Dear Amy: I became friends with a colleague “Marilee” two years ago. We developed a great friendship. I recently invited another girl, “Trina,” into our group of friends. Trina does not work with us, but we have other common interests.
Recently, however, Marilee and Trina appear to have been bound and gradually exclude me from things – hoses, brunch, beach trips, etc.
I feel left out and hurt by this. The only time they want to hang out with me now is to participate in my photography hobby, which means I use my expensive equipment. I feel they are taking advantage and do not want to spend time with me. I don̵
They don’t try to hide it for me either, as I see – almost daily – posts on social media of them together.
With the risk of promoting me more, I have not confronted them.
Are they trying to be hurtful or are they really forgetful about how their actions can be perceived?
Omitted in Lancaster, PA
Dear Left Out: “The rule of three” refers to the symmetry of a trio. This surfaces in art, music, design – and even comedy (listen to a classic “rim shot” – that’s a three!). The triangle conveys a kind of comfortable and complex balance – and this balance seems to work – except for human relationships. That is when an equilateral triangle becomes a liqueur cross, often with a person isolated in the far distance.
This challenging “odd man out” human dynamic happens in every phase of life – from childhood to old age.
I highly doubt you have done anything wrong. You should accept that these two women seem to have formed an exclusive friendship.
It doesn’t matter if they try to be harmful; they are hurtful. Although they are not intentionally harmful, at least – they simply do not care how you feel.
Your choices are to swallow your own honest reaction and accept your new status as a supplier of equipment, or to be honest about how this makes you feel. It is brave to acknowledge your own vulnerability, and I think you should understand that you cannot change them or encourage them from their friendship with each other.
You say, “I understand that you have developed a good friendship, but I must be honest with you – I feel really left out lately.”
Dear Amy: I am very concerned about your response to “anxiety,” who was worried about meeting people in stores who did not wear masks properly.
You wrote: “No, I don’t think you should call another customer for making a mask wrong (because this involves them and their body).”
It’s not true! How other people wear their masks affects us all!
Upset and worried
Dear upset: Absolutely. Many readers contacted me to correct my statement. I agree: Wearing a mask protects others. Absolutely. Even though a mask seems to provide some protection for the person wearing it, I wear my mask for you and you wear your mask for me.
My point in designing my answer the way I did was to discourage confrontations between people regarding mask-wearing. People who either do not wear masks at all or who wear masks incorrectly seem to take the issue very personally, as the mask is (or is not) tied to their own face.
I’m not sure what’s so scary about wearing a thin piece of fabric over your nose and mouth to help protect others (and yourself) from a potentially dangerous virus, but I think it’s wise at the moment to give these people a wide berth – yes, to avoid confrontation, and also – more importantly – to avoid transmission.
But if you are patronizing a company where employees do not wear masks properly, this is an issue that should definitely be noticed by the manager.
Dear Amy: “Cailed Couple” described himself as a doctor who treated COVID patients. They were on the fence if they were to attend a large family wedding in another state.
Thank you for responding as you did! As doctors – they should know that they – and others – have a significant risk. As you noted, what should the rest of us do if doctors are unsure about this?
Dear Vulnerable: After writing that answer, I read an account of a family birthday gathering that resulted in a tragic COVID transmission to most of the group. Devastating.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.)