Archive for the 'friends' Category


10 signs she’s not the one

Reader A. B. writes:

You gave the ladies signs they oughtta’ dump their BFs; how about for us straight dudes? What are some ways we can tell a girl isn’t right for us?

Dear A.B.:

Yes, we do love us some gender equality here.

Having never been a straight dude myself, this is going to be culled more from my experience of watching boys date girls, rather than my own personal experience. (The 10 signs he’s not the one post was actually a mix of my own experience and that of my dearest straight girlfriends, to be fair.) I think the lists can probably be interchanged, although from what I’ve seen, there are subtle differences between how guys and girls date the “wrong person”. Girls tend to get embroiled in more drama about clinging onto him; guys tend to get ever more removed from the situation and drift off, or at least that’s my experience. (Most) guys will put up with a lot to get sex; (most) girls will put up with a lot to have a boyfriend. Similar, but different, dynamics.

So here are some signs that I think you probably don’t belong with a girl:


Also, if she uses a carrot as a weapon. Image: photostock /

1. You can’t be yourself when you’re around her. There’s a difference between being inspired to be a better person and feeling like you have to be a drastically different person to keep up with her. Do you feel like you need to take college classes, even though you’ve never felt that way before? Do you feel like you have to stop smoking, drinking, or watching baseball to be her boyfriend? Do you find yourself not spending time with your other friends because you can’t hang out with them and her at the same time? She’s not the one.

2. Your friends don’t like her. This is pretty universal for both sexes. Again, your friends like you, and they presumably want what’s best for you. If they don’t like her and are willing to say so, you’ve got the wrong girl on your hands.

3. You don’t have anything in common. You need to share some beliefs and interests or it’s not going to work out. Don’t let the thought of free sex mislead you into having a cruddy relationship with a girl you can’t even talk to.

4. She talks about marriage or commitment and it makes you really uncomfortable. This means she’s looking for something you’re not actually interested in. You should be honest about this because it can bite you in the ass later on. If you don’t want to get married and have kids, for the love of all that is holy, don’t date a girl who does. Even if it’s just you’re “not sure” while she knows for certain, you will get jerked around a lot more than you want to be. And, ya’ know, it’s not fair to her, either.

5. She criticizes you in public. A lot. This goes along with sign #1, but instead of being a feeling you have inside yourself, it’s something coming directly from her. If she’s telling you and everyone around you how much she hates how you smoke, or that you never take the trash out, or how you can’t spell, or how badly you dress, you should probably end things. If she likes you, she’ll be complimenting you, and even your bad traits will be cute to her. (At least until you’ve been together 3 years or more.)

6. She bad mouths you behind your back. You probably won’t hear about this until after the break up, anyway, but if a girl is complaining to her friends about you, it’s probably a sign you two shouldn’t be together. Of course, this swings both ways — if you’re complaining about her all the time, that’s not a good sign, either. However, I find that many guys aren’t really as willing to complain about relationship issues to their buddies as girls are.

7. Your libidos don’t match. This one was originally “you never have sex”, but I’m not going to play entirely into the “guys only want sex” theme in this post. Sometimes guys don’t want sex. It’s true. If either of you wants more or less sex than the other, you’re not a match. If you’re not interested in sex with her, it’s definitely a sign. If she’s not interested in sex with you, it’s also a sign. Sex isn’t everything, and all couples go through upswings and downswings in sexual desire. But if you two consistently don’t match, especially from the start, it’s probably not going to work out in the long run. And if you find yourself not interested in sex with her, but interested in sex with someone else, yeah, it’s over, or it should be.

8. You find any single trait of hers extremely annoying. This is particularly important in the first few weeks of dating. If you notice something annoying in the beginning of the relationship, it’s only going to get worse over time. Once again, don’t let the thought of free sex blind you to the fact that you can’t be with someone who talks out of her nose or expects you to pay for everything.

9. You don’t trust her. If you’ve got major jealousy issues, or find yourself accusing her of spending too much time with someone else, it’s probably not her — it’s you. Nevertheless, if you don’t trust her, for whatever reason, she’s not the right one. (It’s quite possible nobody is going to be the right one in this situation until after some therapy, too, FYI.)

