Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friends Want Reader To Pay the Tab at Every Dinner

DEAR HARRIETTE: My two best friends and I go out to dinner every Friday night. We started this tradition after I got a huge promotion at my job and treated everyone to dinner. This happened several months ago.

Both of my friends have their own jobs and make good money. The problem is that they still expect me to pay the bill every time we go out for our Friday dinners. I don't do it every time, but they always suggest. It makes for an awkward evening when they consistently suggest that I handle the bill. When I asked them why they always think that I should cover them, they said that it's because I have the highest-paying job. They also say that we pay for each other all the time, and it's not a big deal. It is a big deal because I've never asked them to pay for anything I do, and I always handle my own tab. I'm thinking I may want to stop the Friday dinner tradition altogether. What should I do? Why do you think they keep doing this? -- Split the Check

DEAR SPLIT THE CHECK: You set the standard when you started this tradition by treating everyone. You will have to change it, or else it will remain awkward. You can tell them that it feels uncomfortable now when you guys go out because you realize that the expectation is that you should pay. Remind them that you paid that first time because you were celebrating and wanted to treat them all. Now that it’s just your time together, you do not want to be obligated to pay for everyone. You believe it should be shared. Tell them you don’t want this to be awkward for anybody, which is why you want to talk it out now.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My birthday was in early March. On the night of my birthday, a good friend of mine decided to take me out to dinner. I wasn't feeling very good that night, so I asked her if she could take me home early. She dropped me off back at my house, and I asked her to text me when she got home. Later, I found out that she got into a horrible car accident about an hour after dropping me off. She messed up her spine pretty badly.

I'm having a really hard time facing her and facing the guilt that I'm feeling. I’m feeling guilty because if she hadn't come to see me that night, maybe she would not have been in a car accident. She could've been killed, and that is also very hard to think about. I have no idea what to say to her or how to be there for her. I fear that she may resent me for avoiding her. What should I say? What should I do? -- Guilty Conscience

DEAR GUILTY CONSCIENCE: Not reaching out to your friend and doing anything you can to support her is what should make you feel guilty -- not the fact that she left you and had the accident. Push past your discomfort, and think about her. You called her a good friend. Now it’s time for you to step up and be exactly that. She needs you. Be there for her.

Visit her. Apologize for not being there sooner. Don’t go into your feelings of guilt. That’s about you. The focus needs to be on her now. Tell her how sorry you are that this happened, and ask how you can help her.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)