Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A friend-ly chat?

Several months ago, I was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance of mine. In the following months, I moved back home with my parents in order to piece myself back together. Most of my friends have been amazingly supportive, and I am so very grateful to have them. However, I am having trouble with my college roommate, one of my closest friends.

At the time of the attack, my friend was overseas, and I called her several days later to tell her what had happened and what I was doing, just to let her know I was okay. I didn't expect her to say all the right things, and I knew she would have a hard time coming up with what how to respond (who wouldn't?). But I also didn't expect her to turn on me, asking if I had been drinking, how much I drank--giving me the third degree on my actions and implying I should not have partied so hard. This hurt me very much, and I tried to tell myself that she didn't mean what she was asking.

Since then, she has had very little contact with me. I have sent her e-mails and messages ranging from personal updates to "housekeeping" emails about our apartment. She has responded only once to give me information I asked for and to tell me she is "too busy" having just returned from overseas. At the same time, I am speaking with my other friends and I know that she is not "too busy" to party and go out with them, and it hurts me that she hasn't sent me any other e-mails or messages.

Because I am out-of-state staying with my parents, I feel out of the loop as it is. I want very much to reconnect with my friend, but I don't know what to say to her. She is a sensitive girl, and I don't know if she is intentionally avoiding me or if she really is "too busy." How should I approach her without accidentally accusing her of being a bad friend, which is what I think will happen if I tell her how hurt I feel.

At a Loss

Dear Loss,

I would have been willing to give her a pass if she didn't have anything to say after the assault because she didn't know what to say, but to actually grill you on the details of your boozing heads way into crappy friend territory to me. So if she does feel that you're calling her a bad friend without saying it, then I have little sympathy for her.

I can't tell whether or not your friend is growing in a different direction than you or if she is the kind of person who blames the victim, but something has definitely changed in her. Since you're out of state for a while, your only chance to talk to her before school starts again is probably going to be on the phone or through an e-mail.

I'd approach it like this: tell her that you've noticed your relationship with each other has changed a lot since you revealed that you had been sexually assaulted. Ask her why. If she stonewalls, ask her point blank whether or not she is still your friend. The result may end in a little screaming from her side, but these are things she should have communicated to you months ago.

I realize your apartment together will make this conversation difficult, but regardless of what happens, you should reconsider living together. Sure, she communicates about basic apartment needs, but she is like a clam about everything else. I doubt that is a good living situation.

Aunt Amy

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My friend, the mosquito

I have this friend who always says I'm his best friend, but he doesn't treat me like it. He has been having problems with this girl for a long time now and I always help him with it. I listen to everything he says and give him advice. He listens to all of his other friends' problems except mine. Whenever I say I have a problem, he just tells me to shut up and stop whining.

I'm kind of sick of this. I feel like he's draining me, like I use up so much of my energy to cheer him up that I can' t make myself happy. What can I do?

Drained Friend

Dear Friend,

I have definitely had friends like this. The most recent one was in college, except instead of telling me to shut up, she would counter with something worse that had happened to her recently. This sort of one-upmanship is why we are no longer in touch.

Her actions remind me of your friend's. He's telling you his problems endlessly, and you're solving them because you want to be a good friend. Good friends are there for each other and help each other out when there are problems. Good friends reciprocate. This is why your friend is not a good friend, and you know it.

What I find particularly troubling is that your friend isn't just talking over you, but he's talking at you to tell you he doesn't want to hear it. He only wants to hear you when you're talking sweet to him. I think he is using you as a de facto shrink, and you clearly aren't enjoying it.

You may decide it's time to let this friendship go, because talking about it won't really help. Besides, he has stopped listening already when it counts.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A date for church

I have been dating a girl for about 4 months. I'm 28 and she's 26. I am a practicing Catholic, and my faith plays an integral role in my life. My girlfriend was raised Catholic but isn't really practicing. While she still identifies herself as Catholic, she hasn't gone to Mass in years except for weddings and funerals.

I really like her a lot. She is pretty much perfect in every other aspect, or at least it seems that way at this stage in the relationship. However, I really want a girlfriend (and eventually a wife) who shares my religious beliefs so that we can raise our children the same way.

She said she respects my religious beliefs and every time I ask her if she wants to join me for church on Sunday, shows forced interest but never actually attends. What should I do?

Love for God

Dear Love,

I take it that a girl who "isn't really practicing" is no longer really interested in the religion she was born into.

Children are usually born into the belief system of their parents. As they grow up, they will figure out pretty quickly what they believe and what they don't. Some will be happy with their original religion, while others will drop it completely or even convert to another one. Some people, like your girlfriend, haven't outlawed their original religion, but no longer identify with it. She goes to church out of familial obligation.

I don't think you're going to change that, and if you try, she will resent you. I understand why you'd want a girlfriend (and future wife) who shares your beliefs, but if that's important enough to you, you should be picking up ladies at church.

