7/10/2023 | By Amy Dickinson

In reconnecting with three high school friends for a five-day cruise, a woman realized her friends had not asked her a single question about herself. Are these one-sided friendships worth continuing? See what Amy Dickinson advises in “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy: 

Recently, I went on a five-day cruise with three high school friends.

We do not live near each other. I had not seen “Bobbie” in 57 years. I am in frequent contact with “Christine,” and the third woman was missing for 50 years, but we became connected again seven years ago.

Bobbie told us all about her career, marriages, family, and extensive deluxe travel. She came across as pretentious. Christine joined in with her own pretentious stories. The third friend also shared a lot about herself.

My way of participating was to ask follow-up questions to learn more about them. As it turned out, they loved my interest in them but never asked me even one question about myself!

Therefore, I never talked about my husband, family, and career of 25 years. I have three college degrees that are varied and intriguing.

When I said goodbye to Bobbie, I realized she did not learn one thing about me.

The group’s enthusiastic consensus was to get together again within the year. How do I gracefully decline participating in these one-sided friendships?

– Left Out

Related: Seniors Guide tips for trips with friends

Dear Left Out: 

three woman with champagne glasses laughing. One-sided friendships

You are generous in terms of asking questions, but conversations are not interviews; a good conversation involves a real exchange, where participants actually relate to one another, instead of just trading stories and information. A really good conversation feels intimate and revelatory. (That’s why they are so rare.)

These other women didn’t make any effort to draw you out, and you seem to have missed whatever chances you might have had to pivot from interviewer to participant.

To decline an invitation, you need only say, “I can’t plan on taking another cruise, but I hope you all do it and have a great time!”

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from one-sided friendships to frustrated caregivers and grandparenting. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

© 2022 by Amy Dickinson

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