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On the path to friendlessness

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: I’ve been Ms. Initiator for years, scheduling girls’ nights out, play dates and brunches. Hardly anyone reciprocates. If I want to chat with someone at work, I have to go to their office. My husband isn’t that social, so we don’t go out much. Even a sibling who lives nearby counts on me to get our families together. I’m so tired of everyone’s apathy, but part of me wonders if I’m the problem. I’ve never had that “It” factor.

Trust me, many times that “It” factor goes hand-in-hand with a substance abuse problem, financial ruin, an eventual starring role on “E! True Hollywood Story” or all of the above. You are who you are, and people still want to hang out with you. (They’re not rejecting your invitations, right?)

That leads me to believe that it’s a problem not with you but with your friends, or your ability to choose them. If people repeatedly come to social events that you initiate and then fail to reciprocate, you can’t blame yourself. They’re moochers of the first order.

I get your loneliness, though – and for that, may I suggest you read my book, “The Friendship Fix”?

Q: I go twice a week to see a physical therapist. I’m sure that she has gone out of her way to flirt with me. I’ve been friendly, but I try to keep things professional, since I know I’ll be seeing her again, and I don’t want anything to get awkward. I would be happy to start something, but she has a boyfriend. She doesn’t discuss the relationship, just mentions the fact in a somewhat related way – as in, “Oh, I’ve seen that show, too, with my boyfriend.” I’m not interested in getting into the middle of a complicated relationship. I’m looking for something basic but serious, but I’m just not sure how to read the situation.

Well, she has a boyfriend – or is at least pretending to have a boyfriend. Which means she either wants you to think she’s unavailable so that you won’t ask her out, or wants you to think she’s unavailable so that you will. So, breaking this down: She’s either unavailable, or she wants you to try to break her up. Given that you’re interested in something serious, I wouldn’t try to start something with her in either of those scenarios. Sorry to say it, you should let her stick with your ankle.

Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist, is the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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