Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I used to be very close friends with two of my neighbors. One has been a very good friend for more than eight years, and the other has lived in the neighborhood for only about three years. We are all moms and wives, and we have a lot in common. I introduced the two of them last summer because I don't like to leave anyone out. Now they are inseparable, and I am not "in the loop" anymore. I work three days per week, and they are stay-at-home moms. They go to movies, have play dates, eat dinner, etc. without even inviting me. Some of these activities take place when I am at work, but others happen when I'm not working. Because we live on the same street, I can see when one is at the other's home. The last time we got together was at my house a couple of months ago. I have not received an invite since then.

This issue has hurt me deeply. These ladies and I have shared a lot of our lives, and our kids play together. I thought we had the type of friendship that would withstand me being absent part of the time, but apparently they've decided they are perfectly happy without me. I've always known a three-way friendship was hard, but I never thought I'd be on the outs.

I struggle with whether to say anything. Part of me wants to get my feelings in the open and find out if something I did has offended them. But another part of me just wants to close myself off from them and hope they get the message that they've hurt me. I do not like drama, and I'm uncomfortable with the idea of discussing this with them. What do you think? -- Feeling Rejected, Pittsburgh

DEAR FEELING REJECTED: Friendships among three people often leave someone feeling left out, yet it is definitely possible to navigate them successfully if everyone is interested. If you want to be back in the mix of this friend circle, it's time to talk to these ladies. Do not complain or whine. Instead, invite them over and let them know how much you miss them. Tell them you are so happy that your introduction of them last summer clicked so well. Remind them that while you do work, you would like to spend time together whenever possible. You can ask if you offended them in some way since they haven't included you of late.

Closing yourself off will likely not work. People are not mind readers. Chances are that they might not even notice that you are being distant. They could interpret your absence as busyness.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I enjoy your column, but I was a bit confused about this letter and your answer to the woman whose best friend chose the wrong restaurant for her surprise birthday party. Why wouldn't the woman's boyfriend know her favorite restaurant? He should know that she doesn't like Italian food. -- Confused, Washington, D.C.

DEAR CONFUSED: Yes, the boyfriend should know his girlfriend's food preference, but sometimes significant others are clueless about these things. In this case, the issue seemed to be that the best friend was taking over the birthday celebration plans and the boyfriend was blindly going along. The whole scenario sends up red flags, among them that the boyfriend and girlfriend need to be tight enough that the best friend cannot make a mess of their relationship.