Dear Annie: I have known “Cathy” since grade school. We are now in our 50s.
In the past several years, we have become close again. Last summer, I set up a luncheon with “Lois,” a mutual friend of ours. Cathy also brought two of her own friends.
The women seemed nice, and we got together a few times for dinner and we also took a few trips as a group, but I always felt like a third wheel.
I haven’t heard from Cathy much lately, so I finally asked her if something was wrong. Evidently, her friends aren’t crazy about me. Lois informed me that I had done some things that made them angry. One was that I left the beach early so I could get ready for dinner, and the other was that I didn’t participate in a discussion. (As I get older, I like to listen more and talk less and never thought it would offend anyone.) I barely remember these things, but I apologized to both ladies for not being more in tune with their feelings.
My husband and other friends were astonished that grown women would be so angry over something so trivial. I have a lot of friends and have never had this problem before.
I haven’t been on a trip with these girls in months and am not sure I want to. Meanwhile, Lois and Cathy have become very close. I still talk to Cathy, but she seems distant. I am sick over this. Can you help? — Sick in Scranton
Dear Scranton: Please try to understand that this is not a reflection on your ability to be a friend. It is simply that you do not fit into this particular group of women. It could be that Cathy’s friends are jealous of your longer relationship and are trying to marginalize you. Or it simply could be that you have different tastes and emotional needs. The best way to retain your friendship with Cathy is to remove yourself from this group. See her on your own. You’ll enjoy it more.
Dear Annie: Over the past few years, my husband has developed an odd habit. If asked a simple question, such as, “Would you like another cup of coffee?” he will reply, “If you are so inclined.” I find this rather peculiar, not to mention condescending.
The real problem is his need to blame others for his behaviour. Last Saturday, he wasn’t able to mow the lawn. No big deal. Rather than say he couldn’t get to it, he rambled on about how our son usually does it, the sun was too bright, etc. Our children are now beginning to notice. My husband insists this is how normal people act. Our teenage daughter commented that “normal people” don’t make excuses, and they take responsibility for their actions. How can I get him to see the poor example he is setting for our kids? — Fran in Fresno
Dear Fran: Your husband seems to be indulging in a little self-aggrandizement meant to make himself look good at the expense of others. We don’t know who he is trying to impress, but it obviously isn’t working. Perhaps if you call it to his attention, he will see that he would gain far more respect if he held himself accountable.