DEAR HARRIETTE: A few months ago, one of my friends texted in our group chat that she needed to take a break from us. She has always struggled with her mental health, and she explained that she couldn’t handle the pressure of hanging out with people right now. She said that if we wanted to, we could add her back by the end of June.
Yesterday, an acquaintance posted an Instagram photo hanging out with the same friend who said she couldn’t handle being with people right now, which really hurt all of our feelings. Our friend hasn’t reached out to us about being added back in the group chat, when it’s well past the end of June. My friend group doesn’t want to keep chasing her, even though we adore her. Do we keep pushing or let her go? — Friend Group Drama
DEAR FRIEND GROUP DRAMA: Friend dynamics can be complicated and usually don’t follow simple rules. Yes, your friend said she needed time away from your group. Of course that was hard to accept. Now it hurts because you see that she is spending time with others and not with you. What you need to do is step back and give her space. She is finding ways to enjoy herself right now, and that is her prerogative. Let her be.
Over time, you will find that friends come and go. Some are forever relationships, but many are not. As the saying goes, friendships last for a season, for a reason or for a lifetime. It’s all good.
DEAR HARRIETTE: COVID-19 took a toll on me mentally and physically. At the start of the pandemic, I weighed around 140 pounds, and now I’m up to 160 pounds. I’m scared to see friends and family after I’ve put on so much weight. I can already picture them commenting on it or recommending I join the gym now that it’s open. Even though I want to spend time with my family and friends, I don’t want my weight to be included in any conversations. How do I ensure it isn’t? — COVID-19 Weight Gain
DEAR COVID-19 WEIGHT GAIN: Whether good or bad, the reality is that millions of people share your current reality. A running joke is that many people gained about 19 pounds because of COVID-19. But it’s not funny when it has happened to you.
Start by giving yourself a break. Yes, you gained weight. You are fully aware of it.
When you see people, if they make a comment, you can ignore what they say, acknowledge that you are aware of your body changes, thank them for their ideas and tell them that you are working on it. If they press for details, you do not have to answer. You can change the conversation. Ask them how they weathered quarantine. Get them to talk about themselves.