• HerTake: When a Close Friend Does Not Support Your Passion

    Today’s question is from a writer and blogger wondering how to handle a close friend who is dismissive of her work. It may seem like this question and answer is specific to one profession, but it’s really for all people who feel that a close friend or family member is disinterested or even hostile towards an important piece of their lives.

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.


     Dear Nina,

    I recently started writing and trying to get my work published in various online and print magazines and newspapers. I’ve had some early success with credible publications–what I call my “small wins.” I’ve wanted to write (outside my previous day job) for years, so this is a huge deal for me.

    One of my good friends in town hasn’t been very supportive of my writing. She never asks how it is going, or gives me positive feedback on my work. Any time I have a “small win,” she avoids mentioning it. If someone else brings up my writing in a social situation, she either ignores the conversation, is dismissive, or gives a cursory “oh, yeah?”

    On the other hand, since I started writing, I’ve made some amazing online friends, all of whom are supportive and happy for my success. It’s like we share in each other’s accomplishments and happiness, and genuinely support each other. How can it be that people I have never met, except online, encourage and support me, while a great friend of many years, living down the street, does not?

    I’m not sure if my friend is upset that she isn’t writing herself, as I know she would like to be. My husband keeps telling me this is about her and her own insecurities, and not about me. Whether that is true or not, it still stings. I’m not sure what to do about it. Do I tell her how I’m feeling, and that her lack of support has been upsetting to me? Or do I leave it alone, and simply carry on with my writing?


    At a Loss for Words

    Dear At a Loss for Words,

    Through my experience as a writer and from years of talking about this type of issue with other writers, I’ve found that family and friends will react in one of five ways to your work.


    These are the friends who read your work regularly. They send you occasional texts and emails saying, “Really liked this one,” and they may even be supportive on Facebook as well. To keep these friends, you must never, ever assume they have read anything. You are to be surprised and delighted by anyone who has taken the time to read your work.

    I’m going to say right now that to expect enthusiasm from anyone in your life, even your spouse, your sister, or your mother, is asking a lot. It’s rare that anyone can keep up with all the work we writers produce. So when you find these people, make sure to come from a place of deep gratitude and appreciation. There is so much out there to read, and if they read your work in any capacity (weekly, monthly, occasionally), then that is extraordinarily generous. Ask them about their jobs and their families constantly because you owe them tons of enthusiasm in return.


    These are the family and friends who know you’re a writer and have seen your work here and there. They ask you about it sometimes, but if they don’t, it’s not for any specific reason just like you might not know the gritty details of their jobs. They are neither excited nor threatened by the topics you cover. I suspect that most family and friends fall in this category, and that is not a bad thing. Ultimately to succeed in this business, your audience has to expand beyond family and close friends anyway. Remember, the family and friends who read your work regularly get your surprise and delight every time!


    These folks say things like “I just don’t understand the internet or blogs.” This reaction is genuine and not meant to be hurtful, but starts to feel like passive-aggressive criticism when it goes on for years.


    The family and friends in this category do not read your work and they do not ask you about it even if you ask about their jobs or passions. It’s worth mentioning that they may also be the types who are not good at asking questions in a conversation. That is why disinterest can feel personal, but it truly could be a matter of poor social skills.

    It’s important to remember that not everybody likes to read, not everybody likes to read online, and nobody will be as interested in our writing as we are. That said, do I think it’s irritating if you’re always asking about someone’s life and she never asks about yours even if she’s not particularly fond of essays or whatever else you write? Yes. It’s especially rude and awkward if you’re supposedly good friends. People do not have to actually read your work to ask about how things are going. It’s called good manners.


    These are the people who read your work and see your activity online, but do not like what you are saying and doing. They may openly let you know, or they may choose to act disinterested to avoid letting you know directly. No matter how the message gets across, being on the other end of disapproval never feels good.

    So, what about your friend?

    It’s hard to know whether your friend falls into “neutrally indifferent” of your work, “disinterested” or “disapproving.” But now I’m going to tell you the hardest truth. You have to force yourself to forget about winning this friend’s interest, support, and approval.

    I want you to learn from my mistakes. Until recently I spent far too much time worried about the few people in my life who fall into the disinterested and disapproving categories. I was also too attached to the enthusiastic ones. The peace of mind of not needing so much approval from those giving it and from those withholding it would have been better for my relationships, my confidence, and my writing.