10. You find yourself doing anything on the list of 10 signs he’s not the one. Because from what I know, boys react in those ways to a girl when they are pretty sure it’s not what they want, but they can’t let go, either because they can’t figure out a way to break up with her, or because they’re getting free sex, or who knows what else.


going away party with a bang

Reader C. F. writes:

I am having a going-away party soon, and a significant number of my friends literally can’t be in the same room with each other. How do I handle this in a manner that will piss off the fewest people?

Dear C.F.:

This is reminiscent of that post I wrote about which half of a newly-split couple you invite to a party. But a bit more complicated.

The most important thing to remember about this is that it’s your party, not theirs, so what you say goes. If you have to kick people out, do. If you have to uninvite people, do. Who cares if it pisses them off?

Furthermore, why do you have friends who hate each other? This is too much drama for a Friday afternoon. Maybe you need new friends. Blood feuds are soooo 19th century.

But, okay, maybe you like these friends for reasons other than their silly dramas. Or maybe you’re totally overdramatic yourself (which is my suspicion). So you’ve got to throw this party whether they’re hatin’ on each other or not, and you care about their feelings. Okay okay okay.

I have a few ideas:

good party?

Good party? Or awesome party? Image: Piyaphon /

Give your feuding friends notice. If there are blood feuds between people, tell them that if they want to come to your party, they have to lay down the swords for one night and get over it. Remind them that their love for you should be stronger than their hatred of whoever. Consider hiring security, should a fight break out.

Make it a very public invitation and they can decide who’s not coming on their own. I’ve got at least one ex-friend who makes a point of responding “NOT ATTENDING” to any event that I have responded “ATTENDING” to, so that we all know that he’s absolutely not going to make it specifically because I’m there. In fact, he won’t even attend an event I’m just invited to. If your friends hate each other that much, they’ll probably work things out on their own. (Interestingly, I don’t hold this blood feud against this guy. I really don’t care if he’s going to be somewhere or not.)

Draw names out of a hat. Or have them draw straws. Or compete in feats of strength to prove they deserve to be at your party. If one of them is less of a friend to you than the other, you can crop them off the list. Or if one of them is more fun at parties than the other, you can invite that one.

Don’t invite the haters. Any of them. When they ask why they weren’t invited, you can tell them it’s because you didn’t think they could be civil. They’ll probably go ape shit, but that’s not your problem. This is what they get for acting like children.

Have someone else make up the invitation list. In fact, have someone else plan the whole damn party. It’d be like having a maid of honor, someone who’s supposed to keep your champagne glass full and hand you a handkerchief at the altar while handling all the petty nonsense you shouldn’t have to worry about. Only this is a going away party, not a wedding.

Buy extra popcorn and sit back to enjoy the fireworks. Just invite everyone and let them duke it out on their own. This works better if you’re having the party at a bar rather than, say, your house, btw. And if you can be laid back about it and not get involved in their drama yourself.

Don’t have a party at all. If your friends are really that incapable of handling human emotions and acting like grown ups, they don’t deserve the party you would throw anyway. Just grab a bottle of wine and watch episodes of Friends on Netflix or whatever. You’ll probably feel 10 times better going this route than than spending time with your “real” friends.


no friend of mine

Reader H. R. writes:

A friend of mine has introduced another friend into our group that I cannot stand. This new friend apparently has no idea when he’s being annoying. He says things that no socially adept person would say out loud to people; he takes jokes too far; he assumes intimacy that isn’t there. And I’m not the only person who’s annoyed. Of course, none of us wants to insult the friend who introduced this new guy into the group, and she apparently has no problem with him. What should I, or, really, what should we do?

Dear H.R.:

I’ve written before about what to do if you don’t like someone else’s significant other, but a friend is a different story.


Let your annoyance show. Image: graur codrin /

First of all, leave the friend-bringer out of the equation. You don’t have beef with her; your beef is with the friend she brought. It’s not her fault this person annoys you.

