Relying On Friends: How Much Is Too Much?

Recently, a woman told Lucinda Rosenfeld, novelist and author of the intermittently obnoxious advice column 'Friend or Foe', that her friends had ditched her when she got roofied. Rosenthal's response: get over it.

The letter-writer, who signs herself "Thanks for Rescuing Me After I Was Drugged and Left for Dead-Not!" and whom we'll call "Thanks" because "TFRMAIWDALFDN!" sucks, went to hear some music with two old friends (both female). The last thing she remembers is leaving for the bathroom — someone had drugged her drink, and a police officer later found her lying alone on a sidewalk. Figuring she'd just left, her friends had left too, without looking for her. Thanks writes,

Later, when I called them from the street, sobbing in hysterics and asking for help, they told me to go back to the club and that they would have an ambulance pick me up there. When my mother-who lives 2,000 miles away (and hopped on a plane the next day to be with me)-later called these two friends of mine to beg them to join me while I was recovering, they refused. It wasn't until I told them that the hospital wouldn't release me until I had someone to drive me home that they came to pick me up. They then angrily drove me to my car, and I drove home alone. By then, it was the next morning.

Sounds shitty, right? Not to Rosenfeld. She says,

Wow, that's a tough call. A spouse or even a boyfriend? Yes, it would be his or her duty to haul ass to said hospital at 4 a.m. But your single female friends who are already, presumably tucked in their beddy-bies? I have to admit that, if I got a call like yours (or your mother's) in the middle of the night, I'd do what I could from home, but would be hard-pressed to jump in my car until morning.

Ouch — apparently if you're single, and don't have a willing mom, you are SOL if you need middle-of-the-night help. Or, as commenter L.S. Newfarmer eloquently puts it, "The message of your advice seems to be: if you expect to have someone there for you, find a boyfriend or live close to your mother." I have to admit, when I've been in relationships, I've tended to dial my boyfriend first if I need a difficult favor (like a ride to the hospital late at night). That said, I've also relied on my friends during both single and non-single periods for everything from midnight reassurances to last-minute apartment visits in faraway cities, and I think this might actually be healthier.

While it's nice to have someone who will drive you to the ER at 4 a.m., this isn't necessarily the best basis for a romantic relationship. Plenty of people, myself included at times, are willing to stay with a partner for the safety he/she provides — but friendships can provide this safety too. And being the only person your significant other can rely on creates a lot of stress in a relationship. Maybe one reason for the famed isolation of American life — and the equally famous (if slightly specious) excessive expectations American place on marriage and coupledom — is that too many people believe, like Rosenfeld, that you can depend on a boyfriend but not a friend.

Thanks might have been wise to make an agreement with her friends before the show that they would leave together. She might be wiser still, as commenter Newfarmer says, to "find friends who love you as much as you love them." Many Americans live far away from their moms, and many don't have parents who are alive or able-bodied enough to hop a plane. But the best solution isn't to get a boyfriend who's sexually obligated to respond to your midnight call. I'd much rather take Newfarmer's advice and build a network of people who take care of each other, so that my single days — and since we still generally outlive men, odds are that lots of a woman's days will be single ones — aren't filled with worry. And so that when I'm with someone, it's for love — not a ride to the ER.

Friend or Foe: My Friends Ditched Me When I Got Drugged! [Double X]