By PHILIP GALANES
A good friend’s boyfriend has initiated several online chats with me over the last month. They came across as friendly and harmless, so I went with them, accepting what seemed to be a new friendship. I don’t know this guy well. I’ve met him only a few times. I confess the consistency of the online chats made me a little suspicious. Finally, the subject turned juicy: He told me about a dream he’d had about me (and not a lot of clothing). What do I do?
Careful! There’s a reason the expression is not “hug the messenger.” Like you, your good friend may wonder why you were chatting so regularly with a fellow you barely knew. And if your pal is deeply invested in the relationship, his instinct may be to vindicate his boyfriend by blaming you: “Why were you flirting with my man?” I have seen much worse swept under carpets.
You don’t mention how long — or how exclusively — these two have been dating. The beau may be free to flirt and see others. (That is still no excuse for using sexy dreams as a lame pickup maneuver.) Just stick to the facts. Tell Beautiful Dreamer: “I’m not comfortable talking about sex with you.” And to your pal, say: “Jim and I started chatting after we met. It was friendly until he told me about a sex dream — featuring me. That made me uncomfortable, so now I’m telling you.” Then cross your fingers and hope for the best.
My son died two months ago from a drug overdose. My shock and sadness have been compounded by the lack of responsiveness from several people I thought I was close to. People I expected would express condolences (by card or phone or even email) haven’t. Several people I invited to his memorial luncheon didn’t reply. One invitee, with whom I followed up twice, sent regrets through a third party. I’d like to let go of this hurt. Was I expecting too much?
ANONYMOUS, MIAMI BEACH
“I am so sorry for you and your family.” Period. That’s all it takes. I’m sorry that your friends didn’t come through for you, and that I haven’t always come through for my friends, the way we know we should. Your problem is heartbreakingly common. We spend so much of our lives avoiding the inevitability of death that lots of us go a little nuts when it actually comes. We hide out instead of showing up.
This is not your fault. I wish I could apologize for your cowardly but human friends. But your loss is so new and so big that it’s like industrial-strength Velcro: attaching itself to everything in sight, including lesser-order problems such as people who didn’t R.S.V.P. to the memorial luncheon.
Better to focus on your truer grief. Find a support group through a hospital or church. In my experience, hanging out with people who have survived what I’m going through, and have felt as lousy as I do — whether talking a mile a minute or sitting silent as stones — is way more productive than resenting people who didn’t have the guts to show up for me.
My best friend and his wife are having their first child next month. He has asked me to be his “plus one” in the delivery room; his wife’s mother will be hers. I feel awkward about this. If I say no, I will let my friend down. If I say yes, I will be really uncomfortable being there. Shouldn’t this be an intimate moment for the couple?
Finally, an area of personal expertise! I have watched more babies being born (on television) than anyone in the United States: “Call the Midwife,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Maternity Ward,” “ER,” “St. Elsewhere.” But never have I seen a baby daddy with his own support team in the delivery room. His job is to help his wife, who is looking at a slightly tougher assignment.
Talk with your friend: “I want to support you, but I don’t want to invade your wife’s space or this special moment for your family.” (Most hospitals probably won’t let you in the birthing suite anyway.) Offer to be on standby: “I’ll just be a text away.” And bring food for the fallow times — you know, when his wife is in agony, but he’s got nothing better to do than eat.
I’ve been dating this awesome girl for eight weeks. My apartment share is ending, and she has a sweet one-bedroom on the Lower East Side. I really don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a new place. I know it’s too soon, but is there any way I can move in with her?
If you “know it’s too soon,” why are you bothering me? Never, ever (ever) make an important decision, such as moving in with a romantic partner, based on convenience — here, avoiding an apartment search. Start the hunt now and stop trifling with your “awesome girl.” Next question.