You can tell her that her friend grates on you, and she may be able to provide you with some sort of justification (“he’s insecure; he grows on you; I know, he annoys me, too but he saved my life once” all spring to mind). But really, what you need to do is take it up with the annoying person.

It’s never fun to be uninvited to things, or shunned, or spurned, but it’s always worse for it to happen without knowing the reason why. One thing groups of people tend to do is band together further, and groups are just great at excluding someone. That’s probably what you and your friends are going to want to do — exclude both this new guy and the friend who brought him. But I say don’t. Let him join in when he wants, and let your friend invite him to other events. Of course, you don’t have to invite him yourself; but don’t ignore him when he’s there or forbid your friend from inviting him.

Instead, interact with him, even if it’s unpleasant. When he says something stupid, don’t let on that it’s okay. Tell him what he said was annoying. Don’t pretend to like him when you don’t. Be up front about it. He will either change his ways from input from you, or he will quit coming to events altogether.

This is not about you telling him he’s not cool or not worth your time, or that everyone in the group hates him. This is you relaying the feelings you have as you feel them. If you do this is a non-accusatory manner, he’ll probably back off rather than try to start a fight with you. (Depends on his personality, of course.) This shouldn’t be about your friends ganging up on him, either.

You may find that he doesn’t actually do annoying actions as often as you think he does. You may have this blown completely out of proportion. Once you start being aware of what it is that annoys you and how often it happens, it could well be he’s not as annoying as you think.

Another aspect of continuing to have him at your events is that you can learn to love him. In my life, some of the people I have thought were extremely annoying as casual acquaintances have turned out to be some of my favorite people once I really got to know them. People who are annoying tend to be so because they are extremely insecure and don’t have the situational awareness to notice it; or because they’re too secure in themselves to care. For the former, you may learn to love them through this insecurity, in which case they’ll really shine; for the latter, you could learn a thing or two about being yourself regardless of who’s watching or who cares.

You should never pretend to like someone you don’t like in your personal life, even if you feel you’re being civil. Girls are particularly bad at this, because we have been taught to be “nice” above all else. It’s disingenuous and we should all work to put a stop to it.

Let’s be clear — there’s a difference between a professional or business environment and a personal social environment. Having a healthy work life is all about putting your personal differences aside and getting things done. But your personal life is different. By all means, yuk it up with people you would never dream of being personal with at networking events, etc.; don’t let this phoniness spill into your day-to-day personal life. Leave the phony for times when it’s absolutely necessary.

If he doesn’t clean up his act or quit hanging out with your friend group altogether, then your other option is to avoid hanging out when he’s around. He will probably at least learn to steer clear of you at events, and you can learn to do the same. You can also try to focus on the positive aspects of his personality — and this is where that mutual friend who brought him to the group in the first place comes in. Why is she friends with him? Try to see him in a new light.

Group dynamics change often, so you may find you don’t have to do anything before he’s out of the group without your intervention. Just take a deep breath, express what you think and feel, and be honest. That’s the most anyone can ask for, anyway.


stop calling

Reader S.N. writes:

A friend of mine keeps calling me late at night, drunk and crying because her dad is really sick. I want to be a good friend and help her through her problems, but I go to work really early in the morning and her late night convos are starting to take a toll on my work life. To add to the difficulty, I can’t turn my phone off because I’m often on-call overnight. What can I do?

Dear S.N.:

Being sad sucks, and your friend is definitely lucky to have a friend like you who is willing to put up with her behavior while she’s going through such a rough time. Of course, you’ve got to take care of yourself, too, and you can’t feel guilty for not being available 24/7.

Your goal in this situation is to preserve the friendship and offer help while also balancing your own needs. You have a few options depending on how confrontational you want to be.

the dreaded phone

Image: Suat Eman /

1. When she calls, tell her you’ve got to sleep and you can’t talk. I’ve found that people who are crying while drunk are generally very apologetic about it. It’s part of the depression caused by the booze, I guess. She’ll probably feel really badly about this, so be ready to hear a lot more crying. You can encourage her to call another friend, but stay firm and if she keeps talking, just hang up. This is a very direct approach, and perhaps not the most helpful. It may send her into a spiral of depression, nobody loves her, life’s terrible right now, etc. And you may not be as gentle with her in the middle of the night as you probably should be. But it will get the point across.

