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Carolyn Hax: Single friend blames couples for ruining group vacation

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: We recently returned from a great vacation with friends we hadn’t seen in over a year. One of our friends, “Dana,” didn’t have a good time and is blaming the rest of us.

We rented a huge house on a beautiful beach with another couple and Dana. She doesn’t care for the beach but, during the planning stages, said she’d be fine since there were fun things to do in the area.

Once we got there, Dana kept trying to get someone to do day trips with her but we just wanted to hang at the beach and be together catching up, so she went alone. The last night we were all lamenting having to leave when Dana said she couldn’t wait — it was the worst vacation of her life. She said we all “froze her out,” wouldn’t do anything she wanted and stuck her with the worst room. Hers was the smallest of the three, and we had agreed the couples would get the two master suites and split the cost accordingly, meaning we all paid much more than she did.

We also made sure she didn’t pay as much for groceries, wine and beer. The house was luxurious, so she got a bargain, really.

I feel bad that Dana had a bad time, since she is one of my oldest friends, but did we do anything wrong? I thought the main point was for all of us to be together again, not run out trying to sightsee and shop. Shouldn’t Dana have realized that people who love the beach were going to spend their time on the beach?

— Friend

Friend: So you didn’t go with her even once? Anywhere?

And two couples really believed the only unpartnered member of the group imagined doing those “fun things” alone the entire time?

And coming back to her non-master suite? Which made for a reasonable room assignment on paper but in a climate of insult really just encapsulated everything?

And now you’re looking to me to agree it was her fault she felt utterly extraneous? Since she “got a bargain really"?

I’m out of huffy rhetorical questions, so I’ll conclude: Dana would probably have liked at least one friend to have shown an interest in spending time with her. Your contempt for her interests — “not run out trying to sightsee and shop” — is palpable.

Re: Dana: Sorry, but your answer was patronizing to single people. If Dana needs company for her outings, then she should choose her vacations accordingly. I would be mortified if someone joined me on a sightseeing trip out of pity.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Groups involve attention to inclusion. To dismiss such mindfulness as “pity” weirdly absolves people of their responsibilities to each other to think inclusively. They care enough to travel together as friends, but not enough to spend any time with Dana on her terms? Wow.

More readers’ thoughts:

· My single friends and I say, “It’s the beach house thing,” when coupled people automatically presume advantages for themselves, like the master suite with the deck and water view, while an unmarried sister shares the basement room with the 8-year-old niece. There are a lot of ways to allocate desirable things, people.

· … aaaaand this is why your single friends tend to ignore you once you get divorced or become widowed. The “smug marrieds” treatment cuts deeply.

· If I were Dana, I’d be reassessing these alleged friends and wondering how I could have missed the potential for this kind of unpleasant vacation. She “kept trying to get someone to do the day trips with her.” That says it all.

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