Do I have to be friends with them?

A letter writer’s husband mentors young women, and now they all want to be friends with her.

Our elder advises her where to draw the line.

Dear EWC

My husband has mentoring relationships with several young women (younger than myself). I’ve met them all at various functions, and they all want to be friends with me, inviting me to see bands and movies and whatever. I really don’t want to. It seems strange to me. Do they have a game? Are they trying to equalize their relationship with my husband? Are they trying to get closer to him? Are they maybe trying to get in touch with Generation X? How can I reject them? Because having friendships with these young women simply seems like work. But I do want to be nice. Alternatively, how can I sincerely become a better person who will gladly make time for and support these up-and-coming young women?

Elder TwoBitsWorth replies

First question: Does your husband mentor ONLY young women? No men?

Second question: Is your husband being careful not to put himself in compromising settings or situations given our current climate of sometimes unfounded accusations?

Finally, do you have any reason to believe your husband is wanting more than a chance to mentor?

Now, as far as you responding to social activity requests, my gut reaction is the mentoring experience is your husband’s “thing”. I see no immediate reason for you to have to be part of that commitment UNLESS there are some unique circumstances, e.g. you live in a small town where people naturally mix, the nature of his company encourages this kind of interaction, etc.

You said you wanted to be nice. My guess is there are many ways to show kindness without becoming more fully engaged. Not knowing the details of your situation, I can’t recommend actions at this point but my guess is that you will do the right thing.

THAT may include opting to be more social than you are at this point or retaining the distance you have now. The key for me is being fully confident that he is mentoring for the right reasons. That he is careful to make sure his good intentions are not misunderstood. And that you do what you feel comfortable doing.

I hope these thoughts help and that you know you can write back anytime.

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