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updated: 7/9/2011 9:54 AM

Friend's attitude is putting trip in jeopardy

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Q. I have a problem that I really just can't decide how to handle. My best friend from college is living in Germany. After we graduated, while she was in the States, she visited me in Maryland. I have been telling her for a year now that I'm going to visit her.

We discussed actually planning the trip this week, and she informed me that while I'm there, I won't be allowed to stay at her apartment because "there's just not enough room" and "my boyfriend doesn't want his morning routine interrupted." She did, however, say I could stay in a nearby hostel.

I am a single girl traveling alone to a foreign country and don't really feel this is safe. After much debate, she finally agreed to stay at the hostel with me "if I pay half her stay there." I don't feel this is really appropriate either, so after some more discussion on her part she at last agreed to stay with me and pay her way.

At this point, I'm not sure I even feel comfortable going, with the attitude she's taken. I feel like if I don't go, though, our friendship will be affected in a major way. What's your take?

Friendship vs. trip

A. Anecdotes aren't facts, history doesn't guarantee the future, and safety will always require common sense and basic precautions, but hostels in Europe have seen herds of travelers like you come and go.

In fact, it's quite possible you'll be safer in the hostel than your friend is in her relationship.

When people go miles out of their way to avoid a relatively minor inconvenience to a mate, that sets off alarms. Is she unable to say to him, "This is my best friend, she's spending scarce resources to cross an ocean to come see me, and the least I can do is give her a 3-by-6 piece of couch"? Or is she just unwilling, knowing the force of his displeasure?

Obviously, I have very little to go on. But "there's just not enough room" and "my boyfriend doesn't want his morning routine interrupted" indicate that either she needs to brush up on her truth-telling (or excuse-making) skills, or he has controlling tendencies that she's trying to mince around without alienating her best friend.

And think about it: If this is all her doing, if she just doesn't want you to stay with her for reasons that have nothing to do with her boyfriend, then why is she giving up her own bed to stay with you at a hostel, at anybody's expense?

Please do go on this trip, deal with the hostel, even spot your friend at least half the cost as a gesture of thanks, since I only suspect the boyfriend is twisting her arm, but I know for sure you are. Go to be a friend.

And, go so you can see for yourself whether your friend is in trouble. She may need this visit, and the affirmation that comes with it, more than you need her couch.

If you go only to discover I'm flat-out wrong about her boyfriend -- oopsie! Then you'll still be a single girl traveling more or less on your own in a foreign country, and what a chance for enrichment that is.

• Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$ 2011 The Washington Post $PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

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