Nell McCafferty advises: Why doesn't my friend want to see me?
Dear Nell, I broke up with my long-term, live-in boyfriend last year at the age of 34. There was no big bust-up or anything, I just felt that I was missing out on life, and that everything was passing me by.
Since then, I have really focused on getting my life in order. I've lost loads of weight and look great, and I've changed jobs and am now doing something I really like and enjoy.
I have also started dating casually, which is nerve-wracking but fun.
The problem is my best friend. We have been firm friends since primary school, and all through college. We did drift apart for a few years while I was with my ex-boyfriend; we tended to socialise in couples, as you do, and she was single for most of the 10 years I was with my boyfriend.
When I became single again, I assumed that it would be like old times and that the two of us would slip back into socialising together and hanging out at the weekends, but she doesn't seem to have any interest.
She doesn't return my calls and cancels dates at short notice -- basically, she doesn't seem bothered.
I am really hurt and puzzled. I could do with her support right about now, especially when it comes to entering back into the social scene.
One thing I'm conscious of is that she has put on a lot of weight recently, and is unhappy in her job. Do you think she is jealous of me, and that's why she doesn't want to be around me?
What can I do?
Nell McCafferty replies:
Never mind your friend. The outstanding problem is you, and your apparent desire to repeat the mistakes of your past. You got a man, and what happened? You ditched your best friend, put on weight, stayed in a job you didn't like, and life passed you by.
Now you want your former friend to take the bare look off you while you go out and try to do the same thing again. The minute you get a new fellow, you'll dump her once more -- the fat office low-life, as you see and describe her.
Your friend sounds like a sensible woman. She wants nothing to do with you. She is not jealous. She sees you for what you are -- an aggravating, foolish 34-year-woman who looks down on her.
Who needs a friend like you? Your idea of living it large is to go out on a manhunt, on the so-called social scene. What are you -- a desperate dancer? I can picture ye both already, late at night, alone again, footsore and broke after spending a fortune on the disco scene.
Try something different this time. Treat the other woman with respect and curiosity. Why don't you propose a social occasion which is both interesting and exciting? Suggest to her that you and she run away to a better place -- lunch in Paris and a night in a dissolute club, on a Ryanair or Aer Lingus weekend? They offer cheap deals all the time.
Go round to her house, search deals on the internet and seize the chance -- Madrid, London, Amsterdam -- the world will be your oyster. Even if you don't go, it's better to travel than to arrive and ye will knock endless hours of pleasure out of the anticipation.
This is called foreplay between women friends. There is no need to be nervous about that, you heterosexual has-been, who is nervous about a conversation with a man. I am being polite here -- wham bam, thank you ma'am is as much conversation as you're likely to get on the kind of socially insecure, noisy night out which you propose that you and your friend should engage in.
Have you offered her anything enticing at all -- two tickets to the theatre, a night at the movies, or a prepaid recession meal (your treat) which restaurants are flinging at us like confetti these days?
Or you could get off your narcissistic backside and propose to stay in shape by joining a hill-walking club. That would also help your friend stay healthy.
Not many people know this, but hill-walking clubs are the new book clubs and many a romance has been struck up in the heather, singing in the rain. Please do not turn this into a fantasy -- you are going out together in search of pleasure, not on a manhunt. Take that note of desperation and condescension out of your voice. You're the one in desperation. Just keep hope discreetly alive.
What you are really looking for is a friend, now that you are footloose and, according to yourself, fabulous. So stop limiting yourself with the notion that life is empty now that you are single.
You are not so much single as open to a new life in a world that is full of pleasures. As things stand, if I met you on the street, sad sack, I'd walk on by. Do not treat friends as social workers.
Now there's a thought -- tell your voluptuous friend how you realise that you've wasted your life while she was out there tripping the light fantastic, and that you would like the pleasure of her enlightened company, while you learn to live again.
Pay for the trip to Barcelona. Try generosity for once.
What the readers say
It's no surprise that your friend is ignoring your calls and cancelling dates with you -- you ditched her when you had a boyfriend, and now that the relationship is over, you're using your old mate to pass the time as and when it suits you. She's giving you a taste of your own medicine. Either start some serious grovelling or accept that this friendship is over.
Amy, Co Meath
You say that you've lost loads of weight and discovered this fabulous new life, etc, so why are you trying to relive the past by attempting to hook up with an old schoolfriend who has clearly moved on? You'd be better off learning how to treat people better, and then you might make some new friends.
It sounds like your friend is intimidated by this flashy new you, and doesn't really know who you are any more. Make an effort to show that you're still the same person inside, and that you still value her friendship. And don't lose touch again when you find a new man. She'll come around eventually.