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Ask Ellie: Let friends know you're OK to socialize again

Dear reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter, Lisi, will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. – Ellie

Dear Lisi: Many years ago, I married a lovely guy. He was warm, kind and generous. We had children, extended family and lots of friends. Our house was the hub for the kids’ friends, a gathering place for our family, and not a summer’s day went by without people over, socializing and swimming in our pool. We created a great life for ourselves and our children.

My husband, generous as he was, wasn’t always around, as he was working hard to maintain our lifestyle.

Or so I thought. Until one day he came home, announced he wanted a divorce, and walked out of the house and home we had so lovingly created. He wasn’t interested in counselling; he had already found someone new.

And suddenly it was over.

The kids and I were shocked and stunned — and quickly moved out of our home, we were told, for financial purposes. We gave each other strength for the following few years. Families were divided; friends were confused.

We’ve made it through the other side. My kids are good, older, with friends and lives of their own. My small house is no longer the social epicentre. My kids go out. Now I find myself alone and lonely on many a hot summer’s day.

Where are all those people I hosted for years at my pool? Why is no one reaching out and reciprocating?

Hot and Lonely

That was then; this is now. The world has changed. I’m sure it was your generosity of spirit and social personality to want everyone over all the time. But COVID-19 has changed people. Many are much less social, still preferring to keep it small and family-oriented.

I think it’s up to you to reach out. Ask your friends if you can come over. Maybe they don’t know you’re ready. If they say yes, be a great guest and come bearing fruit, drinks and, of course, your own towel. Don’t overstay your welcome.

If they don’t invite you, it may be time to make new friends.

Dear Lisi: I saw my brother’s best friend hitting on my brother’s girlfriend, but he doesn’t know I know. They were in our yard one evening and my brother went in to get snacks. I was just returning home and thought I’d go through the yard instead of the front door. As I walked up the path, I heard him talking to her. She looked uncomfortable when I made myself known.

I didn’t say anything because he appeared tipsy and it’s not my business to jump to conclusions.

But it happened a second time and now I feel responsible. We were all out at a bar; I went to the restroom, only to come upon them talking in a corner. She looked uneasy again, but I may be making excuses for her because I really like her.

My loyalty is to my brother, but I don’t want to shatter his happy world. What do I do?

Suspicious sibling

From your more in-depth letter, I gather you have a good relationship with the girlfriend. Why don’t you start there? She knows you’ve seen something. Twice. Bring it out in the open. Maybe she needs your help and is grateful that someone knows.

There’s always more than meets than eye and you’re right not to jump to conclusions. Now it’s time to investigate.

Dear Lisi: Everyone loves my cousin. She’s gregarious, warm and envelopes you into her aura. You can’t help but get sucked in. Wherever she goes, people are enamoured. She loves to delve deep with everyone.

Except me. With me she’s cold, distant and uninterested.

We’re a decade apart so, as a youngster, she was more like an aunt; but as I grew up, we became great friends. Our relationship was close and special….. until she got married. I figured it was a life-stage difference and that things would even out again. They never did. She has no interest in me, my life or my children. Yet she’s everyone’s favourite aunt.

People will get starry-eyed and ask me, “How’s your cousin?” How do I reply that I honestly don’t know without eliciting further questioning?

Charmed Cousin

Try saying something like this: “Oh, you know her, always the life of the party” with lots of warmth in your voice. Then change the subject.

Maybe one day you could actually reach out and find out for yourself. The longer you avoid her, the thicker the ice will become.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].

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