DEAR ABBY: I have a friend, “Tara,” I have known for a long time. Early in our friendship when we made plans, she would bring her boyfriend along (without asking or telling me she was). When she began dating her now-husband, it continued. I did grow to like him and appreciated the chance to get to know him, but I thought it could have been handled better (a planned event where we all hung out occasionally, not her dragging him along to everything we had planned together).

She’s married now, and a mother, and now every time we hang out, she brings along her rambunctious 6-year-old. Tara’s mother is older and lives with her, and sometimes she comes along with them. I’m the boy’s godmother (we are close, he calls me Auntie and I love him dearly) but that doesn’t mean I don’t want some alone friend time with Tara.

The child is not well-behaved, so taking him out in public isn’t always pleasant or easy. I am a planner. I dislike getting railroaded with babysitting when I’m anticipating a fun girls’ day out. Tara usually waits until right before we’re getting together to say he’s coming, changes our plans or waits until she’s on the way and says, “I hope it’s OK ‘Bobby’ is coming with me.” I find it rude and disrespectful of me and our time together.

I hate to lose a longtime friend, but I never know what I’m getting with her and am now hesitant to make plans with her. What would you do in this situation?

— SIMMERING IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR SIMMERING: I would tell my friend that once in a while I don’t mind an occasional change of plans, but when I have “a fun girls’ day out” planned with her, I don’t appreciate what she has been doing. Your feelings are valid.

DEAR ABBY: I have been invited to a wedding. I’m close with the bride and want to attend. However, more than 400 people have been invited, and I’m not comfortable attending an event this large where social distancing will be impossible. While I can try to keep my distance and, of course, wear a mask, the seating cannot be arranged so guests can socially distance.

I’m torn between protecting the health of others and myself, and preserving my friendship because she’s a bride in love and I’m worried about hurting her feelings. In our state, gatherings of 100 people are allowed if they are outside and people wear masks and socially distance. She thinks the coronavirus is a hoax and God will have it go away completely by her wedding. I need to RSVP. Please help.

— UNEASY IN OREGON

DEAR UNEASY: Tell your friend that you are sorry you will miss her wedding, but that you are not comfortable traveling at this time or being in large groups while the COVID-19 virus is still an issue and the omicron variant is more contagious than delta.

The COVID virus is not a “hoax,” and none of us has such a close relationship with the Almighty that He (or She) will make it disappear so a bride can have a large wedding. The bride-to-be is entitled to her opinion, and you are equally entitled to yours, so send your regrets and the reason for them, and do not allow yourself to be sucked into a debate about it.

P.S. A nice wedding gift might “soften” the blow of your absence.

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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