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dearmargaret I have a friend with whom I generally get along very well. She seems to have an innate sense of "fair play." That is, if I invite her to my house for dinner, it's her turn next to have me for dinner. If she does me a favor, she expects that I repay her in kind. I can deal with this for the most part, except that every once in a while she changes the rules and I no longer know what's expected of me. If I pick her son up from school, I should know that she is going through a difficult time and am expected to continue this transportation arrangement for a few weeks. It's getting exhausting playing this game. I sincerely enjoy her company for the most part, and don't want to discontinue our relationship. How can I make this a win/win?
Friend of a Rule Changer

Dear Friend of a Rule Changer?: Having the rules change at her every whim doesn't sound like an enjoyable game to me. In fact, a relationship in which you have to keep score at all can't be pleasant. In order to make this relationship the win/win you desire may not be possible. From your description of the relationship, she holds the cards and you play along. She's always the winner, and perhaps she likes it that way. This may be a good time to practice being guided by your own sense of fairness and instincts of what you want friendship to look like. I'd suggest you take the time to ponder those questions. Once you have a good sense as to what it is YOU want in a relationship, you will know what to do. And, the solution probably won't be easy, but it will be right.

Click Here to write to Dear Margaret.  Margaret Snow is a Life Coach in Ithaca, NY.

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