In the wake of the failure of Bob’s weekly hang with Steve, and Sharon’s recent decision to stop spending time with Dahlia, we are now seeing a further breakdown of bonds among longtime Maple Street residents in the dissolution of Larry’s friendship with Brad, which has seen a sharp downward trend over the last year with only four substantial weekend events and nine weekday casuals, 2.9 stars on FriendTrak, and a B- Relatascore.

Even a lunch last week at the diner that once served as a favorite spot for both of them significantly trailed other events of the week. In Larry’s case, it was a distant third behind a romantic dinner spent with his second wife and swimming lessons for his four-year-old daughter from his first marriage. Brad is dating both men and women and was eager to answer their texts so that he could do more of what he somewhat evasively described as “getting to know them.” He left early and Larry did not object. All of this is sure to spur a panicked reaction among other people on the street in regards to how to hold on these relationships in any form.

Many will make the hasty generalization that old friendships don’t work anymore, or are deemed too risky when any romantic distraction is introduced, whether direct or indirect. We’re going to explain what went wrong with further analysis in a moment, but we don’t want to overlook Christine’s recent optimism regarding her friendship with Helen. The two of them, never before friendly with one another, drank too much at a brunch over the summer and ended up laughing about everything from ex-husbands to financial stresses. Since then, Christine and Helen have been coming in at 3.5 public hours per week, well ahead of the 1.5 hours many were predicting, with an amazing Mutual Score of 4.4 and even an 88% enthusiastic recommend among the other Maple Street residents.

After a summer which saw several surprising shakeups and a fall that promised to be just as bad, Christine and Helen are a bright spot, an original pairing performing better than most long-term relationships. When it comes to the way that Larry and Brad cratered, or for that matter Bob and Steve, the takeaway is that history is nothing without compelling business at hand. And yet, imitators need be warned. In the lead-up to the Nicole-Joel partnership of a few years ago, and in the wake of its massive success — they have now made cupcakes for the street fair for nearly four years running, her recipe, his clever slogans — a fever broke out up and down the street for platonic cross-gender friendships that could be either minted or extended. Elena tried to found a translating business with Antonio. Howard pretended his bicycle was broken and asked Kristin to help him fix it. Stacy started taking the same train as Gregor. With Kristin coming off a string of successful friendships, chiefly with Henrietta and Thea (the latter over-indexed in its first month, going from a projected 1.3 events per week to 2.2), there was great optimism at first. But the pressure to fill a 10-12 event annual slate proved to be too much. Stacy and Gregor, for example, discovered that the exhaustion of hanging out at the coffee shop and lightly gossiping increased by 31 percent over the first three months.

Everyone is now looking at Julia to turn things around for the entire street. She resumed a friendship with Barb a few weeks ago after years of light feuding, and it started strong with a A- Relatascore, which it has maintained since. Nearly everyone is outwardly optimistic, though they have privately conceded that Julia is a one quadrant friend, strong with women her age or a little younger, helpless with older women, men, or and especially children. Another hurdle to real movement is the fact that Barb is not often on social media, and as such cannot capitalize on the momentum of the first month. And Julia’s demographic weakness continues, with fully 60 percent of the women on the street backing the friendship but only 30 percent of the men. Children tracked even lower, with most of them squinting and saying, “Who’s Julia again?” The result has been underwhelming yields on all segments of Maple save the north side of the street near the corner of Gower Avenue.