DEAR NATALIE: My friend and I had a big falling out over her boyfriend (now fiancé) and she said I am no longer invited to her wedding. I basically told her that this guy is a loser and she could do better. She asked me my opinion and I gave it to her. Now she’s mad. I have tried to apologize to her but she hasn’t been willing to take my calls. We have been friends for a very long time and I think she is being really petty. She’s told me how she has felt about my exes, so why aren’t I allowed to tell her the same? What should I do? I don’t want this to break up a decade-long friendship. -- FEELING LIKE A LOSER
DEAR FEELING LIKE A LOSER: Send flowers and a handwritten apology note. Damage control is necessary here to salvage this friendship because it sounds as though you overstepped your place in the relationship. Did she ask you for your opinion on him? Was this a little bit of payback for all the things that she said about your exes over the years? Think about why you said what you said to her. It really isn’t your place to tell her if she can do better unless she came to you specifically asking you for your thoughts, but judging by her reaction, I’m guessing that wasn’t the case. I would write her an apology, explaining that you realize now that what you said was unwarranted and hurtful. You hope that your friendship can weather this storm because you love and care for her and only want to see her happy. If he creates happiness for her, then you are glad for that. Explain that you don’t expect to be invited to the wedding, but would still love to be there for her. After you send the flowers and note, give it some time. My guess is that she will soften and come around. Friendships are so special, but people get very territorial about their romantic relationships so you have to recognize that his place in her world most likely takes precedence over her other relationships now. Be willing to keep your lip zipped about your feelings and just try to move forward. At the end of the day, if he really is bad news, she will figure it out. Just don’t tell her “I told you so”.
DEAR NATALIE: With all the holiday madness happening, I thought it would be fun to take my best friend away for the weekend. She works two jobs and is a single parent to two young children. When I proposed the idea, she became really upset and said she couldn’t afford something like that. I told her it was my gift to her and instead of being thankful, she is now avoiding me. She said it was “too much to spend on her” and she didn’t want to be “indebted to anyone.” I’m really offended by her and think she owes me an apology. Is this what happens when you try and do something nice? — BE GRATEFUL
DEAR BE GRATEFUL: I think you need to take a seat. Put yourself in her shoes here for a moment. While it was very generous of you to offer a weekend away, imagine how that might make her feel. She can’t “pay that back” so to speak, and her sense of pride may be the cause of why she is avoiding you. She may feel embarrassed or overwhelmed. Instead of expecting an apology, why not reach out to her with some compassion. Either call her or text her to explain that you didn’t mean to upset her, you just wanted to show her how strong and amazing she is by gifting her some rest and relaxation. Then tell her that if the weekend is too much, you would love to just take her to lunch or for a pedicure or something. If child care is an issue, you would be happy to pay for a sitter for
just a few hours so that she can get some rest to recharge. If she is still unsure of this plan, bring lunch over to her, instead. Meet her where she is, at whatever comfort level she is at for the moment. For you, a weekend of pampering may be just what the doctor ordered, but she may not be in a place to receive such a gift. Self care means different things to different people, so find out what she needs and what you can do to make her life a little easier. You are a good friend, I think she is lucky to have someone who wants to support her as much as you!
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Want a conversation? Don’t make it an interview. Ask open-ended questions that you can respond and add to so that the conversation is less of a pingpong match and more fluid.
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)