BFF? Not so much.

Joey Garcia

I really like this guy who lives in my apartment building. We have a lot of fun hanging out. But my best friend, who is also my roommate, likes him, too. She has had a boyfriend for years but is always talking about the guy I’m interested in as her backup if things don’t work out with her boyfriend. Should I give up?

Yes, on pretending your roommate is your best friend. If it was true, you could be emotionally naked with her, sharing your deepest desires, strongest fears and most fragile dreams. But withholding the hope of dating your neighbor reveals a lack of trust in your roommate, and in yourself. Oh, sure, I’ve read the greeting cards—“guys come and go, but real friends stand by you forever”—but that doesn’t apply here until you learn to be a friend to yourself. Start by listening to your self-talk. Eradicate put-downs and raise the bar on honesty. Like this: Your friend is in a committed relationship and is scheming on a guy. Her behavior screams, “I can’t be trusted!” Instead of gently challenging her to love herself and her boyfriend with a full heart, you are silent. You crumble rather than admit she is clinging to an illogical backup plan. (After all, has this neighbor said he is available if she kicks her man to the curb? No, I didn’t think so.)

It’s time for an archaeological dig. Do you have an underlying resentment that believes your roommate gets everything she wants, but you don’t? If so, that’s an invitation into honesty. Both of you must stop using your neighbor as a pawn in your secret game of competition. Neither of you owns the right to his affections. Leave him alone until you work out the tension in your household. Patience makes the heart grow stronger.

This guy at work is really pushy and obsessed with me. He constantly wants to hang out. Yesterday he sent me about 40 texts, no lie. I’ve already told him I’m not interested, and I don’t answer his texts. Should I tell him no again or ignore him?

Politely but firmly say or text, “I have explained that I am not interested in dating and have not responded to your texts. I regret that I will have to take further, serious action if you ever text me again.” Then, block his number. Alert a supervisor or manager that you trust, especially if the phone is employer-owned. Depending on the content of those text messages, your coworker may be violating legal boundaries, not just moral ones.

My two closest friends had a huge fight last weekend and are no longer friends with each other. My boyfriend says I should stay out of it, but should I take one friend’s side over the other?

No, follow your boyfriend’s sage advice and play Switzerland. Your friends may not like your choice to remain neutral. They may even see it as a failure of your loyalty. But hold your ground. Remind your friends that you care for each of them and trust in their ability to work things out amicably. If one begins to complain about the other, gently interrupt and say, “I am so sad that the two of you are fighting. I need to stay out of this situation. I know you will work it out soon.” Then, let yourself believe your own words. And remember this: True friends admit their shortcomings and forgive one another. People who are merely attached to one another have tantrums, gossip, pout and blame. In other words, people are either growing spiritually (the first example) or refusing to do so (the second scenario).

Meditation of the week
“People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves,” wrote Albert Camus in The Fall. Does it work?

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