As for your current lady, well, she's perfect. Maybe she's just not perfect for you. I'd let her go while it's still early if you can't get past her beliefs. She wouldn't want to know you were preparing to marry her that early in the relationship anyway.

Aunt Amy

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Unfair bride?

I'm a freshman in college and my best friend is getting married in September. She asked me to be her bridesmaid and I was very excited because I love weddings.

The time to get the dresses came and she sent the other bridesmaids and I the price for the dresses. The price for
me is not that bad, but it's $150. I wish this were the only problem with her wedding planning, but obviously there is more.

She has informed us that we will not be included in the pictures she will take with her husband and that we will have to find our own way of transportation to church because we are not going with her in the limo. Is is fair for us to not be in the pictures? I mean, how will we have proof of even participating in the wedding?

I have spoken to the other bridesmaids and they do not think it is reasonable to not be included in the pictures or transportation. All of us are freshman in college and one is still in high school and we don't have the funds to pull off all of her genius ideas. So is there anyway that we can let her know in what position she is putting us in? Do you think this is fair?

Stressed by Bride

Dear Stressed,

You are one of the unlucky freshmen who get to take Intro to Weddings 101 about four years early. I do not envy you; the tests are taken in a minefield.

Because your friend is so young, I'm willing to bet that someone's parents are orchestrating this whole event, right down to the corsages. I doubt she is making many of these choices alone, especially since she probably isn't old enough to finance this wedding.

But in case she is in control here, well...she should know better. $150 isn't pricey for a matching bridesmaid dress for working adults, but she should have realized that none of you are making enough to justify that one-time purchase.

As for transportation, typically the bridal party does not ride with the bride and groom. You're all old enough to have your licenses; arrange to carpool. Your qualms about the pictures continue to make me think the bride isn't the main decision maker here. Pictures often include the bridal party and family, but don't have to. Maybe it's too expensive. That's okay. If you want pictorial evidence that you were there, take the pictures yourself.

Since there are cost concerns, I don't think it would be inappropriate for those guests with small wallets to speak with her privately and tell her they can't afford $150 for a dress. Hopefully they all can come up with a compromise.

Aunt Amy

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Friend's future in jeopardy?

I have a really social, caring friend who has this guy she loves to be with. The main reason is that he was her first crush...but I think this guy is not right for her. He's an introvert and is sometimes demanding and sometimes sweet.

My friend has a chance to be in the United States, which she loves, and this guy tells her he doesn't like to work there. Her parents even convinced a family friend's son to ask her to marry him so they can live happily together. I do think that is the best thing.

When I told her I thought that was best, she ended up crying and saying things like "why do all of these things happen to me" and "why do I have to suffer all of the time." Did I do something wrong? How can I help her?

Wants what's best

Dear Wants,

The first thing I thought of when I read this letter was, damn, can't anyone let your friend make her own damn decisions?

Her first crush (and current love) may be demanding, which is a negative trait, but just because he isn't as outgoing as she is doesn't mean he isn't right for her. What may indicate that things should end is that she's about to make a big career move to the States, and he doesn't want to join in. She has to decide if he is worth it.

And now, in a seemingly bizarre fashion, her parents have gotten someone to propose to her, as though it were a magic pill. Her best friend's opinion of that disgusts her, and she's acting like a perpetual victim. Girl has GOT to make her own choice.

That means you can't do it for her. You've expressed your opinion, so let that remain and stop discussing it. Here's to hoping she can stand on her own two feet and not make decisions based on what everyone else wants.

Aunt Amy

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Providing a friendly service

I have a friend who is in massage school. Last weekend we were chatting about the techniques she had recently learned and she asked if I wanted a massage. How could I turn it down?

So I got the massage but then when she was done she acted really uncomfortable. I asked her what was up and she said her fee is usually $20. I didn't really know what to do because I thought she was doing it as a favor, so I just ended the conversation and left.

If your friend was in massage school and offered you a massage, would you pay her or expect it for free?

Relaxed yet tense

Dear Relaxed,

When I am the recipient of a service, I expect to be told certain things. What can I choose? How long will it take? What are the side effects? How much will it cost?

But this happens when I'm in a doctor's office or a hair salon. I have come to them for a service, specifically, and expect to pay for it. You, on the other hand, said you would be a recipient of a service that your friend is still learning. You did not receive this service in a massage parlor, and it was under the guise of showing off her talents.

Every good friend gives some freebies. For me, it was discounting the occasional friend sub when I worked at delis. For her, it is showing off a skill she is learning to friends.

It's up to you on how to handle this. Depending on her personality, she may get really offended if you don't pay her. Why not try talking to her, recap the situation and explain you didn't realize she wasn't doing this for free? Either way, be careful about future massage offers from that friend. You're better off sticking with the professionals.

Aunt Amy