Dear Amy: I’m a middle-aged man.
My sister who lives out of state and stays in touch with hometown friends connected me with one of her friends “Susan,” who needed help with a minor home repair.
I did this for her, and we discussed a future flooring project.
Due to her budget constraints I suggested that we could do the flooring job together (I was mildly interested in her). I thought that maybe I creeped her out, because I never heard from her again.
Fast-forward two years.
I connected with a woman on a dating app who is friends with both my sister and Susan.
The new woman, “Jill,” told me on our first date that she and Susan are lifelong friends and that Susan had told her that she is in love with me from our first meeting, two years ago.
All without me ever knowing!
Jill said that we couldn’t be together because it would be a betrayal to Susan.
Jill and I both really hit it off and agree that our chemistry is amazing. We discussed at length the difficulty of the situation.
Jill told me that she is going to see other people. I’m a bit disappointed and confused.
Should I contact Susan?
Dear Stuck: “Jill’s” interpretation of “girl code” seems to be that if a friend confesses to a case of unexpressed and unrequited love, then Jill must stay away, regardless of her own feelings, impulses, or instincts.
Jill might have misreported or exaggerated her friend “Susan’s” feelings for you, but I am going to venture a take on this, that if Jill really wanted to have a second date with you, she would find a way to justify it — especially if the chemistry between you is “amazing.”
You could certainly contact Susan to follow up on her flooring — or other — needs, but you should ask yourself if you want to invite involvement with someone who is so passive and hard to read.
At the risk of preventing you from connecting with your next great love — my instincts are that neither of these women is a match for you.
But in this regard, the most important thing to consider is what your own instincts tell you.
Dear Amy: My husband goes to dinner a couple of times a month with the guys, including “Theo,” a man he has known since elementary school.
Theo’s wife “Teri” hosted a birthday party for Theo, which is where my husband and I met her. She asked if we would like to go out socially.
We got together a couple of times and it wasn’t that enjoyable.
Teri took complete command — from ordering the food for the group to the topics we discussed.
It’s not that we dislike them, but we just have no interest in going out socially with them!
I have given every social clue there is, not answering calls, not returning texts, and breaking plans after she has worn me down to make them in the first place!
My question is, how do I tell someone I’m not interested in being friends without hurting their feelings?
— Want Out
Dear Want Out: “Teri” obviously doesn’t read cues the way most people do, and so you’ll have to be honest (but polite) with her. Due to her domineering personality, she might need to have the dynamic and your intentions spelled out.
You could say, “Obviously, our husbands are great friends, but we don’t seem to have great chemistry when we get together as couples. I’m going to back away and let the men continue their special friendship without me.”
She may respond to this statement by doubling down on the social pressure, and if so, you’ll have to say, “Thank you, but I just don’t want to get together.”
Dear Amy: The question by “Had Enough” really resonated with me.
My daughter also experienced a painful rejection and bullying from her friend group.
Her mental health suffered. She sought counseling and is successfully getting on with her life, but it changed her.
We were friends with parents of some of the girls involved.
I gently brought it up, and got a very unsatisfying answer.
I realized I don’t want to be associated with those people anymore and have quietly let the friendship go.
I am cordial when I see them, but we don’t socialize with them.
I hope Had Enough can move on, too.
— Moving On
Dear Moving On: The ability to let go and move on is essential self-care.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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