Dear Annie: Under what circumstances is it OK to cancel your plans with one friend in order to spend time with someone else?
I have a friend who repeatedly cancels her plans with me if she suddenly gets an invitation from someone who is higher status/more socially prominent. I’ve tried to talk to her about this, but she feels I am being too sensitive and that it’s best to “keep things loose,” with the understanding that both parties are free to opt out if something else comes up. The frequent cancellations make me feel like I’m her “backup friend,” with whom she only spends time if she doesn’t get a better offer. What do you advise? — Blown Off
Dear Blown Off: If a friend makes you feel like a backup, she is no friend at all. Even the term “backup friend” is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing!
Once you commit to plans, you should honor that commitment. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for flexibility — we’re all busy, after all — but a pattern of blowing you off for “higher status” company is unkind and unfair.
I would firmly tell this “friend” that you honor your word after making plans with someone and that you expect her to do the same. If she continues to blow you off, she’s probably not even worth penciling in.
Dear Annie: I am turning 38 this year. I’m a father of two with a third due in November — this time, a girl.
I’ve always had an exciting life and liked to party hard with my friends and sometimes with my wife. I like to live on the edge, but recently, things are changing.
My friends think they want to chill and not do the same things we have done in the past. My wife says I need to chill, too, and just take it easy.
I feel different this time around. I feel upset when they don’t want to hang out and just have boys time. I can’t sleep sometimes, and I fight with my inner self from time to time.
I do still go out and make new friends, but it’s not the same, and they’re not like my old ones. I don’t feel happy about this whole situation.
What should I do? — Man-child
Dear Man-child: It sounds like your friends are experiencing a shift in priorities. Having a family doesn’t mean giving up what makes you happy, but it is about compromise and putting others’ needs above your own.
Perhaps it’s time to reexamine your priorities, too. As a father of almost three, you should put being a good role model and taking care of yourself to better support your family at the top of the list.
Commit to balancing boys time out with more boys time at home with your sons, and girls time with your wife and daughter when she arrives. Partying hard is not good for your health, anyway, and it doesn’t set a good example for your kids; they need their father around. Spend time and hang out with your old friends, of course, but give the toned-down activities they’re into these days a shot.
You said it best: Things are changing. With the start of this new chapter, expect there will be more shifts, but treasure all there is to be excited about at home, not just on the edge. Your family will surely appreciate your presence and support.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]