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Dear Carolyn: Four great friends do a lot together, “Jeanne,” “Sophie,” “Kaylie” and “Penny.” Over time, Sophie constantly “finds faults” with Jeanne and begins to alienate her from the group. Sophie doesn’t share this with Jeanne and doesn’t want her to know. Penny and Kaylie tell Jeanne the “faults” Sophie sees. Feelings are that good friends should be able to let you know what “faults” are upsetting you so that you can correct them.

Sophie leaves the group. No longer wants anything to do with any of the friends.

Now Sophie wants to be friends with Penny and Kaylie, but refuses to be around Jeanne. This puts Penny and Kaylie in an awkward situation. What would you recommend for Jeanne? Walk away from everyone? Avoid Sophie when she is around? Be cordial to Sophie, but no more?

– Friends on Sophie’s Terms

A: Sophie, Kaylie and Penny frighten Carolyn. (Jeanne just confuses Carolyn a bit with her storytelling.)

Penny and Kaylie are not in an “awkward situation,” they’re in a decency test – and failing it with flying colors. Here’s the answer to Sophie that prevents a snake pit: “Join us all, or don’t. Up to you.”

It’s their second F, actually. They earned the first by reporting the “faults” to Jeanne via back-channel, justifying it with a mealy, “Good friends should (blank).” The A+ answer was, to Sophie: “Whatever problems you have with Jeanne, take up with Jeanne. Stop trashing her to us.”

As for Jeanne, it’s her call whether any of these friends is worth keeping. If she stays, though, she’d best don skivvies of steel.

Friend is pushy

Dear Carolyn: How do you handle a friend who repeatedly suggests you eat food that contains gluten, when eating it gives you mild to severe discomfort for 72 hours?

When we meet for coffee, she always asks if I am going to purchase a muffin or cookie. I say I am gluten-sensitive. Recently at lunch she was prodding me to have noodles. I again calmly tell her I am gluten-sensitive. The last straw was when she invited me to a bake sale for her friend’s choral group.

I am getting to the point that I don’t want to see her anymore. Aren’t her actions akin to inviting an alcoholic to a wine-tasting?

– Health Conscious

A: Certainly you can ask her this yourself. And, certainly, some people take perverse and mind-boggling pleasure in pushing the forbidden on others.

If that’s her thing, then good riddance. But, before you bail: You know she’s a bull. Why do you keep flapping red capes?

Try replacing “I am gluten-sensitive” with, “No thanks.”