Where are my friends now that I need them? Ask Ellie

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Dear readerAs I noted in an earlier column, my daughter, Lisi, will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. — Ellie

QMany years ago, I married a lovely guy. We had children, extended family, and lots of friends. Our house was the hub for the kids’ friends, a gathering place for our family, and not a summer’s day went by without people over, socializing and swimming in our pool. We created a great life for ourselves and our children.

My husband, generous as he was, wasn’t always around, as he was working hard to maintain our lifestyle.

Or so I thought. Until one day he came home, announced he wanted a divorce, and walked out. He wasn’t interested in counseling; he had already found someone new.

And just like that, it was over.

The kids and I were quickly moved out of our home, for financial purposes, we were told. We gave each other strength for the following few years. Families were divided; friends were confused.

We’ve made it through to the other side. My kids are good, older, with friends and lives of their own. My small house is no longer the social epicentre. My kids go out. Now I find myself alone and lonely on many a hot summer’s day.

Where are all those people I hosted for years at my pool? Why is no one reaching out and reciprocating?

Hot and Lonely

AThat was then; this is now. I’m sure it was your generosity of spirit and social personality to want everyone over all the time. But COVID has changed people. Many are much less social, still preferring to keep it small and family-oriented.

I think it’s up to you to reach out. Ask your friends if you can come over. Maybe they don’t know you’re ready. If they say yes, be a great guest and come bearing fruit, drinks, and of course, your own towel. Don’t overstay your welcome.

If they don’t invite you, it may be time to make new friends.

QI saw my brother’s best friend hitting on my brother’s girlfriend but he doesn’t know I know. They were in our yard one evening, and my brother went in to get snacks. I was just returning home and thought I’d go through the yard instead of the front door. As I walked up the path, I heard him talking to her. She looked uncomfortable when I made myself known.

I didn’t say anything because he appeared tipsy and it’s not my business to jump to conclusions.

But it happened a second time and now I feel responsible. We were all out at a bar and I came upon them talking in a corner. She looked uneasy again, but I may be making excuses for her because I really like her.

My loyalty is to my brother, but I don’t want to shatter his happy world. What do I do?

Suspicious sibling

AI gather you have a good relationship with the girlfriend. Why don’t you start there? She knows you’ve seen something. Twice. Bring it out in the open. Maybe she needs your help and is grateful that someone knows.

There’s always more than meets the eye, and you’re right not to jump to conclusions. Now it’s time to investigate.

QEveryone loves my cousin. She’s gregarious, warm, and envelops you in her aura. She loves to delve deep with everyone.

Except me. With me she’s cold, distant and uninterested.

We’re a decade apart, so as a youngster, she was more like an aunt; but as I grew up, we became great friends. Our relationship was close and special … until she got married. I figured it was a life-stage difference, and that things would even out again. They never did. Yet, she’s everyone’s favorite aunt.

People will get starry-eyed and ask me, “How’s your cousin?” How do I reply that I honestly don’t know without eliciting further questioning?

Charmed Cousin

ATry saying something like this: “Oh, you know her… Always the life of the party…” with lots of warmth in your voice. Then change the subject.

Maybe one day you could actually reach out and find out for yourself. The longer you avoid her, the thicker the ice will become.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected]

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