Not all friends are real friends and you need to tell the difference.

Friend or Foe?


Friends are an important part of our human experience especially when you’re single. But not all friends are real friends and you need to be able to tell the difference.

Not all friends are real friends and you need to tell the difference.
Scott Griessel / 123RF Photo

My darling Singular friends,

Good friends are as precious as pearls. Who else will listen to your tears when you pour your heart out, help you have the courage to change jobs or significant others and tell you the truth when you ask for it. Face it. Friendship is highly under-rated. Yet even between BFs, there are times when the “F” takes on a more sinister meaning, as in “Fuggetaboutit.” Let’s look.


Dear Marnie: Actually, I’m writing on behalf of five of us. We all grew up together, went to the same high school and have a reunion at least once a year as we’ve remained best friends over the years. We usually meet in Los Angeles where two of us live. The others fly in. We’re in our forties, four of us are single, and one of us, I’ll call “Eve” married eight months ago for the second time.

Onto the current problem: After changing careers, “Haley” (one of the group) is graduating from medical school. The rest of us decided to celebrate her achievement with a special “Girls Only” weekend at a beautiful, private lodge in the Angeles forest. Yesterday “Eve” texted us that she intends to bring her husband (who most of us haven’t even met)! We explained this was a “Girls Weekend.” Now Eve is whining about how it’s not fair for us to expect her to “abandon” her husband for a whole weekend. We don’t even know if she’s still coming. Marnie, we planned this months ago! What’s your take on this weird turn of events? – SadFriend, Santa Monica.

MARNIE SAYS: Darling, have you even considered how … useful … her hubby may be? Chopping wood, “failing” to start the fireplace, or entertaining the rest of you by playing The Newlywed Game? No good? OK, then invite me. I’ll come – alone – if there’s food. But here’s the real deal: ether hubby numero two has her tied up in the bell tower or she has bats in her belfry!

Getting it! Your Personal Strategy:

* You’ve told her it’s girls only. Boom! Period!

* Do not argue with Mrs. LoveinBloom. Do not defend. Do not speak rationally about the obvious inanity of a male in the midst of your wilderness retreat. First, she knows all that. More important, we don’t know the “real” reason behind her reason.

* Call her on it. One of you (the calmest) must ask, but do it with finesse as follows: “Eve, darling … this doesn’t sound like you — atawl. Clearly five women sharing one shower with your husband is an even worse idea than white chocolate. So … what’s really going on?” (For example, is her trust in him eroding already? Is he controlling? Is she so wiggy with love she hangs on like static cling?) Then ask is she’s coming — solo? Remind her that she’s a Very Important Pal in your group.

* IF she chooses never to leave hubby’s side again, suggest an activity that I call “Who’s Still Here?” Ask her to make a list of all the men she once thought were an important part of her life (like her first husband), then ask her how many she still sends holiday cards to. Have her do the same for her women friends over the last 10 years.

Point out the obvious …  men, even husbands, may come and go … but she’s still looking at you.


Dear Marnie: “Sean,” my best buddy of five years is a liar. He fudges practically everything then brags about how he gets over on oblivious fools (women, his boss, strangers). Last year he moved to Arizona from L.A. We recently made plans for him to visit me, part of which involved breaking other plans. The day before he was due, I got texts like, “Hey … can’t wait for us to hang-out.” Then, he was a no-show, so I called. His response was, “Didn’t you get my e-mail?” Then he launched into how he may have to be hospitalized for kidney stones. I spoke with mutual  friends in Phoenix and found out this was a complete lie. Some have told me it’s “just Sean” so laugh it off, but I’m not feeling it. Any words of wisdom? – LAJoe

MARNIE SAYS: Yes, sweetie, your Big Problem isn’t merely your lying pal. It’s the fact that he got — you.  He broke the “rules” of your brotherhood by including you in his fibbing – his BFF.  “Who is this masked malingerer?” you wonder. And more so,  “Who am I? Friend or fleecee?”  That’s what has you flipping mad.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

* Get the truth out of him, full-out.  Sure, we all fact-fiddle a little from time to time (just ask me my shoe size).  But this guy’s doing his Fantasy Island.

1- His bloated self-involvement, coupled with anemic self-hood make no distinctions. All his world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely to be played.   

2- He causes havoc. He’ll worry you with phony illness … all to service his real sickness: chronic lying.

3- His lies are persistent. Despite his “charm” let’s get it straight. This is serious. You’re not over-reacting.

* Now, you. A LoonyLiar’s life is spent spreading his sickness. It’s not personal. Your notion that you were the exemption was founded on the false premise that he’s in control of his lunacy. He probably isn’t — not entirely.  

* Change your thinking. Now that you see this as a sick dance, view him as you would an addict. As a pal you could: get out of it. Too dangerous, too pricey? Or, you could intervene as a condition of your friendship.

* I suggest you do calmly say: “Sean, I’m worried and I’m furious. You lied to me.  I felt betrayed. It’s a pattern. I should’ve told you years ago. I’m telling you now, please get help with this, because for us to be pals, I need to trust you.” Don’t argue. Don’t defend.

Chances are he’ll nay you. But you need to act in order to expunge your outrage, clarify the consequences, regain your own dignity — and offer one singular parting shot of caring before the adios amigo.

Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2016 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie Winston-MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

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