Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I have a problem with a person whom until very recently I would have
described as a good friend. We’ve known one another for decades, in
that casual “how are you”-and- a-wave way that one cultivates at the
kids soccer games and Friday night services. But then five years ago,
as we were both going through painful divorces, we started getting
closer. At our peak we saw each other weekly for dinner and a movie.
Now it’s about half of that, in part because her aging mother moved to
town and she’s taking care of her and treating her to concerts we
might otherwise have attended together. As I have gotten to know her
better I see the bigger differences between us. Last week I was asked
to carry the Torah during RH 2 services, the day before she got back
from a big trip. When she heard, she sniffed, “Oh, second day” like it
was like having been asked to sweep up after the oneg. Do I say
something or not?
Life’s too short to pretend to like people. It’s also hard to be alone.
Setting standards too high in a friendship increases the odds that you
won’t have anyone to go to a movie or dinner with. Not being honest
with people to whom you act as friends means you’ll eventually turn
petty and resentful. So ask yourself the big questions: what do I bring
to this relationship? What do I get out of this friendship? What’s so
important I cannot compromise it? What’s so trivial I can let go?
That said, you can also respond in the spirit of the season. You can tell
your friend the next time you connect that you were “a little hurt” by
her comment. Say that to you it was a big honor to carry the Torah,
and in your life if was as important as her big trip was to her. Tell her
you’re really trying to be more honest with your friends. Ask her if
she’s willing to have a conversation about how you relate the same
way you would with someone you’d been dating. I believe friendships
that do not go through this sort of recalibration eventually get
narrower and narrower. On the other hand, you need to be prepared
to hear things from her that you may not want to listen to. Decide if
you prefer that, or silence, before you open this Pandora’s box.