    I also want to say that I think we can get overly fixated on changing the mindset of a particular person. You have to ask yourself why this one friend’s lack of support is bothering you so much. Do her doubts mirror your own? Is her refusal to acknowledge your success holding you back from settling into the writing identity?

    Bottom line: You do not have to end this friendship, but you have to stop hoping she will like your work or even acknowledge it. I think your husband is right that her inability to show any interest in what you’re doing (even as a friend if not a reader) is her issue to face and not yours.

    You asked: “How can it be that people I have never met, except online, encourage and support me, while a great friend of many years, living down the street, does not?

    The enthusiasm of fellow writers, even those we’ve never met in person, is impossible to match because we’re members of the same team. We understand the challenges of getting work accepted for publication and the harder challenge of getting eyes on that work.

    You also asked: “Do I tell her how I’m feeling, and that her lack of support has been upsetting to me? Or do I leave it alone, and simply carry on with my writing?”

    If your friend continues to act as if this important piece of your life does not exist, it’s only logical that you will want to spend less time with her. It’s not like you’re a drug dealer asking for her approval. While I believe it’s unreasonable to expect your friends to read your work, it is reasonable to expect them to acknowledge its place in your life, even if just in casual conversation. If you miss the time you used to spend with your friend, or if she misses you and asks what’s going on, I think it’s only fair to tell her that you want to be able to talk about your writing just as she is able to talk about what matters to her.

    Fellow writers, what advice do you have? Should this week’s letter writer confront her friend or let it go? What would YOU do?



    FULL RES - Badzin-03 copy-1Nina is a contributing writer for,, and Great New Books. Her essays have appeared regularly at Brain, Child Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward, and have been syndicated in The Times of Israel as well as Jewish newspapers across the country. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children. Contact her on Twitter @ninabadzin and on her blog.




    Our newest writing class, Mother, Writer, begins in just a few weeks! Find out details and enroll here— spaces are still available!


    Keep reading

  • Imbalance in Friendships

    Ask (1)

    Today’s question for Nina is about recognizing a one-sided friendship and deciding whether to restore the balance or move on.

    Nina is always accepting anonymous questions so keep them coming!


    Dear Nina,

    My oldest friend and I email back and forth at least five times a day. We know everything that goes on in each other’s lives. He (Michael) lives in the same city, and he’s very active socially. He hosts many dinner parties with his partner, but my husband and I have never been invited. I have even expressed to Michael how lonely I feel sometimes with no extended family in town, but still—no invite. My kids have never even been to his house.

    I’m wondering if Michael and I are true friends after all, or if we just have an email relationship. We invite Michael and his partner to our place for parties, but they rarely show up, and they make all sorts of lame excuses like being too tired to come over.

    I don’t want to spend energy on someone who considers me a C-list friend when I consider him my best friend. Should I just walk away from this imbalanced relationship?

    Thanks for any advice,

    Tired of the C-list Status


    Dear Tired of the C-list Status,

    Based solely on the information you gave me, I agree that this friendship sounds more like a virtual one, than a face-to-face one. And yes, on first glance it seems imbalanced. If you had not shared the detail of the emailing back and forth five times a day, I would immediately lean towards you walking away from what appears to be a situation where you are giving 100% and Michael is trying to fade out of your life.

    However, and this is a big however, those emails are not meaningless. Staying connected, even through email, takes time and effort on Michael’s part. He could easily take longer to answer those emails if he wanted to send the vibe that he’s not interested in communicating with you and staying updated on your life. Are you best friends? Perhaps that label is too generous, but that doesn’t mean the friendship is worthless for either of you. Perhaps you just need to reframe how Michael fits into your life so that your feelings are not hurt. You’ve known each other a long time and that counts, too.

    I cannot know for sure why Michael and his partner do not invite you over or accept your invitations, but a few guesses come to mind. Just at this advice column alone I receive many versions of a question asking what to do when you don’t like someone’s spouse. Is it possible that Michael does not like your husband or that his partner is not totally comfortable with you, your husband, or both of you? Is it possible that they don’t want to hang out with your kids? Since you mentioned inviting Michael and his partner to parties, I also wonder if they don’t care for your friends.

