We’re four couples who’ve been close friends for years, including our children, based on friendship between the husbands who originally met in high school.
One couple lives one hour away from the others. We hadn’t all gotten together during the pandemic lockdown or “family bubble” restrictions.
But we finally agreed recently to picnic and play games in a park that was central for us all.
The eight adults were one grouping, and we stayed socially distant. The 13 kids ended up in two groups (under 12’s and teenagers), also socially distanced.
We wore masks to start but, of course, not when we were eating. The picnic food had been divided into separate trays for each person.
It looked like a very upbeat get-together for us all, until I overheard two of the guys’ voices getting louder. They were obviously arguing, and their kids were gathering closer.
One of my buddies suddenly grabbed his wife’s hand, she hoisted her backpack, their son took their cooler, two daughters followed, and they rushed toward their car.
I still don’t know what went wrong, but they took it very seriously. The other guy insists he doesn’t know why. He apologized anyway but was brushed off.
I feel terrible about this incident. These are very decent people, including everyone present.
We’ve been through a lot together, always supportive - from the serious illness of one couple’s child to celebrating every major milestone together.
I’ve phoned/emailed the couple asking what I can do to resolve things. No response.
Is this about the anxiety we’ve all got because of the coronavirus, or a private dispute between two old friends that’s boiled to the surface?
Bewildered Best Friend
You may recall some clues about the response of the angriest husband/couple. Or the other husband said something insensitive that exploded into this stand-off.
Meanwhile, you and the other couple shouldn’t take sides. Stay in touch with the others but back off seeking an answer.
Whatever the reason, it was felt deeply enough by the one man to storm away with his whole family.
Yes, this may also reflect the times. The pandemic has put many people on edge, even as they try to adapt to opened-up stages of returning to work and having their children re-enter school.
It feels both necessary and risky at the same time, perhaps especially for the couple who had a very sick child. Check in with them fairly often.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman who feels cheated on because her “friends with benefits” (FWB) relationship ended (August 17):
“For those who prefer FWB only, can they expect more than the opportunity for another FWB when the current transaction ends?
“The writer’s reaction indicates a feeling is present, even though emotional connection wasn’t the intent.
“Many people meet, have romantic dates and sex, and become bonded. Some meet, have sex like the writer, and she thought they were similarly bonded.
“If sex is nature's way of joining people together in a bonded pair, FWB is a fragile concept, likely to lead to disappointment.”
Awaiting Your View
Ellie - Sexual activity can arouse many positive feelings - physical release (satisfying/energizing); comfort and connection (friendship)…
And, in this case, sex became affection/warmth that sparked unspoken emotional bonding.
That’s what seems to have happened to this woman, and naturally left her hurt when she found it was over.
FWB relationships can be sustaining for a while but she learned it’s not the best choice if she hopes for shared love.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman annoyed by men who pay no attention to her not wanting kisses or sex (August 8):
Reader – “You should’ve told her to stop using dating apps because it creates the expectation that you want to find a partner or a one-night stand. So those men will expect that she wanted a kiss goodnight, or more.
“She could try joining clubs in her area to meet both men and women for companionship and friendship, or go to exhibits/events on her own and strike up conversations with people she meets there.
“Instead you told her to keep dating.”
Ellie - Our advice is closer than you noticed. I told her, “Once you decide to meet people through a dating app, you’ve added an underlying implication.”
Yet she was still dating by choice, stating no-kiss “rules” that men were ignoring.
In further feedbacks I’ve also suggested she join interest groups, attend events with women friends, etc.
Tip of the day:
Even close friendships can be rent apart by insensitivity, inner anxieties.