2. Call her right now and tell her that she needs not to call you in the middle of the night anymore. Explain to her that you love her, but you’ve got to work early and you can’t answer her calls anymore. Another thing about drunk people is that they tend to be oblivious to other peoples’ responses or body language, so she may not notice your more subtle attempts to get her off the phone when she’s wasted. Telling her when she’s sober is a better idea, although she may not remember the conversation the next time she’s drunk. You could help her out by getting her one of those drunk dialing apps that will keep her from calling you. This may be the best option if you’re going to confront her about it, as you’ll both be in a better headspace than you would be in the middle of the night, and you can be gentle.

3. Send her calls directly to voicemail. This is my favorite solution. Most phones these days have an option where you can select to send certain peoples’ calls to voicemail. This way your phone won’t ring if she calls you late at night, and she’ll just assume your phone is off. If you want to receive calls from her during the day, you’ll have to turn this option off again in the morning, and remember to turn it back on at night. Of course, if you only have a landline, you may not necessarily have this option. Many phone service providers offer a blocked number function, which may not be as p0lite as sending her calls to voicemail, but will at least allow you to sleep through the night. If you do have to resort to blocking her number, make sure you warn her, or she’ll be extra mad. You may have to block her number if she forgets that you asked her not to call you, anyway, so just give her fair warning that you mean to sleep through the night, and if you have to take extreme measures, you will.

4. Ask another friend to hang out with her and take care of her at night. If she’s got a friend over at her house already, she probably won’t need to call you. Unless, of course, that friend goes home. This doesn’t really solve the problem in its entirety, but if you have a friend who is willing to hang out with the late night caller (and maybe help keep her from getting so drunk in the first place), it could at least put your mind at ease to some extent. You’ll know she’s got someone to talk to, and you’ll know that you can sleep. True, it’s hard to find people who actually want to hang out with a drunk, sad person, but hopefully you’ve got a group of friends who are willing to share the load (and don’t have the same work schedule you do).

As an aside, you might help her out by convincing her to go see a therapist to talk to. Also, if you think she’s got a drinking problem, you should have her seek help. We all know we’re not supposed to turn to alcohol to deal with our problems, but many of us still have a glass of wine or two when we’re down. If she’s drunk every night, this is a problem that extends beyond the fact that she’s calling you to complain and keeping you awake. Being drunk and sad is an especially bad combination if she’s ever had suicidal tendencies, so keep an eye on her for that.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you remind her that it’s not because you don’t love her or don’t want to be there for her, it’s just that you’re human and you can’t stay up all night the way she can. I think being direct is a much better approach than being indirect, but you may have to resort to other measures if she forgets herself when she’s been drinking.


borrowing money

Reader M. B. writes:

When it comes to borrowing money, how much is too much? Should you even do it at all?

Dear M.B.:

Money is a touchy subject. As a general rule of thumb, I say eschew any money issues having to do with friends or family. Borrow only from strangers or the government, and only borrow what you can pay back.

borrowing money

Image: dan /

Furthermore, don’t lend your money to friends or family members. If you are going to lend money to someone you know, make sure it’s an amount you don’t plan on ever seeing again, because you probably won’t.

I think it’s okay to borrow money once in a while if you don’t take much and can pay it back. If you don’t pay it back, you get a reputation for being a mooch and an untrustworthy person. If you’re at the office and you forgot your lunch and your work spouse can lend you $5, okay, fine, just get him/her back the next day. (It’s better if you two buy each other lunch once in a while and don’t keep tabs on this kind of stuff.)

I also think student loans are an acceptable case for borrowing. I hate that money can get in the way of a student getting the education they want, and I believe that, for the right school, a government-backed loan is a great solution. Student loans tend to have good interest rates and a pretty affordable payback schedule, as long as you finish school and get a good job with your degree (eventually — sure took me a while, not gonna’ lie). Plus, you can defer loans if you’re out of a job.

