I saw an old friend recently and could barely recognize anything about him. We’d been university roommates in the United States years ago, but since we’re from the same city, it was easy to become very close.
We stayed in touch after graduating, for about six years.
We’d visited each other a few times (different cities), introducing our wives and kids, but it was usually me reaching out and sometimes he wouldn’t even respond.
Bumping into him by accident near my house, was a total surprise.
His conversation was mostly about finances. His are great, he said repeatedly. He mentioned many examples - what properties he owns, his lifestyle, his wife’s financial success, his kids’ expensive private schools.
He showed almost no interest in how I and my family are faring (very well), and no question about my kids, or my parents, though I inquired of his.
We never had a major falling-out that would explain his disinterest in our friendship.
Do I just act like him, and forget we ever were close and looked after each other at school? Or do I ask him if there’s a reason for his coldness?
You two obviously developed and live with differing definitions of success. But none of those differences preclude respecting a friendship that was once sustaining to you both during those important university years.
From your description, he sounds suffused with self-interest and bragging. Many observers of social behaviour will tell you that’s a sign of insecurity rather than self-confidence.
However, you two seem too far apart for you to feel responsible for checking further into whether he’s covering up for something with his self-promoting manner.
With so little recent contact, he’d likely be insulted if you probed, rather than appreciate a show of your caring about him.
But, if you feel that your past connection means you should try one last time, then, message him asking if he’d like to meet to chat, just the two of you, for old times’ sake.
Just don’t set your hopes for a reunion too high.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding telling a bored 20-year-old woman to do something less reckless than have sex with a stranger during a pandemic, especially since her grandparent has serious health risks (August 6):
“As a professional social worker, although I don’t deal with relationships, I do have some background with teenagers and twenty-somethings.
“Telling a teenager or young adult not to have sex is about as useful as telling an obese person to stop eating. It won’t happen.
“However, advising harm reduction may be taken seriously.
“For example, kissing is likely the worst way to avoid COVID infection. Face-to-face contact is also high risk. So why not suggest just putting her lips near her partner’s face?
“Also, giving a girl a hickey gives some young people pleasure and is safer than kissing. So too, kissing or licking the back of the neck of a masked partner. If both parties have raging hormones, it’s a lot safer than kissing.
“More adventurous young people can reduce their risk by kissing breasts or genitals instead of mouths. Mutual masturbation while wearing a mask is also safer than kissing.
“If nothing short of intercourse will satisfy them, at least encourage both parties to wear a mask, and take a shower as soon after as possible.
“Perhaps some young people who find these alternatives unappealing will opt for abstinence, once they realize that it’s their safest choice.”
One of my good friends, late-40s, believes the coronavirus scare is overrated, that everyone’s gone overboard with masks and social distancing.
She meets her freelance contacts in person whenever possible, and mask-less.
She also hosts social dinners at her place, with no distancing. She’s very successful, energetic and outspoken, so her colleagues and friends either accept her view or put up with it for a meeting or a meal.
I like her as a person but I don’t want to risk the virus. How do I handle this?
Uncertain and Worried
Is a dinner worth a battle with Covid-19?
There are always different attitudes towards imposed “restrictions” when it comes to personal health - the anti-vaccine people, for example, who’d apparently rather risk getting/passing the flu, than suffer an injection that could make symptoms milder or prevent infection.
Since you’re uncomfortable, say Thanks, but you’ll take a pass on close, unmasked gatherings until after the pandemic.
Tip of the day:
When a once-close friend’s only greeting is competitive bragging, it’s time to move on.