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Surprise changes in plans strain woman’s friendship

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I have a serious issue with my best girlfriend. We make plans together, adult plans, and then at the last minute, her kids drop the young grandkids off for her to babysit, curtailing any plans we have together. The past few times, we have changed our plans to a "kids" activity.

I have an extremely busy client load, and I'm losing income by accommodating my friend's time constraints, which revolve around making her husband's lunch and dinner. Although I'm single now (I am a widow), I do understand why she has her priorities. If her grandkids are there when we have plans, she asks me to pick them up fast food on the way over -- on my dime.

I have kids and grandkids myself, and they are important to me. I'm tired of being held hostage by her adult children who I feel are using her and taking advantage of the "drop-in day care" with Nana. How can I talk to her about our time being important, too? I have intentionally NOT made plans with my grandkids if she and I have plans, and I would love some reciprocity. -- THROWN UNDER THE BUS

DEAR THROWN: If this happened occasionally, I would advise you to cut your friend some slack. However, because this happens often, tell her your dates with her are carefully scheduled, and when she changes them at the last minute, it has a negative impact on you economically. Point out that when you make dates with her, you let your children know they will have to arrange for another babysitter unless it is an emergency. And, if the last-minute changes continue, see her less often and arrange to socialize with other friends who appreciate your situation.

DEAR ABBY: I'm about to be 22. I have been talking to a man around my age for almost six months now. He tells me how special I am and how much I mean to him, but says he isn't ready for a relationship. We go on dates and do not have relations with other people. He says putting a "title" on us will give him accountability he doesn't want.

He claims to be over his ex, but he often mentions her. I know he was still conversing with her when we first started talking, but he lied about it. I'm not rushing a relationship because I know it takes time to get to know someone, but I want to know if he can see a future with me, and that is a question he will not answer.

I have attachment issues and don't want to let him go, but I can't help but feel as if I am not good enough for him (which he says is not the case). Should I move on or wait and see what the future holds? -- IMPATIENT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR IMPATIENT: Stop allowing your insecurity issues affect your common sense. You are both young, and your relationship has been going on for only six months.

He has been honest by admitting he isn't ready for a relationship or the titles that go with one. He may not answer your questions about a future because he doesn't know the answer, so stop pushing him. He may be more focused on work at this point than romance, and frankly, so should you be. If nothing has changed in another six months, consider dating others then.

DEAR ABBY: What is acceptable after a breakup occurs? Several years ago, I reached out to an ex-girlfriend. We had dated for six months, but she broke up with me to take a job in another state. A year later, I heard through mutual friends that she had recently moved back. I didn't call or text, but I did send an email asking how she was doing and if she'd like to talk.

She completely freaked out! She threatened to get a restraining order and told many of our mutual friends that I had been stalking her for a year. From that experience I learned never to contact an ex-girlfriend if they initiate the breakup.

Fast-forward: I recently ran into another ex-girlfriend who initiated the breakup. She told me that for an entire year after that breakup she hoped I would call her and, when I didn't, it proved I had never loved her. Abby, I feel like I can't win. It's similar to how some women say they won't let a guy kiss them unless they ask first, and others say if a guy asks, he's a wimp and they would refuse. As a man, I feel like I'm in an impossible position. No matter what I do, half the women on the planet will either view it as too aggressive or too passive. Help! -- CONFOUNDED IN OREGON

DEAR CONFOUNDED: Welcome to reality. Accept that no matter what you do, you can't please everyone. If the only contact you had with that first ex-girlfriend was one email after her return to your city, then she was either grandstanding to get attention or it was a symptom of emotional instability. As to your second ex, men with self-esteem rarely call back after being rejected because once is enough.

Please don't let those two "dolls" sour you on all women. As you know, the #MeToo movement has highlighted the importance of consent. Asking a woman before you make a move is always prudent.

DEAR ABBY: I have struggled with my weight for years. My husband doesn't eat sweets, but we have a friend who insists on dropping off trays of dozens of cupcakes, candies, cookies, etc. I appreciate the time, money and effort, but I'm finally on an eating program that's working for me. I told her (nicely) that while I appreciate her gesture, I can't be trusted alone with such goodies, so please share them with folks who have better self-control. Well! She swore at me and told me to lose her number.

To say the least, I was shocked. Abby, I was as gentle and appreciative as could be. I explained that I have a problem and I'm the only one here who indulges in such foods. Was I wrong? What gives? I would donate them, but since I have a problem with sweets, I prefer not to have them in my house. -- SWEET LOVE/HATE IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR SWEET: You did nothing wrong; you did yourself an important favor. That woman is not only not a friend, but she is also someone who cares nothing about your health and well-being. She is a "saboteur" with a vested interest in keeping you heavy.

I admire your determination to take a stand on behalf of your eating program and your health. It took courage, and I applaud you for doing it. Sadly, too many people are afraid to do what you did.