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When Friendships Go Wrong

She was a true kindred spirit―until she revealed your secrets to a roomful of people or “forgot” to invite you to her birthday dinner. Experts advise on what to do when a friend’s behavior turns foul.

By Janet Siroto

The Friend Who Excludes You

My friend’s wife, Crystal, shares a birthday with my husband, John. She said she was getting a few friends together to go out. I waited for our invitation, but instead she asked if I could babysit. Not only did she leave us out but she also “forgot” that my husband’s birthday was that night, although she has complained for years that she hates sharing a birthday with John. I’ve tried to be nice to her because I like her husband so much, but she keeps excluding us. What can I do? Should I give up? ―Caroline, New York City

Advice for Caroline: “Crystal didn’t want to share her birthday, and she expressed that in a rather malicious way,” says Marla Paul, author of The Friendship Crisis (Rodale, $22). In this situation, Caroline’s best bet is to leave the incident alone and focus on staying connected to Crystal’s husband, not to Crystal. “Crystal’s actions have made it clear that she isn’t interested in socializing with Caroline,” says Paul.

If this happens to you: Crystal’s harsh behavior calls for somewhat harsh tactics. But if a friend snubs you in a way that’s not as severe and you want to maintain ties, speak up and swallow any fear of looking needy. Tell her you’ve noticed that she isn’t inviting you to do things with her anymore and that you’re not sure why, advises Paul. This allows your friend to explain herself without being bombarded by guilt. Of course, you can’t force her to be honest. She may say everything is fine between you two, then continue to exclude you―in which case, you have your answer.

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