    Even if the answer to every one of those theories is YES, I don’t think it has to be a deal-breaker for the friendship. You and Michael can have a friendship that’s separate from his partner and your family. Again, if Michael did not answer your emails or stay in touch so closely on a daily basis, I would say that the imbalance in invites is cause to let the friendship go, but I can’t in good faith suggest ending a friendship with so much history and daily value in your life.

    As far as I can tell, you have some options for what to do next.

    1. Talk to Michael (or email him) and mention that you’d like to see him in person every so often. Maybe ask him to let you know what works for lunch or coffee. It sounds to me like you’ve been focusing too much on group events so make sure to mention the one-on-one idea and see what happens. If he continues to avoid seeing you in person, I think it’s acceptable to ask him about it at that point.
    2. I suggest redefining your friendship. Putting a different label on the friendship is just for you and does not require a discussion with Michael. Instead of “best friend,” think: “old friend” and “close friend.” Those are both valuable types of relationships to have in your life, but they come with a different set of expectations than “best.”
    3. Stay focused on the joy Michael brings to your life instead of the areas where you feel he falls short. (That’s a good for all relationships.) No friend is perfect. It sounds like you would really miss his presence in your life so let go of the idea that he’s going to be the dinner party friend and allow yourself to feel good about the other ways he’s there for you.

    I bet others reading this have been in similar relationships where there’s an imbalance in effort. (I know I have!) Each situation is different, but I would love to hear how others have handled it or what others would suggest to “Tired of the C-list Status.”

    All the best,



    Have you checked out our upcoming writing classes? We have some exciting ones coming up, including a second session of Publish Your Personal Essay starting March 30th! And in case you missed our most recent call for submissions last week, check it out here!

    So Glad They Told Me

    Keep reading

  • Sharing Common Friends With an Ex-Friend



    Today’s question for Nina is about dealing with a friendship breakup when the two parties have many friends in common. What is your advice for a reader about how to share friends with an ex?

    Nina is always accepting anonymous questions so keep them coming!

    Dear Nina,

    Jocelyn and I recently split for good. We were part of a much larger online and real-life friendship group, but the two of us were particularly close. The specifics of our breakup are not pertinent. I also wanted to mention that I’d be willing to try again with our friendship, but she’s not.

    Here’s the reason I’m writing: I now feel awkward with the rest of our mutual friends. Jocelyn and I have not been together in the group since we split up, and I’m afraid that no one knows we’re no longer friends. (I haven’t told anyone.) However, I’m also afraid that if they do know it’s because Jocelyn told them, and I don’t know what she said about me.

    How do I get beyond this and just feel comfortable with all my other friends whether or not she’s there, or if I fear she’s talking beyond my back? Should I be up front with our other friends that our friendship is over, or should I just never mention it?

    Worried About Post-Breakup Fallout

    Dear Worried About the Post-Breakup Fallout,

    The first and most helpful piece of advice I can give you for this particular situation of how to share friends with an ex is one that will come to play often in your life, and it’s probably harder to implement than anything else I will say here today: You must accept that you cannot control every person’s opinion of you.

    That fact goes beyond controlling other people’s behavior, which is also true. No, you cannot dictate what Jocelyn says about you, or to whom (her behavior). You can only work on how much you worry about others’ perception of you based on what she says or based on their simple knowledge that the two of you are no longer friends.

    There are two ways to let go of that worry:

    Do not say anything unkind about your ex-friend.

    Keep treating your friends well, and if the subject of Jocelyn comes up, I think it’s fine to say, “We haven’t spoken in a while.” If someone asks you directly whether the two of you are no longer friends, I’d say, “Unfortunately we’re not, but I hope you understand that I don’t want to get into the details.” This way you’re being honest, but you’re also showing that you’re not going to bring the group into the issue between the two of you. This is the part you can control. You get to dictate how you act and not getting people to take sides is the classy route to take.


    The other way not to worry what others think about you (once you know your behavior is in check) is to engage in some self talk. I will often tell myself that exact message: “I cannot control what anyone thinks.” Say it to yourself before you go out with these friends. Remind yourself a few times while you’re together. It often takes an actual effort to force your mind to think in a more positive way. This new way of thinking will not happen magically; you have to teach yourself to alter your thoughts.

