Dear Maria,

I met a new friend a few months ago at some networking events. I really like her–she’s funny, we have lots in common (both moms with grown kids), and I really enjoy talking to her. I was excited to get to know her better, when I saw on Facebook a picture of her having lunch with a woman that I dislike a lot. She described the woman in her post as one of her “dearest friends”. Now, I have totally cooled on the idea of getting to know her. I’d really like to on one level, but another part of me says that maybe we can’t be good friends if she likes this person so much? Plus, if we did get to be better friends, sooner or later I would have to spend time with this person that I don’t like, at a party or something. What would I say if she ever invited us both to lunch? What do you think I should do?

Signed,

Am I a Mean Girl?

Dear Am I a Mean Girl?,

At a networking event, it’s hard to tell whether somebody likes you for you, or is just interested in making a business connection. It sounds like maybe you found more than a good contact.

I understand your reluctance to get to know this woman better. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll have to make nice with other this person that you don’t like. Maybe you’re leery of investing time and effort into establishing a friendship. Down the road, she may reveal sides of herself that remind you of this person you don’t like! Facebook is a confusing way to be social. Not only does it expose political preferences we don’t share, it also tells us lots about who and what people like. Viewed on a screen, it’s easy to dismiss what we don’t like. It’s harder to do when someone we like does something we don’t.

quotes-make-new-friends_17455-0Has this woman tried to get to know you better? If so, take her up on the invitation. It doesn’t hurt to spend coffee time or lunch with someone that you’ve hit it off with. If she hasn’t reached out to you, then maybe you could let it go. Think about how much time and energy you can spare to begin a new friendship. If you have it, then I say, check it out! It’s not fair to assume that the person that you like is, deep down, a copy of the person you don’t like. Friendship brings richness to our lives by stretching us a bit. Talking with people, in a gracious way of course, who don’t share our views on everything is a good thing. You may be drawn to this new friend because there are some things that you can learn from her. I don’t think it would hurt to spend some more time with her to see where things go. If you feel reciprocity from her end, then you’ll know that your desire for friendship is mutual, and the two of you could be on to something you’ll cherish. In these times when good conversation is so hard to find, don’t let the easy “unfollow” of Facebook rob you of a potentially dear friend.

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return (By Stephen Schwartz, from the Broadway musical, Wicked)

The Bible’s Book of Sirach advises us: “Let those who are friendly to you be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.” Since you’re feeling a little hesitant, don’t let her into your inner circle too quickly. Take it as it comes, trust your intuition, and if you must cross paths with her other friend, kill her with kindness.

 

Dear Readers: In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. I look forward to hearing from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below. 

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.  This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.