DEAR AMY: My husband and I have two children, ages six and one. We are part of a group of three other couples who also have kids. Our friends all have one child each. I have noticed in the last year or so that two of the couples are always doing things together with their children. Their kids are 2-1/2 and 3 and they are always going over each other's houses, going on outings and such. The problem is that they never invite us! I don't know if they are inviting our other friends who have a seven-month-old, but I don't see that family in the pictures I see of their outings, which are posted all over social media. These two couples invite us and other friends to other things (showers, holiday parties and birthdays) but not when they go out for playdates with their children. It hurts me that they don't include my children because we have always invited them whenever we do things. My husband brushes it off. It doesn't bother him, but it bothers me. Now I feel like excluding these families from our lives. My husband will still be friends with them, but I feel like stepping back and not including them in mine or my children's lives anymore. Can you provide any advice?
DEAR LEFT OUT: Here's my advice: Grow up.
The obvious explanation here is that the two couples you cite both have toddlers. One toddler can be a tough go. But get two toddlers together, and magic happens — certainly if they get along well.
If your 6-year-old came home from school and told you that he was upset because, "Joseph invited me to his birthday party but he never invites me over for playdates," you would patiently explain that friendships come in many forms. It's OK for people to be closer to some people than others.
Friendship isn't fair and equal, and that's why it's so special.
So yes, these other two couples are parents of toddlers. That's why they spend so much time together. You should also assume that they genuinely like each other and enjoy one another's company.
You need to work on broadening your perspective. If you would seriously consider "excluding people from your lives" with whom you have a cordial relationship, then you are ill-equipped to handle the long haul of parenting.
DEAR AMY: I have had a friend for over 35 years. We raised kids together, both went through divorces, and were generally close. But things have changed. I realize that when we talk, she controls the conversations. She goes on and on and then when I share, she often finds an excuse to ring off. If I want to talk, I have to interrupt, which isn't my style. When she visits my home, she talks about what my house needs to have done to it. Last year a grandchild came early and spent two months in NICU. During this time, she sent me pictures of healthy, happy babies until I asked her to please stop as our baby was fighting for his life. She texted a "sorry." My family has several biracial children in it, yet she has started to say things that are casually racist. Often, I wonder if she remembers who she is talking to. She has a lot more money than I do and talks about it often. I treasure our years as friends but wonder how I missed these behaviors for so long. Can people suddenly change so much? My heart hurts for the erosion of our long-term friendship. Just writing this has helped to clarify the situation, but I'd also appreciate your take.
DEAR MOVING ON: One person's radical and overnight change might be rare, but two people each changing incrementally over a period of many years is completely normal — and this would explain why you two are now so far apart. Your life experiences seem to have opened you up. Her life experiences seem to have gradually closed her.
Moving on from such a long friendship is painful, but remaining in a relationship where you feel continually devalued is probably worse.
DEAR AMY: I've been interested in the rise of the term "ghosting" to describe the sometimes sudden removal of a person from someone else's life. I don't love all modern terminology, but this strikes me as supremely fitting.
No Ghost Here
DEAR NO GHOST: Yes, this is the perfect term to describe the action, as well as the experience.