Friend consistently flakes out on social engagements

Published 8:24 am Thursday, February 1, 2024

DEAR ABBY: I’m a widow. I have a friend I’ll call “Greta,” whom I have known since high school. I was very shy back then. She was more outgoing, but our group of friends was small. Over the years, I have become more outgoing, while Greta seems to be withdrawing socially.
She often tells me she will go to an event only if I go with her, but when I commit to it and pay for my part, she usually backs out. The problem is, Greta picks events I would otherwise not choose to attend or that none of my other friends are attending, so I must go alone or lose the money.
I’m about to retire, so I’ll have less income. I am also working on widening my circle of friends so I can remain active. Greta wants to be invited and gets upset if I don’t ask her to join me. However, she sees no problem with her constant no-shows.
This is putting a strain on our relationship and on my newly formed friendships. I feel guilty for moving on socially, but I’m afraid I’ll end up isolated if I try to meet her demands. What can I do to meet my own needs and still maintain her friendship? – NAVIGATING FRIENDSHIP

DEAR NAVIGATING: You may not be able to do both. Have you pointed out to Greta that what she has been doing is unfair, not to mention expensive? If you haven’t, do it now. If you have told her and have been ignored, remind her. When you do, express plainly that what she has been doing is rude, and if it happens again, you will no longer buy tickets for her events. Then step back and see her less often, and only one-on-one if you see her at all.
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DEAR ABBY: My adult son suffered a nervous breakdown a couple of years ago. Ever since, he has been blaming me for all his problems. It was always important to me to be a good mother, and I tried to be. Now he claims I was “emotionally abusive.” (I never tried to be abusive.) He has put me through hell the last couple of years with his nasty accusations. I don’t know where it’s coming from.
Abby, he blames me for everything bad in his life. I am upset and crying all the time. He used to be sweet, and we were extremely close. Now he says he doesn’t want to see me unless I get therapy!
Everyone who knows me knows I would never hurt my son. It seems like he is going out of his way to hurt me. I think he needs to take responsibility for his own life and quit using me as his whipping post. Am I wrong? What should I do? – WOUNDED MOM IN WISCONSIN

DEAR MOM: I think you should agree to the therapy, but that it should be FAMILY therapy with a licensed mental health professional. Your son may (or may not) have some legitimate complaints, but it would be better if they were heard by an unbiased mediator.
I can’t guarantee this will solve all the problems you’re having with your troubled son, but it will give each of you the opportunity to hear where the other is coming from. After that, if the relationship doesn’t improve, do what you must to protect your emotional well-being and stop communicating with him.
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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