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Ask Louise: How to retain a long-time friendship

In this column, Louise Fox, founder of the Etiquette Ladies, answers all your social conundrums and questions about modern manners.

 

friendship bracelets

Friendship bracelets. Photo, iStock.

Dear Louise,

I have been best friends with two girls since grade 2 and, until recently, we all used to live close to one other. One of our friends, we will call her Alice, recently moved. Now, any time we make plans, Alice always pushes us to come to her area, which is difficult for me because I rely on public transit and it takes me an hour to get there. Any time we suggest meeting somewhere mid-point, Alice will either say she isn’t able to make it, or complain and make slightly passive aggressive comments about having to “use so much gas” to come to our area. Once, I asked for a ride home from Alice because I had hurt my foot and it was hailing outside. It was less than a 10-minute car ride from where we were, and while I offered gas money or to buy her a coffee/lunch, she would only do it in exchange for a $20 t-shirt! Am I being immature in thinking she’s being a bit selfish? How should we remedy this situation so that it works for everyone, and we are able to retain our longtime friendship?

Relationships are more complicated than ever. In the past people tended to stay in the community or neighbourhood and sometimes even the same house all of their lives. Today people are more mobile; children go away to university, take jobs in other cities or even countries and many of the connections they had when growing up are lost. It takes a concerted effort to maintain a relationship, and unless all parties are willing to make the effort, chances are the relationship will become more distant or end altogether.

A successful relationship requires four C’s: consideration, courtesy, communication and compromise. It appears that you have been very considerate when it comes to meeting Alice and have compromised a number of times. Give her another chance. Communicate. Arrange for all three of you to meet again and lay your cards on the table. Explain your situation to her and have an honest heartfelt discussion about the situation. Try to come up with a compromise. If this does not solve the problem, perhaps your friend Alice is not as interested in maintaining the relationship as you are.