    Now let’s talk about the reality of what happens when two friends have a falling out, but they still share common friends. If we’re dealing with adults here, I’d like to think that most of the friends in the wider circle would feel bad for both of you that things did not work out. Any decent person (and they’re your friends so I’m assuming they’re decent) would not revel in the pain you and Jocelyn are feeling. Perhaps they’re even hoping that the two of you will work things out one day.

    Is the Friendship Really Over?

    There’s one final issue to address: I wonder if things with Jocelyn are truly finished, or if there’s a chance to turn this breakup around. Could you write her a letter (not an email, a letter) reiterating your willingness to take responsibility for your part of the falling out and to forgive her as well? I would tell her that you have no expectations in the near future, but that if she were ever open to it, you would be interested in a friendship in the future.

    Once you’ve put your feelings in writing (a powerful act), you can feel confident that you’ve done your part to rectify your mistakes and forgive Jocelyn for her mistakes. I say this because right after college my best friend and I “broke up” and about a year later I wrote her a long letter. It took her a few years to respond, but we became even closer than we were in college, and now she’s been an important person in my life for the past 10 years. To tell you the truth, the breakup made us even closer than we might have been. My point? I wouldn’t write Jocelyn off forever.

    Good luck to you! And I’m sorry you’re dealing with the pain of ending a friendship and the dilemma of how to share friends with an ex-friend. I know it isn’t easy.


    Ask (1)

    We’d love to hear your questions about friendship, difficult social situations, and online connections. Ask Nina an anonymous question using this form.

    Have you joined our growing community by signing up for our email newsletter updates? Sign up in the sidebar! Find us on Facebook and Twitter.


    Keep reading

  • Turning An Acquaintance Into a Friend

    Today’s question for Nina comes from a blogger struggling to take an online friendship offline. Here’s what she’s really asking: What’s the secret to turning an acquaintance into a friend?


    Nina is always accepting anonymous questions so keep them coming!

    Dear Nina,

    Another blogger (let’s call her Anna) and I follow each other on Twitter and Instagram and on each other’s blogs. Although I comment far more on Anna’s blog than she does on mine, I get the sense through our writing that we have a lot in common. I especially get this sense when Anna periodically initiates a quick comment to me on Twitter or Instagram. In those cases she’s obviously proactively gone out of her way to reach out, even if slightly. I was doing this a lot myself in her direction initially, but I got the feeling that I was being overbearing, so I dialed back.

    Anna and I happen to live less than 25 minutes apart, and I’d like to get together. I see her publicly comment to other folks on social media (who live much farther away) that she’d love to meet up some day, and in some cases she has done so with bloggers in our geographic vicinity. She’s never suggested anything like meeting up with me though. I’m afraid that if I suggest a quick coffee or something, I might rock the apple cart or seem like I’m stalking her and the pleasant acquaintanceship we have now will vanish, which I don’t want either. I’m so terrible at reading signals in real life, so via the internet is even harder! Advice?


    Trying to Take the Next Step


    Dear Trying to Take the Next Step,

    This is an excellent question and it really has nothing to do with the internet or blogging though the online relationship adds an extra layer of easy, quick intimacy and therefore confusion. More than the online issue, however, I want to focus on the idea of turning an acquaintance into a friend.

    I suspect that many of us have experienced what you’re describing. I have certainly felt that pang of rejection that comes from watching someone who seems like good friend potential connecting with others, but showing no interest whatsoever in me. It’s the kind of situation that can leave one wondering, What’s wrong with me? Why not me?

    Why do some acquaintanceships deepen and some stay on the surface forever? There’s no exact answer to that question because any of the following or a combination is possible: chemistry, timing, or simply one’s friend plate being too full at the moment.

    You’re correct that some of this takes an awareness of signals. I think you’re better at reading them than you realize. The fact that you dialed back from commenting so frequently on Anna’s social media happenings when you noticed a major imbalance tells me you’re paying attention to cues. I would never endorse a tit-for-tat approach to online or offline relationships. However, when your gut tells you that you’re consistently putting in far more effort, it makes sense to spend some of your reading and commenting time elsewhere. That goes for offline relationships, too!


     There is truly only one way to know if Anna is open to getting together: You have to ask. It’s entirely possible that these other bloggers who have been out with Anna are the ones doing the asking. Maybe Anna is particularly magnetic and people tend to seek her out. It doesn’t mean she won’t have room for you, but it is more likely that you will have to take the initiative.

