Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I have a friend with whom I socialize regularly, usually a movie then
dinner. For five years, since our respective divorces, I have generally
acquiesced on the choice of the film, the timing, even where we go to
dinner. Lately, after a major health scare, I realized how often I
compromise what I want for the comfort and benefit of others. It’s not
a bad trait in moderation; but I’ve been too nice.


Yesterday, after a hellacious insomniac workweek, I said I needed to go to an                        early show, assuming we’d eat afterwards and I’d be home and tucked in a
few hours earlier than usual. She agreed, but after the movie she
declared it was too early to eat “So let’s do some shopping first!” I
should have objected but didn’t. I bought nothing and sat in a demo
massage chair. Ninety minutes later I texted saying I needed to eat or
go home. How can I communicate my needs better and earlier?


Dear Doormat
Can you spell Amazingly, most spell-checkers
can. For the buzz phrase of the 90s to have achieved such
commonplace status is a sad reflection on the collective state of our
relationships. The current buzzword is also painfully relevant in your
situation. Your friend is an unrepentant narcissist. If you didn’t mind
staying a doormat, this would be a friendship made in heaven. But
your desire to change will quickly push up against her selfish ways. So
you’ll have to work just to get her attention, let alone to get your way
more often.

In yesterday’s circumstance, the correct response would have been,
I’m sorry, I’m wiped. I can cope with twenty minutes of waiting. But if
you really want to shop, I’m fine just going home. We can catch up
later. She might not have liked it, but she would have probably cut
short her shopping. For future reference, be very clear when you make
the plans what your expectations are about timing. Practice verbalizing
what you want each time you plan. Be sure to have your own wheels.                           Don’t be afraid to make her angry. If you practice well, you’ll be able
to transfer those skills to other settings.