Pay day loans are obviously not okay. If you need money that bad, there are always other ways to handle debt. The one thing most people do wrong when they are in over their heads is try to hide from the problem or pretend it’s not there. There are debt counselors, and lots of places will forgive certain fees, etc., if you just talk to them. So don’t borrow money from pay day lenders, or from, say, the mob.

So, to recap:

– When borrowing money, make sure you can afford to pay it back, and then make sure you do pay it back;

– $5 once in a while is okay between friends, though buying someone lunch may be a better route;

– Avoid borrowing or lending with friends if you can help it;

– If you do lend money to someone you love, be prepared to let that money go;

– Only lend money you can stand to lose;

– Only take money from credible sources that won’t cap your knees if you can’t pay back on time;

– Rather than hiding from money problems, get organized and get them settled, sooner rather than later.


together again

Reader O.R. writes:

My boyfriend and I had a really bad breakup about two months ago. I confess: I was really upset and talked a lot of smack about him at the time, so now all my friends really hate him. The problem is, we got back together last week. What can I do to mitigate the hate?

Dear O.R.:

Now THERE’S a corner to be painted into. If I could go back in time, I’d have written a post for you that says “DON’T TALK SMACK ABOUT SOMEONE YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO GET BACK TOGETHER WITH.” But it’s a bit late for that. And I don’t think it would have helped much anyway.

Oh no she didn't

Oh no she didn't. Image: Ambro /

Some of our finest lovers are also the causes of our biggest, most heated arguments. That’s passion for you! It swings several ways — sexy, angry, happy, sad. If you’d broken up because it was mutual or one of you was moving away or something totally civil like that, you wouldn’t have fought in the first place. This was a break up of passion, and your reaction to it was equally passionate.

Your friends have probably seen you do something similar in the past. In fact, you may have done this very thing with this very same boyfriend before. Perhaps you two have been fighting your whole relationship and your friends are completely used to it. One thing about your current relationship that you may want to consider is the possibility that you’ll break up again.

One of the deals with having a boyfriend you fight with is that your friends probably started to dislike him before you actually broke up. And when you did break up with him, they probably got a big ol’ sigh of relief being able to say that they never liked him in the first place. But now that you’re back together with him, their truth-telling antics from last week are going to make them really, really uncomfortable. They can’t take back the crap they said about him, just like you can’t.

On that note, I’ll start into the options I think you have:

Keep the relationship a secret for a while. That’s probably what you’re going to do anyway. It’s what I’ve seen every girlfriend I have do when she broke up with a guy and got back together with him. It’s hard to swallow your pride and tell your friends you’re once again dating that asshole they all want to kill now. So until you guys have been together and stable for a few months, you should probably keep it under your hat. And as I was mentioning above, there’s a good chance you guys are going to fight and break up again. (Which is what I’ve also seen happen to every girlfriend who has gotten back together with a guy she had a horrible break up with.) If you’re not careful, your friends will start thinking of you like the boy who cried wolf, and then when you and this guy really break up (if you do — I mean, I can’t be 100% pessimistic… look what happened to Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big, two totally real-to-life characters out of a non-fantasy universe), you won’t have your friends’ shoulders to cry on.

Level with your buddies. They’re probably not stupid and they’ll figure out about the relationship soon anyway. Just tell them you know you said some bad stuff about the man, but you’re back with him. They may be so done with him that they’ll refuse to hang out with the two of you, in which case you’re probably about 85% more likely to split up again. Or they may be willing to give him another chance, just like you have. I like to think clear, direct communication is the best route in these matters, but they may just be clear and direct back in telling you that they hate how you are with him, they hate what he’s done to you, and they don’t want to watch you go through it again.

Try to do things that highlight how good this BF is. If he is really worth being with, his good qualities will show through and those bad qualities you were trash talking will fade into the distance. But you can bring these nice things about him to the forefront by doing what you did with the bad stuff: talk about it. “Oh, he was so good, he did X today.” Even if it’s something small, like, “didn’t leave his socks under the coffee table”, bring it up. It’ll help you remember his good qualities and focus on the positive, and eventually your friends will catch on.

