Why can’t a friend leave his toddler at home?

Why can’t a friend leave his toddler at home?
Why can’t a friend leave his toddler at home?

Dear Eric: One of my closest friends has a toddler and when we make plans, she often asks if she should leave her toddler at home with her husband. When I say that I’d like to just hang out with her, she often lets me know that leaving her toddler alone isn’t really a viable option.

I now feel like I’m a bad friend if I say I’d rather hang out with kids. Should I just start lying? Maybe my problem is that I’m too honest and not empathetic enough.

– Seriously

Nice joke: You and your girlfriend may need to have a… nice-off (air horn). You want to hang out with her, like old times. Nice! I’m guessing she may be asking you if you want her to leave the toddler at home because she already knows that’s what you want and she either doesn’t want to make it weird or she’s afraid you won’t have fun otherwise. Nice! But to paraphrase the tagline of a long-running MTV reality show, it’s time people stopped being nice and got real.

Toddlers aren’t forever, so try an honest and empathetic approach for now. Tell your friend that while you love the friendship you built in the pre-kids era, you want to stay close now and get to know the person she’s becoming and raising them. If she really wants a child-free period and her life allows it, she’ll let you know.

Dear Eric: I’m completely confused about how to deal with a fellow student from graduate school. We weren’t friends, but our class wasn’t big and we did a lot of the same activities. She invited me to her wedding sophomore year, which was a little weird because we weren’t friends, but OK.

Our senior year of college, many people found out on the same day where they were getting their first job. This person had never called or texted me before, but somehow they got my cell number, called me, and told me how great their job was. Then they asked if I had been hired. I said yes. They asked who hired me. I told them. Then the person hung up – probably because my job was a little “fancier” than theirs? I don’t know.

Since then (that was about 10 years ago) I haven’t heard from this person. About a month ago they added me on LinkedIn, which I only did because I hate it, even though I need it for work. Yesterday she messaged me like we were old friends and told me she was coming to a city three hours away from me. She said, “I’m putting you in for dinner on Wednesday!”

I find this incredibly weird and presumptuous. I told her that I might be conflicted because I was trying to plan a trip with friends at the time (which is true, but even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t travel three hours to see her).

Should I just keep making excuses for why I can’t see her? Should I say something more direct?

— Not linked

Dear Un-Linked: Your girlfriend’s presumptuousness takes my breath away. I can only assume that she has a very different vision of your relationship than you do. But that’s not your problem, especially considering you haven’t spoken in 10 years. You don’t owe her any apologies, and you certainly don’t owe her a dinner three hours away. You could just block her on LinkedIn and never think about it again, but if social media has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is ever really over for good. Or to quote Katy Perry, “Just because it’s over doesn’t mean it’s really over.”

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