Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a friend of twenty years with whom I go to concerts and
theatre. I don&'t feel particularly close, in part because she’s
judgmental and very convinced she&'s right about everything. Also she
is very possessive of my time when we go out. It’s a small town and
hard to attend a cultural event without bumping into a handful of
people I know. I’m in a service profession. It would be very bad
marketing for me not to acknowledge people who come over to say
hello. The pleasantries take only a few minutes each but she’s literally
tugged my arm and pulled me away. I want to find a graceful way of
saying something to her but she is not a graceful person. Do you have
suggestions for how to tell her that her style makes me less interested
in getting together. Even though I have an okay time once we’re out I
do not look forward to it, and could probably script our dinner
conversation like the rerun of a TV episode I’ve seen fifty times.


Dear Grumbly:

I don’t know if you’ve tried at all to change the dynamic in this
friendship. It’s hard once patterns are well entrenched to reshape
them. But if you don’t attempt to broaden the frame of this friendship
then you have only yourself to blame if it becomes less and less
enjoyable. If your friend is really worth your time and attention, she
should respond to a sincere discussion about social protocols.


Try the below and see if it works. Often I counsel email but in this case
talking over a meal might be good: We’ve known each other for
decades and I think we’ve fallen into some bad patterns. I notice that
when we get together we tend to talk about the same things over and
over. I’d like us to stretch a little, and discuss more about books,
movies, ideas, etc than our normal fare. Also, when we meet people
who know me I need to take the time to say hello or they may not be
my clients in the future. If either of these bother you please tell me,
and we can choose not t do social things together in the future. It’s
always a risk to be honest. If she doesn’t respond well, you may have
to look for other companions. But if you care enough to try, maybe
she’ll care enough to respond.