DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are friendly with two other couples whose children are friends with ours. We live in a fairly small community, and the couples met and began socializing because my husband and I introduced them. It started out with board game nights, progressed to potlucks and holiday events, then eventually a three-family summer vacation. Everyone seemed to get along fine.

Two years into the friendship, it came to my attention that the two other females were getting together “for tea” about once a month, and had been doing so for some time. I won’t pretend that it didn’t sting. I was surprised that they were socializing without including me, and even more so to realize that they had been doing so “on the sly.” It would have been easy to include me, but they repeatedly chose not to. Not only that, they actively hid their tea dates from me.

I realize we are all adults and free to do as we wish, but nothing about their behavior screams “adult” to me. At first, my husband felt my feelings were unwarranted, but the secrecy surrounding their friendship has cast a pall on the couples portion of the friendship. I’m not sure of my place anymore. What do you think, Abby? Am I off base to have hurt feelings on this? – Hurt and left out

DEAR HURT: That you have hurt feelings is understandable. But those women did what they did on the sly because they knew you would react exactly as you have. We talk about different things with different people. You don’t own them. They are free to meet if they choose, and it’s only once a month.

Because the idea that they visit with each other privately has made you unsure about your status in the friendship, tell them you know and ask why. It couldn’t be more damaging to your relationship with them than the status quo, and it might clear the air.

Write to Dear Abby at P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069 or

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