Paper Cranes

Lifelong friendship tested

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

I’ve had the same best friend since middle school, nearly 40 years now. We’ve been through everything together. She’s the best.

Her husband died five years ago. It devastated her, they were high school sweethearts. He was a good man, great husband and father. All of us loved him. She’s had a hard time with the loss and loneliness.

I was really happy for her when she met a man last fall. He seemed so nice and thoughtful. But he’s turned out to be awful. He’s crude and cheap, very possessive. Nothing like her husband. Last week we had them over for dinner and it was a terrible evening. The man is so rude. My husband has had it and said he won’t have him in our home again.

I’ve looked the other way for as long as I can. I tried talking to my friend. We’ve always been able to talk about things but not this time. She got so defensive. She said we just make him nervous, that he can’t possible compete with our history and that we hurt his feelings. I don’t begin to understand this.

I am broken hearted. Is this the end of us? She says that if I am her friend, I have to accept him and be happy for her. It ended with both of us in tears and we haven’t talked in a week.

What can I possibly do to make her see the light? I can’t lose our friendship over this terrible man.

Best Friend

Dear Reader,

What a sad situation you find yourself in. I can understand why you are so upset.

Let’s begin with one likely possibility — it’s doubtful you’ll be able to get your friend to “see the light.” Sadly, she is in the throes of feelings she hasn’t experienced in decades. This, on top relief from tremendous loss and loneliness, makes it virtually impossible for her to see anything other than what she wants to see. As long as she is in this state of mind, all of your well meaning intentions will only make her more defensive.

Do you have to accept him? No, but you do need to accept that this is the choice your friend is making. Hopefully, in time, she will see what you see. But for now, your task is to recognize the value of your friendship, renew your commitment to each other, and work towards maintaining what you have shared for most of your lives.

Pick up the phone and ask your friend to meet for coffee. When you are together, tell her that everything you said was said out of love and concern. Reassure her that you will now keep your mouth shut regarding this man.(Then, do so!) Remind her of your history and how much it has meant to both of you. Tell her that your top priority is to continue to be the very best friends ever.

Your friendship will be limited to just the two of you. While it’s not ideal, it will give you the connection you both want and need. I hope that in spite of this situation, she can recognize the value of maintaining your connection. Remind her that many friends have wonderful relationships while managing significant differences.

Obviously, I can’t guarantee she will agree to any of this. (Our vision of reality can get very fuzzy when clouded by strong emotions.) I just hope that she gives it a chance. This won’t be the easiest thing you two have ever done for each other but if you consciously make this friendship your priority, your many years of experience with each other should carry you through.

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