    And when I say, ask, I mean specifically state what you’re hoping for and provide some options. I say that because when an acquaintance says, “We should really get together!” I hear, “blah blah blah.” On the contrary, when I hear, “Send me a Tuesday or Thursday that you’re free for coffee,” I hear, “I want to be your friend.”


    Beth became my good friend after she blatantly pointed out (in an email) that we have tons of friends in common and she couldn’t see any reason why the two of us did not have a friendship of our own. She added that she always enjoys talking to me when we run into each other and that she would love to see me on purpose. Then she offered some lunch dates. I found Beth’s honesty and directness utterly refreshing. I responded with, “You’re right. Let’s do this.” We met for lunch several times without any of our common friends in tow. We exercised together every so often the next year, and had play dates with our kids at some point after that. Now I can’t remember a time when Beth was not a trusted friend, but it probably would not have moved out of the acquaintance phase had she not reached out and had I not reached right back.


    The reaching back is where things can get murky, and I know this is what you’re fearing.   After you ask Anna if she’s free for coffee or lunch and offer specific dates, you might get something back like, “Would love to! Things are so crazy right now. Let’s touch base after spring break.”

    Before you allow yourself to fall down any kind of shame pit, let’s give Anna the benefit of the doubt. She may truly be too busy to commit to a date right now and prefer not to schedule out too far knowing that she could have to cancel. I would try one more time after spring break in a case like this, but if at that point you can’t get her to commit, it’s time to move on with no hard feelings.

    Here’s where you will have to keep reminding yourself that any lack of interest on Anna’s part is likely not personal and truly just about the factors we already discussed, namely, timing and the friend plate being too full. I brought up chemistry before, but I think it’s worth mentioning that even good chemistry is not always enough to overcome the anxiety over spreading oneself too thin.

    If Anna does not reach back, you should not feel bad about yourself (she hardly knows you), nor should you worry that the pleasant online relationship you have will change. That piece is in your hands. As long as you don’t act wounded over the situation or entitled to her time, I don’t see any reason why the good rapport you two shared would change.


    A good acquaintance, either online or offline, is not as special as a good friend, nevertheless, she can still be a value-add to your life. As far as I’m concerned, this can be a win-win situation.

    Good luck!


    Have you joined our rapidly growing Facebook community


    Keep reading

  • HerTake: Changing the Intensity of a Friendship

    Nina will back on the Jordana Green on WCCO CBS radio tomorrow night (Wednesday, Dec 10th) at 10PM Central talking about some of the questions she answered this week as well as how to deal with difficult relationships over the holidays. Twin Cities listeners can tune in live on channel 830, but Nina will post the podcast later this week for the rest of us. Soon the live streaming on WCCO will be working again and we can all tune in live.

    Jordana takes calls and texts and Nina would love to hear from you LIVE. Call 651-989-9226 or text 81807.

     In January Nina will be back on HerStories twice a month to answer questions so keep those anonymous questions coming.


    Dear Nina,

    A few months ago I had an argument that did not end well with my dearest friend’s husband. My husband and I are very close to this couple. We socialize with them frequently, have holidays together and casual dinners on Sunday nights and even vacation with them.

    My friend’s husband is a very smart, very narcissistic, successful professional who can be funny and entertaining or, when his mood changes, nasty and insulting. He recently lost his job, his mood worsened and his nastiness increased. He made many negative, insulting, demeaning comments to me–to the point where I had had enough. (He does not think that my profession is as worthy as his.)

    One Saturday night when the four of us were out, he lashed out at me again. (Note that I speak my mind as opposed to my friend and my husband who are more willing to let his insulting comments roll off their backs). After he made a very hurtful remark to me, I responded in kind. I Immediately apologized. He did not and continued his invective towards me.

    A few days later he called me with a lame apology (“to the extent I may have offended you, I am sorry…”) I would like to preserve my friendship with his wife but stop socializing with them as a foursome. My friend has put up with her husband’s abusive ways (towards her, too) for so long that I’m afraid she no longer sees how he behaves and why he has so few friends.

    How do I stay close to my friend given how I feel about her husband?


