DAME’s Friendkeeper tells a woman how to kick her pal’s pushy diet advice to the curb and helps a newly separated man understand his friends’ apparent lack of empathy.
One of my best friends is a little bit of a health extremist. She is constantly on the lookout for the new diet/cleanse/vitamin/herb that’s going to make her healthier, and I say, “Go Andrea! Live forever!” Except, she doesn’t just do her thing and leave everyone else alone, she insists upon converting the world. I’m fine with that except when she directs it at me, which is almost always. I’m healthy enough—you know, I could stand to lose five or ten pounds, but I don’t smoke or drink excessively, I’m in decent shape, and mainly I am not interested in trying every new trend that comes down the pike. Like, a couple of years ago she was vehemently anti–caffeinated coffee, she didn’t stop with it. And now she read something else that says caffeinated coffee is good so it’s not even like her info is that solid. My thing is that I want her to leave me alone. Stop looking at the ingredients on my Triscuits or tsk-ing when I order fries, and don’t buy me giant horse vitamins and get mad when they just sit in my cabinet. I know there are worse problems in the world, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings and she’s making me nuts. What do I do?
Leave Me Alone
I think we all have one of those friends. They aren’t happy being happy with their new thing they do unless you do it, too. I’m a big believer in everyone minding their own business when it comes to things of the body, unless your friend is smoking crack or going to work drunk OR if you ask them, “Please help me get off dairy.” I just think no one responds to badgering. I used to have this friend who recommended books or movies to me with this crazy enthusiastic YOU HAVE TO READ IT, IT’S THE BEST BOOK EVER! YOU HAVE TO SEE THE MOVIE YOU WILL LOVE IT SO MUCH! And it just made me never want to read the book or see the movie. It’s almost like they’re invading your experience. Anyway, you have to tell your friend that you love her and admire her zest for life but all she is doing is making you feel uncomfortable (don’t say irritated or driving you nuts), that every adult’s body is their own responsibility and what they choose to put in it or how they move it is up to them. And if she doesn’t get it, tell her you read a medical paper on the benefits of pink Hostess Sno Balls and if she doesn’t eat them you’ll think she’s stupid.
About six months ago my wife left me. It’s been rough but I’ve been managing. Nearly 15 years ago, a bunch of my friends and I got baseball season tickets. This year I’ve been dodging invites and each time, the friend who invites me says, “Well, everyone would love to see you!” The reason that I keep ducking games is that the people who would “love to see me” have never called, or emailed, or any of that since the split. Like, I don’t want to sit and explain how my wife left me yet again. Actually fucking contact me if you’re concerned. Don’t wait until we’re accidentally in the same space. They all have children and the responsibilities that come with that, but still. Lift a finger?
I’m just wondering if I’m being a dick about this or not. I kind of feel like I’m being a jerk, but for decades, when some bad thing happened to a friend, I reached out and I made time. So making small talk at a ball game is something I’m not exactly leaping to do.
Better but Bitter
Short answer: You’re not a dick. Your feelings are your feelings and at the moment they are hurt on a wide scale.
I have noticed lo these past years of adulthood that people don’t always know how to help a friend in need—whether it be a life crisis or a health crisis—and some of them freeze up. I know when my marriage broke up there was one woman I was so surprised not to hear from and when I finally saw her she said, “Your marriage always seemed so much better than mine so I figured if you split up I should have definitely split up.” I don’t know if she thought it was contagious or what but I moved on. I also think it’s hard for people to pick up a phone and ask how you’re doing. Think of how intense your situation is—if someone hasn’t been in touch with you all along they might be afraid of upsetting you or getting too personal. Your one close friend has no excuse, but the other sort of fringe people may just have no idea what to do. And they may just be afraid.
If you are pissed and want to stay away, then fine. You said you don’t want to tell the story again but you also don’t want to make small talk. I don’t think it’s the place to say, “Where the fuck were you?” but personally I would think a ball game with a bunch of friends might be a nice way to sort of break the ice. You can handle the questions any way you want which includes saying, “I had a really rough time but I’m doing well now.” (Understood here: “No thanks to you!”) These are clearly not top-tier friends, but you just never know. Go to a game, have a few beers. Something nice might happen…like one of them will get hit in the head with a foul ball! Just kidding.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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