DEAR HARRIETTE: I have had a couple of financially good years recently. At the same time, I know that a couple of my closest friends have been suffering. I do my best to be supportive. For example, we used to go out to eat a lot. Now, I invite them over for drinks or dinner at least once a month so we can hang without adding burdensome expenses to anyone. Everybody seems to have a nice time, and sometimes they will bring a dish or a bottle of wine or something. My worry is that the power dynamic is subtly changing because I’m the one doing well right now. My career has gone up and down for years. I know this may be fleeting, but I don't want my friendships to suffer. How can I keep close to my friends as our financial realities change? -- In Limbo
DEAR IN LIMBO: Continue being yourself with your friends. Don’t apologize for your success nor brag about it. Life has many twists and turns, and you are smart to realize that this moment will pass. Perhaps some of your friends will also become successful; perhaps not. Each of us has our own path to follow. You cannot create or walk anyone else’s path.
Sadly, socioeconomic differences are often the hardest for people to navigate, sometimes more difficult than race, gender or politics -- not to diminish the challenges people face in those arenas. You have the opportunity to continue your friendships despite the economic differences that are emerging. By remaining sensitive to their identities and needs as you also pay attention to yours, you have a chance to defy the odds and sustain the love between you, despite your differences. Trust that it will not always be easy. Pay attention to your loved ones. Listen to their stories as you also tell your own. Find your points of connection and keep them strong.