    Scared to Permanently Damage My Friendship


    Dear Scared to Permanently Damage My Friendship,

    I’ve named the couple Dan and Susan so that we’re not throwing around tons of pronouns. I feel for your situation because you’ve invested so much in your individual friendship and the couple friendship. Good couple friends are hard to make and changing the intensity of a friendship without ending it is even harder. I think you can preserve your friendship with Susan, but it will take some finessing.

    My first and most important piece of advice is that you have to resist any temptation whatsoever to let Susan know your true feelings about Dan. This is a lie by omission, but you will permanently damage your friendship with her if you share even one subtle criticism about Dan such as the way he treats her or anyone else.

    I’m suggesting all three of the tactics below be employed simultaneously. I told you this would take some work!

    1. Accelerate your one-on-one friendship with Susan so that no matter how much distance you create in the foursome situation, you will be spending time with Susan. This means that if you spoke once a week, try calling an extra time. If you met for lunch once a month, get together more often. Go for walks, start a new book club, movie group, or cooking group with her. Sign up for a class together. I’m just giving you some ideas for new ways to spend time with her that will not involve Dan. I like the “acceleration tactic” because it’s a positive maneuver rather than what I’m suggesting out of necessity next.

    2. Fade back, but do not fade out of the couple friendship. I often use the terms “fade back” and “fade out” because I think people make all-or-nothing and therefore permanent decisions out of anger and hurt. In most cases it would be better in the long run to decrease the intensity of a friendship rather than abruptly cut someone off. You also need to employ the fade back in this case if you want to stay friends with Susan. She will notice if you never spend time as couples and given what I still consider the most important thing to remember here (not telling her your true opinion of her husband), you will probably have to make plans with them sometimes. You’re going to have to “be busy” more often than not. “Ugh, I’m so sorry our calendar has been so ridiculous. But let’s have lunch next week just the two of us. Weekends have been crazy.” You get the idea. You’re not cutting them off as a couple; you’re slowly changing the intensity of the foursome dynamics. I wonder (and hope) if less time around Dan will make him less bothersome to you on the occasions you are together.

    3. Bring in support. On those evenings when you’re going out with Susan and Dan, why not invite a third couple? The dynamic of six individuals is vastly different from that of four. Maybe this isn’t “proper,” but seat all the women on one end of the table and the men on the other. You’ll hardly see Dan or even hear his voice.

    I’m sorry you’re in this situation by the way. It’s so uncomfortable when you don’t like a close friend’s spouse. I wish you the best of luck in changing the foursome while preserving your friendship with Susan.

    Readers, any other ideas to share?


    Dear Nina,

    I have a friend who is very sporadic, really only reaching out to me when she is bored or needs something. I don’t mind being a now and then friend, but she often appeals for support or action on social media. Whenever I respond to her pleas for help, she never acknowledges my efforts. It wouldn’t be a problem except that she then rants about how no one ever supports her. I don’t know how to be the friend that feeds her needs. Am I being too sensitive?


    Tired of Being Used


    Dear Tired of Being Used,

    Before we dive into the issue at hand, I want to comment on a peripheral point that could also help other people. You said, “I don’t mind being a now and then friend.” I find that attitude so refreshing. There are certain people in my life with whom I would probably have a more intense friendship if we each had more time or we ran into each other regularly. The reality is that there is only so much energy any of us can dedicate to friendships that are harder to develop because of where we are in our lives (issues of proximity, busy job, little kids, sick parents, and so on). I’m so grateful for the “now and then friends” in my life who I meet for lunch twice a year or even the long distance conversations that happen a few times a year. There’s something comforting about knowing there are wonderful and interesting people out in the world who wish you well and vice versa even if those friends are not the ones you call in an emergency.

    My point is that it sounds like you have reasonable expectations about the kind of friendship that permits someone to come in and out of your life. Nevertheless, even a casual “now and then friend” needs to abide by certain social norms to stay at that level of friendship, and it sounds like you need to create some new boundaries with this particular woman. I tend to err on the side of giving someone the benefit of the doubt, but the situation you described would annoy me to the point of needing to take some subtle action.

    One word came to mind when you described your friend and that is entitlement. She feels entitled to support, in this case in the form of you and others sharing her work on, I’m assuming, Facebook and Twitter. I’m guessing she shares others’ work often and is annoyed at the lack of tit-for-tat reciprocation. If she came to you for authentic advice asking why she’s having a hard time gathering a supportive “tribe” online, then I would feel less irritated on your behalf. Though truthfully that would be a hard question to answer for her so let’s just deal with the situation at hand and hope she never asks you.