Keep the hate-o-meter under control the next time you break up/fight. Not that it’s absolutely going to happen, but if you do break up a second (or third or fourth) time, watch how much of the vitriol you spread around. We all like to complain about our significant others, whether we’re broken up or not. But your friends love you and want to take care of you (if they’re real friends), and if you’ve got serious issues with a BF, they’re probably going to be happier with you if you don’t stay with the guy. And that’s a major consideration: if all the stuff you said about him during the breakup was true, do you really want to be with him?


getting stuff back

Reader N. M. writes:

I had a huge fight with a friend a few months ago and we haven’t been speaking since. However, she still has some of my stuff. Most notably a really nice dress I’d like to start wearing again (now that it’s springtime) and a set of DVDs I’d like to lend to another friend. What can I do to get those back?

Dear N.M.:

Unless you are willing to apologize for everything and take all the blame and make up with your friend, you are just going to have to write those items off as casualties of the ruined friendship.



She probably knows that DVDs make great coasters. Image: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot /

If this were a romantic break up, I’d say you have a better chance of finding those items on eBay and buying them back from your ex than you have of getting them back in a civilized manner. That’s what vindictive ex-gfs do, you see. We either burn everything you ever gave us, including the stuff you left behind, or we throw it away, or we sell it on eBay, depending on how dramatic we’re feeling and how much of the rest of the world we want involved in the break up drama.

Friends, on the other hand, don’t quite respond the same way, even in the most dramatic of break ups. Or at least they generally don’t. At the worst, she may have thrown them away in her anger, or donated them to a thrift store. She probably hasn’t burned them.

If she were particularly classy, she’d have already delivered them to you somehow on her own, without your nudging. She could have given them to a mutual friend, or simply dropped them on your doorstep when you weren’t home. She could also have mailed them to you. Or (wo)manned up and arranged a time to give them back to you in person.

As she has done none of those things, you can probably kiss those items goodbye. Just go buy new ones. They’re just things, remember. There will be other pretty spring dresses and I’m guessing those DVDs aren’t out of print.

I do, of course, have to be completely honest about this advice. I am personally not beneath begging for things back from people even after we’ve, say, totally broken up and I never want to see him again. I have, in fact, texted specific instructions to targets of my former ire concerning when and where they must leave my things where I will not have to interact with the person at all (“leave them under my doormat tomorrow while I’m at work”).

However, I have never waited more than three days to implement this sort of beg/instruct tactic. After a few months, I don’t think I would have the stomach for it, even if I had forgiven the person or gotten over whatever happened between us.

The thing about contacting someone you haven’t spoken to in months simply because they have some of your stuff is that it can be taken any number of ways. It can be a taken as a Trojan horse.  She may wonder if you’re contacting her because you want to apologize or be friends again. And if you are, the ball will be in her court. If you’re not, and it’s really just about stuff, that’s kind of twisting the knife a bit, isn’t it? “Hey, all that matters to me about our former relationship is the stuff of mine that you have. Your feelings are worth less than stuff, fyi.” The ball will also be in her court in this case, but it’s a different kind of ball. Part of the fun of demanding stuff back from an ex is this sort of “you mean nothing to me now, give me my money back, you bitch” feeling. Which may or may not be what you’re intending to say to this friend. And if she takes it this way, she may decide not to give you your stuff back at all. (Which is what a vindictive ex-gf would do, of course.)

Who knows how she’ll respond to you after all this time. She may have forgiven you. She may not. She may have gotten over the fight altogether. Or she may still be festering over it. In fact, she may have forgotten she had your stuff at all, and will now, due to your reminder, put it on eBay or burn it. It’s completely within your rights to ask for your stuff back. You just have to be prepared for the reaction. It’s a good possibility that she just won’t respond to you at all.

In which case, we head right back to my original advice: relinquish those items to the void. They’re as dead to you as the friendship is.

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