DEAR ABBY: Years ago, I met a man through golf, and we developed a casual friendship. I lost track of him for a few years, but when I heard his wife was being treated with chemo for cancer, I took them food and offered my support. As our friendship grew stronger, we began playing more golf and became "refriended." He's a good golfer, but very serious, and he whines constantly on the course. I have kidded him about it, and he acknowledges it to a small degree.
He's also joined at the hip with his wife, so much so that when I invited him to our cabin for a guys' weekend, he asked if his wife and dog could come along. I nixed the dog and reluctantly agreed to the wife. A year later, I invited him again, but without his wife because two other friends were coming and it was guys only. He came, but he didn't really fit in.
Fast-forward to now. Our friendship continues, but his whining has grown much worse, and he can't go anywhere without his wife (although she's very nice). She has mentioned to friends that I'm one of only a few remaining friends, and she appreciates it very much. Now I know why! How do I "break up," Abby? I don't want to be around him anymore. -- ANONYMOUS IN THE WEST
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Because your friend doesn't fit in with the other guy friends, no rule of etiquette says you must continue to invite him. I wish you had mentioned what he whines about when you golf with him. If it is his wife's precarious health, it may be that he needs to vent in a cancer support group rather than with you. If it's the golf game, then you will have to decide whether he's such a valuable golf partner that you need him. If other members of your golf group no longer want him there, it would be a kindness to socialize with him and his wife less often rather than abandon them. If the shoe was on the other foot, isn't that what you would want?