    I’m not sure confronting your friend about her behavior is worthwhile. I’m imagining a scenario where next time she complains that nobody supports her you gently say, “Hey, not sure if you saw that I shared your article on Facebook.” I’m guessing she would respond with, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I saw that! Thank you so much! I didn’t mean ‘nobody supports me,’ but hardly anybody shares my stuff.” And then the complaining would start again.

    A conversation like this doesn’t really get you anywhere unless you’re willing to outright say, “I only hear from you when you need something.” My hesitation is that at this level of friendship it’s not wise to get into a conversation where the only logical outcome would be for her to contact you not just when she needs something, which would mean contacting you more often, thereby changing her status from a “now and then” friend to a someone who is a more constant figure in your life. It sounds like that’s not something you would want. If I’m wrong, then you should tell her exactly how you feel.

    If I’m right that you don’t want her reaching out to you more often, I would stop sharing her stuff every time she asks. If you “feed the monster” so to say, she will keep coming back for more. It’s okay to say, “I’ll try!” next time she asks. If she has the nerve to follow up and ask why you didn’t share her work, say you forgot. I know this is a white lie, but the occasional white lie is a fair strategy to use out of kindness and out of the desire to create some new boundaries.

    I hope that helps! I’m curious to hear readers’ opinions, too.

    Good luck! Nina


    You can submit an anonymous question for Nina here! Bloggers: we are now offering our most recent online writing course, “Write Your Way to a Better Blog” as a PDF! Buy it this week for only $29! Details here.



    Keep reading

  • Friends in New Places: 5 Tips for Making Friends in a New City

    Making friends in a new city as an adult is never easy. But as we get older, it gets even tougher.

    We may meet new people — at the gym, at kids’ playdates, at work — but it becomes increasingly difficult to turn those acquaintances into friends. Our schedules are packed and less flexible, and our priorities change.

    This month Nina Badzin, our friendship advice columnist, tackles the question of a reader who also faces the challenge of finding friends in an unfamiliar town.


    Dear Nina,

    I have several close girlfriends, but not many who live geographically close to me. I had a difficult year last year welcoming a new baby while my husband traveled extensively for work, with little to no family support. I generally come across as a very “on top of things” person, so people often don’t think I need any help. But last year showed me I do need help! As our family plans to move in a few months I want to try to cultivate friendships where it’s not unusual to get together with friends for dinner, or to help one another out. Any tips on how to start from scratch in a new place with that particular goal in mind?


    Making Friends in a New City


    Dear Making Friends in a New City,

    I love your question and your specific goal! In fact, my answer is on the longer side so it will be the only question we tackle here today.

    No matter the number of friends we talk to on the phone, or via texts, emails, Facebook comments, Tweets, and so on, many of us are wired to see friends face-to-face. Let’s be honest, considering that even a phone conversation can seem rare these days, time together can be that much harder to schedule. As you implied with your question, however, it’s those face-to-face interactions that lead to the kind of friendship where you can rely on others in times of need and joy. Despite what Katherine Rosman reported in the New York Times last week about people who manage to find time for Twitter and Instagram, but can’t be bothered to return a phone call, there are still people who remember that nothing can replace the real connection of hearing a friend’s voice and seeing her face (not on your iPhone screen or in the form of an avatar).

    Fourteen years ago I moved to Minneapolis without any friends. It took me a long time to feel settled, but I eventually made this city my home. I’ve also watched others move here through the years and marveled at how gracefully some transitioned despite the reputation among non-native Minnesotans that it’s impossible to make new friends when “Minnesota Nice” means “Minnesota Ice.” (I’ve also seen less graceful situations, but I’m going to keep it positive.) I’ll share my tips and some ideas from the women who arrived in town more recently.

    I cannot talk about making friends in a new city without mentioning Rachel Bertsche’s memoir MWF Seeking BFF in which she chronicles her systematic effort of going on weekly “friend dates” for her entire first year in Chicago. Like you, Rachel had several close friends in other cities, but she missed having that support system nearby. While going on 52 outings with new friends over the course of a year only makes sense for a book deal, I think anyone can glean lessons from Rachel’s active approach of making friends in a new city, which was: Do not wait for friendships to happen.

