DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is a bit older than me. Our friend group describes him as elusive. When he is present, he is the life of the party. When he doesn’t feel like being bothered, he is grumpy or just absent. He often uses his elderly family members as an excuse for not showing up.
Last year, he told us that his mother died. He wasn’t close to her, but still, it was sad. This year, he mentioned that he went to visit another elder who was having a birthday party. Then he said his mother wasn’t able to attend. Huh? Is he just playing us? We were all so sad for him about his mother’s passing. Now he’s saying that she is still alive.
We’re feeling manipulated at this point. We want to be good friends to him, but we don’t know what to believe. Seems like he has been lying so long he may not even know how to tell the truth anymore. What should we do? -- Caught in a Lie
DEAR CAUGHT IN A LIE: It could be that your friend is suffering memory loss. It could be that his default excuse that he has to deal with family elders when he has committed to doing something with friends is growing old. Since you are close and this is making you uncomfortable, speak up. This may be the time for the heart-to-heart that you have never had. Be forthright with him, and let him know that you would rather he just tell you the truth instead of using his family as an excuse.
Tell him how disconcerting it was that he told you last year that his mother died only for you to discover this year that she is still living. Ask him for the truth, and tell him that it is upsetting you and the rest of your friend group. Pretending that his mother died, if that’s what actually happened, is unconscionable.
If his response suggests that he doesn’t remember saying that or there is confusion around who’s alive or dead, know that he could be suffering from memory loss. If that’s possible, encourage him to get himself checked out. If you think he’s lying, you will have to decide how to receive future information about his family so that you can protect yourself from a yo-yo of emotions.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)