I took golf lessons with a group of neighborhood women, but my work schedule kept me from joining them for games for a while. When I approached the “leader” of our foursome to join again, she indicated that they already had enough golfers for the neighborhood women’s league. I have asked this woman and her husband to join us for other activities, and she always has an excuse. I really like this person and am wondering if I’m being too sensitive since I do feel somewhat hurt.
J.O. / Boston
You need to stop making overtures to your neighbor. She’s repeatedly turned down invitations and hasn’t suggested alternative get-togethers or initiated anything social with you. She doesn’t want to move your relationship from “neighbor” to “friend.”
I know that’s not what you want to hear, and I’m sorry. You see potential in this relationship, you feel some kinship, and it’s frustrating and baffling when the other person doesn’t. Unrequited friendship can be more destabilizing than unrequited love, with romantic love being rarer and more idiosyncratic. Why wouldn’t someone want to be your friend? This is a question that burrows under the skin of the soul.
But it’s only a question for you. For the other person, it’s a brute fact, and you need to accept it as such. Introspect if it feels useful — maybe something about your relationship habits, or current social environment, or something else could be improved. Or maybe there’s no reason, or none you’ll ever learn or could act on. Regardless, be polite and breezy with your neighbor in the future. Having a neighbor on pleasant speaking terms isn’t nothing in this isolated age, and pushing for more will only get you less.
I sold a rarely used ergonomic chair to a friend on Facebook five months ago. We live two hours apart but our workplaces are close, so I arranged to bring it there — just before she had emergency hip surgery and went on medical leave. The chair’s been in my car trunk since then. I don’t want to bother her with an unimportant detail while she’s going through real hardship, but I don’t want to post it again and upset her since it was originally “hers.” Must my chair live in limbo (and the back of my Honda) forever?
Anonymous / Boston
Call (or e-mail, text, whatever) her, already. It’s kind of you not to want to be a bother, but you’re not obligated to go through life with a Brookstone albatross around your neck — and for her part, I’d expect hip surgery would change a person’s urgency about an ergonomic chair one way or the other. She almost certainly won’t mind getting that loose end tied up, especially if she’s paid for it already.
She probably doesn’t have a lot of mental bandwidth right now, so don’t just ask, “What about that chair, eh?” Give her a list of options that work for you, instead.
Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.