    While some people feel annoyed by the word “dating” in reference to making new friends, it is an apt description. Actively looking for quality friends is just like dating, yet in some ways much easier because you can have several friends who fulfill different needs in your life rather than seeking a “perfect” match. I think the biggest key to making new friends in a new city is to accept the fact that she who is interested in new friends is the one who must make the effort. Fight that fact, and you will still be asking this question in five years. Harsh but true.

    1. Making Friends in a New City: If You Feed Them, They Will Come

    Clara* moved to Minneapolis two years ago and she’s already one of my closest friends. She’s managed to achieve what you’re looking for in terms of asking for help and providing help to others. She’s always carpooling with other families to birthday parties, organizing play dates at her house, or sending her kids to someone else’s house. Clara’s willingness to ask for help has influenced those of us in her midst to feel we can ask, too.

    I asked Clara how she settled in so quickly. “Do a lot of hosting,” she said. She hosted dinners and brunches for families from her kids’ classes and her social life grew from there. She didn’t wait for invitations, nor did she feel entitled to tit-for-tat reciprocation. If someone who’d been to her house for a meal reached out to meet for coffee or a walk, Clara considered that invitation a great result from her hosting efforts. She didn’t eliminate women as “friend potential” if they didn’t have her family over right away.

    2. Accept Invitations

    Julie is another newer friend of mine. She moved to Minneapolis a bit after Clara, and she did so without kids. Furthermore, her job gave her no immediate connections to potential friends because she works from home. We met after getting assigned to the same table at a benefit for an organization we both care about, and at some point after that we got together for lunch. (Lunch was Julie’s idea despite the fact that I’m seven years older and a mom of four.) I later invited Julie and her husband for dinner, and some time after that she had the six of us over, too. (Brave!)

    I asked Julie for her number one tip. “Making friends has to be a priority,” she said. Even if she didn’t feel like going out to a particular event, Julie forced herself to go simply for the opportunity to meet someone new or to deepen a connection with an acquaintance. Clara added on the same subject, “If someone wants to set you up with a new friend, always say yes. Worst case and it’s a bad match, it makes for a good story.”

    1. Keep Your Net Wide

    While it’s tempting to look for people who remind you of your long-distance friends, I would keep yourself open to anyone no matter their age and stage in life. (Julie inviting me to lunch is a great example.) That means that if you get an invitation to a family’s house, but they’re much more or less religious than you, have signs in their driveway for candidates you abhor, or don’t seem like “your type,” give them a chance anyway. Instead of worrying “why” you would possibly hit it off with a potential new friend, ask yourself “why not.”

     4. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    I recently learned of a friend-making app called Smile Mom from my friend Ellie, who moved to a new city six months ago. Ellie saw another woman post on the app that she was also new to town and had nobody to invite to her two-year-old’s party. This woman was hoping that others would show up to the party she’d planned for her son at the park. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone for all the individuals involved! Even though Ellie’s kids are several years older, Ellie, also brave in this scenario, showed up with a small birthday gift and hit if off with a few of the other woman who also showed up because of the app. I love that in this case technology brought people together instead of allowing everyone to stay behind a screen.

    For MWF Seeking BFF, Rachel took an improv class, started a cooking club, a book club, tried different exercise options, and even asked a waitress who seemed like good friend potential for her phone number. The key here is that she didn’t rely on just one method to make friends. I’d also consider volunteering and even offering to lead committees. It’s a great way to learn more about your new community.

    5. Accept the Reality of The Friend Plate and Chemistry

    There’s no getting around the fact that some people’s friend plates are already too full. I’ve met women new to town as great as Clara and Julie, but I only have so much room in my life for new, close friends at any given time. And of course the issue of chemistry comes to play, too. I think the best policy is to not take things too personally if a relationship does not get beyond the surface. Just keep going and a few friendships will deepen to the level you’re looking for.

    *Names were changed.


    Readers: What advice would you add? Do you know people who excel at making friends in a new city? Have you seen situations where certain tactics haven’t worked at all? Please share!


    Also, remember that our contact form is anonymous. While we have several questions waiting for answers, we are open to more. And your question might even get discussed on the radio!

    Keep reading