controlling counselor female friend female friendship high school insecure manipulative mean girl no way out promiscuous STD toxic friend Fri, 09 Jan 2009 16:05:43 +0000 Irene 259 at