Thursday, June 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Encourage your girlfriend to show compassion for her friend's situation

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Encourage your girlfriend to show compassion for her friend

Q: My girlfriend and I have been together for five years. Shortly after we met, I met her best friend, Dan, who had just started a relationship with Rachel. Rachel became very moody as the relationship progressed, and seems very temperamental and controlling. At the same time, Dan seems more withdrawn from our group of friends.

Because of Dan's withdrawal from social activities, my girlfriend proclaims to our friends that she does not consider Dan a friend anymore.

I am confused as to what I should do. I do not usually say anything when my girlfriend starts saying things about Dan, but I just wonder why she would feel the need to announce the status of her friendship with Dan to other people. She says it is because Dan said he would make more of an effort to socialize and keep in touch but has not done so. Should I be concerned about my girlfriend's behavior, or is it within the range of normal that she would announce the status of her friendships when it has not come up in conversation?

Anonymous

Carolyn: I think you have two reasons to be concerned. On the more superficial level, even if Dan were a jerk to her, why does she feel the need to shame him publicly?

On the deeper level, why isn't she worried about Dan? It sounds as if Dan's snubs aren't about your girlfriend at all and point instead to the possibility Rachel is controlling. Dan appears to be in trouble and needs his friends to show some compassion and courage.

So. Why don't you say to your girlfriend, "You keep throwing Dan under the bus, but it looks more to me like he's in trouble: He's got a controlling girlfriend, right?" Remind her that controlling people isolate their partners from friends and family. Suggest that Dan might need her (and the rest of you) to make a steady effort to stay in touch.

I think it'll be an interesting test of her maturity, to see whether she can stop the me-centric blaming for a second and consider another side.

Anonymous 2: Why not? Presumably he's an adult like the rest of us. Your actions have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are negative. If you choose to treat someone badly, face those consequences. If you can't handle public shame, then why don't you just be a good person in the first place?

Carolyn: Nice — but what letter should we embroider for Dan's pinafore?

The consequence of withdrawing her friendship would have been perfectly adequate. No need for an announcement to all who will listen; that's just vengeful and childish.

Anonymous 3: Why is she so obsessed with Dan? I'd wonder whether she doesn't harbor some unhealthy feelings for Dan herself. At best, she's hurt to the point where it's affected her social judgment, and at worst she is taking it waaaaay too personally that he's focused on his own girlfriend and not her.

Carolyn: Could be unhealthy feelings for Dan specifically or unhealthy feelings in general for being anything less than a top priority. These relationships are five years in, suggesting the latter. Either way, though, some concern is called for about Dan's well-being — independent of her own.

Comments

Tell Me About It: Future in-laws are insisting on an open bar

Q: My fiance and I are getting married in my familyís hometown and my parents are hosting (and paying for) the wedding. My family are minimal drinkers. My fianceís large extended family is accustomed to weddings with full open bars.My parentsí initia...
Published: 06/21/18
Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Plan your weekend: St. Pete Pride, Hall and Oates, Pixies, Logic, comics Jay Pharoah and Bobby Bones

Rainbow connection Pride weekend: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend in St. Petersburg, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coco ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

Big concerts this weekend: Luke Bryan, Hall and Oates, Weezer, Logic and more

HIS KIND OF NIGHT: Luke BryanItís been three long years since Tampa has seen the well-groomed hide of Luke Bryan, the Hollywoodiest hunk in Nashville. But heís about to make up for lost time. On Saturday heíll headline his biggest-ever show here, a b...
Published: 06/20/18
Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Top things to do this week: Go Skateboarding Day, Hollywood medium Tyler Henry

Tyler Henry: Hollywood MediumTyler Henry, the so-called Hollywood Medium who stars in an eponymous E! hit show, is coming to town with a live show called "Life Lessons I Have Learned From the Departed." The soft-spoken 22-year-old has done readings f...
Published: 06/20/18
5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

5 things to do under $5: USF Summer Plant Festival, Bridal Show, free show by AnastasiaMax

1 Summer Plant Festival: If you think you canít get anything to thrive in Floridaís brutal summers, check out the vendors with fruit trees and advice on how to grow them, along with hundreds of blooming butterfly plants, herbs and tropical and exotic...
Published: 06/20/18

Tell Me About It: Wife punished after being victimized

Q: At a work happy hour, a male co-worker groped me. He later "apologized" with the qualification that I had been sending him mixed signals.Iím married, he has met my husband, Iíve never led him on. And when it happened I was incredibly clear that it...
Published: 06/20/18
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Pride weekend kicks off in St. Petersburg Friday with a free concert hosted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, a parade along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and an expanded expo of vendors and art on Sunday in the Grand Central District that ga...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Mom/daughter dynamic feels controlling

Q: I am afraid I may be a controlling mom of my young adult daughter, but we have a dynamic in which she seeks me out often, solicits my advice, and makes me too important in her life. I admit to offering that advice because it is hard for me to draw...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Regretting staying too long in bad romance

Q: I recently broke up with someone after two years. Even though there were things that bothered me while we were together, I would convince myself I was overreacting, he didnít really mean it, etc.Now that itís over, I feel like a fool for not havin...
Published: 06/18/18

Tell Me About It: After years of depression, a diagnosis

Q: Iím 33 and have dealt with depression on and off since my adolescence. I grew up in a household with every kind of abuse you can think of, but I didnít start seeking help until my early 20s via talk therapy, and cut ties entirely with my abusers. ...
Published: 06/17/18