Fluffy Heart

What to do?

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

I have been a widow for ten years. My husband was very special and losing him was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced. I have worked hard to move on with my life.

Part of how I’ve managed is thorough friendships with a wonderful bunch of women, all of whom are single. We have monthly potlucks, share countless walks, take trips, and get together to watch everything from the Super Bowl (GO Niners!) to the Oscars. We even write to advice columnists together!

Last summer, one of our group met a man and it has become a very serious relationship. We are truly happy for her. (She’s miserable without a man in her life, and sadly, she’s a pretty “needy” woman. She’s also happiest when the focus is on whatever is happening in her life.) Now, all she talks about is her boyfriend! And that brings us to  … Valentine’s Day.

Like my grandchildren say, OMG! You’d think she was the first woman alive to have a boyfriend on February 14th! He has some kind of surprise planned for her. She’s obsessed. We were trying to enjoy the Super Bowl and she’d pipe in with things like “what should I wear?” or “isn’t this surprise the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard of?” or “do you think he’s going to propose?” All we wanted to do was watch the game.

Here’s our problem. One week after Valentine’s Day, we all go to my cabin for our annual “Readers Weekend.” We bring a pile of books, our favorite foods, and delicious libations. We can’t imagine what it is going to be like just after this friend’s Valentine’s Day. How do we handle this very sensitive situation?

Friends In Need

Dear Readers,

Where would we be without our friendships? I am so happy that you all have each other.  You strike me as a bunch of self-sufficient, put together women. It’s great that you share a such a satisfying social circle.

No wonder this particular situation has all of you stumped.  Given this woman’s insecurities and self-absorption, she doesn’t  blend into your group as well as the rest of you do. It’s thoughtful that you all seem to understand her but it is time for some boundaries.

While I don’t want to feel too conspiratorial, the fact that you have written as a group suggests you need to approach this as a group.Your “Readers Weekend” is a great place to begin. For starters,  how many of you can call her throughout the week to ask her about Valentine’s Day? In fairness, she needs the opportunity to discuss everything but by individually parsing it out among  ALL of you, not only will she feel special, but some of her energy and emotions will be dissipated before you are all together.

When you all arrive at the cabin, set some friendly ground rules. This is a women’s weekend, right – so make it ALL about women. Focus on what makes women’s friendships so special? Talk about how women are different from men? Discuss how each of you copes with your individual circumstances. And no, you are not a bunch of men haters but if you are able to establish some parameters, this next step will be less awkward.

Given your friend’s personality, we can bet money she’s going to want to talk about her Valentine’s Day and her boyfriend. When she brings it up, give her a hug and say “No boys allowed, remember?” If she objects, reassure her that the group is happy for her. Then, remind her that she spoke to each of you earlier and that ALL of you need an opportunity to discuss the realities of your lives.

Will this be awkward? Probably. Is it a way to handle the situation? Hopefully. The reality is it’s highly unlikely that you can change this woman. You can only change how you react to her. (Yep, that worn out statement really works.) So, stay positive, change the subject when necessary, and focus on enjoying yourselves.

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