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Tell Me About It | by Carolyn Hax

Friend doesn't seem to be sharing in her happiness

Friend is trying to chip

away at her happiness

Q: A good friend keeps making digs about how much money my fiance makes (or doesn't make, in her opinion). Fiance has a degree from a good college but works as a carpenter because that is what he loves to do. I'm proud of him. My friend complains a lot about being single and has really only had bad relationships, so I tell myself that she's just trying to make me feel bad about my relationship. How do I respond to her comments? It bothers me that she's trying to hurt me, and I want to point that out without hurting her in return.

Va.

A: "If you have something to say, please just say it."

Not that this is guaranteed to work. Your friend's unhealthy relationship history doesn't (just) mean she's jealous of your happy relationship. It means she has problems dealing with people in a healthy, productive way — all people, friends included.

Friends can often survive this when they really like each other, are patient and are willing to make the extra effort during difficult times, but I think it's unrealistic to see her romantic problems as an isolated or incidental problem. She's bringing her issues to bear on the way she interprets your happiness (as temporary), internalizes your happiness (as a threat), responds to your happiness (with sniper fire).

Sift carefully through the context here — not just the specific digs but also the past complaining, the bad relationships — and follow up your "please just say it" with a factual accounting of her recent attacks on your happiness. Not as an accusation or a diatribe but as an observation. See where it goes. Assuming you still do see her as a good friend, it wouldn't hurt to declare that upfront; if she trusts that you like her, maybe she'll feel safe enough to be honest, instead of sniping your goodwill away.

To date or not to date

months after divorce?

Q: Divorce stinks.

I'm getting horribly impatient to move on with my life (marriage has been over for eight months) but I'm sharing a house, can't buy my own place until the settlement is done in autumn . . . thinking about dating but getting lectures from friends/family that I need to wait until the divorce is final.

Any advice on how to pass the time until October?

Arizona

A: Ugh. Lectures stink, too.

So I'll pelt you with questions instead.

Are you sharing a house with your ex-to-be? That would be a reason not to date.

Are you in a situation that has even a little bitterness to it, in which dating could be used against you legally? That's a reason not to date.

Are you seeing dating as a means of moving on with your life? That's a reason not to date. There are lots of other ways to stretch your life-legs than to rush out looking for a new entanglement with someone else.

If everything is settled and the divorce was amicable and you're just listening to a clock tick, and if your housemate is just a roommate, then feel free to tune out people who judge you for living your life as an unattached person.

I would still be really, really careful with that "horribly impatient" mood you're in, though — it primes you for rash mistakes.

Advice

Friend doesn't seem to be sharing in her happiness

05/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:38pm]

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